Home Forums Open Discussion A Snapshot of Maine Regulations in 2018

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      I make the point every once in a while that the American people are controlled by an estimated 2 million state and federal laws. If my challengeable figure is correct, and if freedom is measured by the absence of legislation, then my next question is whether or not the American people are actually free. I am quite willing to acknowledge that not all regulatory laws apply to all Americans, but if one subscribes to the school of thought that tells us ‘everything counts’ at what time do our alleged representatives in government ever remove laws. When, and in what manner, do our representatives protect our freedoms, rather than look for new and interesting ways to control us?

      Let’s look at one state, shall we? The state in mind is the same state that Forbes a few years ago told us was number 50 in business climate. Does this state have any thoughts, at any level, about restoring freedom in this state? Interestingly enough, this state does not fall at the bottom of the states in the Mercatus/Cato freedom rankings – that honor usually falls to NY, NJ, CA, and a few others.

      The state I am looking at today is the state of Maine, and the reviewer is the Mercatus Center from George Mason University.

      “It would take an ordinary person more than two and a half years to read the entire US Code of Federal Regulations(CFR), which contained nearly 104 million words in 2017. The sheer size of the CFR poses a problem not just for the individuals and businesses that want to stay in compliance with the law but also for anyone interested in understanding the consequences of this massive system of rules. States also have sizable regulatory codes, which add an additional layer to the large body of federal regulation. A prime example is the online version of the 2018 Code of Maine Rules(CMR).

      “Researchers at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University developed State RegData, a platform for analyzing and quantifying state regulatory text. State RegData captures information in minutes that would take hours, weeks, or even years to obtain by reading and counting. For example, the tool allows researchers to identify the industries that state regulation targets most by connecting text relevant to those industries with restrictive word counts. Referred to as regulatory restrictions, the words and phrases shall, must, may not, prohibited, and required can signify legal constraints and obligations. As shown in figure 1, the three industries with the highest estimates of industry-relevant restrictions in the 2018 CMR are ambulatory healthcare services, food manufacturing, and utilities.

      “State RegData also reveals that the 2018 CMR contains 113,862 restrictions and 8.1 million words. It would take an individual about 449 hours—or more than 11 weeks—to read the entire CMR. That’s assuming the reader spends 40 hours per week reading and reads at a rate of 300 words per minute. By comparison, there are 1.09 million additional restrictions in the federal code. Individuals and businesses in Maine must navigate these different layers of restrictions to remain in compliance.”

      “Federal regulation tends to attract the most headlines, but it is important to remember that the nearly 104 million words and 1.09 million restrictions in the federal code significantly understate the true scope of regulation in the United States. States like Maine write millions of additional words of regulation and hundreds of thousands of additional restrictions. State-level requirements carry the force of law to restrict individuals and businesses just as federal ones do.”



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