Members of the Ohio Small Business Council have worked to spearhead ideas for new legislation aimed at simplifying the process for implementing and reviewing government agency rules that regulate small businesses.
As a result of input from OSBC members, state legislators recently penned two pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 303 and House Bill 503. These pieces of legislation are companion bills, meaning the language in each is nearly identical.
The purpose of the bills is to prevent state agencies from overreaching by treating department policies, information releases, memos or other documents as if they are official rules.
Additionally, the legislation contains five key objectives to protect businesses from costly and burdensome policies, which are:
- Preventing a state agency from improperly creating a rule through policy, instead of through the formal rule-making process.
- Requiring that any external document referenced within a rule be available at no cost to the requester.
- Expanding the definition of an adverse impact on business to include any rule that is likely to reduce revenue or increase expenses.
- Allowing rules to be reviewed in-between the current five-year review period if a rule is deemed to have an unforeseen negative impact on business.
- Adding new criteria to potentially invalidate a rule if it is not reasonable or related to a cost incurred by the state agency.
All rule reviews are conducted by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, whose primary function is to review proposed new, amended and rescinded rules to ensure they do not exceed the state agency’s rulemaking authority.
Just one example
At a recent press conference to announce the introduction of SB 303 and HB 503, OSBC member and president of Durable Corp. Tom Secor spoke regarding his experience with a state agency.
Secor described a run-in his business experienced with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in the 1990s. His business had been using scrap tires as a raw material for certain product lines, but little did he know that the Ohio EPA would begin regulating the storage and discarding of those scrap tires.
This new regulation caused such a significant negative impact on his business that he ultimately had to lay off dozens of employees.
If SB 303 or HB 503 had been in place at the time, the accelerated five-year rule review provision would have allowed for the possibility of having the destructive rule repealed.
We will continue to be involved as the legislation advances through the general assembly.
If you would like to be involved in this process or have an experience with a state agency to share, email Brandon Ogden at [email protected] to become involved with the OSBC.
Samantha Cotten is director of Public Policy Communications for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Ohio’s largest and most diverse statewide business advocacy group has been a consistent voice for business since 1893. Reach her at (614) 228-4201 or [email protected]. Visit www.ohiochamber.com for information.