Ohio launching AI tool to streamline redundant regulations


By Todd DeFeo - The center Square



COLUMBUS — Ohio officials are rolling out a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool aimed at reforming Ohio’s regulatory landscape, a move that could potentially save Ohio businesses time and money.

The state is spending up to $1.2 million on the project launched by the Common Sense Initiative (CSI) in partnership with InnovateOhio. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted will oversee the project.

The AI tool will use text analytics and AI to analyze the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). The tool will help policymakers identify which regulations are redundant and can be streamlined.

“Ohio is a bit on the cutting edge on this front,” Joshua Eck, a spokesman for Husted, said in an email to The Center Square. “We are not aware of another state using a tool like ours on this scale to reduce regulatory burdens.

“That being said, it’s hard to know exactly how much it will save, but we do anticipate that we will have good success with it and that it will provide a great amount of savings – in time, manpower, and money – for Ohio businesses,” Eck added.

A review by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia found the 2018 OAC had 15.2 million words with 246,852 restrictions. The organization determined it would take the average reader more than 847 hours to read, which equates to reading 40 hours per week for more than 21 weeks.

Last year, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 1, which would, in part, require state agencies to reduce the number of regulations by 30 percent by 2022. The bill is pending before the House State and Local Government Committee.

“Ohio has over 200 years of rules and regulations that have been patched together in a way that no one person or team of people can fully understand them,” Husted said in a news release. “With our new AI tool, any regulatory topic can be researched and analyzed in seconds. We are going to use this new tool to bring comprehensive regulatory reform to Ohio.”

Business leaders lauded the announcement about the new AI initiative.

“A key component to Ohio’s small-business community during the campaign of 2018 was the promise of an effort to streamline regulations,” Roger Geiger, vice president and executive director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in Ohio, said in a statement.

“With the use of artificial intelligence, state agencies will now be able to expedite the regulatory review process and weed out those harmful unnecessary regulations that serve to stifle Ohio’s economic growth,” Geiger added. “NFIB and our members greatly appreciate these types of efforts to get out of the way of Ohio entrepreneurs and let them continue to serve as the economic engine that drives our state.”

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By Todd DeFeo

The center Square

Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square

Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square