Wide Range of Issues Highlighted at Advocacy’s Regional Regulatory Roundtable in St. Louis

By Linwood Rayford, Assistant Chief Counsel

The Office of Advocacy hosted a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable in St. Louis, Mo., on Sept. 12th that attracted dozens of small businesses and their representatives who were eager to discuss federal regulations that burden small business.

Advocacy kicked off the roundtable by explaining what the office’s small business mandate is and how we endeavor to protect small entities from overly burdensome federal regulations. Small businesses in this area were happy Advocacy was there to listen and had numerous examples of federal regulations that were burdening their operations.

This was the first exposure to the Office of Advocacy for vast majority of the participating small businesses. Not only were they pleased to find an audience with Advocacy, telling their stories seemed to be cathartic for them, as well.

A small, independent hotel manager explained that the cost of providing health insurance for employees is too high, that his hotel is struggling with the Department of Labor’s overtime rules, and how he hoped that tax reform would help lower the cost of doing business for his hotel. He was especially enthusiastic about his hotel located in St. Louis and explained how their regulation disproportionately affected his solo hotel, as opposed to the chains.

Similarly, a chemicals industry representative described how Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, especially those that require an expensive electronic logging device, impose a heavy financial burden on industry. He was also concerned with rules governing chemical thresholds that are so strict that small businesses struggle to comply with the regulations.

We also heard from a small fireplace retailer who commented on EPA and Department of Energy rules that impact his business. He was concerned with the new Source Performance Standards Act that tightens emissions on wood burning fireplaces and stoves. He said that most of his fireplaces will meet the standard, but the Act also covers less efficient stoves. The timing of the change does not provide his business with enough time to sell his existing inventory.

The variety of federal agencies and types of regulations affecting small business are many in this area. Department of Labor and the Department of State efforts to change visa requirements which will impact international exchange students, and foreign seasonal workers, led to a representative from a cultural exchange network to discuss the financial impacts of the new executive order, “Buy American, Hire American.” Her hope is that DOL and State will be flexible in their application of the executive order.

Many other burdensome federal rules were discussed, including veteran’s matters, tax reform suggestions, and burdensome Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules.

Federal regulations are strangling small business in St. Louis and they are in desperate need of relief. Removing the weight of excessive regulations off their backs will lead to stronger economic recovery.

Throughout the roundtable, 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. While the attendees expressed appreciation that someone from the federal government was there listening to them, they expressed frustration that so many of the issues identified have existed for years without resolution.



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