Heitkamp leads discussion on regulations and EPA
DICKINSON, N.D.--Sen. Heidi Heitkamp held a roundtable meeting Monday afternoon at the Strom Center here to discuss regulatory reform hours after North Dakota led a 12-state coalition in a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's...
DICKINSON, N.D.-Sen. Heidi Heitkamp held a roundtable meeting Monday afternoon at the Strom Center here to discuss regulatory reform hours after North Dakota led a 12-state coalition in a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's extension of regulatory jurisdiction.
The scheduled meeting with business leaders and public officials was the first local roundtable discussion of Heitkamp's bipartisan #CutRedTape initiative, and was intended to provide the senator with public input and stories about business dealings with regulations.
"We started this initiative, Cut Red Tape, so main street-not just people who are represented by (lobbyists)-could get ahold of us and say, 'Look, this is what we're doing,'" she said. "... What we really want to do is get a sense of what's happening out there that we don't even know about."
The 10 representatives at the roundtable included business owners and leaders-including Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson, the chairman and CEO of TMI Systems Design-as well as oil company officials and farmers.
Some issues discussed at length included the business owners' difficulties with securing work visas to alleviate labor shortages, a perceived lack of consistency between federal, state and local regulations, and mandated provision of non-regulatory data to federal agencies.
Heitkamp, a Democrat and a ranking member on the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, said she was interested in "systemic regulatory reform" that utilized bipartisan moderate support to "lead from the middle."
Business owners speak on adapting to regulations
Area business leaders spoke to their experiences and unique challenges in working with federal agencies.
Baker Boy owner Guy Moos said keeping his operations in line with federal food guidelines and other regulatory measures has been "an interesting ride."
"They seem to be having revisions come out routinely, so we have someone on our staff that we have keeping abreast of all that," he said.
Moos said his business-which produces baked goods in mass quantities-has adapted to federally regulated portion-size and sodium-level changes over the past couple of years, though he said changing regulations seemed to be slowing down.
The senator spoke about constant-and seemingly never-ending-changes to federal rules and regulations, as disruptions for businesses like Baker Boy.
"What drives me crazy is if yesterday this was the rule, and tomorrow there's a different rule," she said. "... And I think (regulators) don't think about the disruption that causes when they think they can just willy nilly change the playing field and you're just supposed to accommodate them."
Other business representatives weighed in on different regulatory agencies.
Edward H. Schwartz Construction owner Randy Schwartz told of his dealings with the Environmental Protection Agency, and how a broad-based approach to regulating erosion led to increased costs for his business.
"We have a national standard, and clearly erosion problems in western North Dakota are different than in western Montana, for example," he said. "It really doesn't matter if sediment goes into the Little Missouri, which is full of it, it matters if it goes into that trout stream in Yellowstone (River). But we're held to the same standard that they are here."
Heitkamp said local and state experience was important in determining guidelines, and that regulation should be deferred to the state when it could.
After the roundtable, Heitkamp said she was trying to address individuals while gaining insight on business confrontations with regulatory bureaucracy, adding that she had personal experience with cutting red tape as North Dakota's attorney general.
"You can still protect people and can still achieve the purpose without overly burdening the industry and businesses," she said.