Small-business owners need real regulatory relief. They need an advocate to force government agencies to consider the impact of regulations on their businesses. They need a chance to look up from the massive piles of paperwork required by each of the thousands of new regulations passed over the last eight years. And, most importantly, they need Washington out of their way.
The estimated cost of compliance with federal regulations is disproportionately shouldered by small businesses. Federal agencies don’t understand how much new regulations increase costs and uncertainty in the business world. Over the last eight years, small businesses in Idaho and across the country have overwhelmingly pleaded for a break from the regulations they’ve been suffering under. Regulators have continued to pile on more rules, leading to more difficult compliance and higher penalties. It is up to Congress to step in and break this cycle.
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I have introduced two bills that will help small businesses finally enjoy relief from burdensome federal regulations: the Advocacy Empowerment Act and the Hearing Small Businesses Act. These bills would give the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration (SBA) the authority it needs to hold the government accountable for how their actions impact small businesses.
The Office of Advocacy is an independent branch of the SBA that exists to prevent regulations from crushing small businesses. This office stands up for small businesses, giving them a way to speak directly with the federal agencies that make regulations. Advocacy works with agencies to find ways to regulate without further devastating America’s 28 million small businesses. The Office of Advocacy has asked for tools to help give businesses a break, and it is time for Congress to deliver these.
My legislation requires federal agencies to monitor their regulations’ impact on small businesses. These bills give the Office of Advocacy the power to make sure agencies have considered how many small businesses will be affected by a regulation, if additional regulations overlap, and other alternatives to making an additional regulation. This legislation also will allow small businesses to provide direct input on interim final rules, which are agency rules that could be issued and go into immediate effect.
Making it easier for small businesses to start and flourish should not be a partisan issue. I have been disappointed to see so many of my colleagues call for regulatory reform but fail to advance meaningful solutions to get it done. These two bills provide small, common-sense reforms that directly deliver the tools that the Office of Advocacy has asked for in order to effectively do its job of speaking for small businesses. Business owners across the country have been forced to choose between growing their business and devoting time, money, and man hours to complying with federal rules for far too long. It is up to those of us in Congress to do what is in the best interest of business owners across the country.
Idaho’s Republican Sen. Jim Risch is chairman of Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.