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California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, announced this week that 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 Sacramento Bee Capitol, 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.
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 Governor 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.