Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.
In this age of big spending, perhaps the most important function of government is fiscal review. Nonpartisan cost analysis is necessary for elected officials to make informed decisions on matters that impact us directly each day.
That’s what makes SB 410 even more galling. The bill, which is opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce, seeks to exempt Cal/OSHA regulations from such analysis that gives all parties a clear economic picture.
The process, known as the Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment (SRIA), applies to all new regulations with a financial impact of more than $50 million, according to the CalChamber.
The SRIA analysis must consider both the benefits and costs of a proposed regulation and any alternative measures. The Department of Finance then checks the SRIA to confirm the methodology used is suitable and the conclusions are accurate. The analysis must be completed before an agency votes to approve the proposed regulation.
The SRIA process has been cited as a beneficial exercise by both the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance. And it doesn’t apply to emergency regulations, so it wouldn’t hinder agencies when urgent action is required.
The CalChamber and a coalition of employer groups oppose the legislation.
“Big decisions must be built on good analysis,” the coalition states in a letter to the Assembly. “As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, science and analyses take time, and our policy actions must be shaped by that knowledge. The SRIA process ensures that high-quality, thorough analysis is available for the 1.5% of California’s regulations that have the broadest effects — and we believe its removal would only harm public policy outcomes at Cal/OSHA.”
No agency is above economic analysis that could give an unbiased picture of the true cost of regulation. Sept. 10 is the deadline in Sacramento to pass new bills. Let’s hope SB 410 doesn’t make it past that deadline.