(The Center Square) – A new study from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center analyzed the Plains states’ regulatory complexity and found Minnesota ranks in the middle of the pack in most measurements.
Minnesota ranked in the middle of the pack for average word counts in state administrative codes with 5.7 million words, below the national average of 9.18 million words.
All findings come from RegData, a Mercatus Center dataset analyzing regulatory restrictions in seven states constituting the Plains region.
The seven Plains states averaged 5.68 million word counts in state administrative codes, with Iowa leading the most-regulated pack with 9.82 million words. Meanwhile, Kansas scored the least-regulated with 3.21 million words.
A second measurement is the number of state regulatory restrictions.
Minnesota ranked second for most regulatory restrictions with just over 98,000, behind Iowa’s 160,630 — 30,000 more than the national average. Nebraska followed at third with 95,660, while South Dakota won the least-regulated state with 43,251 restrictions.
Meanwhile neighboring state Wisconsin, which has a similar population to Minnesota, has 168,000 restrictions.
A third measurement is the complexity of regulatory codes, ranked by the amount of information and energy exerted to comply with regulations.
Minnesota ranked first in regulatory code complexity with a “Shannon entropy” score of 8.25, leading Iowa (7.68) and North Dakota (7.66).
The Plains average was 7.54.
Another measurement is the Federal Regulation and State Enterprise (FRASE) index that measures federal regulation’s impact on states.
Nebraska receives a FRASE score of 1.24, a ranking relative to the nation’s FRASE score of 1.
A 1.24 score means that Nebraska’s industries are targeted by federal regulation 24% more than industries across the country.
Minnesota scored a .95, meaning it’s below the national average.
The last measurement is population-adjusted regulatory restrictions since states with greater populations tend to enact more regulatory restrictions because it’s relatively cheaper for them to impose regulation compared with less populous states, the report said.
North Dakota (69.08 restrictions per 1,000 residents) is the most regulated Plains state, adjusting for population, while Missouri (15.30) is the least regulated Plains state. Minnesota (17.39) scored just above Missouri in second place for least restrictions, adjusted to population.
On average, when adjusted for population, Plains states are more regulated (28.65) than the national average (19.42), the report found.
‘Ultimately, this stuff matters because it impacts people’s quality of life,” Mercatus Senior Research Fellow James Broughel told The Center Square in a phone interview.
“Having too many regulations on the books will slow economic growth, it’ll lower living standards over time, it reduces opportunities,” Broughel said. “Regulations can serve a very good purpose in protecting the public and health and safety when they make sense. But having too many rules on the books can be a problem because it distracts from the useful rules and it slows growth.”
Broughel said the report should encourage states to control regulatory growth since states tend to add more rules each year than are taken away, growing the regulatory code.