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Evers snubs small business

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 13, 2019

By M.D. Kittle 

MADISON — A little-known board established to help keep Big Government off the back of small business has not met since Gov. Tony Evers took office, sources tell Empower Wisconsin.

It’s evidence that the Democrat is more interested in his left-wing, regulation-heavy agenda than he is in the health of Wisconsin’s employers, critics say. 

The Wisconsin Small Business Regulatory Review Board was set up in 2003 to be an an advocate, assisting state agencies in “promulgating rules that are realistic to reduce red tape, lessen the compliance burden and improve the business climate in Wisconsin,” according to an online blurb.  

While the board has at times been accused of being weak, it was reconfigured in 2011 by Gov. Scott Walker, who took an aggressive approach to protecting business from burdensome regulations. 

But when Evers replaced Walker, the board and the agency created to serve it, the Office of Business Development, went silent. 

“Unfortunately, the Evers Administration pretty much, as far as we know, has failed to keep the office functional,” said Bill Smith Wisconsin State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “And the board has not met all year.”

There are no records of the Regulatory Review Board meeting and its website has disappeared, although there is some information about the board on the Department of Administration website. 

More so, it would appear the Evers administration is not in compliance with state statute, which requires the board to meet and to receive reports from agencies on each rule or regulation that has an impact on small business. And state regulators have pushed a lot of rules in the first 10-plus months of the liberal administration, many with very little or no public comment period. 

“Communications are supposed to be going to the board and the board needs to respond. Obviously, if the board is not up and functioning, that can’t happen,” said Mike Mikalsen, spokesman for Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater).

Nass is co-chairman of the powerful Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. 

“This is an important issue because there are so many places where the administration is showing a dereliction of duty in terms of following statutes, processes and procedures,” Mikalsen said, calling the Evers administration philosophy a “government-first mentality.” 

Earlier this week, the governor’s rejected ag secretary Brad Pfaff was hired as director of business and rural development under the state Department of Administration. 

Pfaff, whose political rhetoric and controversial ag policies cost him his confirmation before the Republican-led Senate, takes over a new position that, conveniently replaces the former post of director of the Office of Business Development. 

Will the “business and rural development” director make the return of the Regulatory Review Board a high priority? DOA officials did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comments, but at present the Evers administration is not complying with the law. 

“It’s frustrating because the small business community has worked really hard to set up a review process to make sure the board reviews how regulations impact small business,” Smith, the small business advocate said.

“The small business community is not getting the assistance we need.”  

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