Editor’s note: The following information was provided by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau.
STATE HOUSE — Rhode Island’s Office of Regulatory Reform is the latest state agency to come under the close scrutiny of Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee.
Representatives of the agency have already met with legislative staffers who are conducting a thorough investigation of the office to assess the agency’s progress since its creation in 2010.
“When the office was created, we heard a lot about how oppressive the regulatory climate in Rhode Island is for businesses, from licenses, fees, inspections and other red tape,” said Representative Serpa. “We’re spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money on this and I want to know if there have been significant results or if that money could be better spent elsewhere.”
To that end, officials from the Office of Regulatory Reform have been invited to attend a hearing of the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 1, when they will be expected to report on the status of the agency, including how it is collaborating with municipalities, what they have done to improve the business climate in Rhode Island, and which regulations have been eliminated because they are obsolete or redundant.
The Office of Management and Budgets, Office of Regulatory Reform was created by an executive order and supported by legislation from both the House and the Senate in 2010. The purpose of the agency was to make it easier for businesses to successfully navigate state and municipal permitting and regulatory affairs.
“I would like to see some evidence that the ORR has produced results in improving the regulatory climate — that they have made it easier to do business in this state,” said Representative Serpa. “I haven’t heard any business people come forward and tell me that things are so much better now than they were eight years ago before we had an Office of Regulatory Reform. If we’re committing significant taxpayer money to this, then I want to see results.”
The time and place of the meeting on Feb. 1 have not yet been determined.
Since becoming chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee in May 2016, Representative Serpa has continuously investigated several prominent failures within multiple state agencies. She has led the charge for answers on topics of public importance such as the state’s UHIP difficulties, the deaths and near-deaths of several children under DCYF’s care, tax refund delays last year, and publicly calling for the Attorney General to release all documents related to 38 Studios.
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