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Del. revising, eliminating some state regulations

Randall Chase, Associated Press

DOVER, Del. (AP) -- Delaware officials plan to eliminate more than 60 state regulations and revise more than 80 others after a yearlong review aimed at ensuring that state government is not imposing unnecessary burdens on businesses and residents.

Gov. Jack Markell signed an executive order last June requiring executive branch agencies to solicit and review public input on regulations that are at least three years old to determine whether they should be revised or eliminated.

Each executive agency was required to hold at least one public forum in each county and accept written comments and suggestions.

On Thursday, Markell delivered a report detailing which regulations have been changed or eliminated.

According to administration officials, 385 regulations were subject to review under Markell's executive order. As a result of the review, officials determined to amend 83 regulations and delete 61 others, some of which already were obsolete because they related to programs that no longer exist.

Officials said agencies received 234 public comments during the review process, some of which concerned non-regulatory issues.

The regulation that received the most comments, 62, is a provision requiring that a non-nurse midwife have a collaborative agreement with a licensed doctor with hospital obstetrics privileges. The Department of Health Social Services did not revise the regulation, however, saying it was related to health and safety protections, not reducing impediments to economic growth or improving efficiency of state government.

A DHSS spokeswoman said the agency has agreed to a general framework of public meetings later this year to discuss midwife issues.

"We are talking with stakeholders in this area, but because it involves the health and safety of babies and their mothers; it will require extensive discussions before we reach any possible path forward on additional or alternate ways to integrate home births into the larger health care system," said DHSS spokeswoman Jill Fredel.

Many of the comments submitted during the regulatory review were directed to the Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, two agencies that frequently deal with residents and business owners on property issues.

The Department of Transportation, which had required all new developments to provide sidewalks, or other "multi-use paths," now says that requirement will no longer apply to low-density areas where connections with other paths are not possible.

"We had some regulations that were imposed on a statewide level that might make less sense in a rural area than other parts of the state," said Lt. Gov. Matt Denn.

DelDOT also has decided to revise its subdivision streets manual to include a new approval process for commercial plans that generate a relatively small amount of vehicle traffic.

DNREC, meanwhile, plans to allow people one year, rather than 60 days, to complete the installation or retrofit an aboveground storage tank before having to reapply for a permit.

Administration officials and state lawmakers said the regulatory review will be an ongoing process. Markell's executive order calls for another formal regulatory review within three years, but he said instructive public comment is key to the process.

"In the end, we really need to hear from the people of Delaware," he said. "... When we hear there's too much regulation out there, my response is, you've got to talk with some level of specificity, otherwise it's just rhetorical."