Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, addresses the Wadsworth Area Chamber of Commerce during its monthly luncheon Wednesday at the Galaxy Restaurant and Banquet Center in Wadsworth.
NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE Enlarge
WADSWORTH — Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, addressed job creation, cracking down on over-regulation and increasing the state’s rainy day fund during the Wadsworth Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon Wednesday.
“We really do have this great close-knit community within each individual community in Medina County but overall as well,” Obhof said at the Galaxy Restaurant and Banquet Center.
Obhof brought up several topics he said he believed would be of interest to the local business community.
“One of the first bills that I was able to vote for in January 2011 was the Common Sense Initiative, which changed the way we do regulations as a state,” Obhof said. “Which said, essentially, ‘we are going to do a cost-benefit analysis.’ We are going to ask ourselves, ‘do these regulations make sense?’ ”
Since then, Obhof said, Ohio has witnessed a decrease in new regulatory filings.
“That has been a significant change for the betterment of the economy for small business owners,” he said. “These types of changes — fiscal responsibilities, having balanced budgets, cutting taxes, getting red tape and regulation out of the way — have really changed Ohio’s course.”
Obhof said legislators are working on legislation that would be “probably the most significant regulatory reform in the history of the state of Ohio.”
Senate Bill 293, which passed the Senate before the General Assembly’s summer recess, would require administrative agencies to cut the number of regulations by 30 percent over three years, Obhof said.
If the bill becomes law, administrative agencies that do not meet those requirements would have to remove two old regulations before a new one could be created, he said.
Obhof said he spoke with the Mercatus Center, a free market think tank at George Mason University in Virginia, and discovered that Ohio has 100,000 more regulations than more than 20 other states the university worked with.
During the question-and-answer segment, Wadsworth Public Library Director Daniel Slife asked Obhof if he could provide an example of a regulation that had been streamlined.
“I’ll give you an easy and fun example from the last state budget,” Obhof responded.
He said that under prior law, it was legal to manufacturer alcohol-infused ice cream and it was legal to sell it, just not in the same place.
“So if you are a major company with substantial resources, you could produce these products, you could sell them to your clientele, but if you are an ice cream shop in Conneaut, Ohio, in upper Ashtabula County, where we heard the idea originally, you weren’t able to because you were a small provider,” he said.
Now the small shop can sell it.
Obhof said his concern is that if there are “two or three things like that in each industry,” there will be a ripple effect, affecting businesses throughout the state.
“When you look at the 100,000 extra regulations, how many people are leading less-productive lives than they could have, whose businesses are less successful than they could be,” Obhof said.
Wadsworth Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Janie Parish said the chamber makes an effort to host featured speakers that chamber members will find engaging and informative.
“We were lucky with Sen. Obhof,” she said, “because for the most (part) he is home in the summer after the end of June, and he lives here.”