As the president of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, I read with interest Rich Moniak’s criticism of Sen. Dan Sullivan’s fight to combat federal overregulation (“Regulations in an imperfect people’s democracy,” Jan. 1, 2016).
The Alaska Chamber supports public regulation and regulatory reforms that encourage responsible development of Alaska’s communities and natural resources. Topping both the Chamber’s state and federal lists of policy positions is an entire category of initiatives advocating for improved regulatory efficiency.
I agree with Mr. Moniak that many desirable regulations are intended to keep our citizens safe. As the voice of Alaskan business, I agree that reasonable, navigable regulatory processes are important to protect our citizens, communities and employer companies. And not just in Alaska, but for our nation as a whole.
As Alaskans, we value our lands and waters perhaps more than any other state in the union. For many of us, Alaska is a lifestyle and a passion as much as it is a home. We breathe the air. We drink the water. We eat the food, and have an expectation that public structures will support our livelihoods.
The problem comes when public agencies overregulate as the federal government is doing today. When it was first published in 1936, the Federal Register, which contains a daily digest of proposed regulations from agencies, final rules and notices, was 2,620 pages. By the end of 2014, the Federal Register had ballooned to 77,687 pages.
According to the Small Business Administration, regulatory enforcement and compliance costs currently come to roughly $1.8 trillion a year. That’s equal to about $15,000 for each American household. That is a problem, and one that lawmakers on both sides of the isle have been struggling with for years.
President Barack Obama himself said in 2012, “Smart rules can save lives and keep us safe, but there are some regulations that don’t make sense and cost too much.”
Luckily, there are successful models that we can follow to start our country on the path of purposeful, efficient regulation. Sen. Sullivan, R-Alaska, in consultation with the Alaska Chamber, has introduced just such a bill.
Sen. Sullivan’s bill is based on a regulatory system already in place in Canada and Great Britain and is successful to the point that Great Britain has now expanded its initial policy. If it’s passes, we believe that it will go far to boost our sagging economy and encourage entrepreneurship in our state and our country to flourish once again.
Mr. Moniak points out that “the $1.8 trillion figure isn’t all waste and inefficiency.” And he is right on that account. That’s why Alaska’s business community supports a system designed to allow regulators to cull wasteful, inefficient regulations as more appropriate protections are put into place.
Sen. Sullivan’s RED Tape Act — like the successful programs deployed in Canada and Great Britain — does just that.
• Curtis Thayer is the president and CEO of Alaska Chamber of Commerce in Anchorage.