I’ve always thought about going into business for myself, but it’s not that easy. There are a lot of regulations.
For example, I can’t start a plumbing business or work as a barber without a license, even though I’m sure I would be great at both. Nor can I sell pizza or burritos to the public out of my kitchen without jumping through all sorts of regulatory hoops.
One might say such rules are stifling business.
Apparently, there are a lot of rules out there that prevent bigger companies from creating a lot of economic activity as well.
The No. 1 bill introduced in the Ohio Senate this session aims at cutting the number of state regulations over the next few years.
State Senators Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), who are both starting their first elected terms in the senate this year, recently introduced Senate Bill 1 "as a way to reduce government red tape needed for Ohio's continued economic growth."
I first thought about the issue of reducing government regulations two years ago, when President Donald Trump issued an executive order requiring two federal regulations be cut for every new federal rule enacted.
If tracking down two sacrificial rules so that some other rule can take effect seems arbitrary, then Senate Bill 1 is even more injudicious – it just assumes 30 percent of certain regulations are unnecessary.
To start, Senate Bill 1 requires state agencies to count the number of regulations that specifically prevent people from doing things — literally rules that say "shall" and "must." The agency then must add them all up and select which ones to "modify or eliminate" to reach a 30 percent reduction in that list by Dec. 31, 2022.
What if I could just look through the regulations myself and pick 30 percent of them to eliminate?
Let’s start with hunting regulations. Even though it probably has nothing to do with encouraging economic growth, Senate Bill 1 would apply to every state agency. Thus, it seems the Ohio Department of Natural Resources would have to examine Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 1501:31-15-01 "Game hours and bag limits."
Here is one rule I would get rid of:
"It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt or take bobwhite quail at any time except between sunrise to sunset daily during the open season for quail."
Who would want to hunt quail at night?
However, since there are numerous rules prohibiting the hunting of specific animals after sunset and before sunrise, they could probably be combined into one big regulation listing all of the species nobody would likely stalk after dark, including rabbits, grouse and chukar partridge.
Likewise, there’s another section titled "Refuges and Restricted Hunting Areas" which has a separate regulation for more than a dozen locations around the state where people "shall not" hunt. I’m sure one rule could be written to encompass them all.
In other words, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources could reduce a lot of rules if it simply rewrote them.
Voila — the number of regulations, they are less!
I looked through several sections of the Ohio Administrative Code and found a lot of "shall" and "shall not" rules. However, most of them seemed to make sense.
Which 30 percent of regulations on amusement park ride safety would you eliminate? What about the rules governing the transportation and use of radioactive material?
How about the Ohio Uniform Food Safety Code? I vote we cut the rules that stop me from opening a pizzaria in my living room.
Did I mention that Senate Bill 1 is a proposed amendment to an already existing state law that establishes a very red-tapey, convoluted sort of method for establishing rules in the first place?
The bottom line is that as our society becomes more sophisticated, there inevitably will be more rules to address issues that arise. For example, the Ohio EPA didn’t exist 50 years ago.
Nor did video lottery terminals or medical marijuana — and some of the rules governing those areas of business were only recently established. You would think they got those rules right.
My guess is that to comply with Senate Bill 1, state agencies would undertake a massive rewriting of their administrative rules, much like ODNR rewriting the rules on restricted areas and hunting after dark.
It seems to me that if one were to try and make government more efficient — and thus more business-friendly — the worse way to do it would be to send hundreds of bureaucrats off into regulatory rabbit holes to rewrite all the rules to reach some arbitrary, numerical total.
Instead, the best course would be to listen to complaints and target offending regulations with specific legislation, to solve specific problems.
Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or firstname.lastname@example.org.