Regulation Overhaul Underway in Wisconsin

[Madison, Wisc…] Few people, even inside Capitol, were aware of the “2013 Wisconsin Regulatory Review Report” before Governor Walker announced its release at his State of the State Address on Tuesday.

This report originated from an executive order Governor Walker signed a year ago, directing state agencies to work with the Small Business Regulatory Review Board to identify rules hindering economic growth.

The 48-page report outlines what the agencies discovered about the rules they enforce, and how they then changed rules that were unnecessary or problematic to the state’s economic growth. It also includes the results of a statewide survey of businesses, which provides context and additional insight into the challenges job creators face.

Although the report has yet to receive much attention, the information it reveals could fill newspaper headlines for days if not weeks. For example:

State Departments eliminated 40 chapters of rules last year and a total of 218 chapters were modified.

Half of those collecting unemployment in Wisconsin have waivers exempting them from having to look for work.

There are 18 reasons a person can quit their job in Wisconsin and still collect unemployment. That’s more than any other state in the Midwest. Minnesota has the next highest number of reasons at 9.

One employer claims to have fired workers for theft, but they still collect unemployment.

Regulation is 80 percent more costly to small businesses than large ones.

72 percent of Wisconsin businesses say regulations cost more than the benefits they produce.

Over 25,000 retailers would file their taxes less frequently (either quarterly or annually) if given that option.

The Department of Workforce Development oftentimes does not give all necessary information about unemployment hearings to employers until the day they take place.

Health insurance ties decreased demand as greatest challenge facing Wisconsin business.

Wisconsin businesses say Department of Agriculture easiest state agency to work with.

Wisconsin businesses say DNR most difficult state agency to work with.

More than half Wisconsin businesses say “Decrease the amount of State Regulation” key to creating more jobs.

In addition to what agencies have already accomplished in regulation reform, the report recommends the legislature to introduce a bill for further reforms.

“We can continue to improve Wisconsin’s regulatory climate by ensuring regulations are science-based and predictable,” said Governor Walker. “Providing certainty, specifically related to state regulations, will go a long way to help the private sector create jobs.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has stated that reviewing all the state’s regulations is one of his priorities for this session. In an earlier interview with MNS, Vos said the Assembly would “have a top to bottom review of every single regulation that is put into effect.”

Watch the Vos interview here.
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The 2013-2015 legislative session started earlier this month and committee hearings are slated to begin next week.