Governor Brad Little will soon decide the fate of nearly one-third of Idaho’s administrative rules.
The decision to pursue the rules slim-down was made after the Idaho legislature declined to re-authorize the rules during their 2019 session. Rather than allow them to expire July 1, the governor ordered agencies to re-authorize the rules – while at the same time looking for rules that could be allowed to expire.
The governor’s office has requested public comment on the changes, and any Idaho residents can comment on the rules cuts proposed online through June 11.
“Any citizen of any corner of our great state will have a chance to engage with this and ensure that our rules are doing what is best for Idaho,” Alex Adams, administrator of the Idaho Division of Financial Management, said.
At the start of the year, Idaho’s administrative rules spanned 736 chapters, totaling 8,200 pages of text. Under the proposed cuts, 19% of those – 139 pages – would be allowed to expire, and another 15% - 111 pages – would be simplified for brevity and understandability.
Cutting excess rules in Idaho was a campaign promise for now-Governor Little. In an effort to trim down on the text, the governor issued an executive order called the Red Tape Reduction Act in January. The mandate told state agencies to review their administrative rules to look for parts they could remove or re-write to be simpler.
Agencies were initially given several months to complete the process. However, after the legislature failed to re-authorize the rules at the end of their 2019 session, all 8,200 pages of rules were destined to expire by default. In response, Gov. Little ordered the agencies to have their recommendations in by mid-May, with all rules to be either re-authorized or allowed to expire by July 1.
“That process certainly got accelerated,” Mr. Adams said. “This is the first time the rules have been allowed to expire in Idaho’s history. The agencies rightfully saw it as an acceleration to their time frame and stepped up their work. This simply wouldn’t have been possible in this timeframe without the order, so kudos to the governor for that.”
The submitted list of rules to simplify or let expire has been posted online for public viewing and comment. Many rules were left to expire because they have been replaced by newer legislation, are already covered by existing state- or federal-level requirements, or were deemed unnecessary in a modern context.
“As an example, on the books today are dress code requirements for the Deputy State Veterinarian,” Mr. Adams said. “It’s pretty safe to say that’s unnecessary, because there are state human resources laws that require professional attire at work, as well as other reasons.”
Other rules will remain untouched, and have already been slated for re-authorization. These include vital guidelines for state functions, including Fish and Game practices for hunting tags in the state, qualifications for physicians of all kinds, and rules governing Idaho’s ongoing water adjudication process.
“The default was, if it’s something you’re not enforcing or has been supplanted, let it expire,” Mr. Adams said. “But if it’s something that protects the health and welfare of the public, reauthorize it.”
The Idaho legislature will have the power to re-examine all administrative rules during their next session, and will have the power to propose or reject any changes made to the rules at that time.
A list of the proposed changes is available online at dfm.idaho.gov/fy-2020-rules-reauthorization-summary.pdf. Idaho residents may submit comments to the process by email at RulesReview@dft.idaho.gov before 5 p.m. June 11. Governor Little will weigh public opinion before making his decision. All rules must be re-authorized before the July 1 deadline.