This paper explores high-profile state-level changes to regulatory compliance and administrative processes from the past year, and addresses ways to assess their value and the benefit of continuing them with improved procedures for more streamlined implementation.

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Executive Summary

As Governors work to facilitate a strong, rapid and equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Governors have made reviewing business regulations and regulatory processes a priority. Innovations and changes to business regulations and their associated administrative processes were explored by many states to counter the economic fallout from the pandemic and can provide valuable lessons moving forward. This paper explores high-profile state-level changes to regulatory compliance and administrative processes from the past year, and addresses ways to assess their value and the benefit of continuing them with improved procedures for more streamlined implementation. It suggests policy areas that might be considered “low hanging fruit” for Governors and state agencies interested in streamlining the administration of their regulations, as well as next steps to consider. Specifically, the paper discusses:

State-level regulatory changes and process improvements made during the pandemic

  • New state portals to facilitate small business support initiatives
  • Removing in-person requirements from regulatory processes
  • Enhanced business registration and licensing systems
  • Improved processes for reviewing and approving outdoor business permits

Aiding longer-term economic recovery by applying lessons from the state pandemic response

  • Mandating a task force review of business regulations and regulatory processes
  • Setting quantifiable goals and targets
  • Fortifying lines of communication between commerce and regulatory agencies

Looking forward: Streamlining state regulatory processes for economic recovery

  • Focus on modernizing existing regulatory compliance systems and processes
  • Streamline processes for opening a new business
  • Clarify and simplify site selection and business location regulations
  • Expand flexibility in occupational licensing

Next steps for Governors and states to consider

  • Modernize and digitize public meetings
  • Use data and metrics to identify opportunities and track success
  • Implement best practices in communicating with businesses on regulatory implementation and compliance

The NGA-Pew Partnership
In partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew), the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) is implementing a Policy Academy on Business Regulations from 2019 – 2022. The project is focused on strengthening state economies by streamlining and improving business regulatory processes. During the pandemic, states quickly began making unexpected, but necessary, regulatory changes to support their business sectors through the economic crisis. Thus, the project’s focus on streamlining business regulatory processes is now even more important than before. This paper highlights the key actions states have taken thus far and next steps for Governors and states to consider as they navigate the economic recovery.

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