RALEIGH — Freshman Rep. Glen Bradley, R-Franklin, claims he has filed the only bill this legislative session that would create a significant number of jobs. But that bill may never get heard, unless the Ron Paul-styled lawmaker can gather signatures from 61 members of the state House before the end of the business day today.
In an email sent at 5 o’clock this morning, Bradley threatened to bypass Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, and Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell McCormick, R-Forsyth, who chairs a key subcommittee, and bring his bill to the House floor by petition. Bradley said would withdraw his call for a discharge petition — a process forcing legislation to get an immediate floor vote if the petition is signed by more than 50 percent of the members — if Tillis and McCormick would give the bill a “fair hearing” Wednesday.
House Bill 587, North Carolina Jobs Bill, got its first committee hearing last Wednesday, but the bill was not voted on. McCormick, who chairs the Commerce and Job Development Subcommittee on Business and Labor, must bring up the bill for a committee vote tomorrow or it would not reach the floor by the June 9 crossover deadline, killing it.
That’s why Bradley took the unusual step of considering a discharge petition. His email to Tillis, McCormick, and other members of the Republican leadership this morning underscored the differences between his jobs bill and others that have been filed this session.
As opposed to bills that will create “a few energy jobs here, a couple dozen infrastructure jobs there, and maybe even several hundred technology jobs,” Bradley claims H.B. 587 would create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next few years by repealing regulatory burdens on businesses, particularly small businesses.
Pouring incentive money into one sector or another does not create jobs, Bradley wrote. Jobs come from providing small business owners the freedom to innovate and thrive without the stranglehold of rules and regulations.
H.B. 587 directs the Office of State Budget and Management to conduct an annual review of every rule in the state. The OSBM would recommend for repeal rules not that did not pass a cost/benefit analysis, did not accomplish their purpose, or were no longer necessary. The regulations with a failing grade would get sent to the Rules Review Commission for further review. Then both agencies would recommend those the General Assembly should repeal.
While Bradley admits the process is arduous, he said it would become less daunting each year. There are more than 18,000 rules and regulations on the state’s books, he said. He hopes that number will become smaller and smaller each year.
The process will eliminate rules that are “obsolete, draconian, duplicative, cannot be understood by the people being regulated, or that have been bypassed by technology,” Bradley wrote.
Lifting licensing barriers
In addition to adding five new staff members to the Rules Review Commission, the bill creates a Legislative Study Commission on Occupational Licensing.
The commission is charged with identifying occupations for which licenses are required but not necessary.
The extra time and money it costs to get a license creates a barrier to entry into fields of work that don’t always require a formal education, Bradley said. Licensing laws often push out the poor, who might otherwise be self-employed.
Environmentalists and the building industry expressed opposition to the bill at the committee hearing June 1.
Dan Conrad of the North Carolina Conservation Network was concerned that the bill disallowed state agencies from creating rules stricter than those required by the federal government, without the General Assembly’s approval.
The rules review process “is going to put a huge undue burden on agencies,” Conrad said.
Elizabeth Ouzts of Environment North Carolina said the legislature already has ample opportunity to review agency rules and that further review is unnecessary.
Ouzts also expressed fears that the state’s Clean Air Mercury rule, which is stricter than federal guidelines require, could be repealed. Bradley argued that a rule like that probably would not be repealed, but that it should be up to elected representatives to decide.
Lisa Martin of the North Carolina Home Builders Association said she was uncomfortable with the bill as drafted, but did not say why. She did say the building industry looked forward to working with Bradley on the bill and wanted to make sure it had a voice in whatever regulatory reform legislation moved this session.
In his letter, Bradley indicated opposition also is coming from within the legislature. He said McCormick said the bill is “too big” and that “it does too much.”
Adam Love, state director of Campaign for Liberty, is rallying grass-roots activists to contact their representatives and urge them to sign Bradley’s discharge petition, with the threat of kicking them out of office if they don’t.
“Republican leadership doesn’t want freshman Tea Party representative Glen Bradley to get the credit for a jobs bill,” Love wrote to Campaign for Liberty members. “They want to chop it up into little pieces and dole them out to senior Republicans in the House and Senate so they can get the credit.”
To Tillis, Bradley wrote:
“I may be a thorn in the side, but I have done everything in my power to cooperate and work with the House Republican Caucus towards the accomplishment of our common goals. Several times I have voted with the caucus against my better judgment (in issues unrelated to my fundamental principles), because I believed in the process that you had laid out for us, that I should cooperate to the best of my ability and my bills would get a fair hearing. Clearly, they have not.”
Bradley concluded the letter with a promise to withdraw the discharge petition in exchange for a “fair hearing” for H.B. 587.
Sara Burrows is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.