Sunshine State News – June 22, 2011
Two Florida leaders in politics and business traveled to Washington, D.C., recently, with two very different experiences.
Gov. Rick Scott attended a bipartisan conference of governors and business leaders from around the country Monday, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation. He touted his pro-business policies and an unemployment rate that has dropped 1.3 percent since he took office in January.
“Since January, Florida has created 76,800 new jobs. I am confident that our efforts to make this the most business-friendly state are paying off and we will continue to see jobs go up and unemployment go down,” Scott said.
While Scott highlighted his efforts at the state level to streamline government and reduce regulations, a group of business leaders took their complaints about overbearing federal regulations to the White House.
The trade organization National Association of Manufacturers met with White House chief of staff Bill Daley last week, with several members taking President Barack Obama’s administration to task for imposing or enforcing frivolous or unnecessary regulations on businesses.
Barney Bishop III, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, attended the meeting, and said multiple speakers railed against trivial regulations that hinder the ability of businesses to expand, as executives scale back their plans to put more capital into compliance.
Quixotic new rules governing “fugitive dust” on farms and tales of companies reducing the number of plants they had planned to open to comply with brand new regulations were among the complaints offered by NAM members, Bishop said.
Obama named Daley as chief of staff earlier this year, replacing Democratic firebrand Rahm Emmanuel. The move pleased the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has heavily criticized Obama’s policies involving businesses and federal regulations.
Bishop said Daley is easily the most pro-business staffer in the White House, and he couldn’t “defend the indefensible;” he nonetheless defended his boss. To Bishop and other NAM members, Obama’s speeches about job-creation don’t match his administration’s actions in practice.
“It’s a matter of the president of the United States of America telling his agency heads, ‘Don’t unjustifiably increase the cost to do business,’” Bishop said. “They got the talk down perfectly, but they can’t get the walk down yet,” he added.
For Bishop, the regulations hurting Florida businesses the most are being imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency is requiring Florida to develop a plan to meet with new standards for nitrogen and phosphorous levels in its waterways, known as numeric nutrient criteria. He said the cost of meeting the new standards would be well above the $236 million EPA estimate, impacting the water rates of families, businesses and municipalities.
The burdensome regulations have led Bishop to try to put EPA administrator Lisa Jackson front-and-center in the next election cycle, as the personification of meddlesome, bureaucratic red tape constraining the free market.
“I’m telling you right now that (former U.S. House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi as the face of the Democratic Party is passe as far as I’m concerned. The face in Florida is going to be Lisa Jackson,” Bishop said.