OECAF Letter to Gov. DeWine requesting HB166 line-item vetoes

July 17, 2019

The Honorable Mike DeWine
Governor of Ohio
77 S. High St, Fl. 30
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Governor DeWine, 

The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund (OECAF) actively works to protect and restore Ohio’s natural resources to strengthen the quality of life for families and communities, and improve the sustainability of Ohio’s natural environment. On behalf of OECAF and its members, we are writing to urge you to remove a certain provision from Amended Substitute House Bill 166 (HB 166)  that would have a negative effect on Ohio’s economic and environmental health, is not in the public interest, and thus should be vetoed.

Please find below the provisions within HB 166, and our justifications for each line-item veto request.

JCRCD4- Agency rule review for regulatory restrictions  (R.C. 121.95) Lines 4697-4762
This new provision requires executive agencies to identify and inventory which of their rules contain “regulatory restrictions” and post the inventory on their websites. The provision then prohibits these agencies, during FYs 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, from adopting a new regulatory restriction unless they simultaneously remove two or more existing “regulatory restrictions."

By another name, these so-called “regulatory restrictions,” are protections. They are protections for our environment. They are protections for the health of our children. They are protections for the legacy of our state’s natural treasures.

To arbitrarily require an agency remove protections, just for the sake of having fewer total regulations on the books, is simply poor governance. The provision provides no guidance to state agencies on how to prioritize the elimination of certain regulatory restrictions over others, nor does not consider what an agency should do if it must develop regulations to respond to new emergency circumstances as they arise within our state without arbitrarily sacrificing at least two other protective regulations in the process. 

Furthermore, this provision is unnecessary. Ohio has already implemented laws in the past that address regulatory impacts on business development. The Common Sense Initiative and associated Five Year Review give agencies the tools to review, rescind, and amend regulations that unnecessarily burden businesses or create unneeded bureaucratic waste. This new provision shirks the current balanced approach to reform and instead forces state agencies to reduce “regulatory restrictions” with no consideration or examination of the potential consequences to human health and safety, or environmental quality.

Most problematic is that the provision seems to target state agencies that have “regulatory restrictions” with the most significant benefits on the lives of everyday Ohioans.  The Ohio EPA implements a large portion of the Ohio Administrative Code, so regulations protecting the water we drink, and the air we breathe appear to be under the greatest threat by this provision in HB 166. Reducing Ohio EPA’s ability to add or maintain regulations in the face of the multitude of environmental risks facing the state exacerbating those risks, and jeopardizing the strides your administration has made on conservation and the environment (including through other provisions of HB166).  Therefore, a veto of this provision is in the best public interest.

Thank you for your consideration of this item for line-item veto.

Trish Demeter