Little plans to cut or simplify one third of administrative rules

Gov. Brad Little plans to cut or simplify about one third of all existing administrative rules as he moves forward with his plan for reauthorizing rules this summer, his staff announced Tuesday.

Details of Little’s plan to cut and simplify rules are the latest development in a saga that has played out since the 2019 legislative session adjourned in April. Because the Legislature did not reauthorize rules this year, all of them — thousands of pages worth — would be set to expire on July 1 if Little doesn’t intervene.

Rules are important in Idaho because they carry the force of law, and so many of them affect Idahoans’ lives. K-12 academic standards, state fees, immunization rules, health and welfare guidelines and more all take the form of administrative rule.

Little already announced that he plans to reauthorize rules in an effort to keep the government running and avoid disruptions in services. At the same time, he called on state agencies to identify outdated, repetitive or unnecessary rules that could be targeted for expiration.

“This effort is transforming Idaho’s Administrative Code into a set of regulations that are simpler and more user-friendly for the public. I want to thank my agency directors and their staff for fast-tracking the rules review process that I started with my executive orders earlier this year,” Little said in a written statement. “Identifying one third of rule chapters to cut or simplify in four weeks is no small feat, and the hard work within my administration helps to improve transparency and invigorates public confidence in state government.”

During a briefing with reporters Wednesday at the Statehouse, Division of Financial Management administrator Alex Adams estimated it will cost the state $40,000 to publish legal notice of the rules reauthorization in Idaho newspapers. Adams said that the cost to taxpayers would have been the same if Little had instead called a special legislative session to address the situation.

Little’s staff will also publish the reauthorized rules as “temporary and proposed rules” in a special edition of the Administrative Bulletin, scheduled to be published June 19.

Little isn’t targeting sweeping changes to education rules. But State Board of Education officials have identified eight rules for the chopping block.

A list of rules and their status, including rules targeted for expiration or rewriting is available online here. Idaho residents have until June 11 to comment on any rule. To comment, Idahoans may send an email to [email protected].

Little said he will weigh that feedback before making a final decision prior to July 1.

Here’s how it breaks down.

  • At the beginning of the 2019 legislative session, there were 8,278 pages of rules, spanning 736 different chapters, according to Little’s office. That’s more than 72,000 total restrictions.
    Little plans to allow 19 percent of all rule chapters – 139 full chapters out of 736 — to expire on July 1.
  • Additionally, he plans to allow rule subparts from an additional 79 chapters to expire.
  • Finally, he plans to rewrite and simplify 31 chapters of rules.
  • That brings the total percentage of rules that are proposed to expire or be simplified to more than 34 percent of all rules.

Although the number of rules and chapters might give the impression reauthorizing rules was a burden for Little’s office and state agencies, Adams said many officials viewed it as an opportunity to cut red tape.

“This transformation makes it better for the public,” Adams said. “It makes it simpler for the average Idahoan to navigate rules and, frankly, it will be 20 percent lighter so it will be easier to read through and figure out how it applies.”

During the 2020 session, legislators will be able to review every rule that Little reauthorizes. Other than fee rules, most rules only need to be ratified by one legislative chamber, not both.

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