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Conservatives push to reduce state regulations

(March 21, 2018) — Ohio lawmakers announced a renewed push to reduce state regulations on Wednesday, saying an abundance of rules and restrictions are slowing economic growth.

“Unnecessary red tape and regulation is stifling the potential of Ohio’s small businesses, which in turn limits job opportunities for Ohioans,” Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said at a Statehouse press conference.

“The legislature has a responsibility to make sure any rules or regulations created by state government have a specific purpose and intent to protect our citizens and do not create needless barriers to growth and opportunity.”

Ohio has nearly 100,000 more regulations than average, according to data from the Mercatus Center, a conservative-leaning economic think tank at George Mason University.

James Broughel, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center, said the research center used State RegData, their platform for analyzing and quantifying state regulatory text, to find that Ohio has the 3rd highest amount of regulatory restrictions of the states examined so far at 246,852, falling behind only New York and Illinois. The average is 148,682.

State RegData works by connecting text relevant to certain industries with “restrictive words,” a release from the Mercatus Center said. Those words include: shall; must; may not; prohibited and required.

Obhof said he would be pushing for changes, including:

Tracking the total number of restrictions in Ohio

Creating a more thorough review process of regulations

Setting a reduction goal to bring Ohio more in-line with the national average, and consider placing a cap once that goal is achieved.

Consider emulating President Donald Trump’s policy of eliminating two rules for every new one that is created for the next three years, or until the reduction target is met.

Deregulation has support from numerous groups, including the Buckeye Institute, the Ohio Restaurants Association and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

“Regulations have a sizable impact on free enterprise, and a disproportionate impact on small businesses,” Keith Lake, the vice president of government affairs for the chamber, said in a statement.

Obhof said the goal of reducing regulations in Ohio wasn’t just to reduce the raw number, but to allow more economic freedom while maintaining “necessary” regulations.

Broughel cited British Columbia’s push to deregulate, which he said contributed to its recent rise as an economic power in Canada.

“They did this without sacrificing public health or the environment,” he said.

Ohio has several checks on regulations already, including the Common Sense Initiative, led by Lt. Gov. and GOP gubernatorial candidate Mary Taylor, which has reviewed 12,500 business-impacting rules since 2012, according to an annual report. Of those, 61 percent were amended or rescinded.

The Ohio General Assembly also operates the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, which reviews proposed new, amended, and rescinded rules from over 110 agencies to ensure they do not exceed their rule-making authority.

The Mercatus Center has received funding in the past from the Koch brothers — billionaire Charles Koch sits on its board of directors. The Kochs, whose privately-held Koch Industries owns subsidiaries that deal with chemicals, petroleum and manufacturing, have long been opponents of environmental regulations.