Bill would limit when new state regs could take effect -- Gazette.Net


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Like most smaller businesses, Innovative Business Interiors doesn’t have a staff attorney to monitor the maze of regulations that are issued each day.

“We have enough to do to keep our business up and running,” said Charles Atwell, president of the Silver Spring office furniture company. “We rely on local chambers of commerce to keep us informed about major changes in state policies.”

So, legislation that passed the state Senate on Wednesday — changing the dates that regulations can go into effect from daily to four times a year — would help reduce the workload, he said.

“To know that it would happen on a quarterly basis would allow for more predictability,” Atwell said.

Almost 2,000 new state regulations were issued last year, an average of about five per day, said Del. Sam Arora (D-Dist. 19) of Silver Spring. He introduced the bill in the House — which passed last Friday — with Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Dist. 31) of Pasadena. The Senate version was filed by Sen. Ronald N. Young (D-Dist. 3) of Frederick.

As vice president for business development of The Arora Group, a small health care staffing business in Gaithersburg, Arora knows firsthand how difficult it can be to track new regulations.

“We face an unpredictable barrage of regulatory changes that are impossible to keep up with,” Arora said. “We have to get a handle on the barrage of regulations and help small businesses spend more time creating jobs.”

Representatives from the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Maryland Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business were among those lending support during recent hearings in the House Health and Government Operations Committee and Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Those committees are reviewing each chamber’s version to work out any differences.

Versions the Senate and House passed included amendments to exempt the Department of Natural Resources and certain regulations issued by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, such as laws related to the Medicaid program. The versions are essentially the same, said Vikrum Mathur, legislative director for Arora.

Emergency regulations and those required under federal law also would be exempt and could still could be issued any day.

The exempted regulations would be ones that would not generally affect the ordinary operations of most small businesses, Arora said.

The legislation would take effect Oct. 1. The quarterly issuing dates would be Jan. 1, April 1, July 1 and Oct. 1.

Private-public partnerships bill passes House

Legislation that would clarify state policies on private-public partnerships passed the House last Friday and was being considered by the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee this week.

The bill would designate certain agencies such as the Department of General Services, Department of Transportation, Transportation Authority and higher education institutions to be involved in the partnerships. The costs of the projects could rise since they would have to abide by laws related to prevailing wages, living wages and minority participation, according to a state legislative analysis.

The legislation would make it easier to do a project such as the Purple Line, a proposed East-West rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton, Jim Dinegar, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, said during a recent hearing before the House Environmental Matters Committee.

“I am very concerned about the Purple Line being funded by the state,” Dinegar said. “This would be an opportunity to get that project moving.”

In written testimony to the committee, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce CEO Gigi Godwin said the bill “will take positive steps to encouraging public-private partnerships to address our state’s infrastructure challenges.”

Also this week, the Senate passed the House’s version of legislation that would provide state grants for workforce training programs involving businesses, local government and nonprofits. The state’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal has designated $2.5 million for the initiative.

kshay@gazette.net