Lee: 'I want to have a clear understanding of the regulatory environment'

Hank Hayes • Feb 5, 2019 at 7:30 AM

KINGSPORT – One reason new Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he issued an executive order to halt new regulations for the next 90 days across all state executive branch departments was because he feels we have too many regulations.

“We just want to make sure that before we pass any more regulations, we evaluate the current ones and that we make certain we have an environment for business that is friendly and not over-regulated,” Lee, a Republican, said in an interview before Friday’s Kingsport Chamber Dinner. “I want to have a clear understanding of the regulatory environment.”

Executive Order 5 outlines a 90-day freeze in which no executive branch department will file a new rule or regulation with the secretary of state. During the freeze, the executive branch will develop a framework to better assess the costs and benefits of imposing a new regulation.

The order also underscores creating a regulatory environment that encourages “self-improvement, entrepreneurship and investment.” Departments may receive an exception from the governor in the event a proposed rule benefits the health, safety or welfare of Tennesseans. Regulations approved by the previous administration that have not yet taken effect will be excluded from the executive order.

When asked if he would like to get rid of Tennessee’s $400 professional privilege tax, Lee responded: “I’m always looking for opportunities to lower taxes and we’re considering options for cutting taxes across the board.”

Lee also said he’s excited about working with Kingsport’s Dr. Jeff McCord, the state’s new commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

“He is an expert in a field I am particularly interested in and that is vocational technical education,” Lee said of McCord. “A focus of my administration is going to be strengthening vocational technical education, particularly in K-12 education.”

Lee will be attending Tuesday’s presidential State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.

“He just called me up and made an invitation, and I was grateful for the invitation,” Lee said of Fleischmann. “I’ll be meeting with him and all the Tennessee delegation before we go to the State of the Union.”