The Case for Common Sense Regulatory Reforms to the Maryland Code

Economic & Fiscal Policy, Environment, Taxes

by Nick Zaiac


FEBRUARY 29, 2016 pdf PDF VERSION Bookmark and Share

Since Governor Marvin Mandel’s effort to reorganize and restructure Maryland state government over 45 years ago, state government has expanded to a point where it is causing significant harm to the ability to foster economic growth.

The administration should consider a comprehensive review of Maryland’s state government structure and organization, eliminate duplicative responsibilities and functions, and look for opportunities to re-organize in order to bring Maryland into the 21st century.


Maryland Regulatory Reform Commission 2015 Report[1]

Maryland is an over-regulated state. A 2013 report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University rated the state’s regulatory environment sixth worst in the nation.[2] A 2015 Pacific Research Institute study focusing specifically on small business regulation ranked Maryland 11th worst.[3]

Though such a regulatory burden may not obstruct the colossal firms whose large office buildings ring the Washington Beltway, overregulation hurts the state’s economy, stifles entrepreneurship, and generally creates bureaucratic nightmares for citizens who must contend with the enormous and oppressive Maryland Code of Regulations.

Maryland’s regulatory burden needs to be cut. That point is fairly uncontroversial. The more important question is which regulations should be reformed or repealed outright. Moreover, what institutional reforms can be made to safeguard the public interest from rent-seeking Annapolis administrators?

But reforming certain policy areas requires more than simply repealing regulations; other regulations should be retained but their administration improved. For these, this report proposes institutional reforms focused on improved transparency, accountability, and use of benefit-cost analysis by political decision-making bodies.

This report offers a rough outline of how comprehensive reform of Maryland’s regulatory environment should look. Also, an appendix provides a title-by-title[4] analysis of the Maryland Code of Regulations, noting opportunities for reform and improvement, and identifying rules of especially dubious value.

[1] Office of Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, Regulatory Reform Commission, 2015 Report, p. 21, http://governor.maryland.gov/ltgovernor/home/regulatory-reform/

[2] “#44: Maryland,” Freedom in the 50 States, http://freedominthe50states.org/regulatory/maryland

[3] The 50-State Small Business Regulation Index, Pacific Research Institute, July 24, 2015, https://www.pacificresearch.org/article/the-50-state-small-business-regulation-index/

[4] For clarity, all references to the Code reflect the formatting used by the Maryland Division of State Documents’ COMAR database rather than the Annotated Code. The database may be accessed at http://www.dsd.state.md.us/COMAR/comarhome.html

To read the full report, click here pdf

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