FILE - Ohio Capitol Columbus

The Ohio State Capitol in downtown Columbus.

(The Center Square) – After making what some lawmakers called historic progress in trimming business regulations last year, the Ohio Senate continues to attack business rules it says stunt economic growth.

Senate Bill 9 sponsor Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said the redraft of legislation from the last session that failed to pass when time ran out gives Ohio a way to relieve the “regulatory albatross” that burdens the state.

“Although passed with the best intentions, the accumulation of new laws and regulations over time slow economic growth and employment opportunities,” Roegner said last month in testimony before the Senate Government Oversight Committee. “It is like sludge in the economic engine.”

Roegner pointed to the Ohio Administrative Code, which she said contains 15 million words and about 274,000 unique restrictions, on top of the more than 1 million federal restrictions.

“It’s truly a wonder that anyone wants to start a business with that much red tape to navigate,” she said.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University recently conducted its State RegData project, which analyzed regulations in 44 states and Washington, D.C. Ohio ranked in the top five, behind only California and New York as being the most restrictive states.

While reducing regulations by 30% by 2024, SB 9, which had its third hearing this week, would create an inventory of restrictions in an effort to give policymakers a clearer view of red tape, cap restrictions, open an online portal to give businesses easier access to rules and restrictions and allow the Ohio Legislature’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review to ease regulation reduction requirements.

Lawmakers have support from organizations such as the National Federation of Independent Business, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and The Buckeye Institute.

“We believe that SB 9 can help businesses who operate in Ohio by reducing the overall regulatory burden,” testified Kevin Boehner, director of small business and workforce policy for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. “At the same time, we acknowledge that a 30% reduction for each agency may be difficult to accomplish. However, in order to increase economic competitiveness, encourage free enterprise and create the best economic environment for businesses to thrive in our state, reduction of overall regulations is an important objective.”

Greg Lawson, research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, also urged lawmakers in testimony to continue regulatory reform and cut red tape.

“Senate Bill 9 will help cut through unnecessary restrictions and red tape that strangle Ohio’s economy, entrepreneurs and workforce,” Lawson said.

He also said the bill would not remove appropriate safeguards, but it would eliminate restrictive licensing regulations the Buckeye Institute believes has stopped more than 7,000 people between the ages of 25-45 from pursuing licensed occupations.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.