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Window on State Government

Regulatory Reform Task Force

Houston, April 12, 2000
Texas State Comptroller's Office Listens to Regulatory Reform Concerns in Houston
Changing the process of permitting and licensing various regulated industries is the key to regulatory reform in Texas, according to testimony at Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander's e-Texas hearing in Houston.   More-->

Gerald B. Smith, Task Force Commissioner

A dynamic and rapidly changing economy is forcing government to reexamine its regulatory approaches. The traditional "command and control" approach to regulation has achieved some improvements in public safety and the environment, but these tools are becoming increasingly ineffective and needlessly costly. Traditional command and control strategies tend to discourage innovative solutions and to force the regulated to follow certain procedures whether or not they are appropriate to the problem at hand. By contrast, new, collaborative approaches to regulation have achieved good results across the country while easing the regulatory burden on both citizens and government.

Texas has more than 80 state agencies with regulatory authority over areas including natural resources, occupational licensing, taxation and health services. In addition to state regulatory agencies, the state has numerous county and municipal regulatory agencies. Every Texan is directly affected by government regulation. For example, the water coming in to every Texas home and business has to meet clean water standards set by the federal government and enforced by the state. Due to the impact of regulation on every citizen, government should ensure that regulatory programs are carried out in the most cost-effective manner possible and that policymakers constantly assess the benefit of regulation against its cost.

Past regulatory reform studies in Texas have focused primarily on process improvement, consolidations of functions and regulatory review. While such recommendations have led to improvements in the regulatory system, they remained largely within the traditional framework of government regulation. In other jurisdictions, fundamental questions are being asked about regulation that challenge current regulatory tools and approaches. Such inquiries are forcing government to look for alternative means of achieving the same ends and, in some cases, questioning the ends themselves.

e-Texas is an initiative of Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Post Office Box 13528, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas

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