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Think tank: Florida deserves a 'C' because of 'bargain basement' regulations

On the same day the Florida Legislature is poised to pass a bill that will require lawmakers to put a giant roadblock before some of the state's broadest regulations -- by ratifying every rule that has a collective cost of $200,000 a year -- a New York think tank has blasted Florida for its "bargain basement" regulatory structure and for "disproportionately focusing on costs while failing to adequately account for economic benefits."

The 441-page report, by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, analyzed the regulatory structure used to make decisions in every state and concluded that in Florida "billions of dollars and public protections may be at risk from inadequate regulatory review." The report compared each set of laws and guidelines in each state to direct feedback from leaders on the ground and assigned Florida a "C."

The report, 52 Experiments with Regulatory Reviewfound that Florida’s system is built around a “lowest-cost option” which means the cheapest method for implementing a law must be chosen, even if the rule is rendered less effective as a result.

“The desire to strip out cumbersome rules has led Florida to create a weak and ineffective regulatory system,'' said report author Jason Schwartz. "This bargain-basement approach is like buying the cheapest possible car without regard to how well it runs.”  

Florida routinely regulates industries whose size and economic footprint climb over $100 million, Schwartz concluded.  But these rules are often made without enough examination of their economic benefits, potentially yielding inefficient results.  He cited Florida's move to reduce automobile air pollution which was denied by legislators, he said. "on the basis of unscientific opinion."

“This is not a problem of too much regulation,'' said Richard Revesz, dean of NYU Law.  "It’s a question of crafting the right kind of regulation.  And given Florida’s guidelines, they are less likely to arrive at balanced, public interest-minded results.”