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Darrell Steinberg looks to eliminate superfluous California regulations

by Bob Morris, published

President Obama recently said he wants to eliminate mindless, burdensome, and unneeded regulations at the federal level. California Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) agrees, saying he wants to do the same for California and will propose "urgency legislation that directs each state agency to review its regulations, identify any duplicative, archaic or inconsistent rules."

You know things are changing when a Democrat proposes this. The Republican response was definitely positive. They have been attempting to do this for years, and are probably wondering what alternative reality they've stumbled into where a ranking Democrat advocates slashing bureaucracy, red tape, and hindrances to people and businesses getting things done.

Steinberg hastened to add he didn't want to undermine public safety, health, or environmental protections. However, those agencies no doubt need some streamlining of regulations too. His main intent is to simplify the entire state regulatory system, reducing duplication and archaic rules.

This clearly is needed and apparently has never been done before. Those wishing to cut through the overgrown thicket of California regulations that has sprouted up over decades had better bring a chain saw, too.

Along with simplying regulations, I propose that California make it far simpler to apply for permits and licenses, form corporations, and find and use information. California does not currently make it easy to do any of this. Worse, their online services are antiquated, deeply user-unfriendly, and seem to be designed by trolls intent on ensuring that citizens do not find the information they seek.

As an example, I present a comparison between registering an LLC in California vs. Utah.

How to register an LLC in California

First off, there are no instructions that I could find on the California Secretary of State website on how to register an LLC. Why is this? After repeated searching, outside sites did provide a few clues. 

Here's what you do. Download Form LLC-1 and LLC-12 from this utterly unhelpful page. Fill them out and mail them to the Secretary of State with $70 and $20, respectively. Nowhere on the website is there info on how long the process will take, or on whether to mail both forms at once or wait to hear back on the first filing before sending the second one.

Further, the forms must be mailed in (or dropped off in person at one specific office in Sacramento only. Wow, that's just so helpful for those not in Sacramento.) You can't fax the forms in either. There is no online registration nor do they take credit cards.  You must mail a check.

How to register an LLC in Utah

Go to Utah One Stop Business Registration. Register the LLC online, paying $70 with a credit card. The LLC will be registered by Utah in as little as 15 minutes, generally within 24 hours, and never more than two days.

Clearly, Utah gets it and California does not. Moreover, Utah appears to actually want you to start new enterprises rather than making the process opaque and interminable. Also, the California Secretary of State website needs reorganization. Oh, the information is there. But it's difficult to find because the site meanders all over the place with no particular organization or explanation of how to find information. Plus it's all very 1995 HTML. You can determine how to start a business in two clicks from the home page. It's clear and obvious. Such functionality does not exist on State of California websites.

Let's hope California will soon streamline its regulations and update its websites so they become genuinely helpful.

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