Someone asked me what issue I would be truly passionate about in the State Legislature. The answer came quickly. Regulation, or more to the point, over-regulation. We simply have too many government regulations in Colorado and most — maybe all of them — were put in place for the best of intentions. But the unintended consequences have been disastrous.
Five years ago (the latest data I could find), the Code of Colorado Regulations contained a staggering 103 million words. It would take the average person, reading 40 hours per week, four months to read all of it. That is simply not acceptable.
When I ponder burdensome regulations, I tend to think about what they do to businesses. Indeed, they have an impact on the private sector. A study at George Mason University found that over-regulation in Colorado shutters, on average, 218 businesses every year, and eliminates 2,359 jobs.
That’s only part of the devastation caused by regulations. The same study concluded that over-regulation in Colorado:
Sends more than 50,000 people into poverty.
Adds 2.2 percent to income equality.
Raises prices by more than 7 percent.
Over-regulation is a silent economic killer.
Many years ago, when I was CEO of Swiss Army Brands, I instituted paid family leave in our company, much like the mandatory paid family leave that will become the law of the state in 2023. But there was a big difference. I didn’t have to do it. I did it for two reasons, primarily. One, the company could afford it. And two, it was the right thing to do.
I did it voluntarily. Many Colorado businesses do likewise. But many other don’t, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they can’t afford it. Maybe they have other benefits for their workers instead. It’s their decision, at least for now. But next year it will be mandatory, and a new payroll tax will fund it. That tax will amount to a decrease in pay for every worker in Colorado, while adding to the tax burden of businesses. The benefit becomes available in 2024.
Many Colorado regulations are really federal regulations that are passed to the state to implement. More often than not those mandated rules from Washington come with no money. So the taxpayers in Colorado have to pay for the enforcement of federal rules.
One of the hallmarks of conservatism has always been support for smaller government. Over-regulation does just the opposite. It makes government bigger and more expensive.
Doing something about burdensome state regulations will be a top priority of mine in the Legislature.