Arkansas Lawmakers Consider Housecleaning for State Rulebook

Published January 2, 2019

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the rollback of more than 800 outdated or unnecessary regulations, including unenforceable rules, regulations enacted by commissions no longer existing, and other duplicative codes.

As provided for in Act 781, state agencies proposed 800 rules for deletion by the Arkansas Legislative Council (ALC), a joint legislative committee responsible for executive-branch oversight.

The ALC referred the proposals to legislative subcommittees, which approved the recommendations. The rules will be gone after the changes are formally approved by the ALC. The 800 rules represent 15,000 pages of regulations, or 25 percent of all state rules, said Hutchinson in September.

Making a List

Taking stock of existing regulations was a necessary first step to determine which were unneeded, says Arkansas state rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville), sponsor of Act 781 and a co-vice chairperson of ALC.

“The original idea was to have the governor divide all of these rules in the state into six roughly equal-sized groups, with one group every four years coming up for review,” Dotson said.  “Without finding out what the baseline was, the governor couldn’t practically divide them into groups like that. Working backwards from that point was the end goal: We had to first establish the baseline.”

One-Stop Rules Shop

Dotson says he wants to create a central online clearinghouse for Arkansas regulations so members of the public can read the code for themselves.

“One of the top things, from a regulatory standpoint, is actually having an online database where all agency rules and regulations are housed,” Dotson said. “Regardless of what agency you are subject to, you [should be able to] go to one location and find a universal storehouse. If someone is subject to multiple agency jurisdictions, they should just have one area to go to find out what rules they are subject to.

“Arkansas is one of the few states that does not have an online rules registry, so there is no one place to define what our current status is,” Dotson said.

Owen Macaulay ([email protected]) writes from Hillsdale, Michigan.

Official Connections:

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison:

Arkansas state Rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville):