By Michael Watson
Starting a business in Mississippi has always been a quick and easy process. However, many businesses still struggle to stay alive due to unnecessary government regulations, also known as “red tape.” Mississippi’s regulatory code contains roughly 118,000 restrictions, making us one of the most regulated states in the Southeast. As Mississippi’s Secretary of State and a small business owner, I understand firsthand the impact burdensome regulations can have on our state’s economy, which is why our office remains heavily committed to our Tackle the Tape initiative.
Tackle the Tape sets out to cut regulations that are anti-competitive and do not substantially further the safety and well-being of our citizens. July marks one year since its inception, and I’m proud to say we have seen far more progress and support in the first twelve months than we could have ever imagined. Whether it’s through my position on the Occupational Licensing Review Commission (OLRC) or partnerships my team and I formed with the legislature and other state agencies, Tackle the Tape continues to be a beacon of hope when it comes to removing the burden of excessive regulation.
Throughout my first year as a member of the OLRC, I’ve had the opportunity to vote on more than 40 proposed regulation changes. These changes impact a wide range of industries and businesses, from Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firms and Nursing Home Administrators to Pharmacists, Architects, and Medical Residents. Each vote is a chance to make operations more efficient and less procedural for Mississippi business owners.
I’m constantly looking for innovative ways to make the Commission’s review process more efficient, which is why I was thrilled when the OLRC unanimously passed my amendment to require our state’s 29 occupational licensing boards to submit regulatory impact assessments. These reports will provide the OLRC with the information and analysis needed to make informed decisions by measuring the impact proposed regulations will have on our state’s businesses and consumers.
While I am proud of our accomplishments thus far through the ORLC, the success of Tackle the Tape goes far beyond the walls of those quarterly meetings. Since taking office, my team and I worked closely with the state legislature to enact several critical pieces of legislation regarding regulation and licensing reform during the. House Bill 1104 granted the OLRC the authority to review existing regulations, and House Bill 1263 created occupational licensing reciprocity for working professionals moving to Mississippi. We’ve also teamed up with other government entities to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy within their agencies, leading to substantial job growth and economic development across our state.
For Mississippi to be competitive on a national scale, we must encourage a government that helps, not hinders, economic opportunity. By taking the time to listen to the troubles and triumphs of the hardworking individuals who keep us up and running, our office is able to drive adjustments to and/or erase rules as needed. That said, we need your help! To continue our success of cutting red tape across our state, please take the time to report burdensome regulations through our #TackleTheTape portal on the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website (sos.ms.gov). Together, we can ensure Mississippi lives up to its hospitable reputation by promoting a business-friendly environment which fosters innovation, economic development, and job growth.
Michael Watson is Mississippi’s Secretary of State.