WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), the lead Republican on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, says Congress can help the economy combat the nation’s 9.2 percent unemployment rate by relieving small businesses of outdated, inefficient, needlessly onerous Federal regulations.  Earlier this year, Senators Snowe and Dr. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) introduced the Freedom from Restrictive Excessive Executive Demands and Onerous Mandates (FREEDOM) Act, legislation to provide small businesses with much-needed relief from the burden of inefficient and ineffective government regulations.  Snowe said the FREEDOM Act, along with several proposals introduced by her Senate Republican colleagues to reduce excessive red tape stifling job creation and growth, are measurable initiatives Congress could take right now to help job creators do what they do best: add to their payrolls. 

Senator Snowe said:

“The momentum in support of comprehensive regulatory reform is growing, with a majority of the Senate, and of the Members of the Committee of jurisdiction, already having voted in favor of the FREEDOM Act on the Senate Floor.  Indisputably, we require an economic game-changer to reverse the disturbing and lasting trend of high unemployment across the country.  Removing needless red tape and inefficient bureaucratic barriers to job creation is one sure fire way to promote economic growth nationwide, but the longer we dither on this issue, the longer our economy will continue to stagnate.   The fact is, according to a witness at one of the Senate Small Business Committee hearings, a thirty percent reduction in regulatory costs would save nearly $32,000 for a 10-person firm, which is enough to hire one additional person.  Think of what that would mean for our economy if every small firm experienced that relief.”

The FREEDOM Act would strengthen the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the seminal legislation enacted in 1980 requiring federal agencies to conduct small business analyses for any regulation that would impose a significant impact on a substantial number of small firms.   Highlights of the FREEDOM Act include provisions to:

  • Require that agencies consider indirect economic impacts in small business analyses;
  • Enforce existing periodic rule review requirements and penalize agencies that refuse to conduct these reviews;
  • Add nine new small business review panels at federal agencies whose rules have the largest economic impact on small businesses.
  • Provide for judicial review at an earlier point in the federal rulemaking process; and
  • Extend the RFA to agency guidance documents, so that federal agencies must conduct small business economic analyses before publishing those documents.  Recently, agencies have subverted the rulemaking process by relying on documents that agencies can issue without having to adhere to their RFA obligations.

BACKGROUND:  On June 20, the U.S. Senate voted in favor (53-46) of the FREEDOM Act, which U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma) offered as an amendment on the Senate floor.  The amendment was not adopted however, due to a parliamentary maneuver requiring a 60 vote threshold. Additionally, a majority of members on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the committee given jurisdiction over the legislation, voted in favor of the Snowe/Coburn amendment.  Senator Snowe testified before that committee in support of her bill on June 23, 2011.