COLUMBIA, SC — Caskets and hairdressers were on the agenda of the first public hearing of a state commission charged with reviewing thousands of state business regulations.
The commission, created by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, must recommend by November which regulations should be amended or eliminated. The commission held the first of six public hearings Friday.
Gere Fulton, a volunteer with the Funeral Consumers Alliance, said state regulation 57-15 says you can sell homemade, wooden caskets to the public – as long as you have at least six adult caskets on display at all times. Fulton said that requirement is an example of the kind of burdensome regulation that keeps many small-time woodworkers – including a Swansea man – from selling inexpensive caskets as an alternative to steel caskets, which Fulton said can cost as much as $37,000.
“This is really a restraint of trade,” Fulton said. “It’s a barrier to entering the marketplace.”
But Scott Bills, director of Paul Mitchell The School, a Columbia cosmetology school, said proposed changes to state cosmetology regulations would make it difficult for his school and students to be successful.
“My understanding of the purpose of the task force is to get rid of regulatory things that either a majority of the public don’t want or are barriers to business. The cosmetology business ... is one of the few industries that really doesn’t want to be unregulated,” he said. “Cosmetologists work with a lot of chemicals. They work with tools that are sharp. You don’t want somebody to walk in, open a shop and start dumping chemicals on somebody’s head who doesn’t know what is going on.”
Figuring out which regulations hurt – and which regulations help – will be the task force’s biggest challenge going forward, according to chairman Mark Lutz.
“I don’t’ have an answer for you now. But I’m thrilled that we’re going to have a robust discussion about it,” said Lutz, who lives in Mount Pleasant and works for the Boston-based Virtual Factory, a health-care software company. “This is not about eliminating regulation in South Carolina.”
State agencies have given the task force recommendations on what regulations could be eliminated or amended. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control, for example, recommended repealing or loosening 20 sets of environmental rules, nearly half of them dealing with the disposal of garbage and other hazardous waste. No one testified about those proposed changes on Friday.
But some task force members, including Dan Dennis, are upset with state agencies that, they say, for not cooperating with the task force. Dennis said the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism did not recommend any rule or regulation changes, and the Department of Transportation recommended only one change.
“These (reports) are not worth the paper they are written on,” Dennis said.
After the meeting, task force chairman Lutz said he was pleased with state agencies’ responses overall. But, he added, there was some “opportunity for improvement.”
Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.