Cape Gazette
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/902531

Agency public hearings draw meager crowd

Executive Order 36 would eliminate regulations
By Kara Nuzback | Oct 01, 2012
Source: File photo State agency representatives heard from few Sussex County citizens at a series of public hearings at Sussex Central High School.

Georgetown — Several candidates in this election cycle have said overregulation by state agencies is killing job growth in Delaware.  But Sussex County candidates were mum when given the opportunity to voice their opposition to agency officials face-to-face.

To combat overregulation, Gov. Jack Markell signed Executive Order 36 on June 14.  The measure establishes a process to review, modify and possibly eliminate certain state agency regulations.

Public hearings with the Department of Health and Social Services, Department of Labor and Office of Management and Budget were held from Sept. 24 to Sept. 28 at Sussex Central High School in Georgetown.  Business owners, property owners and other members of the public were invited to testify directly to department heads.

But few citizens took up the offer.

Department of Health and Social Services hearings on Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 each had two members of the public attend.  No citizens attended a Department of Labor public hearing Sept. 26.

"Lack of attendance at meetings doesn't necessarily mean that agencies aren't getting comments," said Catherine Rossi, Markell's communications director.  "The effort of reviewing each regulation will continue even if people aren't coming out to the meetings with specific solutions."

Rossi said the state will continue to compile comments and publicize the public hearings in newspapers, on state agency websites and through chambers of commerce.

“We had no idea what to expect,” said Deborah Gottschalk, of DHSS at its public hearing, Sept. 24.

Seaford resident Bunnie Gallagher Williams said she was disappointed more citizens did not take advantage of the opportunity to speak out against regulations.

Williams, who owns Shamrock Glass in Seaford, testified that she tried to obtain a contract will the state, which was instead awarded to two larger companies from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  “They don’t do a thing for our state,” she said.

Arlene Littleton, who has worked at the CHEER Center in Georgetown for more than 27 years, testified against overregulation for hiring home health aides.  She said the DHSS should revise its regulations to match up with licensing requirements.

“We add more and more requirements,” Littleton said. “We’re getting fewer and fewer applicants every time.”

Officials told Williams and Gallagher they would take their suggestions to Markell.  The governor is scheduled to issue a comprehensive report to legislators on June 1, 2013, detailing the regulations that were eliminated or modified.

DHSS, Department of Labor and the Office of Management and Budget will hold public hearings at 6 p.m., from Monday, Oct. 1, to Thursday, Oct. 4, at University of Delaware Paradee Center in Dover.

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Technology and Information and the Department of Transportation will begin public hearings in December in all three Delaware counties.

Citizens can also send written comments online at www.delaware.gov.

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