A Fresh Start: How to Address Regulations Suspended During the Coronavirus Crisis

9 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020

See all articles by Patrick A. McLaughlin

Patrick A. McLaughlin

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Matthew D. Mitchell

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Adam D. Thierer

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 15, 2020

Abstract

As the COVID-19 crisis intensified, policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels started suspending or rescinding laws and regulations that hindered sensible, speedy responses to the pandemic. These “rule departures” raised many questions. Were the paused rules undermining public health and welfare even before the crisis? Even if the rules were well intentioned or once possibly served a compelling interest, had they grown unnecessary or counterproductive? If so, why did they persist? How will the suspended rules be dealt with after the crisis? Are there other rules on the books that might transform from merely unnecessary to actively harmful in future crises?

Once the COVID-19 crisis subsides, there is likely to be considerable momentum to review the rules that have slowed down the response. Some of those rules should probably be permanently repealed and others amended to allow for more flexible responses in the future. To this end, we propose in this brief an approach based on the successful experience of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. Our proposed “Fresh Start Initiative” would implement the following actions: 1. identify and study all the rules revised or suspended during the crisis, 2. formulate a set of recommended regulatory reforms for each of those rules, and 3. craft a plan and timetable for automatically sunsetting or comprehensively reforming those policies or programs as part of a single reform package.

Keywords: healthcare, coronavirus, coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, public health, economics, quarantine, economy, economic crisis, regulation, regulatory reform

JEL Classification: I00, I18, L52, J44, O00, O30, O38

Suggested Citation

McLaughlin, Patrick A. and Mitchell, Matthew D. and Thierer, Adam D., A Fresh Start: How to Address Regulations Suspended During the Coronavirus Crisis (April 15, 2020). Mercatus Special Edition Policy Brief, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3593010 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3593010

Patrick A. McLaughlin (Contact Author)

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Matthew D. Mitchell

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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Adam D. Thierer

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

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