WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) says momentum is building in favor of comprehensive regulatory reform to reduce needlessly burdensome red tape stifling economic growth and job creation.  Snowe applauded today’s second hearing of the Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee examining regulatory reform proposals, including the FREEDOM Act, legislation she introduced with Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma) to provide small businesses with much-needed relief from the burden of inefficient, ineffective, or needlessly onerous government regulations.  On June 9, a majority of the U.S. Senate, including a majority of Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee members, voted in favor (53-46) of the FREEDOM Act.

“Indisputably, we require an economic game-changer to reverse the disturbing and lasting trend of nine-percent unemployment across the country.  Removing needless red tape and inefficient bureaucratic barriers to job creation will promote economic growth nationwide, but the longer Congress dithers, the longer we will see high unemployment and all the negative impacts connected to it.  The Snowe-Coburn FREEDOM Act will reduce the burden of inefficient, ineffective, and needlessly onerous federal regulations on small businesses.  The majority of Senators – and the majority of the Committee Members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee – have already voted in favor of the legislation on the Senate Floor.  With today’s second hearing in the Homeland Security Committee, and with similar efforts moving forward in the House, the time is ripe to proceed with this top priority for job creators nationwide to reverse the disturbing trend of nine percent unemployment month after month.”

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.