Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, as Ranking Democrat on the Committee on Small Business, I join Committee Chairman Bond in introducing the Small Business Advocacy Review Panel Technical Amendments Act of 1999. While there are a few minor points that Chairman Bond and I have agreed to work out before the Committee considers the bill, we both agree that this is an important piece of legislation which should be enacted promptly to facilitate the Small Business Enforcement Fairness Act process. This process enables small entity representatives to participate in rulemakings by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and, under this bill, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the Department of Treasury.

This bill improves and enhances the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, which has not only reduced regulatory burdens that otherwise would have been placed on small businesses, but also has begun to institute a fundamental change in the way Federal agencies promulgate rules that could have ``a substantial economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses.'' Federal agencies are required under existing law to form so-called SBREFA panels in conjunction with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget, and with small entities, or their representatives. These SBREFA panels are charged with creating flexible regulatory options that would allow small businesses to continue to operate without sacrificing the environmental, or health and safety goals of the proposed rule.

These panels have been highly effective in saving small businesses regulatory compliance costs. To date, seventeen (17) Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panels have been convened by the EPA, and three (3) by the OSHA. According to SBA's Offic e of Advocacy, since the law's enactment in 1996, the EPA SBREFA panels have saved small businesses almost $1 billion, and the OSHA SBREFA panels have saved small businesses about $2 billion.

While the process has obviously worked well to date, there are a few technical changes that we are proposing to help the process work even better. These changes were recommended by selected small entity representatives who have experience with the SBREFA panel process, and who testified at a joint hearing held by the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittees on Regulatory Reform and Paperwork Reduction, and Government Programs and Oversight on March 11, 1999.

Let me take a minute to describe the provisions of the bill.

This bill would lengthen by thirty (30) days the time that small entity representatives have to review the usually technical and voluminous materials to be considered during panel deliberations. For those small businessmen and women who would like to participate but do not have a great deal of time to review technical data, the bill requires OSHA, EPA and IRS to prepare detailed summaries of background data and information.

The bill would also allow a small entity representative, if he or she so chooses to, make an oral presentation to the panel.

Many small entities have expressed their interest in reviewing the panel report before the rule is proposed, and this bill would require the panel report to be printed in the Federal Register either as soon as practicable or with the proposed rule, but in no case, later than six (6) months after the rule is proposed.

Moreover, the bill would add certain rules issued by Internal Revenue Service to the panel requirements of SBREFA. Many small businesses complain that they are overwhelmed with the large burdens that the IRS places on them. It is the goal of this bill to hold the IRS accountable for the interpretative rules they issue that have a major impact on small business concerns, and to open up the rulemaking process so small entities can participate.

This new authority would significantly increase the workload of SBA's Offic e of Advocacy, the Federal office charged with monitoring agency compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, including SBREFA. Chairman Bond and I agree that it is important that the Office of Advocacy have adequate resources to fulfill the new responsibilities mandated by this bill. Therefore, we plan to send a letter jointly to Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and State Chairman and Ranking Member Senators Gregg and Hollings requesting them to approve additional funding for the Office of Advocacy to handle these additional responsibilities under the law.

I am proud to support this legislation. I believe it will result in significant savings for small businesses and will improve the mechanism for their voices to be heard.

Finally, I would like to thank Chairman Bond and his staff for their efforts working with me and my staff to produce this important bill.