TO PROMOTE NORTH CAROLINA JOB GROWTH THROUGH REGULATORY REFORM.
Amends GS 150B-2 (definitions applicable to the Administrative Procedure Act) to add two definitions. Defines significant rule change as a proposed rule that may: (1) have a significant effect on the economy, state, or local funds, (2) create an inconsistency with an action taken or planned by another agency, or (3) raise novel policy issues. Defines small business as a business entity, including affiliates, that (1) is independently owned and operated and (2) either has gross annual sales less than $6 million or employs fewer than 500 full-time employees. Makes a technical change. Enacts new GS 150B-19(8), prohibiting an agency from adopting a rule that exceeds standards or requirements established by federal law or regulation, unless expressly required by an act of the General Assembly. Amends GS 150B-21.2(a)(2), directing an agency to prepare or obtain, when required, a fiscal note, cost-benefit analysis, and small business regulatory flexibility analysis before adopting a permanent rule. Amends GS 150B-21.2(c), requiring a notice of the proposed rule or textual changes to an existing rule to include, in addition to requirements under current law, a short summary of the existing regulations and an explanation of how the proposed rule would change those regulations, as specified. Also requires the notice to cite to the law giving the agency authority to adopt the rule and a detailed explanation of the specific citations, as detailed. Requires the notice to include a statement explaining how the fiscal note, cost-benefit analysis, or small business regulatory flexibility analysis was conducted and how to obtain copies, if applicable. Adds that the notice must include the right to judicial review for any person seeking to challenge the rule adoption.
Amends GS 150B-21.4(b1), requiring an agency to obtain a cost-benefit analysis (rather than a fiscal note) for the proposed rule change from the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) or prepare a cost-benefit analysis (rather than a fiscal note) for approval before the agency publishes the proposed text of a permanent rule change that would be a significant rule change (currently, would have a substantial economic impact) and that is not identical to a required federal regulation in the North Carolina Register. Further amends the statute, replacing all references to “fiscal note” with “cost-benefit analysis” and all references to “substantial economic impact” with “significant rule change.” Clarifies that a significant rule change includes any rule with an aggregate financial impact on all persons affected of at least $3 million in a 12 -month period. Makes conforming changes. Amends GS 150B-21.4(b2), adding three items that the cost-benefit analysis must include to the current list. Enacts new subsection (b3) to GS 150B-21.4, directing the OSBM to reject the proposed rule based on the cost-benefit analysis if: (1) the projected costs exceed projected benefits, as detailed; (2) an alternative is less costly and reasonably likely to achieve the same objective; or (3) the proposed rule change would not achieve the stated purpose. Enacts new subsection (b4), directing the OSBM to approve the proposed rule if the rule minimizes the economic impact to the greatest extent possible and the rule responds to at least one of five specified considerations. Enacts new subsection (b5), requiring and detailing each agency’s periodic review of rules. Directs agencies to review rules adopted after the act’s enactment each year to minimize economic impact, and lists factors for consideration. Details reporting requirements and circumstances under which rules are amended or rescinded. Enacts new subsection (b6), requiring each agency to prepare a small business impact statement, including the listed information, before adopting any proposed regulation that may have an adverse impact on small businesses. Directs an agency to consider and provide to OSBM five enumerated methods to reduce the impact before the agency publishes in the NC Register, and requires that OSBM reject a proposed rule if the agency fails to take reasonable steps to reduce the impact. Makes clarifying changes to GS 150B-21.4(c).
Amends GS 150B-21.9 (standards and timetables for review by the Rules Review Commission), clarifying that the Rules Review Commission (Commission) must determine whether the rule is within the clear authority delegated to the agency by the General Assembly, and no reasonable argument can be made that the authority does not exist. The Commission must also determine that the rule is reasonably necessary to implement or interpret a state law (currently, state law or federal law or regulation), and that the General Assembly likely intended for the agency to adopt the rule. Adds that the Commission must determine that the OSBM properly approved the cost-benefit analysis and small business regulatory flexibility analysis, as required. Adds that the Commission may ask the OSBM to determine if the rule may have an adverse impact on small businesses and consequently requires a small business regulatory flexibility analysis, and directs the Commission to make the inquiry if an analysis was not prepared and the Commission receives a written request for determination. Deletes GS 150B-21.9(a1), which created a rebuttable presumption that a rule was adopted in accordance with Part 2, upon entry of the rule in the NC Administrative Code after review by the Commission. Makes conforming changes.
Enacts new GS 150B-21.17, directing the OSBM to provide an annual summary to the Commission, explaining why the OSBM directed each agency to rescind or amend a rule, or decided that no action on a rule was necessary. Requires the Commission to direct the OSBM to amend or rescind a rule if the Commission determines the agency could not demonstrate five specified circumstances. Permits a rule to be amended or rescinded only if the rule is not required to respond to at least one of five listed conditions. Amends GS 150B-43, which provides a right to judicial review, adding that any person is entitled to judicial review to determine whether a rule has been properly adopted within one year after the final rule’s effective date.
Amends GS 62-3, defining using and consuming public as utility consumers solely in their roles as consumers. Amends GS 62-15, directing the Public Staff in the NC Utilities Commission (Utilities Commission) to consider only the interests of the using and consuming public in their interest as consumers. Prohibits the Public Staff from taking any action that would lead to higher prices unless the prices are clearly justified for more reliable or better utility services. Further adds that a member of the using and consuming public may petition the Utilities Commission to review whether the Public Staff acted according to the directive, and requires the Utilities Commission to take specified steps if the Public Staff did not.
Creates a 12 member Legislative Study Commission on Occupational Licensing (Study Commission). Details the Study Commission membership, duties, and administrative considerations. Directs the Study Commission to make a final report to the 2012 Regular Session of the General Assembly upon convening, and to terminate after filing the report. Appropriates $50,000 from the General Fund to the General Assembly for 2011-12 to fund the Study Commission.
Effective July 1, 2011.