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Although the media focuses on changes to Tennessee Law, changes to the state’s rules and regulations by the various agencies in state government can be just as beneficial or damaging to a business. Often state agencies make changes to rules that they perceive as minor, which can result in enormous costs for regulated industries.

Most people are surprised to learn that the State of Tennessee has over seventy (70) boards and commissions responsible for regulating various aspects of professional behavior. For example, the 33 boards under the Department of Health create rules and regulations that control or steer the decisions of health professionals across the state. The Department of Commerce and Insurance houses 22 other boards that enforce standards of conduct for other non-health professionals. Others include the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Solid Waste Disposal Control Board, and the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Knowing how to work with these bodies is critical to the success of any regulated business. As businesses innovate, they often face obstacles with rules that were put into place years earlier at a different time for reasons that many have forgotten. Regulatory bodies are often desperately in need of advice regarding how the rules that they create assist or hinder the development of new and innovative business models. The first step in informing the boards and commissions is to understand the rules that are currently in place and to monitor the process as new decisions are made. Businesses must then suggest alternative policies to rulemaking authorities and support their positions with fact and good argument.

Navigating the boards and commissions that affect your industry can often be a time consuming and frustrating task. Here are a few tips for finding information regarding the activities of boards and commissions.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the boards and commissions responsible for decisions that have the potential to affect your company or industry. A list of Tennessee government departments and agencies can be found at http://www.tn.gov/directory/index.shtml.
  2. Review the rules currently in place that affect your company or industry. A list of rules categorized by agency can be found at http://www.state.tn.us/sos/rules/index.htm.
  3. Monitor upcoming decisions by boards and commissions by frequently checking their website.
  4. If a rule or upcoming policy decision will potentially adversely affect your company or industry, contact the board or commission to find out how you can file comments.