Delaware residents and small businesses can expect less red tape when interacting with government agencies.
A year ago, Gov. Jack Markell signed an executive order 36 aimed at improving efficiency in state government. Agencies conducted internal reviews and held public hearings to streamline their practices. Markell released a final report June 27, detailing more than 140 changes to state regulations.
Changes include extending compliance deadlines for businesses, instituting timelines for government officials to respond to business proposals, and removing outdated and duplicative rules.
“We recognize the value of appropriate regulations that protect Delawareans, such as ensuring the quality of our food and water, the condition of our medical facilities and the safety of our roads,” Markell said in a press release. “But we must be vigilant about preventing unreasonable burdens that strain business owners and impede public services.”
House Minority Leader and House Small Business Caucus Co-Chairman Rep. Daniel Short, R-Seaford, thanked Markell for addressing business people in Sussex County. “Efficiency in government causes efficiency in the workplace,” he said. “And it’s very important to point out that this will be a continuing process.”
The report includes regulatory adjustments by a dozen state agencies, including the departments of agriculture, education, finance, health, environmental control and transportation. Agencies did not consider changes to regulations that were less than three years old.
Public absence leads to internal reviews
From August 2012 to January 2013, state agencies held public hearings in all three counties to solicit complaints and ideas for combating overregulation. Sussex County hearings were held at Sussex Central High School in Georgetown.
Department of Health and Social Services hearings on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25, 2012, each drew two members of the public. No members of the public attended a Department of Labor hearing Sept. 26, 2012, but a Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Regulations hearing Jan. 7 drew a large crowd to testify.
According to the report, most of the hearings in the state were poorly attended.
“Given the low number of public to engage in the Executive Order 36 review process, agencies were instructed to conduct their own in-depth review of the regulations on their books,” the report states.
A new Delaware Department of Transportation approval process was created for small businesses development plans because, according to the report, small businesses create fewer traffic burdens than larger businesses.
DelDOT also modified its requirement that sidewalks be installed in new developments to exclude some low-density areas.
DelDOT plans to delete seven outdated Department of Motor Vehicle regulations and clarify and consolidate 15 other DMV regulations that are duplicative.
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control extended its deadlines for companies and individuals seeking to retrofit storage tanks and implementing a 90-day deadline for DNREC officials to respond to an owner proposing an alternative approach.
DNREC also extended the deadline to install a new large wastewater system from three years to six years before a permit expires.
The Department of Health and Social Services created a limited license for operators of small water systems, reducing the educational requirement for the license from an 11-week class to a two-day class.
The Department of Agriculture increased the sales limit for small farmers who sell their own products from $40,000 to $50,000.
The Department of Education decreased requirements for documents for schools, replacing them with web postings and making some documents available online.
Delaware Department of Labor reduced the number of unemployment insurance regulations from 45 to 21, including eliminating regulations that refer to an "Appeals Tribunal" that no longer exists.
Delaware Economic Development Office eliminated four regulations that relate to tourism programs no longer in operation and one for a defunct energy alternatives program.
The order also calls for another full review process no more than three years after the submission of Markell’s June 27 report. To read the full report, go to governor.delaware.gov.