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Michigan Hopes to Attract More Businesses after Cutting Red Tape

Michigan is working to cut red tape and attract businesses by eliminating hundreds of administrative rules, MLive.com reported in November. The Office of Regulatory Reinvention, established by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2011, has reviewed more than 19,000 rules and has rescinded nearly 2,000 of them, though some have been replaced by new rules. Overall, the state has reduced its administrative rules by more than 1,500.
To assist in the process, eight advisory rules committees have reviewed and made recommendations on regulatory changes in such key policy areas as the environment, inspections and permitting, insurance and finance, liquor control, natural resources, occupational licensing and workplace safety. So far, the state has implemented 100 of the 320 recommendations released by the committees and officials expect more recommended changes to come.
Many of the changes have involved regulations that are obsolete, unnecessary or unenforceable, including one that requires child care workers to smile, according to state officials.
Kevin Elsenheimer, who oversees the Office of Regulatory Reinvention, said rules like this can be a barrier for businesses wanting to locate or expand in the state.
“That’s the reason we thought it was so important to give these rules a good scrub, to clean them up and to get rid of this superfluous and obsolete language,” he said.
Environmental groups have expressed concern that some proposed changes could put business interests above the well-being of the environment and public health, including recommendations to reduce the number of toxic air contaminants that would be subject to regulations, as well as proposed changes to the state’s wetlands regulations.
Lonnie Scott, director of the advocacy group Progress Michigan, agreed that some deregulation is needed to promote growth among the state’s small business community, but warned of deregulation “that really seeks to just increase corporate profits, often at the expense of worker or environmental safety.”
 
DAY CARE RULES
Indiana legislators say they will propose bills in the next session to strengthen standards for day cares that receive federal funds, the Indianapolis Star reported in November. At least two bills would close loopholes that exempt church-based and unlicensed day care facilities from meeting many of the safety regulations that licensed facilities must meet, though all are eligible to receive federal tax dollars. The bills also propose requirements for child abuse detection and prevention training, mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect by care providers, and facility staff-to-child ratios.
 
TRANSPORTATION FUNDING
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is reviewing options for raising money to meet the state’s transportation needs, The Associated Press reported. Options under review include new registration fees and fees for oversized vehicles. A commission appointed by the governor in 2011 recommended raising the fuel tax by 8 to 10 cents per gallon to help fund roads and bridges in the state. Branstad has expressed concern about raising the state fuel tax, which stands at 22 cents per gallon.
 
READING PROGRAM
Kansas will partner with organizations such as Save the Children to add new after-school programs in rural areas and expand after-school and summer programming at Boys and Girls Clubs in urban areas in an effort to improve reading proficiency. Gov. Sam Brownback hopes the program will help break the cycle of poverty among Kansas’ children. The state will use $9 million of funding from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to fund the initiative, KCUR.org, reported.
 
PIPELINE SAFETY
A new advisory panel in North Dakota will explore industry practices that could lead to increased state monitoring of oil pipelines, the Bismarck Tribune reported. The creation of the panel follows a September incident in which more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil spilled from the Tesoro Logistics Pipeline on a wheat farm near Tioga, N.D. The panel will review best practices and explore options for the state to take on more oversight of the industry.
 
HEROIN DEATHS
The number of heroin deaths in Ohio doubled between 2010 and 2012, according toThe Columbus Dispatch. On average, 11 Ohioans die each week from heroin overdoses. In 2012, more than 600 Ohioans died from heroin use; that number is expected to rise this year. Attorney General Mike DeWine has pledged $1 million to create a new section in his office to investigate, conduct lab testing and prosecute heroin cases.

 

 
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