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Gov. Patrick and Sen. Spilka Ease Small Business Regulations

April 10, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – Acting on a legislation authored by a MetroWest lawmaker, the Patrick administration has identified some 150 regulations – from measurement of clams to regulatory barriers to renewable energy projects – it plans to end or revise with the goal of making life easier for the state’ s small businesses.

The goal of the Economic Development Reorganization Bill, written by Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, in 2010, is to review 1,000 regulations by year’s end and 2,000 by the end of 2013.

Spilka said she was very pleased with the results.

“We went around the state, listened to small businesses’ problems and the thing that came back is that there were too many regulations, some of which are conflicting,” she said. “By the statute we passed, the state had four years to look at existing regulations and their impact on economic development and small businesses.”

In addition to reviewing old regulations, the law requires agencies to meet with small businesses and make changes to their proposed regulations to still accomplish whatever they want but to do it in a way that would have the least negative impact on small businesses.

Patrick told a business group on Monday that the review looked at 12 years of regulations, identifying 41 regulations that could be eliminated and another 107 that needed to be revised. Twenty-five of those regulations will be revamped to match similar national and state regulations to help businesses working across state lines.

Specific recommendations include combining 10 separate rules for food manufacturers with a single food safety regulation and the simplification of licensing for professions ranging from architects to mental health services and child care providers.

Much of the improvements will help small businesses, such as salons that now have to close down until the shop’s license is transferred. Commercial fisherman

will no longer have to measure surf clams to meet state minimize size requirements because of superseding federal rules.

Patrick launched the review process last October, naming April Anderson Lamoureux, an assistant secretary for economic development, as the coordinator for the project. Various state agencies were asked to review their own regulations with an eye to reducing burdens and raising opportunities for mall businesses.

Anderson Lamoureux said small businesses account for 85 percent of state commerce and employ more than half of the total private workforce.

Anderson Lamoureux credited Spilka for her work on the initiative.

“Sen. Spilka has been a real leader on this topic,” she said. “I am looking for a real partnership with the Legislature.”

Spilka stressed the importance of businesses having an input in the process because they know better than anybody else whether regulations are helpful or not.

“It is working so well that I think they will make the review faster because we all realize the urgency of getting the review done of all these regulations,” she said.

Bill Vernon, Massachusetts director of the National Federation of Independent Business said he was pleased with the results but that there was a limit to what the administration can do by itself.

“The two problems are that a lot of the regulations, such as permitting are local and a lot of them are also legislative,” he said. “If a regulation is statutory, there is nothing we can do about it. Other branches of the government are contributing to the problem of job growth because of excessive regulations.”

Vernon also welcomed the idea of working with the Legislature saying he hopes that at the end of the reviewing process, the administration will be in contact with the appropriate legislative committee to get rid of the duplicated statutes.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 9th, 2012 at 11:24 pm.

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