Massachusetts Has “One Foot in the 21st Century, One Foot in the 18th,” Says Attorney General Coakley

7/28/09Follow @wroush

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Massachusetts has “a fairly strict statute that has not been upgraded or changed probably since the 1970s, and some of what it does in terms of restrictions on employment was not contemplated for today’s climate.”

Changing the law could be a slow process, she said. “Unlike California, Massachusetts has one foot in the twenty-first century and one foot in the eighteenth,” Coakley said. Still, she said, change was possible. “If the perception is—and the perception can become the actuality—that Massachusetts is overly burdensome to individual innovators, and therefore companies don’t come here or stay here, that is a problem for us.”

The discussion also ranged to the role of state government and universities in educating the public about technology; the best ways for academic researchers to make sure that their findings are reflected in public policy; the need for cybersecurity measures and emergency exercises at the state level; healthcare reform and electronic medical records; and the need for ongoing regulatory reform to benefit small businesses.

John Ciccarelli, the associate vice chancellor for government relations, public affairs, and economic development at UMass Boston, congratulated Coakley for putting real resources behind promises about reform to lower regulatory hurdles. Under Coakley’s predecessor, nobody even answered the phones at the Attorney General’s Office’s regulatory reform division, Ciccarelli said. “Now you have two people answering the phone, he said. Coakley said her focus was less on getting old, outdated regulations off the books than on making sure that any new ones that go into effect are clear.

In closing, Coakley said she hoped the meeting would lead to “further fruitful collaboration” between business and university leaders and her office. “My phone is open, my door is open,” she said.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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