Governor Terry Branstad’s latest executive order gives businesses and their advocates new opportunities to pre-empt government regulation of their activities. The governor’s spin on the new order presents it as a way to meet his administration’s job-creation goals:
“Executive Order Seventy-One will ensure that state government’s eyes are affixed on job creation, retention and development when issuing rules and regulations,” said Branstad. “This rule making process will assist in our administration’s goal of creating 200,000 new jobs and putting the roughly 106,000 unemployed Iowans back to work.”
The executive order will identify policies that hurt jobs before they impact job retention and development. […]
“As we travel the state we have heard Iowans voice their concerns over the burdens of bureaucracy that fails to understand the relationship between excessive regulation and job creation,” Branstad added. “Executive Order Seventy-One encourages a job-friendly environment as we build a strong foundation for the future.”
I’ve posted the full text of Executive Order 71 after the jump. It requires all government agencies to prepare a “jobs impact statement” before adopting any new rules and regulations, and to “minimize the adverse impact on jobs and the development of new employment opportunities before proposing a rule.” Furthermore,
Each Agency shall accept comments and information from stakeholders prior to the Jobs Impact Statement. Any concerned private sector employer or self-employed individual, potential employer, potential small business, or member of the public is entitled to submit information relating to Jobs Impact Statement upon a request for information or notice of intended action by a Department or Agency.
So, the governor is instructing agency employees to make “jobs impact” a greater consideration than other public-interest concerns (for example, reducing air pollution that causes life-threatening and costly illnesses, or restricting lending practices that trap consumers in cycles of debt). Furthermore, agency employees need to hear input from “stakeholders” (businesses and business owners) when drafting the jobs impact statements. Also, certain sectors receive privileged status:
The analysis in the Jobs Impact Statement should give particular weight to jobs in production sectors of the economy which includes the manufacturing, and agricultural sectors of the economy and include analysis, where applicable of the impact of the rule on expansion of existing businesses or facilities.
The likely outcome is that “doomsday scenario” analysis from advocacy groups like the Iowa Association of Business and Industry or the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation will now carry new credibility as part of the official “jobs impact statement” issued by state agencies. Any potential rule that manufacturers or agricultural operators view as too “burdensome” will be discarded, regardless of how many other Iowans might benefit.
For as long as I can remember, industry trade groups and lobbyists have exaggerated the potential jobs cost of regulations ranging from the Clean Air Act to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Meanwhile, no one is calculating the economic impact of, say, preventable respiratory illnesses in communities with high levels of particulate matter in the air, or making Des Moines Water Works customers pay to clean up pollution agricultural producers create in the Raccoon River Watershed.
Executive Order 71 dovetails with other recent Branstad efforts to increase business leverage against government regulations. All four of his appointees to the Environmental Protection Commission have close ties to agribusiness. The governor is also leaning toward moving Iowa’s water monitoring and water quality protection programs from the Department of Natural Resources to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.