House Small Business chairman pushes Senate to take up regulatory bill

House Small Business chairman pushes Senate to take up regulatory bill
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House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) is urging the Senate to pass legislation he introduced last year that would give small businesses more input into the regulatory process and force agencies to more thoroughly analyze the effects of regulations.

The legislative window, he said during a committee hearing Thursday, is closing on the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. He said the bill, which passed the House last year, would strengthen the rule-making requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980.

“I hope the Senate will act quickly to move this important bill,” Chabot said.

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During the hearing on the impact regulations have on small businesses, business groups pointed to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final silica dust and proposed overtime rules as some of the most burdensome regulations to come from the administration recently.

“The nearly $750 million DOL's initial regulatory flexibility analysis estimates small businesses would face in new costs during the rule’s first year underestimates the true compliance costs for small business,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the Small Business Legal Center at the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading small business lobby.

Harned estimates it will take far longer than the hour the department said it would take businesses to become familiar with the rule.

“It’s the small-business owner that will be wading through the rules’s regulatory context, not compliance specialists like those working for large corporations,” she said.

In addition to the high compliance costs, which some groups say could be as much as $7.2 billion a year, Rosario Palmieri, vice president of labor, legal and regulatory policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, said the DOL’s silica dust rule is challenging because it does not allow businesses to prioritize personal protective equipment above costly engineering controls.

“They are looking at extraordinarily costly measures when there are others that are more efficient and that’s the real tragedy of this rule,” he said.

Frank Earnest Knapp Jr., who testified on behalf of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), was the lone witness at Thursday’s hearing to back the need for regulations.

He said recent ASBC polls show the majority of small business value regulations if they are well constructed and fairly enforced.

“Some small businesses will find compliance with federal regulations difficult,” he said, “The answer is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and invalidate existing rules. Instead we believes the solution lies in expanding the capacity of the federal government to provide regulatory compliance assistance to small businesses.”