In announcing the State Chamber's legislative agenda this year,
its CEO Richard P. Rush said the focus will be on growing existing
companies in Oklahoma. That is an important factor to the state's
economy, and sometimes is overlooked in the push to bring new
industry to the state.
It seems to me in our zeal to attract new
businesses, we may act or fail to act in such a manner that is
detrimental to keeping those enterprises with longstanding and
sometimes substantial investments here in Oklahoma. A current
Oklahoma City controversy comes quickly to mind.
Another key issue
Rush raised is the concern of all business enterprises in the
regulatory environment in which they must operate.
He noted that
"Rules and regulations of state agencies are a major point in
getting businesses to stay in Oklahoma, and the nation as well."
There is no doubt about this. The proliferation of rules and
regulations in the past decade by more than 150 agencies, boards and
commissions may well be more onerous to business than laws passed by
It is in session only four months of the year and
enacts 300 to 400 new laws annually. Rulemaking by agencies, boards
and commissions is essentially a legislative activity that goes on
throughout the year.
Oklahoma's constitution authorizes the
Legislature to grant state agencies rulemaking authority. This is
necessary to allow government flexibility.
Fortunately through the
Administrative Procedures Act, the Legislature and governor have
retained important oversight and review powers of agency
They are required to give notice of rulemaking intent
in the Oklahoma Register, which is published on the first and 15th
of each month by the secretary of state's office. It includes text
of the proposed rule, its purpose and intent, along with an impact
statement. It advises of the time and place for public comment and
time and place for hearing.
A person needs only to look at the
hundreds of proposed and promulgated rules each month to realize the
enormity of the problem in trying to know and follow all of
Many rules fall through the cracks regardless of restraints
in the Administrative Procedures Act. While all policy rules must be
approved by the Legislature and the governor, it takes a definite
act of the Legislature and the governor to disapprove any given one.
Unless it is particularly controversial, or raises the ire of some
influential legislator or group, no action will be taken and it will
There virtually is no facet of any business, no
matter how small or large that is not impacted by one or more
agencies' rules and regulations.
Rules and regulations promulgated
by state agencies each year have literally become a body of law unto
themselves, with many having the full force and effect of law. Most
of them are promulgated with far less public light and knowledge
than the laws that are passed.
SB 948 - Help for small
Complying with these regulations costs businesses
millions of dollars annually. Millions more are paid each year to
the agencies in fees supposedly to defray the cost of enforcement.
As general tax revenue funds become tighter, the Legislature has
turned to allowing agencies to use fees or assessments to fund their
general operations. They are in effect diverted from the specified
purposes for which they were levied. …