Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen John Burzichelli, Tim Eustace, Bob Andrzejczak and Vince Mazzeo to do away with burdensome red tape for both businesses and consumers gained Assembly approval on Thursday.
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.
“As a member of the Governor’s Red Tape Review Commission, I attended a number of hearings on this subject and heard countless firsthand stories about the frustrations the public has encountered when it comes to cutting through red tape at the state level,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “We’ve made progress in eliminating some red tape, but I think this measure will do a great deal to cut down on the remaining obstacles that often stifle progress for businesses and homeowners.”
The bill (A-3123) would expand and strengthen current law, which requires each state agency to undertake a periodic review of permits they issue in order to identify any that are obsolete or that could be administered through an expedited procedure.
“Many of the requirements that still exist today are from a bygone era and may no longer even be relevant,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “A comprehensive review of what’s still on the books will help us determine if these permits and procedures are still relevant or merely a hindrance to progress.”
The bill would require the head of each state agency, in conducting a periodic comprehensive written review of the permits, to identify:
1) those permits that can be administered through an expedited process;
2) those permits that are obsolete, are no longer necessary, or cost more to administer than the benefits they provide, and thus should be eliminated so long as the public health, safety or general welfare is not endangered;
3) those permits that can have their period of validity extended one or more years beyond the scheduled termination date without significant disruption to the efficiency or work of the state agency; and
4) those permitting procedures that can be better facilitated through the increased incorporation of computer-based technology or that can be completed online.
“I’ve heard from many constituents about how frustrating it is to navigate through what can often be layers of red tape,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This bill is, at once, both business- and consumer-friendly in helping to eliminate many of the bureaucratic frustrations encountered by the public.”
The bill also specifies that, as part of its comprehensive written review, each state agency must include, among other things: a description of the recent actions taken by the agency to reduce the number of permits that are backlogged, recommendations for eliminating future permits or extending the period of validity for others; recommendations for revising or eliminating remaining permitting procedures; and the probable impact that each of the recommended changes would have.
“With our economy still struggling to rebound from the recession, it’s important that we do all we can to help businesses get off the ground and running and stay competitive once they do,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This is an important step to boost our economy in support of our state’s hard-working middle-class families.”
The bill would require the Secretary of State, or other state officer or employee designated by the governor, to post on its website and submit to the governor and the legislature by March 1 of each year a report that summarizes the information contained in the various state agency comprehensive written reviews.
The measure would give the governor and the legislature the authority to enact any of the changes deemed necessary in the reports and the head of each state agency would be authorized to adopt rules and regulations as necessary to effectuate the changes sought.
The bill passed unanimously in both houses.