Governor Paterson outlined accomplishments to date under Executive Order No. 25, which established New York's Regulatory and Reform Program. The Program directs designated State agencies to solicit comments on their existing regulations, and review their policies and guidance to determine if they may have created overly burdensome or antiquated requirements affecting businesses, local governments, health care providers and other regulated entities. Through the vigorous and open review of existing regulations based on public comment and internal reviews, participating agencies have already identified 60 regulations for repeal or reform and another 35 regulations to be repealed outright because they are obsolete or invalid.
"The Regulatory Review and Reform Program established under Executive Order No. 25 is a significant part of my overall plan to promote business development, more wisely target the resources of our agencies, and reduce bureaucratic waste and inefficiencies in government," Governor Paterson said. "The EO 25 initiative, in tandem with the ongoing work of my Office of Taxpayer Accountability and the recommendations of my Small Business Task Force, is helping to reshape our government and make it more responsive to and balanced for the multitude of interests it affects and protects. These are the kinds of efforts we should and need to continue to make to achieve broad fiscal reform, government efficiency and reduced property tax burdens on our citizens."
To date, 19 State agencies have been designated to participate in the Program. The designated agencies represent those with the most significant effects on businesses, local governments and other regulated entities. Agencies designated for the first round of the Program include the Department of Agriculture and Markets; the Department of State; the Department of Environmental Conservation; the Department of Health; the Department of Labor; the Department of Taxation and Finance; and the State Liquor Authority. The Program, which is part of the Governor's broad agenda to reduce unnecessary burdens and mandates on local governments and businesses, eliminate waste and fraud, and streamline government operations, is being implemented on a rolling schedule that designates new agencies for participation on a periodic basis.
Agencies designated for the second round of the Program include: the Department of Motor Vehicles; the Insurance Department; the Banking Department; the Department of Transportation; the Office of General Services; and the Empire State Development Corporation. These agencies have identified 58 reforms that will alleviate unnecessary or outdated requirements on businesses and other regulated parties, of which 6 already have been adopted.
The agencies recently designated to participate in the third round of reform Program include: the Adirondack Park Agency; the Athletic Commission; the Higher Education Services Corporation; the Division of Human Rights; the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and the Racing and Wagering Board. These agencies are in the process of gathering public comments concerning regulations that should be reviewed with an eye toward reform.
Specific areas targeted by New York's Regulatory and Reform Program include:
Improving Health Care:
- The Department of Health, working with the health care industry, adopted a rule to streamline the Certificate of Need review process of construction projects, including the purchase of major medical equipment, undertaken by hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other health care facilities. The changes to the Certificate of Need process will make it a more effective and efficient health care planning process, helping to improve the distribution of health care resources, enhance health care quality and control health care spending.
- The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopted a rule to eliminate unnecessary duplicative regulatory requirements concerning the protection of air quality. Both the Federal and State governments have virtually identical emissions programs, which currently require affected businesses to comply with two sets of redundant regulations and incur the costs related to separate compliance provisions, without any greater benefit to protecting air quality. DEC adopted a rule to allow the State's program to sunset in favor of the federal Clean Air Interstate Rule, which will benefit businesses by eliminating the costs and other burdens of having to comply with two separate but effectively identical programs.
- The Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Environmental Conservation are taking action to eliminate the NY Transient Emissions Short Test program, or NYTEST, a vehicle emissions test that is no longer required by the Federal government. Eliminating the NYTEST will benefit the consumer and the motor vehicle inspection industry. Currently, licensed inspection stations performing tests in the NYC metropolitan area must pay approximately $35,000 to $45,000 for computerized vehicle inspection system equipment for the NYTEST, plus service and warranty costs of an additional $3,500 to $8,000 per year. With the elimination of the NYTEST requirement, vehicle inspection stations can move to using only the NY Vehicle Inspection Program, whose equipment costs only $2,500 including service and warranty.
- The Department of Environmental Conservation is also developing a rule to update the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) Environmental Assessment Form (EAF), used to help evaluate environmental impacts that may result from a significant development project. The existing full EAF has not been updated since 1978 and the short EAF has not been revised since 1987. Updating theses forms will improve the quality of information provided to the lead agency, include more useful information based on existing practices, and help to consolidate information gathering that the Department expects may lead to greater efficiencies in the environmental review process.
Clarifying and Streamlining Employer Responsibilities:
- The Department of Labor (DOL) is implementing a new hospitality wage order that clarifies employers' restaurant and hotel industry obligations in such areas as gratuities, uniforms, overtime and recordkeeping. DOL is also developing guidance for these industries that will be posted on its website.
- In addition, the Department of Labor is streamlining and clarifying the Unemployment Insurance Eligibility Form. This should reduce wasted administrative time or perhaps the cost of legal fees for employers. Further, when an employer elects to cover a specified group of employees, a regulatory change will be made to allow one request, rather than a separate filing for each employee. Approximately 1,500 employers will benefit by this amendment.
Removing Outdated Regulations / Eliminating Potential Confusion for Businesses:
- The State Liquor Authority (SLA) has identified more than 20 regulations as obsolete or invalid that can be eliminated outright, many of which have been on the books but un-enforced for years. This reform will clean out those confusing and unnecessary regulations. In addition, the SLA undertook a thorough review of its bulletins and divisional orders and has rescinded 1,592 outdated and obsolete divisional orders, bulletins, and circulars, many dating back to the 1930's. The remaining 125 active policy directives are posted on the agency website for public comment. This is the first time the orders and bulletins have been available for public examination. The Regulatory Review and Reform Program has resulted in significant changes to eliminate unnecessary reporting and paperwork, streamline or clarify regulatory requirements, and reduce administrative and operational costs for small and large businesses, health care providers, and individuals. The reforms also include changes to regulations to more efficiently safeguard the environment.