Upon taking office, Governor Kasich signaled his intention of looking out for small businesses by establishing what he called the “Common Sense Initiative” (CSI). Aimed at avoiding placing an undue burden on small businesses, the Governor’s executive order grants his lieutenant, Mary Taylor, oversight of CSI, giving her review and veto authority over the regulatory process at all state agencies, boards and commissions.
The executive order specifically calls for CSI staff to “serve solely to reflect the viewpoints of and advocate for the small business community on proposed and existing regulations.”
It was of interest, then, to read the account of AEP’s recent electric rate increase. According to the Dispatch, the agency signed off on a plan that shifted the majority of a cost hike from large to small businesses, with some experiencing 40% increases in their monthly bills, without hearing from anyone speaking on behalf of small businesses.
“That initial proposal that AEP delivered a year ago to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio would have reduced rates for many small-businesses and raised rates for many large manufacturers. In the end, however, after settlement talks with a variety of companies and groups, the reverse happened, based on a Dispatch analysis of case records.”
“More than 30 companies and groups sent lawyers to participate in the rate case. None of those groups exclusively represents small businesses.”
So, when it mattered most, despite their charge to “reflect the viewpoints of and advocate for” the interests of small businesses, nobody from CSI was there when a cabinet agency authorized a plan that disproportionately affected the small business community.