(Washington, DC) – Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing examining how American small businesses manage federal regulations:
(As prepared for delivery)
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today, and I appreciate everyone being here to discuss ways to improve the regulatory process for small businesses.
As a former small business owner, I understand the challenges that small businesses face. They need to balance their budgets, meet payroll, find new customers, attract talented workers and keep pace with a rapidly changing, global economy. Small businesses have a lot to worry about, and our job on the Small Business Committee is to make their lives easier.
There is no question that poorly crafted regulations – whether at the local, state or federal level – can result in an excessive burden for small businesses. Unlike big companies, small firms often don’t have the time and resources to devote to understanding new rules or to figure out how to comply.
That’s why we need to ensure that federal agencies have a regulatory process that produces smart, common-sense and easy-to-understand rules.
One key to an effective regulatory process is to ensure that federal agencies comply with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which requires them to work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to conduct outreach and generate real input from small businesses.
Another meaningful way to help small businesses with regulations is to ensure that our federal agencies – including the SBA – are actively helping them comply with the rules. Enhancing federal outreach and assistance to small businesses will help level the playing field by making rules easier to understand and follow.
We also need to harmonize, streamline and repeal regulations that no longer make sense and unnecessarily add to the regulatory burden facing small businesses. That’s why I cosponsored Senator King’s Regulatory Improvement Act to identify antiquated, duplicative and unnecessary regulations and create an expedited process for Congress to review or repeal them.
At the same time, we need to be mindful that well-crafted regulations have the potential to encourage innovation and provide critical protections that small businesses need.
In anticipation of this hearing, I heard from several New Hampshire small businesses who expressed their support for well-crafted regulations that they rely on to succeed. I would like to enter their statements into the record, but let me give a couple examples.
I heard from Jesse Laflamme, who is the CEO of Pete and Gerry’s Organics, a small business located in Monroe, NH that produces USDA certified organic eggs. Jesse’s business has thrived over the last decade, with sales growing by more than 30 percent each year. Jesse now sells his organic eggs at more than 9,600 locations across the country. He writes, “the regulations on organic food and the labeling associated with adhering to these regulations give us an important competitive advantage in our market.” He further adds that the organic label must “have real meaning or our products will lose their value added advantage.”
Jameson (“Jamey”) French is the CEO of Northland Forest Products, a family run business in Kingston, New Hampshire that produces lumber for markets throughout the United States. In his letter, he writes that “as a small family and employee owned business, we rely on a stable, consistent, and fair regulatory environment to protect us from unfair market competition and to level the competitive playing field.” He adds that “clean air, clean water and regulations that discourage mismanagement of the working landscape are key to our future.”
Millions of American consumers, families and workers rely on smart regulations in their daily lives. We need good standards that ensure that our air and our water are clean. Parents need to know that the food they put on the table and the toys they buy for their children are safe. And American families and entrepreneurs need to know that their nest eggs aren’t threatened by another financial crisis, like the one that decimated so many small businesses across the country.
I believe we can accomplish these goals while also improving the regulatory process for small businesses, and I am looking forward to hearing from our witnesses today.