Lawmakers hurt business more than regulators, Maryland Chamber of Commerce says

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By Daniel Menefee

Gov. Martin OMalleyGov. Martin O’Malley announced on March 9 that his administration was moving to make Maryland a more business-friendly state by repealing, revising and streamlining more than 131 regulations.

“Making it easier to do business in Maryland – making it easier for businesses to add to their payrolls – remains a top priority,” O’Malley said.

“We didn’t see anything significant that would benefit a typical business,” said Maryland Chamber of Commerce Vice President Ronald Wineholt. “I don’t think this is a game changer to help businesses in Maryland.”

One regulation the administration recommended for repeal is the prohibition on smoking in elevators. The administration recommends this because “state and local laws already prohibit smoking indoors. So this regulation is duplicative,” the recommendation says.

Another regulation on the administration’s hit list calls for the “eradication of sheep scabies,” a form of mange in sheep that has not been reported in the United States since 1970, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.

See the administration’s latest recommendations for repeal.

Regulations reviewed every eight years

Wineholt said he could only count 55 regulations that were actually addressed and their repeal offered little help to improve the business climate in Maryland. He said the state reviews regulations every eight years, under Maryland law, to remove regulations that are obsolete.

He said many of the regulations O’Malley put on the chopping block were up for review anyway.

But Wineholt said regulators were not as much of a hindrance to business as Maryland lawmakers.

“Many concerns expressed by businesses about over-regulation are not the result of overreaching state administrators, but stem from state laws that unnecessarily interject the state government into the marketplace, such as minimum wage, living wage, prevailing wage and many other workplace regulation statutes. True regulatory reform will need to address these issues so business owners are allowed to run their businesses.”

Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard, who regularly sponsors bill to repeal the laws on prevailing and living wage, said the regulations being thrown out pale in comparison to the measures that are on the table in this legislative session that will make it harder to do business in Maryland.

He said O’Malley’s deregulation effort was merely “posturing.”

Kittleman dismissed O’Malley’s deregulation stance shortly after a vote passed in the Senate on Tuesday to require hotels to use energy saving motion detectors in new hotel construction. The city of Frederick says it will require an additional $7,000 annually to hire a part–time inspector.  Kittleman said costs to builders would also increase and those costs would ultimately be passed onto the consumer.

The motion detectors automatically turn on lights and climate control units in hotel rooms.

“What the governor is trying to pass in legislation is terrible for business,” Kittleman said. “He is heaping more burdens on business. Look at all the legislation on the table and you can really understand how the governor and the majority party feel about business.”

“O’Malley is a great magician, he uses one hand to say, ‘Look at all the regulations I’m changing’ but the other hand is picking your pocket,” Kittleman said.