Regulatory Reform Commission meets in Cambridge

MD-Regulatory commission meeting_front

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford chairs the recent Regulatory Reform Commission meeting held at the Hyatt. Area citizens and business people had a chance to voice their concerns about how over-regulation may be affecting life in the county.

CAMBRIDGE — Early this summer, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued Executive Order 01.01.2015.20, establishing the Regulatory Reform Commission in this state. The intent of the commission is to conduct a comprehensive review of Maryland’s regulatory climate, and work to reduce over-regulation and improve the business climate in Maryland.

“A primary goal of the Hogan administration,” said Governor Hogan, “is ensuring that Maryland is “’for Business.’ Years of overregulation, tax increases, and an anti-business attitude have had a devastating impact on Maryland’s economy and have limited our ability to compete regionally and nationally.”

The Commission published a schedule of public meetings across the state, and the final meeting was held in Cambridge, at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay, on Oct. 13.

Business leaders, business owners, concerned citizens and local regulatory officials packed the room at the Hyatt, and as many as were able to fit into the day were given time to speak. The prevailing message was consistent: over-regulation in every form was killing the Maryland’s economic competitiveness.

Contractors especially talked about the need to relax regulations and reduce expense of permits and mandatory building requirements to spur growth in the state. Much attention was given to the new “sprinkler law,” mandating fire sprinkler systems in all new construction and in buildings substantially renovated.

Also mentioned was the new “BAT” septic systems required on shore property, which can add $10,000 or more to new residential construction. Speakers pointed out that the costs of all these regulations — sprinklers, septic, permitting—have added up to all but stop new construction on the Eastern Shore.
Speaker Jason Smucker of JLS Design Construction detailed additional costs to add sprinklers to a home his company is building in Queen Anne’s County that added up to $8500, and quoted also a $20,000 impact fee necessary to start building the home.

More than one speaker pointed out the relatively better economic climate in neighboring Delaware, which is drawing more residents to that state, and forcing Maryland contractors to look over the border for more work, and possibly to consider re-locating.

Senator Steve Hershey of the Upper Shore spoke, and blamed the current regulatory environment on the O’Malley administration; stating that regulations were designed to “limit development and opportunity, especially in rural counties.”

Eastern Shore farmers also spoke out against the new phosphorus management tool regulations, and the negative effect it is having on chicken farmers in the region.

The meeting went on late into the afternoon, with the commission indicating no desire to adjourn until everyone had a chance to speak. Senator Addie Eckardt was in attendance, and said it was “a tremendous response from citizens with specific details and suggestions for change. Thanks to the Governor, Lt Governor and commission for coming out to the Shore to listen and learn, and also for staying well beyond the stated time.”

The meeting at the Hyatt was chaired by Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, who stated that regulations were necessary to protect Marylanders in the sense of safety and the environment, but that all regulations had to be reasonable.

His gubernatorial administration, Governor Hogan insists, is focusing on economic development initiatives that will make Maryland competitive. “Fixing Maryland’s business climate,” Gov. Hogan maintains, “turning our economy around, and creating more opportunities and jobs for our citizens is critical.”

More opportunity to get comments to the commission is available through the Regulatory Reform Commission website located at: regulatoryreform.maryland.gov.

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