Lawmakers seek to trim state code books

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Lawmakers seek to trim state code books

Premiere Date: 
January 24, 2013

State Republicans plan to eliminate what they view as outdated and unnecessary regulations

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

At the same time that mining legislation is in the headlines, assembly Republicans have taken the Herculean task of trimming the state code books of outdated or unnecessary rules and regulations, red tape they regard as funny or old. They're calling it, Right the Rules, and they cite regulations on such things as bedding and cheese. Specifically, the size of the holes in Swiss cheese.

Robin Vos:

When we talk to businesses all around the state, they have consistently said they do not mind following the rules, they definitely will, but they want to make sure that they are understandable, up-to-date and that they make sense to the public.

Frederica Freyberg:

Republican assembly speaker Robin Vos points to the tens of thousands of regulations in the Wisconsin administrative code. Committees in his house are tasked with going through every one of them and getting rid of the outdated or stupid ones.

Robin Vos:

Regulations have the ability to hamper job growth, and sometimes just simply don't make sense.

Frederica Freyberg:

 Vos talks about a couple of them in a newspaper commentary as part of the regulation right sizing blitz, saying, “There are regulations for the way pillow cases are packaged and regulations that set the size of the holes in Baby Swiss cheese,” prompting me to ask, do you anticipate in the future eating Swiss cheese with no holes? But those 3/8th inch holes in Baby Swiss mandated by state code are no laughing matter for master cheese-maker, Myron Olson.

Myron Olson:

Twice we have placed first in the world contest. Now with Swiss, you don't want extra air pockets.

Frederica Freyberg:

Olson says Swiss is one of the most difficult cheeses to make. It takes precise ingredients and methods to make the perfect-sized holes, or eyes, and to deliver the perfect taste. He likes the strict regulation on the size of the holes because, he says, his customers like uniformity for better slicing and packaging.

And those eyes are what give this cheese its flavor?

Myron Olson:

Yep. This is what gives the flavor and the characteristics to the cheese. You see the nice shininess there? 

Frederica Freyberg:

And those holes, or eyes, are to state regulation?

Myron Olson:

Yes.

Frederica Freyberg:

Olson goes further, saying the strict state regulations in cheese-making are what make Wisconsin cheese world class. He says, the rules are good for business. But the administrative codes do contain plenty of arcane or outdated rules, like pertaining to microfilm or tags on mattresses.

Robin Vos:

Hopefully we can get Democrats to cooperate with us. I'm very optimistic with the good start of the session that they will engage fully. Hopefully, it's not a partisan issue to try to get rid of unnecessary regulations that hamper job creation.

Frederica Freyberg:

Democratic state representative Gary Hebl says, “...it's crucial to remember that many of these rules exist for important reasons. The administrative code helps ensure that we have vital environmental protections that keep our air and water clean, protect worker safety and guard consumers against fraud.” Assembly leaders say the Right the Rules process could take several sessions of the legislature to complete. Master cheese-maker, Myron Olson, would no doubt weigh in for legislators to keep their mitts off the rules that regulate holes in Swiss cheese.

Myron Olson:

And here's always the worst part. Somebody has to try the cheese.  

Frederica Freyberg:

So if there weren't state regulations telling you how big those holes had to be, would there be some cheese-makers that just didn't make the cheese with the holes?

Myron Olson:

You could see that happen, or you could see a lack of eye formation, smaller eyes, any combination.


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