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Rules Review to review every rule

The 68-page bill the legislature passed last week that subtracts, adds and changes state regulations includes a requirement for all state rules to be reviewed every 10 years. Those rules that aren't reviewed under a deadline set by the Rules Review Commission could be wiped from the books, unless they are required by federal law.

The legislature has been on a campaign to rid the state of rules they say burden businesses. House bill 74 would require state agencies to analyze each rule every 10 years to determine whether it is "necessary with substantial public interest", "necessary without substantive public interest," or unnecessary.

How many rules are there? 23,574

The agency will then post the results of their determinations online and invite public comment. A report on results will go to the Rules Review Commission.

Rules Review then reviews public comments and sends a report to the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee. Rules the commission decides are unnecessary will expire. If the legislative committee and Rules Review don't see eye-to-eye on a rule, it could be the subject of another agency review the following year.

These complicated rules for keeping rules will be difficult for agencies and the commission to handle, said Mary Maclean Asbill, a lobbyist for the Southern Environmental Law Center.

"It's all part of this mantra that environmental protections and safeguards are bad for the economy," she said.

Perdue proposes reduced rules

Gov. Bev Perdue Tuesday sent a list of 900 rules and regulations to the legislature, asking them to  eliminate them.

The action was a follow up to an executive order that Perdue issued last fall, ordering a study of  outdated, or unnecessary or vague  rules that were burdens on local governments, small businesses or on citizens.

"'In this economic climate,” Perdue said at a news conference, “it is my job to make sure that we root out any of those unnecessary economic costs in the equation as we continue with the recovery.”

Perdue said she had the authority to eliminate some of the rules on her own, but that it would take a year and half process, whereas the legislature could do it through one bill over a period of couple of days.

The rule changes that Perdue proposed seemed more designed at getting old regulations off the books, rather than removing particularly bothersome rules.

Asked to provide one particularly bad example, a Perdue staffer noted there was a set of regulations regarding the Department of Administration's Office of Citizen Participation, when no such office now exists.

Other rules Perdue is recommending being abolished includes the Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the Board of Examiners of Plumbing and Heating contractors.

She said would recommend in the coming weeks an additional 1,000 rules and regulations that the legislature should eliminate.

The Republican legislature is also moving legislation reduce unnecessary regulations.

“I am delighted they want to do this,” Perdue said. “I don't care who gets credit.”

But at one point, Perdue bristled when told that Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said the legislature had accomplished more in two weeks to eliminate unnecessary regulations than Perdue had done in two years.

“I refuse to get in a partisan battle,” Perdue said.

A few trees saved

The new Senate rules crack down on blank bills,  those that contain not much more than a number.

Legisaltors use blank bills as "place holders" - vehicles to propose new laws after bill filing deadlines have passed.

Public policy gurus don't like blank bills much because they can be used to spring far-reaching proposals on an unsuspecting public.

Lots of them aren't used for anything, though, and just create piles and piles of mostly blank paper.

The Senate rules ban public blank bills and limit each senator to one local blank bill.

Perdue scolded for taunting playground remarks

The N.C. Child Care Commission took offense at Gov. Bev Perdue describing playground safety standards as a "silly rule."

Now, commission members want Perdue to push for wider implementation of the playground guidelines.

Last month, Perdue announced an order for her Cabinet not to create any more government rules unless they are absolutely necessary. To illustrate her point, she made the announcement standing in front of a Pittsboro elementary school playground. A state regulation that had applied to child care facilities but not schools had barred children in a YMCA after-school program at the school from using the playground.

Legislators had to pass a law to allow after-school programs housed in schools to use playgrounds that don't meet the child care standards, a move the commission opposed.

A Nov. 4 letter signed by 10 of 15 commission members says that school playgrounds should have to comply with child care safety standards and asked Perdue to get the State Board of Education to require it.

"Each of us accepted our appointment to the Child Care Commission with the same commitment to our state as you did when you took your oath of office," they wrote. "We take our responsibility very seriously and do not ever intend to make 'silly' rules."

Third Senate debate gets a little heated

TESTY EXCHANGE: The N.C. Senate candidates engaged in a testy debate Thursday, complete with accusations of "gutter" politics and support for "governmental discrimination." (N&O)

TRUTH SQUAD: Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall clashed on a range of issues Thursday night. But did the candidates have their facts straight? (N&O)

CUTTING RED TAPE: No more dumb rules, Gov. Bev Perdue said Thursday. (N&O)

House to dig in

The House is ready for a full calendar.

At the start of session today, Speaker Joe Hackney announced that rule 12 (d) has been suspended. That rule states:

Food or beverages shall not be permitted on the floor of the House during the first two hours of the daily session.  

The Senate's rules on bill titles

The Senate says bill titles have to be accurate.

Under the permanent Senate rules adopted this session, a bill's title must "adequately and fairly reflect its subject matter."

In addition, if a bill is "materially modified" in committee to either expand or reduce its scope, or additional counties are added to a local bill, the title has to be changed as well.

When senators speak about a bill on the floor or introduce a motion to amend it, they are required to use the bill number and short title.

After the jump, the rules.

Stam: You're gonna want to share this

N.C. House Republican leader Paul Stam hasn't voted for the House rules since 1989.

Stam, an Apex Republican, says the House rules don't allow full debate for the minority party. On Wednesday, Stam tried a different approach in making his case. He still complained that the rules would give Democrats overwhelming influence on the state budget. 

But he added a morsel to encourage Democrats to see things his way. Stam pointed out that whoever writes the state budget will be responsible for making difficult and unpopular choices.

"If I was the majority party, I would want to share that pain," Stam said.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Joe Hackney said Stam's complaints are "noise."

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