As part of my internship with the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, I participated in the production of three videos that play on the length and complexity of Connecticut’s regulations.

The videos take a humorous approach to a serious subject, yet they illustrate an important truth: Connecticut is one of the most regulated states in the nation, and its residents feel the effects of that every day.

Connecticut’s regulations have earned the state the ranking of sixth least free state in the country by the Cato Institute, and have led CNBC to rank Connecticut as 47th in the nation in the “ease of doing business” category. During my internship with Yankee, I was tasked with trying to make sense of it all. So, I tabbed over to eregulations.ct.gov and got to work.

For anyone concerned about how hard it is to find work in Connecticut, these videos hopefully help explain at least part of problem.

 

The first thing that struck me was the sheer volume of the regulations. Collected under 54 numbered titles and a whole mess of alphanumeric subtitles, their total measure is about 15,000 pages. For reference, that’s the equivalent of War and Peace about ten times over.

The tax code clocks in as the single longest title, at 1,026 pages, it’s so complex that even the examples included for clarity would make most people’s eyes glaze over. In addition to the complexities of figuring out what one owes in the first place, businesses and individuals then have to wade through a mess of exemptions, deductions, and credits for everything from traffic reduction plans to animated film production to blood plasma.

My favorite gem of the whole thing is the part concerning non-competition covenants, where a person is paid to agree to not perform a service. In order to comply with the tax code, it must then be determined what portion of the service not done, was not done in Connecticut.

 

The second thing I realized was that, while lots of the regulations made sense, a number seemed to be either overzealous, out of date – or simply unnecessary for protecting the public.

For example:

  • Why does a horse racetrack legally need to provide a recreation hall for stable employees?
  • Why do events held in state parks need to submit caterers for approval four months ahead of time?

Plenty of other points raised eyebrows as well. The fine line between pool cleaners and maintainers on the one side, and pool repairers on the other was another such instance. (The former can unclog mechanical filter systems; they just can’t fix them.)

The third thing I noticed was the sheer number of repealed portions of the code.

Often, the repealed elements were especially egregious overregulation, like requiring strict license requirements for hairdressers, or restricting the hours women could work in bowling alleys.

But the fact that these regulations were repealed feeds into a hope that Connecticut can do better; that we can slim down the regulations to only the portions necessary to keep people safe.

I urge everyone to take a look at the regulations for themselves even if you’re not “strong enough” to handle them, like Joe in our videos. You’ll gain a new perspective on how our state is run. And I promise it’s not as hard as Chinese. Really.

Bernard Stamford is a senior at Yale. Among other subjects, he studies Chinese history by reading documents in the original language. He was a Fall 2016 intern at the Yankee Institute. 

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