California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, today said he will pursue emergency legislation forcing state agencies to review all regulations and recommend a wholesale re-writing of the state's regulatory scheme.
In an interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau, Steinberg said he'll propose "urgency legislation that directs each state agency to review its regulations, identify any duplicative, archaic or inconsistent rules."
Steinberg said lawmakers could then act on the recommendations over the next six months, perhaps expunging some rules from the 5,000-page California Code of Regulations as part of the state budget negotiations.
"To our knowledge, no one, not a previous governor, not the agencies and not the Legislature have ever compelled this sort of retrospective review to ensure that state regulations are streamlined, that they're up to date and that they're consistent with the law," Steinberg said.
The idea drew a positive response from Sen. Bob Dutton, the minority Republican Senate leader, who said that GOP bills to eliminate regulations have met with defeat for years in the Legislature.
"I would like to thank Senate Pro Tem Steinberg for his decision today to introduce urgency legislation to review all of California's thousands of regulations that have contributed to the loss of private-sector jobs over the past several years," Dutton, of Rancho Cucamonga, said in a statement.
Democratic leader Steinberg said his is not an effort to "weaken or undermine public health, environmental or worker safety protections," but rather to make it easier for businesses to "wade through the often difficult, complicated, duplicative bureaucracies that delay economic investment and job growth."
Steinberg, who held a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting this week with high-profile business figures, said he also wants urgency legislation that allows businesses or others to request a "consolidated and coordinated" state review process to obtain permits.
"Government needs to be more nimble," Steinberg said.
The ideas emerge as Democratic leaders prepare for the Legislature to review Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to slash $12.6 billion in government spending. They are also trying to assemble a ballot measure for June that calls for extending tax hikes they say will be needed to avoid doubling those cuts.
"We need to do a whole lot better in providing a friendlier business climate," Steinberg said, adding that Democrats need to show businesses that they "get it."
If agencies are compelled to identify duplication, Steinberg said, "we ought to identify some of the most obvious" repetitive regulations and quickly eliminate them with executive or legislative action.
This post was updated at 2:16 p.m. with comments from Sen. Bob Dutton.
PHOTO CREDIT: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, speaks at the Capitol Bureau. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.