The legislature passed the rule-making reforms in H.B. 1565 with the stated goal of aiding job creation and preventing state agencies from stifling economic growth in the state.

The industry groups supporting the measure have made the point repeatedly: Regulation is bad for business. Edie Ousley, a spokeswoman for the Florida Home Builders Association, says the measure would help the state’s construction industry — which has borne the brunt of the recent recession — “get back on its feet.”

The construction industry has historically been the second-largest plank supporting the state’s economy (after tourism), and more regulation could make matters worse, at a time when the unemployment rate has just begun to retreat from record highs. “Our state is simply not in a position to eliminate more jobs,” she says.

The bill would require proposed regulations that would cost the state’s economy more than $1 million over five years to be approved by the legislature. Opponents, which include several environmental groups and state agencies, have labeled the bill the Lobbyist Jobs Act of 2010, saying that it would open the rule-making process to the political influence wielded by developers and other industry groups.

In today’s Washington Post, business columnist Steven Pearlstein, using the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill as an example, questions the logic behind business groups’ unyielding opposition to regulation:

The big flaw in the business critique of regulation is not so much that it overstates the costs, but that it understates its benefits — in particular, the benefits of avoiding low-probability events with disastrous consequences. Think of oil spills, mine explosions, financial meltdowns or even global warming.

Spurred by the crisis in the gulf, President Barrack Obama has vowed to tighten regulations on offshore oil drilling. The spill’s potentially devastating impact on Florida’s economy underscores Pearlstien’s point.

In his letter urging Gov. Crist to veto H.B. 1565, Thom Rumberger of the Everglades Trust makes a case for the benefits of some regulations:

A cornerstone of good governance has always been to allow agencies to work with the public to decide the technical and scientific details of implementing laws … recognizing that with a strong foundation in science Everglades restoration will be able to achieve a clean, safe water supply for the natural systems that feed the Everglades. In turn, this work will provide a clean, safe and inexpensife potable water supply for South Florida.

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