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Today Governor Deval Patrick will announce a strategy to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens on Massachusetts businesses. The announcement will take place this afternoon at a meeting of The Alliance for Business Leadership.

For more information about this strategy, here is an except from today’s Wall Street Journal:


Massachusetts Takes Aim at Red Tape

By: Jennifer Levitz

Under Massachusetts regulations, a hair salon owner who wants to sell her shop to an employee must first temporarily close down. A funeral director can’t hire a part-time apprentice—only full-time is allowed. The state’s legal size for a sea clam differs from what federal requirements specify.

These and other “nuisance” regulations, as many businesses describe them, are coming under scrutiny by Gov. Deval Patrick, who on Monday is expected to announce that he’s tossing or tweaking 150 requirements—pertaining to everything from sea bass to sewer lines—that get in the way of doing business.

The governor, a second-term Democrat in a left-leaning state that has a reputation, fair or not, for being heavy handed with the red tape, also is reviewing some 800 regulations across 60 state agencies.

The governor will require that no new regulation be approved without completion of a “small business impact” statement answering 20 questions, such as, “Is this likely to encourage or deter the formation of business? Who did you consult from the small business community to come to this conclusion?”

Mr. Patrick’s administration has been working on the initiative for months, launching a systematic review of regulations in October.

“Unnecessary paperwork or duplicative reporting is a drain on everybody, on a business trying to make a payroll and on you, dealing with shrinking resources,” Mr. Patrick said in a video he filmed Friday that will be sent to thousands of state employees Monday. “Let’s focus on what’s necessary and stop doing what’s not.” …

…Massachusetts ranked 24th among U.S. states in overall business tax climate in fiscal year 2012, an improvement over a ranking of 28th the year before, according to the annual State Business Tax Climate index released last month by the non-partisan Tax Foundation in Washington.

The state’s latest unemployment rate is 6.9%, below the 8.3% for the nation.

“We’re certainly aware that there is an external reputation outside of Massachusetts that maybe we’re heavily regulated, and that’s bad for business,” said April Anderson Lamoureux, the state’s assistant secretary for economic development.

“We don’t think that’s always the case, but if people are criticizing us for our regulatory climate, Gov. Patrick said, ‘Well, let’s figure it out, let’s change that perception.'” …

…The review found scores of “duplicative” and “unwieldy” requirements, she said. It had a daily and weekly allowable maximum commercial catch for sea bass, for example, so a great day of fishing “could be illegal in Massachusetts even though you were within your weekly limit,” she said. The state is scrapping the daily limit.

Currently, businesses that want to get a sewer connection must secure both a local permit and state permit. The state will now defer to municipalities to make the decision, losing state permit fees as revenue but freeing up that staff to do other projects.

Salons that wanted to transfer ownership to an employee had to close—while paperwork was processed—before reopening under the new owner, Mr. Patrick said in an interview, shaking his head, “I don’t think anyone even knew why. We don’t need stuff like that, that interferes with a small business person just trying to make a way.”

To read the rest of the article: (Paywall)


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