State regulations holding back job-creators according to study

With the statewide jobless figures relentlessly clinging to the highest in the nation precipice north of 14 percent, seemingly everyone with a keyboard or a calculator is casting about for solutions. Education is the answer. No, diversify the economy. Spend tax money to create construction jobs. Still others say low taxes will not attract new businesses, while the lack of public services will scare them away.

But there is one seldom-talked-about aspect of Nevada that may be harming the state's efforts to attract new businesses -- state policies that are even more restrictive than the far-reaching, job-strangling rules imposed by the federal government, which dictates wages, hours, overtime, working conditions, discrimination, disability, family and medical leave and collective bargaining rights.

According to a study conducted for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and released this month, state regulations over-and-above the federal strictures are holding back would-be job creators. The study estimated that, without those additional regulations, Nevada in 2009 might have created 500 new businesses and more than 8,000 new jobs.

Among all the states, the study ranked Nevada in the worst tier for job friendly employment regulations.

The report took special notice of the state's minimum wage requirement that in 2010 was a full dollar-per-hour higher than the federal minimum wage.

Other factors contributing to the state's "poor" ranking:

-- Overtime requirements beyond federal law.

-- Exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine.

-- Employee handbooks that can be treated like binding contracts.

-- State anti-discrimination laws that go beyond federal laws.

Even President Obama has said government needs to end regulations that impinge on job creation.

"Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business -- burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs ... " the president said in an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal in January.

Now here is an area our Legislature could address if they truly care about getting Nevadans off that 99-week unemployment dole and back to work. Who will be the first to call for repealing the state's add-on minimum wage law or the "prevailing wage" law for public projects?

Don't hold your breath. That could prove fatal.