From Riverboats to Land Surveys, Wide Range of Issues Highlight Cincinnati Roundtable

By Bruce Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel

The Office of Advocacy hosted a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Cincinnati Aug. 1st that attracted dozens of small businesses and their representatives who were eager to discuss federal regulations that burden small business.

Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Chair of the House Small Business Committee, kicked off the meeting by detailing Congressional efforts to ease regulatory burdens on small businesses, including access to capital, tax reform, removing trade barriers, and government contracting. He stated that regulatory reform was the number one issue he hears about from small businesses in his district.

The open discussion portion of the meeting began with an excursion riverboat operator from Cincinnati detailing a number of regulations that impact her industry, including technical difficulties in bringing older ships into compliance with the Americans with Disability Act and new federal food safety regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which she said were costly and redundant. She also cited the U.S. Coast Guard’s Nontank Vessel Response Plan and Transportation Worker Identification Credential rules as problematic.

Next, a small machine shop manufacturer highlighted regulations that impose unwarranted paperwork burdens on small business, such as the Department of Labor’s new Overtime rules (which he said forced him to convert salaried employees into hourly hires and track their time) and regulations under the Affordable Care Act. He also said he was having difficulty finding qualified, skilled workers and urged the federal government to support worker training and apprenticeship programs.

The discussion progressed as representatives from the trucking industry complained about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Measurement System program, which they said was inconsistent, unfairly impacted small truckers, and was leading to vicarious liability lawsuits against freight brokers.  A tobacconist complained that the FDA’s “Deeming” rule treated him as a manufacturer simply because he mixes approved pipe tobaccos. A staffing company stated that the federal government needs to establish clear definitions between “employees” and “independent contractors” so that small businesses can adequately plan for staffing needs – especially in the new gig economy.

Other speakers at the meeting included representatives from the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, who stated that his industry was impacted by sixty-one federal regulations at a cost of $162,000 per dealership each year. He cited the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new recordkeeping and reporting requirements as particularly bothersome since it requires auto dealers for the first time to report injury and illness records despite the fact that illness and injury rates in the industry have been steadily declining for years.

As the discussion developed, common themes arose, such as rising health care costs, paperwork burdens imposed by federal agencies and burdensome financial regulations that were impeding small business financing. A residential construction company stated that federal regulations amount to twenty-five percent of the cost of a home, and he complained that builders face costly, redundant and burdensome regulations from federal, state and local regulators. Micro businesses, land surveyors, food manufacturers and industrial mineral mining companies all weighed in. While the attendees expressed appreciation that someone from the federal government was there listening to them, they expressed frustration that so many issues have existed for years without resolution.

For further information, please contact Bruce Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel, at 202-205-6144 or



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