WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) testified in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in support of her legislation to help relieve the regulatory burden on small business owners. Snowe said needlessly onerous federal regulations are stifling job creation and economic growth at an especially difficult time for American families.

Senator Snowe, the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee said:

“Families all across our country are enduring an extended economic downturn unlike anything we have ever seen before. Unemployment continues above nine percent, job creation is sluggish, and the housing market continues to struggle.  Everywhere I go, small business owners tell me reducing the burden of unnecessarily onerous, inefficient and ineffective regulations would help them create more good-paying jobs for Americans.  There is a growing consensus that regulatory reform will be a game-changer for job creators nationwide.  I am grateful for my colleagues’ consideration of this common-sense reform to enforce a law already on the books requiring periodic review of federal regulations and look forward to Senate action on this critical measure.”

Senators Snowe and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma) introduced the FREEDOM Act, legislation that 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.

For additional insight, please read Senator Snowe’s op-ed in today’s POLITICO asserting that comprehensive regulatory reform is the “game changer” small businesses need to start adding employees to their payrolls and create good jobs for Americans. 

Additionally, please click here to view an excerpt of Senator Snowe's remarks from the hearing.