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Report: State Should Deregulate 18 Occupations

LANSING (AP) - Michigan regulators should increase safety inspection fees for ski resorts and carnivals rides while dropping oversight of auctioneers and acupuncturists and eliminating nine occupational boards, a new state report says.

The Office of Regulator Reinvention report recommends that fees be raised for any licensed professions and activities for which current fees aren't covering the state's costs. The report, obtained in advance by The Associated Press, doesn't recommend specific increases, and lawmakers would have to approve any hikes. The 110-page report was released Monday morning.

A spokeswoman for Boyne Resorts, which run some of Michigan's major ski resorts, said her organization had not heard enough about the proposal to comment. Erin Ernst said resort officials are seeking more information.

Besides the higher fees for state oversight, the report recommends deregulating 18 occupations, ranging from dietitians to acupuncturists, auctioneers, foresters, landscape architects and speech pathologists. Those jobs represent about 17 percent of occupations regulated by the state.
Oversight would continue for around 1 million individuals and entities involved in about 75 other occupations. Licensing and Regulatory Affairs licenses or regulates health care professionals, barbers, cosmetologists, residential builders, real estate brokers and funeral directors, among others.

LARA director Steven Hilfinger said the state must continue providing oversight in areas that affect public safety. But given Gov. Rick Snyder's push to get rid of outdated or unnecessary regulations, the director said, the review made it clear some occupations no longer needed state oversight.

"We were focused on the ones that didn't provide much public safety benefit," Hilfinger told the AP.

Rose Baran, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Ferris State University who served on the Occupational Licensing Advisory Rules Committee, said the committee didn't remove occupations from oversight lightly but saw a need for change.
"We found a number of occupational regulations that simply did not provide enough benefit to justify devoting taxpayer dollars for administration of these programs," she said in a written statement.

The committee spent about four months reviewing 87 occupations and drafting its recommendations, which are intended to make it easier for workers to get into certain occupations and increase competition while lowering business costs, Hilfinger said. He noted that a 2007 study found Michigan was the nation's sixth most heavily regulated state.

He added that many of the occupations that would be dropped from state oversight have private certifications employers can ask for before hiring someone. Practitioners who cheat their customers could face criminal charges even if they're no longer covered by licensing, he said.

The rules committee plans to work with lawmakers on raising fees where necessary to cover the state's inspection and licensing costs.
"In some cases, the fees haven't been increased in 30 or 40 years. ... They're really out of whack with the costs," Hilfinger said. "If it's worth regulating, you want to be able to do it properly and have it be self-supporting."

In addition to eliminating nine boards, the report says the boards of medicine, osteopathic medicine and podiatric medicine should be combined while maintaining separate licenses for the different types of doctors. It also recommends combining the barber and cosmetology boards.
Snyder has reviewed the recommendations.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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