(Chuck Muth) – While the main focus of the 2011 legislative session has been on the budget – and particularly on how badly the business community was going to get screwed as far as taxation was concerned – an even more insidious, anti-business strain ran through Carson City: Regulation.
For obvious reasons, I kept a close eye on any and all bills that came up with a “Two-Thirds Majority Required” disclaimer at the top; as that meant the bill most likely was a tax or fee increase….and almost every time it was a tax or fee increase on small businesses.
But worse was the fact that most of those proposed fee increases accompanied a bill to expand government regulation over all manner of ways Nevadans can make a living.
Indeed, legislation was introduced this session to license, tax and regulate such innocuous professions as hair braiders, manicurists, grant-writers for charities, “music therapists” and asset managers. There were also bills requiring auto repair shops to check your tire pressure and for teens to get a note from mommy before heading down to the local tanning salon (but not the local abortion clinic!).
And then there were the Bar Food Nazis.
Bars and taverns that prohibit anyone under 21 years of age from entering their premises are allowed to allow their patrons to smoke. But they are NOT allowed to allow their smoking patrons to smoke while eating a basket of chicken wings! Is that insane, or what?
And contrary to what the health nannies say, this is not a health issue; it’s a property rights issue.
The bar or tavern owner should be the one to decide whether or not to allow smoking inside their establishment, not the government. Nobody is putting a gun to the heads of people and forcing them to patronize or work at a bar or tavern that allows smoking. If you don’t like smoking, don’t go into a bar or tavern that allows smoking. You do not have a “right” to a smoke-free bar.
However, if you do want a smoke-free bar, go open your own and take the same financial risk as other bar owners. Otherwise, let grown adults decide for themselves if they want to work in or patronize a bar that allows smoking and chicken wings. Live and let live…and leave us alone.
And then there was what has been described as the “most lobbied” bill of the 2011 Legislature; a bill to deregulate the junkyard industry.
Understandably, law enforcement agencies have a compelling public safety interest in getting a wrecked car off the road as quickly and efficiently as possible after an accident. As such, it makes sense for the government to contract with tow providers and set certain minimum requirements in order to get a contract to assure operators can provide the services needed.
However, getting a wrecked car off the street and storing that wrecked car once off the street are two entirely different matters. Nevertheless, the government-approved towing companies similarly enjoy government-controlled monopolies over storage yards…and some consumers and insurance companies have been getting ripped off big time.
For example, I have a copy of the storage fees which were charged for one wrecked car this past April at Quality Towing, an approved government storage yard. It came to $2,610. Had that same vehicle been towed to SNAP Towing, a non-government storage yard, the cost would have instead been a $1,220. A savings of almost $1,400 to the car owner and/or his insurance company.
As such, there was an effort this session to open up the storage yard business to the free market, while maintaining the government control of the towing services business. But no; legislators voted overwhelmingly to keep regulating the storage yard business rather than allow some free market competition which could potentially save consumers a big chunk of change.
Look, if we really want to reboot Nevada’s economy and boost employment, the way to do that isn’t to continue regulating, taxing and licensing more and more businesses. It’s to get the government regulators out of our hair. So let it be written; so let it be done.
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Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.