Needed: A ‘Fresh Start Initiative’ to Address Rules Suspended during the Crisis

by on April 16, 2020 · 0 comments

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has just released a new paper by Patrick A. McLaughlin, Matthew D. Mitchell, and me entitled, “A Fresh Start: How to Address Regulations Suspended during the Coronavirus Crisis.” Here’s a quick summary.

As the COVID-19 crisis intensified, policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels started suspending or rescinding laws and regulations that hindered sensible, speedy responses to the pandemic. These “rule departures” raised many questions. Were the paused rules undermining public health and welfare even before the crisis? Even if the rules were well intentioned or once possibly served a compelling interest, had they grown unnecessary or counterproductive? If so, why did they persist? How will the suspended rules be dealt with after the crisis? Are there other rules on the books that might transform from merely unnecessary to actively harmful in future crises?

Once the COVID-19 crisis subsides, there is likely to be considerable momentum to review the rules that have slowed down the response. If policymakers felt the need to abandon these rules during the current crisis, those same rules should probably be permanently repealed or at least comprehensively reformed to allow for more flexible responses in the future.

Accordingly, when the pandemic subsides, policymakers at the federal and state levels should create “Fresh Start Initiatives” that would comprehensively review all suspended rules and then outline sunsetting or reform options for them. To this end, we propose an approach based on the successful experience of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission.

Read the entire paper here to see how it would work. This is our chance to finally do some much-needed spring cleaning for the regulatory state.

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