House passes bill to review Indiana occupational regulations, remove any deemed 'arbitrary'
House Bill 1343 would require every state agency to review all occupational regulations they have in place by July 2024. It passed the House almost unanimously this week.
Agencies would have to prove whether the regulations are necessary to protect citizens’ health, safety or “welfare.” The bill defines “welfare” as “protection of members of the public against fraud or harm.”
Any regulations that don’t meet that standard must be modified or removed. The bill's author, Rep. Jake Teshka (R-South Bend), saud he believes some regulations only exist to limit competition in favor of big businesses.
“If a rule or restriction was put in place to fulfill the government's legitimate role of protecting the welfare of Hoosiers and not to protect the economic interests of any one industry or one person, one agency in particular, what would anybody have to fear in this bill?” Teshka said during a committee hearing.
The agencies are also required to consider how the regulations impact on things like “opportunities for workers” and “consumer choices or costs.” And the bill requires agencies to compare Indiana’s regulations to other states in this review.
This review process does not pertain to any regulations that are part of a job’s licensing requirements.
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The bill would allow Hoosiers to petition state agencies to review regulations they believe are needlessly burdensome. Agencies would have 90 days to respond to these petitions, either by giving evidence as to why the regulation is necessary under the bill’s requirements or by adjusting the rule.
“Coming out of COVID we saw, especially in the beginning part of the pandemic, we saw numerous regulations and rules and things put on hold,” Teshka said, giving the ability to sell alcohol curbside as an example. “And what we saw was, hey, you know what, the public wasn't severely harmed by some of these things that we put on hold. So can we go back and take a look at some of this stuff?
It’s unclear how much this review will cost state agencies.
“The restrictions that are heavy-handed have little or no impact on large corporations, but they do on small and medium-sized businesses, the average Hoosiers. They only serve to reduce employment opportunities and add to the cost of goods and services,” Teshka said. “And so I'd say, at some level, even if there's a cost, is it worth it?”
Agencies are expected to submit reports to the legislature about the regulations they reviewed and changed or removed by October 2024.
Some regulations may be out of an agency’s power to change. In those cases, HB 1343 would require the agencies to submit recommendations for lawmakers to make the changes in legislation.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.