Real Regulatory Relief?

There’s a growing concern that Governor Eric Greitens’ initiative to reduce red tape in Missouri is full of window dressing and may not produce much of substantive.

One Republican denizen of the building is distraught at the process.  “Our departments are going to waste months of work rephrasing things and deleting definitions from rules (because people don’t need the definitions in the rules supposedly but the important part is that will make the ‘rules less burdensome’ if make the reg books are smaller).”

What’s generating such pessimism? Rather than a rational review to ease burdensome regulations and lower their impact on Missourians, departments are targeting a how many reduction to make and working to get there by any means necessary.

For example: on page 9, of The DSS “Administrative Rule Review” PowerPoint (see it here) there’s a slide showing their target. (I am told all state departments have targets – to be 1/3 less “restrictive,” not just DSS).

Every agency shall answer: How many restrictive terms are in each rule? Includes words such as “shall,” “must,” “may not,” “prohibited,” and “required.” DSS has 8317 restrictive words currently in its regulations. The target number is 5489.

Notice that “shall” is included in the list of “restrictive” terms they’re trying to reduce. So what happens? This and this and this and others…

“Shall” is being deleted in proposed rule-changes and replaced with the word “will” and other such words that don’t seem to change anything about the regulations.

Here’s what that looks like:  Upon receipt of the request for hearing, the commission secretary [shall] will forward the request to the hearing examiner for the commission.

Any party [shall have] has the right of cross-examination….

Any party [shall be] is entitled to present oral argument at the hearing. If oral argument is presented, it [shall] will be preserved and transcribed in the record for the use of the

commission in reaching a final decision.

Here are other examples of the reduction in regulations that will have no practical change in the regulatory environment are rules being

This rule hasn’t gone away, it’s just changed where the authority for it comes.  It’s in Department of Agriculture not DNR.

And this rule doesn’t do away with the licensing of junkyards, it’s just that it’s been incorporated into statute so there’s no need for the rule anymore.


In the end, this process appears aimed to produce a Facebook video with lots of views.  You can imagine Governor Greitens showing the old stack of regulations and the newer smaller stack and  declaring the effort to cut red tape a success.  Meanwhile in the words of that Republican: “the games these guys are playing [will] just make people frustrated and confused.”


Originally in October 2 MOScout.