Region’s Major Industries Have Their Voices Heard at Roundtables
By Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel
Coeur d’Alene, a small resort city with a beautiful lake and surrounded by forests, was the setting of the Office of Advocacy’s second Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Idaho. Small businesses from Northern Idaho, Montana and nearby Spokane, Wash., were in attendance from the region’s major industries such as timber, mining, agriculture and tourism.
Advocacy has been holding roundtables across the country to hear from small businesses about their concerns with federal regulations, with the goal of finding and recommending solutions to federal agencies and the White House. Roundtable participants in every industry expressed concern that federal regulations are adding extra costs and delays for small businesses, which is stifling growth and even closing some of these small businesses in the region.
Advocacy heard from many small business representatives from the timber industry, who were concerned that problems in implementing federal regulations have created a barrier for small businesses to have access to federal timber. For example, a small lumber business stated that the Small Business Timber Set Aside Program has not worked properly, and as a result the small business share of federal timber has steeply declined. Frustrated timber industry participants detailed their decade-long advocacy to federal government officials to institute changes to this program. Meantime, the reduction in the amount of timber available to small businesses has closed many small mills in this region. A representative from the Associated Logging Contractors also discussed the delays that small businesses face trying to restore and salvage burned trees after wildfires on federal forest lands. The U.S. Forest Service can take up to a year after a fire to process and approve the paperwork for a fire salvage sale, and this delay makes these trees less usable and valuable.
A representative for a small home builder commented that the multitude of federal regulations has caused delays and additional costs to housing, exacerbating the housing shortage in this area. For example, it took more than three years for this builder to get the environmental permits approved for a 55-unit apartment complex. In addition, there were extra costs to this project from Department of Energy efficiency standards and higher lumber costs due to tariffs on Canadian lumber.
Advocacy heard from small businesses across a variety of other fields, on a wide range of regulations. Examples included:
- A representative of the Society for Human Resource Management, which has more than 1,000 human resource professionals as members in Idaho, was concerned with the Department of Labor’s 2016 final regulations that changed the overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This rule has resulted in their members having to reclassify many supervisory staff from exempt to non-exempt resulting in decreased benefits and workplace flexibility for these employees. This rule was enjoined by a federal court in November 2016. The Department of Labor has released a Request for Information on the 2016 regulations, and the comments are due on September 25, 2017.
- A small aerospace business expressed concern with the delays and uncertainty with the process for certifying airplane products at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. This business stopped trying to obtain FAA certification for their airplane wing technology after seven years — This process only took one year in Europe.
- A small wood stove manufacturer cited concerns with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, which has required stove emissions to be reduced to 1/15th of the prior standard in recent years. This has added costs for the manufacturers and costs to the consumers.
- A small travel management company has cited concerns with federal agencies not following the government-wide procurement goal of 23 percent of prime contracts being awarded to small businesses; and noted that recent government contracts in his industry have gone to large businesses. As a result, his company went from 40 employees to 17 employees, and lost more than 15 percent of their business.
- A small bank asked the Small Business Administration to reconsider certain Standard Operating Procedures for their loan process.
- A representative from the National Federation of Independent Business discussed many concerns, such as increased small business premiums under the Affordable Care Act and higher tax rates for small businesses.
Advocacy greatly appreciates the participation of all of the small businesses at our successful roundtable in Coeur d’Alene.
Advocacy was in Idaho and Washington for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables July 11-13.
Can’t get to a roundtable near you? Fill out this form and tell us about your federal regulatory burdens. We will pass this information on to the appropriate agency and use it in the planning of upcoming Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables.
For more information on Advocacy’s mission, our regulatory reform efforts or to find out where the next Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables will be held, please visit: https://advocacy.sba.gov/regulation/regulatory-reform/.
Janis Reyes is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes labor and immigration. She can be reached at Janis.Reyes@sba.gov.
Regulatory Roundtables Get to the Coeur of the Matter
By Prianka Sharma, Assistant Chief Counsel.