By Rhett Davis, Region 6 Advocate
The Office of Advocacy has conducted a series of small business outreach meetings across southern Louisiana since Labor Day, and the conversation was as spicy as the area’s cuisine.
We asked dozens of businesspeople about their federal regulatory burdens and received a lot of feedback, especially concerning paperwork.
“Federal government reporting requirements are very burdensome and should be relaxed,” said one business owner.
He said that his staff spends a lot of time completing paperwork, and that the Bureau of Labor Statistics even wants job descriptions for each of his 40 or so employees.
“I want to know why my employees’ job descriptions are a legitimate interest of the federal government,” he said. “There is a fine if I don’t comply.”
In addition to burdensome paperwork, we heard a lot about the cost of complying with regulations imposed under the Americans with Disability Act.
“ADA regulations are very expensive. To retrofit bathrooms and wheelchair ramps is extremely expensive. These need to be changed or relaxed,” said the owner of a janitorial supply company. He also said that Labor Department requirements to display posters are a constant source of irritation to him.
“Regulators always have something to complain about. What I have posted isn’t the current version, or it’s not in the correct place, or something. Why do we even need such posters in the twenty-first century? The same information could be made available to all employees online instead. It could be made available on an app. When employees sign into such an app, they could sign agreement that they have read the labor information. Both the employers and employees would benefit,” the entrepreneur told us.
Another attendee was concerned about the negative impact new trucking regulations are having both on her business and on the American economy. Her company blends detergents, synthetic motor oils, hydraulic oils, etc. Drivers of trucks who picked up their products in the past were only required to hold a standard commercial driver’s license to drive. Now, the federal government requires a “tanker endorsement” (an endorsement on a driver’s license that requires an extra layer of testing). It is unnecessary because the drivers are not pulling a tanker nor carrying hazardous materials, she believes. The regulation artificially restricts the flow of commerce because it limits the number of drivers who can carry a particular load. She suggested eliminating a Department of Transportation requirement for a tanker endorsement for those not actually pulling a tank trailer.
For more information on these types of events, where the next Advocacy event will be held, and what progress is being made on these important small business issues, please visit our website.
Rhett Davis is the Office of Advocacy’s regional advocate representing Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Our Regional Advocates in the 10 SBA regions stand ready to hear from you about small business concerns and to help you level the playing field for small businesses in your state.