“California Regulations Lead; Business Follows” – Gov. Brown

“Progress comes from well-designed regulatory objectives that business then follows.”
“You can be sure California is going to keep innovating, keep regulating, and, shall I say, keep taxing.”
“…never underestimate the coercive power of the central state in the service of good.”

These are the words of Gov. Jerry Brown, as reported in the Sacramento Bee (12/8/15), from the UN conference on climate change in Paris. Climate change mitigation and adaptation is one of his major policy structures and now legacies. In his record fourth term, Brown is blunt and provocative in pursuit of his objectives. His words on the power of regulations to make markets — particularly in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation — are not new, just newly noticed. California leads the world in environmental regulations, Brown often says, and these regulations are creating new global business incentives, beginning in the Golden State. His regulators in water, air, energy, land use and other spheres of influence are acting on those words.

With great regulating power comes great consequences. These consequences are not usually apparent to regulatory leaders at the dozens of agencies, departments, commissions and boards, which employ thousands of lawyers, engineers, scientists, analysts, accountants and other professionals who are busy writing deeper and broader operating instructions on virtually every aspect of opening your doors daily. And charging you fees for doing so.

“Well-designed regulatory objectives” merit robust regulatory advocacy. Traditional advocacy in the Legislative Branch will always be foundational, of course, but a 21st century advocacy portfolio must expand to include the Executive Branch rulemakers. Laws are often general constructs while regulations fill in the blanks. Regulatory advocates carefully explain the costs to your business and impacts on your customers and employees. Regulatory advocacy requires constant motion through hearings, working groups/coalitions, and stakeholders. This requires early detection of nuanced thinking through incisive and discreet intelligence gathering given that proposed rules often emerge in obscure but influential places. Well-placed advocates can contribute to regulators’ awareness and meaning of contemplated actions.

California’s regulators, as the governor says and which others throughout the nation and around the globe often affirm, are now planetary influencers. Remember, too, the words of Jimmy Carter: “What starts in California, spreads.”