Attacks on regulations ramping up
6:42 PM EDT, March 15, 2011
Never before has there been such an intense assault on the regulations that govern how we do business.
The attacks range from level-headed and strategically planned to the equivalent of throwing dynamite on the state statute books and seeing what’s left when the smoke clears.
The latter approach played out Tuesday when a Florida House of Representatives committee set in motion a plan to eliminate the need for licenses and regulation from dozens of professions — everything from auto repair shops to home inspectors to travel agents.
The 281-page bill strikes out rules for various occupations like a misguided censor editing profane passages from literature.
The proposed changes by Rep. Esteban Bovo, the Hialeah Republican who is chairman of the Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee, even riled Big Business.
The Florida Association of Realtors, lobbying groups for auto mechanics, geologists, manufactured home owners and even the king of all Florida employers, Walt Disney World, said it would hurt their industries.
The proposal is far from a done deal. Bovo told me after the hearing that he expected to “modify” the bill to keep some regulations intact. And the Senate so far isn’t even considering such a measure.
But the plan is indicative of the harsh rhetoric that Gov. Rick Scott, other politicians and even some of the same business groups that spoke against this legislation have for bureaucratic rules they say impede new businesses and job growth.
Thankfully, some other efforts appear more sensible.
An effort being launched today by a branch of the umbrella group that controls the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce will survey business and government on which regulations most restrict job creation and need to be reformed.
Shelley Lauten, president of the chamber-affiliated MyRegion.org, said the effort is meant to look at problems in the system by industry as well as geographic area since it will cover the eight-county region.
The coalition doing the survey, called Open for Business, is backed by the Florida Bankers Association and the Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando, among others. It wants to pinpoint where “anecdote and reality might converge,” Lauten said.
She said the idea is to find out which regulations really are problems rather than large-scale rewriting of state statutes.
“Any time you try and do something wholesale, it kind of loses the effect because sometimes there are regulations that businesses support,” she said. “This isn’t a wholesale removing of barriers. This is which barriers are most critical to your business.”
The results of the survey are expected to be released next month.
Also today the latest salvo from a group known as FreeMarketFlorida.org will be fired, and its target will be new federal rules that govern pollutants in the state’s lakes and rivers known as numeric nutrient criteria.
This group came out of the successful campaign against Amendment 4, or Hometown Democracy, which the development community saw as the mother of all evil red tape because it would have required changes to a community’s growth plan to go before voters.
That campaign was bankrolled by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, and now they want to take that same approach to defeat other regulations they deem just as bad.
Behind it all is the same organizer from the anti-Amendment 4 effort, 26-year-old Ryan Houck, who describes the new group as a sort of permanent “Department of Defense” for businesses battling regulations in the environmental and growth areas.
From here, we can only expect the rhetoric and action against business rules to grow louder and stronger.
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