FILE - OH Rob McColley

Ohio state Sen. Rob McColley.

The Ohio House State and Local Government Committee this week began considering a bill aimed at reducing red tape and unnecessary regulations.

Senate Bill 1 would require state agencies to reduce the number of regulations by 30 percent by 2022. In addition to reducing the number of regulatory restrictions, the bill would prohibit any agency from adopting new statutory limits that would increase limitations in its rules.

The state Senate passed the bill along party lines last month. The proposal replaces House Bill 115, a similar initiative introduced in the House.

“SB 1 is an important step in reducing the government’s impact on Ohioans lives and businesses,” state Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, said in written testimony. “We need to know how many restrictions we have, we need to systematically review them, and we need to eliminate the rules that are unnecessary.”

In considering the bill, the state Senate worked with the Joint Committee on Agency Rules and Review (JCARR) to improve the process around the reduction requirement. The bill allows JCARR to adjust an agency’s regulatory restriction goal if the agency cannot meet the 30 percent threshold.

The Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC) estimates the bill could cause JCARR to increase its staffing costs by roughly $100,000 per year to hire an additional employee to review regulations and prepare progress reports.

There are 16,200 rules currently under JCARR’s purview, and of those, more than 8,500 – or 53 percent – are in 10 agencies. The three state agencies with the most rules are the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency with 1,594, the Department of Health with 1,171 and the Department of Job and Family Services with 1,022.

Each rule could contain more than one regulatory restriction.

A review by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia found the 2018 Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) had 15.2 million words with 246,852 restrictions. The organization estimated it would take the average reader more than 847 hours to read the entire OAC – or more than 21 weeks reading 40 hours per week.

The bill has attracted the support of several pro-business groups, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Ohio Manufacturers Association.

“The problem is not regulation – it is unnecessary and or excessive regulation,” state Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said in prepared testimony. This bill “provides a solution, a pathway to relieving Ohio of the regulatory albatross and unleashing economic potential in our state.”

The Center Square Contributor