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Regulatory Sandbox Act get House OK again

The Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City
The Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House of Representatives gave initial approval Monday to the Regulatory Sandbox Act, a bill that would waive certain regulations for businesses offering innovative products for consumers.

The bill would empower a new Regulatory Relief Office to admit businesses into the “sandbox” program. If accepted, businesses would have a two-year window in which they could request regulations on their products be waived.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Alex Riley, R-Springfield, said he hopes to reduce red tape for those promoting inventive products in Missouri. He has promoted similar legislation in two previous legislative sessions.

“We’re trying to create and encourage innovators and entrepreneurs to bring new products and services to market. And this is just another tool in the toolbox that they’ll have to do that here now,” Riley said.

Before the final vote, the House voted to accept an amendment offered by House Democrats to require the Regulatory Relief Office to confirm that submitted products are not destructive to Missouri’s environment.

The amendment was championed by the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club, an environmentalist organization.

“We’re most concerned about (the bill’s) potential to be abused to undermine our environmental rules,” said Michael Berg, political director for the organization’s Missouri chapter.

Riley said he’s optimistic on passage this session, because his past attempts made it far in the legislative process before faltering.

“I’m hopeful. We’ve been so close the last two years,” he said.

Senators in committee also heard a parallel bill Monday, with the same goal of creating an office to waive regulation on innovative products. These bills would need to be reconciled before any version can be signed into law.

The Senate version contains an additional provision not in the House bill, adding language to support small businesses in winning Missouri state contracts.