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Husted announces launch of first-in-nation AI tool for regulatory reform

Written on May 1, 2020

Provided by Hannah News Service

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted last week announced the state is launching an artificial intelligence tool to help reform Ohio's regulatory landscape by performing research and analysis much faster than human staffers can.

The announcement came at the Feb. 13 meeting of the Common Sense Initiative Small Business Advisory Council.

Husted had previously discussed plans for the tool during an August SBAC meeting, saying it would be software that reads the Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code and learns more along the way to provide "a degree of interactivity" without being "some robot at a desk." Because of the terms of the software license, he told Hannah News the tool would not be able to include any public-facing search functions.

A 2018 report by George Mason University's Mercatus Center found it would take one person 21 weeks to read through the more than 240,000 regulations in effect in Ohio. But Husted said the AI tool will be able to research and analyze regulatory topics in seconds and through machine learning will become better over time.

Ohio's usage of the tool represents the first such action by a state, Husted said, so he told the council members there was nothing to compare potential results against. However, he said, this will provide Ohio agencies with "a scalpel" to use rather than "a sledgehammer" as they work to fulfill the General Assembly's requirement of eliminating two rules for each new one.

While unnecessary regulations should be removed, he said, the process should be conducted in a smart way that provides a meaningful benefit to Ohioans' daily lives rather than arbitrarily. The tool is part of CSI's efforts to go "on offense" following its initial work at the start of the DeWine administration to clear a backlog of over 1,200 rules awaiting action.

CSI Director Carrie Kuruc said the tool will provide staff and policymakers with information they can use in their work far faster than it could have been compiled otherwise, and Husted said it will help them at the "second tier of thinking" on what should be eliminated or altered.

OSCPA Executive Board Chair Elect Crystal Faulkner, CPA, CExP, MAFF, a partner at MCM CPAs and Advisors, asked what role stakeholder input would have in conversations on the rules that affect them. Kuruc said public comment is a "very important" part of CSI's review process. She also hoped that stakeholders would help shape the order of which regulatory areas are reviewed by the tool first, and Faulkner responded that she would work to spread awareness.

In response to a question from SBAC member Greg Simpson, owner of Key Transportation Services, Husted said the tool may help identify and resolve inconsistencies between state and federal codes that cause problems for Ohio regulatory officials, though there are limits to what they can do regarding federal regulations. He also noted he'd recently been at the White House to discuss regulatory reform.