Bill Targets Silly Rules Goal to Cut Number of Regulations in Half

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Eggs that are filthy, decomposed or putrid should be deemed unedible. Things should be stacked in a way so they won't fall. And the rungs of a ladder should be uniform.

They all make common sense, but a group of senators doesn't think they should all be in state regulation books.

They are, critics say, attempts to micro-manage Georgia's businesses, and senators want to stop the practice.

"It says there are bureaucrats trying to justify their jobs by passing regulations," said Senate Minority Leader Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, who has sponsored legislation with Sens. Paul Broun, D-Athens, and Robert Lamutt, R-Marietta, to slow, and, in some cases, reduce red tape.

"There is no need for a regulation that requires that rungs on ladders be parallel or that throwing tools from one employee to another is forbidden," Johnson said. "There are even three pages of regulations that describe a legal bike pedal reflector."

But environmentalists fear the senators have a more sinister purpose: to let polluters off the hook.

"It's absolutely unnecessary legislation. The reform we need in this state is for the laws to be enforced," said Mark Woodall, a Sierra Club lobbyist.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Rene Kemp, D-Hinesville, whose committee will consider the measure, said he couldn't offer an opinion because he hadn't read the bill. But he knew enough to add, "Environmentalists are against it and the Department of Natural Resources is against it."

Government regulation reform has been a hot topic among conservatives for years, but it picked up steam nationally when Republicans took control of Congress in 1994.

Legislatures across the country have considered measures similar to the bill sponsored by Johnson, Broun and Lamutt. …