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EDITORIAL: New governor targets regulations, licensing boards

Just weeks after taking office, Gov. Joe Lombardo has wasted little time fulfilling an important campaign promise to “put pro-business policies in place” as a means of encouraging economic diversification and growth.

On Thursday, the governor issued two executive orders that seek to pare the regulatory thicket while also challenging the notion that thousands of Nevadans should be forced to obtain a government permission slip before they’re allowed to legally support themselves.

The orders are an encouraging sign that Gov. Lombardo, a Republican, will check the excesses of a Democratic Legislature when it comes to the administrative state.

The first executive action orders state agencies to “undertake a comprehensive review” of the regulations they enforce and to present the governor’s office with a report detailing how various rules “can be streamlined, clarified, reduced or otherwise improved” to promote economic growth without hindering public safety.

In addition, the order calls for agencies to hold public hearings to seek input from various parties and directs executive branch agencies to cease issuing any new regulations until the governor lifts the freeze.

The second executive action instructs all Nevada’s occupational and professional licensing boards to detail and justify rules that “restrict entry into any occupation or profession regulated by the board.” The edict also stops such boards from issuing any new regulations and orders licensing requirements to be phased out by July 1 for occupations and professions currently subjected to licensing requirements in Nevada but aren’t similarly restricted by the majority of states.

It also announces the intention to honor certain out-of-state occupational licenses as long as a majority of states allow for licensing reciprocity in that particular vocation.

Both orders make eminent sense.

Mandating an inventory of state regulations from time to time with an eye toward culling unnecessary, duplicative or petty directives should be common practice and promotes efficiency and productivity. Such reviews are common outside the cloistered world of government.

As for occupational licensing, outside certain highly trained professionals — say, medical doctors or veterinarians — the practice is too often used as a means of suppressing competition and protecting entrenched practitioners. There’s no public or consumer safety need to force a hair-braider to undergo more training and at more expense than an emergency medical technician, yet that’s the case in a number of states, according to the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm that follows such things.

No doubt there will be squealing from vested interests, including in the Legislature. The governor’s challenge will be to ensure his orders translate into substantive change.

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