George Gibbs Center for Economic Prosperity

The V⁠i⁠llages Da⁠i⁠ly Sun — S⁠i⁠mpl⁠i⁠fy⁠i⁠ng ⁠t⁠he bus⁠i⁠ness of Flor⁠i⁠da

By: Guest Author / 2015

The Villages Daily Sun
“Simplifying the business of Florida”
By Rachel Whetstone
September 23, 2015THE VILLAGES — During a visit last week to The Villages, Gov. Rick Scott reaffirmed his goal of reducing onerous governmental regulations on the state’s businesses.Nearly half of all Americans, 49 percent, say government regulates business too much; while 21 percent, near a record low, say it regulates business too little, according to a recent Gallup survey.In fact, the number of Americans who favor increased business regulation has dropped 6 percentage points since 2010, the lowest point in 13 years of the survey.State, local and federal regulations are among the most difficult issues facing any company looking to develop a new business or expand existing operations, said Scott Renick, The Villages director of commercial sales and leasing.That’s why The Villages supports the governor’s efforts to eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulations, he said.“While we have a thriving business climate in The Villages, we would welcome the removal of onerous and unnecessary regulations,” Renick said.GOVERNOR’S GOALSSince taking office in 2011, Scott has eliminated 3,200 regulations.He has his sights on eliminating from 500 to 1,000 more during next year’s legislative session.“How many more regulations do you all need?” he asked a week ago while talking to a group of Villages business owners at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center. “The Legislature passes bills every year. How many more bills do you need? Not many. We’re trying to make sure your Legislature doesn’t waste your money and doesn’t add more bills and regulations.”Scott said government has become too pervasive in business matters.“In my opinion, whether you’re a business person, a pastor or a citizen who isn’t in business and just working day-to-day, a portion of your day you’ve got to think about government,” he said.When he took office, there were more than 21,000 business regulations, Scott said. That’s too many, he added.“If you violate them, the state can fine you,” he added.Some of these regulations pose serious impediments to the timely development of homes and businesses.Other are simply arcane, in the eyes of the membership of the James Madison Institute, a Tallahassee-based nonprofit that argues for limited government interference and economic freedom.Over the years, it has lobbied the state Legislature to remove rules and regulations on businesses such as barbers, cosmetologists, auctioneers, travel agents, midwives, funeral directors and even craft brewers.The institute and the craft brewery industry, for instance, persuaded the Legislature earlier this year to remove the long-standing ban on 64-ounce growlers.The nonprofit remains committed to fighting such regulations, said Valerie Wickboldt, the institute’s vice president of communications.“We’re going to keep harping on that list until something is solved,” she said.HITTING HOMEFor businesses in The Villages, regulations translate into additional costs and lost profits.Take, for example, the experience of the Las Tapas Restaurant & Brewery at Brownwood Paddock Square.While preparing to open up its brewery, the partners of this Spanish-style restaurant were forced to wait 126 days to obtain final approval for an operations license.That was just inefficient intrusion, co-owner Richard Heston said.“It was shocking,” Heston said. “There was half a million dollars worth of equipment just sitting there useless for 126 days.”Michael Pawley, brewmaster at Las Tapas, was sent to Austria for brewer training, and when he returned he had to wait three months before coming to work full time.Additionally, Las Tapas brewed three batches, 3,000 liters, of beer in December that had to be thrown away because the approval took much longer than expected.“Having a job and not being able to do it is a hard thing,” Pawley said.The first house-brewed beer at Las Tapas finally was served April 1.“We missed the prime time of busy season,” Pawley said. “All we were waiting for was a sheet of paper with a signature.”COSTS TO CONSUMERSConsumers ultimately pay the price when government adopts unnecessary and onerous regulations, said state Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-The Villages.When considering a relocation or even an expansion, business owners compare the regulatory environment between states, said O’Toole, a retired IBM executive and Village Mira Mesa resident.That typically pits Florida against states such as California, Texas and New York, she said.“If I’m opening up a new business, and it’s between Florida and Texas, which might not have all these regulations, then I’m going to Texas,” O’Toole said. “So, it does affect consumers.”The same is true for existing business owners considering an expansion, she said.“If I’m already here and my business is ready to grow, but there are all these costly regulations, then I’m probably not going to grow my business,” O’Toole said.The issue boils down to eliminating regulations that don’t protect the health or safety of the public, she said.“If it’s a regulation regarding safety, like fire safety, the governor has an open mind,” O’Toole said. “He’s against regulations, inspections and certificates that get in the way of doing business. It’s these annoyances that other states don’t have.”IMPEDIMENT TO BUSINESSOfficials at the county and municipal levels also are committed to eliminating unnecessary regulations on businesses, said Don Hahnfeldt, chairman of the Sumter County Commission.This explains the commission’s efforts to reduce regulations whenever possible, he said.“We try to cut the red tape to a minimum,” Hahnfeldt said. “We want to minimize the time between when we see the business proposal to the time the business opens, so we try to minimize the administrative burden and minimize costs so that they can get their doors open sooner and become productive in their chosen field or service.”Onerous regulations also have a negative impact on job growth, he said.“We want to support a growing economy — jobs and work at home,” Hahnfeldt said. “Nationwide, no matter what we say, we’ve overregulated, over-taxed and over-burdened the businesses and entrepreneurs that are our economic drivers.”So the governor is on the right path, he said.“It’s the primary impediment to job creation, business ownership and entrepreneurship,” Hahnfeldt said. “I fully support the governor in looking at any unnecessary regulations.”Article: