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July 20, 2022
July 20, 2022

Thousands of burdensome regulations slashed

Since 2015, more than 3,300 state agency rules have been improved or eliminated, reducing the red tape needed to do business, live or recreate in Arizona.

Agency rules govern everything from the way that professionals get licensed to practice in Arizona to where people can go camping in state parks. Unnecessary red tape can be a barrier to economic opportunity and quality of life improvements in all corners of Arizona.

Every year, one of the first executive orders that Gov. Doug Ducey signs is a rulemaking moratorium. The order stipulates that state agencies can’t make new rules without meeting certain requirements, and if a new rule is being proposed, three others must be identified for elimination or improvement.

“Since Gov. Ducey has been in office, it’s been part of his mission to reduce red tape, to make Arizona a great place to work and to recreate,” said Nicole Sornsin, Governor’s Regulatory Review Council chair and general counsel for the Arizona Department of Administration . “This effort helps to eliminate the unnecessary burdens that are bogging people down from their ability to do the things that they need to do: run a business, make a living, provide services to the community, things like that.” 

The GRRC supports state agencies in reviewing their rules every five years to find improvements, and Sornsin said that the Arizona Management System practices such as huddles, Standard Work and work with the Office of Continuous Improvement within the Department of Administration are crucial to the council’s operations.

When agencies propose rule updates or eliminations, it’s often to fix outdated requirements, simplify steps, digitize paperwork or reduce fees. Sornsin said that some recent rule updates have allowed for reciprocal licensing for physical therapists from out of state as well as opening up telehealth options for out-of-state practitioners. 

“Our goal has always been that 3:1 that the governor’s office gave us, but we are tracking at 11: 1. So for every one new rule we eliminate or improve 11, which is a number we’re very proud of,” said Sornsin.

Though most improvements are initiated by agencies, members of the public can also petition the council to improve rules that affect them. Sornsin cites a recent petition relating to a rule of the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology that required licensees providing mobile services (services provided outside of a licensed salon) to “prominently display a duplicate personal and establishment license in the area where mobile services are provided.” The board charged a fee for duplicate licenses, which had to be requested in person in Phoenix. 

A nail technician in Tucson who provides mobile services at assisted living facilities petitioned GRRC for an improvement to the rule. She argued that this requirement was unduly burdensome because she already paid for an original personal and establishment license, and there was no public health, safety or welfare concern requiring purchase of a duplicate license to display in each area where mobile services were provided. She would also have had to shut down operations for a day to travel to Phoenix from Tucson to request the additional license copy.

“We asked the agency why do you need to do this? Is it to prevent fraud? Is it to keep someone from being able to just print one out and make copies of it?” said Sornsin. “And they said well yes, but it’s not really effective at doing that because the copy we provide is pretty easy to replicate anyway. So let’s think of a way that is more effective that doesn’t require someone to close down their shop unnecessarily.” 

Ultimately, the requirement was modified to allow a photocopy of the licensee's personal license and establishment license to be displayed in the area where mobile services are provided, rather than requiring purchase of a duplicate license

The factors that go into evaluating rules always include whether the benefits outweigh the cost to the people who are being regulated, in terms of fees but also paperwork and time. Rules also must be clear, concise and understandable to the general public. And rules generally can’t be more stringent than federal law. 

 The GRRC website features more information about how agencies or members of the public can engage more in improvements in rulemaking. 

“We want to take the unknowns out of this process for everyone. … And we really focus on whether rulemaking is the least burdensome way of achieving an important objective,” said Sornsin.