TRENTON — Lawmakers are one vote away from sending a bill to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk retooling the defunct Red Tape Review Commission for a progressive era.

The proposed Government Efficiency and Regulatory Review Commission, or GEARR, would be a nine-member panel that would evaluate proposed and adopted regulations, rules and executive orders to consider their economic impact and whether their benefits outweigh the burdens placed on business and government.

The bill, S441/A4810, was approved 72-1 by the Assembly in November and endorsed by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee on Thursday. That puts it in position to perhaps reach Murphy’s desk in two weeks, at the Senate’s Jan. 28 voting session.

Michael Egenton, executive vice president of government relations for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said it “sort of mirrors the Red Tape Review Commission” created in Gov. Chris Christie’s term.

“We made some progress in changing some of the regulations that, respectfully, from time to time could hamper a business and slow things down,” Egenton said. “They’re looking for certainty and predictability and to be able to run their business operations, and a bill like this setting up this commission, it’s sorely needed.”

Christopher Emigholz, vice president of government affairs for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said the GEARR commission is similar to Red Tape Review Commission that Murphy allowed to lapse but “updated to better fit” the Murphy administration paradigm.

“The chief innovation officer is in charge of it, and Gov. Murphy’s DEP commissioner and labor commissioner are on the commission to better fit the way Gov. Murphy might look at innovation and look at red tape and look at regulatory relief,” Emigholz said. “So, we hope that is something that the Murphy administration could get behind.”

Emigholz said regulatory relief is a recurring theme for NJBIA and the Legislature’s manufacturing caucus. He said that unlike other keys to economic growth that cost money such as affordability, innovation, workforce development and infrastructure, regulatory changes do not.

“And so moving in this direction, having commissions like this, getting to a regulatory relief system that is more favorable to our taxpayers, our businesses, our constituents, all the voters in the state, helps our state, makes our state a better state, an easier state to live in,” Emigholz said.

“Government should be constantly evolving, looking to be leaner, more efficient, more effective, and this bill does that,” he said. “It makes us a better steward of taxpayer dollars, and it makes us a better provider of quality services.”

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The bill requires the commission to deliver an annual report to the governor and Legislature with recommendations on items to repeal or amend. The findings are advisory only, and cannot be used for legal challenges.

“The plethora of red tape and bureaucracy has been suffocating New Jersey’s economy for too long, and conditions deteriorate more with every passing year,” said Sen. Steve Oroho, R-Sussex. “The goal for creating this commission is to begin unraveling rules, regs and edicts that have a negative impact on the fiscal environment in the state.”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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