WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Administration’s chief watchdog for the nation’s nearly 30 million small businesses today agreed with U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) that federal agencies are not reviewing the economic impact of their regulations as required by the 1986 Regulatory Flexibility Act.  To ensure the small business impact of regulations are accounted for at least every ten years, Senator Snowe, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has authored legislation to enforce this law.

“If a regulation is not important enough for an agency to conduct a review at least once every ten years, then it is not important enough to be on the books,” Senator Snowe asserted at today’s Committee hearing where both Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy Dr. Winslow Sargeant and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) Karen Mills testified.  “In meetings and Maine Street tours, a top concern I hear from small business is the stifling effect of onerous federal regulations on their ability to grow, plan for the future and hire new employees.”

At the hearing, Dr. Sargeant explained that without a road map for compliance, periodic reviews are currently left up to the discretion of the agency.  As a result, the enforcement burden falls squarely on the shoulders of the engine of the nation’s economy – small businesses.  “Small businesses simply don’t have the wherewithal to monitor each and every regulation promulgated by the federal government,” said Senator Snowe.  “Agencies must be held accountable to complete these reviews, which can mean the difference between onerous and sensible regulations for job creators.”

Video of Sen. Snowe’s comments here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnK6s84nQVQ

On March 3, Senators Snowe and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma) introduced the Small Business Regulatory Freedom Act, S. 474, to ensure the economic impact of all federal regulations on small businesses is accounted for.  Their legislation would strengthen current law to ensure periodic reviews of current regulations are completed by all agencies by vesting enforcement power within the SBA. 

Key provisions of this legislation include:

  • Including “Indirect” Economic Impact in Small Business Analyses
  • Judicial Review to Allow Small Entities to Challenge Proposed Regulations
  • Periodic Review and Sunset of Existing Rules
  • Requiring Small Business Review Panels for All Federal Agencies
  • Expanding the Regulatory Flexibility Act to Agency Guidance Documents

“I applaud Senators Snowe and Coburn for introducing a strong regulatory reform bill that requires federal regulators to measure the impact of their proposed rules on job creation,” said Susan Eckerly, Senior Vice President of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).  “According to our latest NFIB Small Business Economic Trends report, government regulation is the single most significant problem for 17% of small business owners, which is up from 13% just a year ago.  The Small Business Regulatory Freedom Act of 2011 will help to prevent the threat of costly new regulations and we appreciate their leadership on job creation in the small business sector.”