Missouri Tells You What to Do 94,000 Times
Ninety-four thousand is an absurdly large number. Can you imagine doing something 94,000 times? Well, Missouri tells us what we can and cannot do 94,000 times in state regulations. Does that make Missouri seem like a place promoting civil and economic freedom? Does that sound like a state where you want to buy a house, or start a business, or earn your living? To me it doesn’t, and that’s a problem.
The Mercatus Center’s latest version of its State RegData project analyzes state-level regulations by running a program that counts the number of times the words and phrases “shall,” “must,” “may not,” “required,” and “prohibited” appear in each state’s regulations. These words usually translate to regulatory restrictions, as these phrases, when included in regulations, typically tell you what you can or cannot do.
These words appear 93,915 times in Missouri state regulations, which translates to roughly 93,915 regulatory commands in our state. That’s almost 94,000 times where the state is telling you what you can and cannot do!
As you can imagine, some of these 94,000 regulatory restrictions seem inconsequential, unnecessary, and even ridiculous. A retailer may not participate in the sales tax holiday unless more than 2 percent of its merchandise qualifies for the tax holiday. The dental board may not issue any temporary license to practice as a dental hygienist in Missouri, though many other licensed occupations allow temporary licenses. The possession or use of beer bongs is prohibited on some rivers in Missouri but not others. Is this really what the state needs to be regulating? These are just three of the 94,000 instances where Missouri controls the actions of its citizens. To make matters worse, this number only includes state-level regulations; regulatory restrictions can be placed at the county and municipal levels, too.
Regulations are more often than not just red tape that Missourians must fight through to live their lives, and 94,000 pieces of red tape sure is a lot to fight through! Missouri saw some regulatory reduction during the “No MO Red Tape” initiative, but generally bureaucrats are much quicker to add regulations than to take them away. Regulations compound to suffocate businesses and workers, controlling what they can do and taking their resources. Why is Missouri making it harder for Missourians to run businesses, earn a living, and live productive lives?