By PAIGE LaBARGE
Capital News Service
LANSING — As part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to focus more on licensing and regulatory functions, a revamped Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth will emphasize services to businesses and the public.
It will be known as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), and will refocus on licensing and regulations for health professions, said Director Steven Hilfinger.
“The department is now focusing more on direct licensing as well as administrative hearings and employment security and safety in the workplace,” Hilfinger said.
According to Hilfinger, LARA will no longer handle energy issues and will rely heavily on more public interaction during the transition.
“We have set up committees because we want to get the public more involved,” Hilfinger said. “We want the transition to be a collaborative effort, and we want input from various people, whether businesses or public.”
During the transition, the department will also look at what other states are doing with licensing and regulation to develop a competitive edge for regulating various professions, said Hilfinger.
“We are watching how other states conduct regulatory standards and we want to make sure their regulatory environment is competitive,” Hilfinger said. “Kansas and Indiana are our top states to watch, and we are constantly measuring ourselves to see how we compete with them.”
Brian DeBano, deputy director of direct licensing control and corporate licensing, said the impact of transferring the regulation of health professions from the Department of Community Health to LARA will be positive.
“In many ways, we’re moving back to where the department was prior to 2003, where it was part of Consumer and Industry Services, and handled core licensing and regulatory functions,” DeBano said. “This is what we are also trying to do in LARA.”
According to DeBano, the transfer will allow Community Health to concentrate on health care delivery, while LARA regulates the health professions.
“We have many areas that do similar functions such as professional licensing, investigation and enforcement,” DeBano said. “Our goal will be to work with staff members to learn the best practices for each task, which will eventually help the department’s goal of reducing the regulatory burden on Michigan citizens.”
Deputy Director Rob Nederhood said the department’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention is reviewing the list of the current registered and licensed professions.
“We want to see if they meet federal standards or if they have become obsolete as a professional business,” Nederhood said.
John Groen, the LARA communications coordinator, said the first thing the department is doing in the transition is focusing on environmental quality, finance and workplace safety.
Scott Marx is vice president of Marx Dental Supply in Livonia, a licensed and regulated company.
According to Marx, his company has not been notified about dental supply businesses being dropped from the department’s list of regulated industries. He said he is following the department’s transition.
“We are still regulated under them and have been since 1995,” Marx said. “We get renewed every year.”
© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.