Inside Augusta

New analysis shows there are 113,862 regulatory restrictions on the books in Maine

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At events in Portland and Eliot today hosted by The Maine Heritage Policy Center, James Broughel, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, will discuss his new analysis that shows which industries in Maine are most targeted by regulations and which government agencies do the most regulating.

To perform the analysis, Mercatus Center researchers uploaded the 2018 Code of Maine Rules (CMR) into a platform called State RegData. State RegData is a tool that allows researchers to identify the industries that state regulation targets most by connecting text relevant to those industries with restrictive word counts.

Referred to as regulatory restrictions, the words and phrases shallmustmay notprohibited and required can signify legal constraints and obligations. State RegData sorted through the entire 2018 CMR, and the results are stunning.

According to the analysis, the 2018 CMR is home to 113,862 regulatory restrictions and 8.1 million words. It would take an individual about 449 hours – or more than 11 weeks – to read the entire CMR, assuming the reader spends 40 hours per week reading at a rate of 300 words per minute.

The industries targeted most by regulation in Maine are ambulatory healthcare services, food manufacturing, utilities and chemical manufacturing, all of which are subject to more than 3,000 industry-relevant restrictions. The top 10 industries in Maine targeted by state regulation can be seen in Figure 1.

The Mercatus Center’s report also shows that the top regulators in Maine are the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.

The sections of the 2018 CMR associated with these departments contain more than 12,000 regulatory restrictions each, with DHHS topping the list at 22,820. The top 10 regulators in Maine can be found in Figure 2.

“Maine has made progress in recent years when it comes to red tape,” Broughel said. “However, the results of my analysis suggest there is more work to be done to break down the barriers facing Maine residents.

“Governor Mills recently warned that a recession could hit Maine in the coming years. As such, streamlining the CMR should be a top priority for her young administration. Regulatory reform is among the most powerful tools policymakers possess to boost economic growth and job creation for years to come.”

Individuals and businesses must navigate these rules – along with federal regulations – in order to remain in compliance and earn a living in Maine.

To ease the burden on businesses and job creators, Maine should consider reviewing and eliminating the rules that exist to stifle growth and entrepreneurship at no economic benefit to our state.

To read Mercatus Center’s regulatory snapshot of Maine, click here.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at The Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at MHPC. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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