Post and Courier
July 10, 2014

New study suggests it’s time to toss out archaic regulations in South Carolina

Posted: 11/15/2013 08:00 p.m.
By Schuyler Kropf

Wonder how archaic South Carolina’s regulatory rules are? Think about milk and cheese.

For instance: Under the current set-up, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control regulates all “Grade A” facilities that manufacture, package or distribute milk products.

But the state Department of Agriculture regulates cheese, which some consider to be milk’s cousin.

“The dual agency division of regulatory responsibility serves as a deterrent to new dairy and cheese business development in the state,” the authors of a new report said Friday.

They went on to call the bureaucratic division “inefficient, costly and unique to South Carolina.”

Eight months after Gov. Nikki Haley established a task force to review South Carolina’s long list of agency regulations, the group’s report was released Friday as part of the state Chamber of Commerce’s annual summit, held this year on the Isle of Palms.

The report did not include a cost savings breakdown for the changes, but Haley said the ultimate goal is to make the state more business-friendly by getting rid of the burdensome, outdated and duplicated regulations.

“The regulations are promulgating way too easy in South Carolina and that is a lot of the reason why I think we have what we have,” Haley said.

In all, the 11-member task force estimated there are more than 3,100 regulations at play in South Carolina, overseen by 22 state agencies.

Additionally, there are “perhaps hundreds” of other processes and procedures, the authors said, that have been developed and adopted into the state’s regulatory process.

Some of the suggested changes might be easy to do through consultations with Cabinet directors, Haley said. Others may have to go through the legislative process.

A key thrust of the findings was to show how small businesses could be freed from some of the regulations that are placed on larger ones in a sort of one-size-fits-all mentality.

For example, the report suggests allowing small egg- or honey-producing operations to be exempted from stricter regulations. In the case of egg sales the standards cover the mass washing, sterilizing, grading, sorting and labeling of the product before they can be sold.

The report, by contrast, suggests that producers of 150 dozen eggs or less per week be exempt from those standards.

Another example of an excessive regulation — and one cited by Haley — is a requirement that extra-wide doors be in place for licensing birthing centers that are used for deliveries by midwives.

“The extra width doors required by this regulation are an economic burden and do not provide any increased safety for the patient,” the report said.

Not all the task force members were totally behind every suggestion drawn from more than 2,000 pages of investigation materials. Dana Beach, executive director of the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, said some of the environmental streamlining ideas need to be explored much deeper to fully understand their impact.

He particularly cited suggestions affecting the regulatory process affecting landfills, stormwater management, estuaries and other environmental factors. “It’s a long way from any level of implementation,” he said.

State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, was also a part of the study process. He suggested one other positive from the report is that it put the Statehouse on a pattern of “sunsetting,” or eliminating, regulations once they become identified as unnecessary or obsolete.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551