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Franklin Republicans Proposing ‘Repealer’ to Rid State of Old Laws, Unnecessary Regs

Purpose is ‘cutting antiquated and burdensome laws,’ says House sponsor

Legislation that would create an “Office of the Repealer” remains on track despite getting bumped last week, according to the bill’s House sponsor, Franklin GOP Rep. Glen Casada.

Originally placed on the State Government Subcommittee’s calendar for Feb. 13, Casada pulled House Bill 500, saying it was poor planning on his part. “I have three other bills to be heard and didn’t want it to be four. I’ll put it back on notice sometime within the next two weeks,” the House Republican Caucus chairman told Monday.

The upper-chamber companion bill is sponsored by fellow Franklin Republican Jack Johnson, who serves as chairman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.  SB595 is scheduled to get a hearing in the State Government Operations Committee on Wednesday.

The “Repealer” legislation, which has 40 prime co-sponsors in the House, would create a one-time, four-year position for a person whose sole job would be to go through the Tennessee Code Annotated and make suggestions to the Legislature for “cutting antiquated and burdensome laws,” Casada said.

The person in the new role would be charged with “investigating and collecting information regarding the state’s laws and rules and regulations to determine instances in which such laws and rules and regulations are unreasonable, unduly burdensome, duplicative, contradictory or unnecessary,” according to the bill.

At a press conference earlier this month Sen. Johnson said the point is “putting more hard-earned money back in the pockets of all Tennesseans.”

Casada acknowledges that determining which of these laws and regulations might be burdensome is open to interpretation, but that legislators will make the final decision to keep or repeal each one.

“He will make a report, and I imagine it will be quite expansive, because at the end of the first year, that’s 25 percent of his term,” said Casada, adding that he thinks the first year the repealer will spend most of the time tackling outdated laws.

“One other state, Kansas, has done this, and that person brought back 72 recommendations after one year,” Casada said.

The six-term representative said he believes that years two through four will require “more detective work” by the repealer, who will have no staff, as he or she begins talking with commissioners and department heads about what is in policy and procedures that they know is not needed or is a burden.

Answering to the Secretary of State, the repealer will also be required to set up an online system to receive recommendations from the public on laws and regs that ought to be axed.

At the end of the four-year process, Casada believes the repealer will find substantial cost savings for state government, as well as enable businesses to focus more on creating jobs and commerce. “For every hour we can save business owners in paperwork, that’s one hour they can spend on growing their business. Think about how much that will save them when you multiply it by every business in the state.”

According to the Fiscal Note attached to the repealer bill, the cost will be $92,010 per year, but won’t require any new funding. “The Secretary of State is just moving responsibilities around,” Casada said. “And then again, in four years, it goes away, by law.”

Casada said Tennessee lawmakers themselves don’t really have time to comb through codes and untangle thickets of administrative red tape.

“Most legislators have a staff of one, and that individual is committed full time to constituent service. We’re part-time legislators. This legislation in essence builds upon what we as Republicans, the Speaker of the House and the governor have already begun … [but] it’s not organized, it’s not focused,” he said. “That’s what this does. It makes us organized, it makes us focused.”

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