By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel
Small businesses across Florida are concerned about the number of federal regulations impacting their operations and the burdensome compliance requirements that are weighing them down. These sentiments and more were expressed by individual business owners at the Office of Advocacy’s Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables held in Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida during the week of June 4.
These roundtables were part of Advocacy’s important series of meetings across the country with affected small businesses, congressional staff, federal agency staff and small business representatives. Advocacy began this effort in June of last year in response to President Trump’s Executive Orders 13771 and 13777 focused on regulatory reform by federal agencies. The goal is to hear first-hand the specific regulatory burdens small businesses in each area are facing and what specific changes are needed in order to reduce those burdens. Advocacy is compiling this information and working with the agencies on numerous regulations in an effort to reform, revise, replace or eliminate where possible. As the voice of small business, Advocacy is uniquely positioned to assist federal agencies in their reform efforts and ensure that the needs of these vital components of our economy are addressed.
We have been hearing specific complaints across the country and businesses are not holding back in sharing their regulatory concerns. A UPS Store franchise owner in Tampa told Advocacy how he cannot afford to absorb the high costs related to complying with regulations. Instead he must pass these on to his customers, which is becoming increasingly harder to do as he will soon lose business as a result of the higher shipping costs. A small manufacturer echoed this concern and stated that the regulations are squeezing him out of business.
Another common complaint heard at the roundtables was the lack of clarity and certainty in regulations with which they must comply. Small businesses don’t mind sensible regulations that are not overly burdensome. The confusion, constant changes and extremely costly requirements have led to an environment that has become unworkable for many small businesses in Florida.
A small restaurant owner in Jacksonville detailed her concerns with federal menu labeling requirements and the costly changes she will have to make as a result of the new federal regulations. She also was concerned about the H2B visa program at the Department of Labor, whose programs she stated left her company dealing with endless paperwork and uncertainty. Similar complaints were heard from small businesses in the Orlando area where the outrageous costs and confusing rules associated with health care have overwhelmed many. “These rules kill small businesses,” stated a commercial realtor in the Orlando area… “It shouldn’t be so doggone complicated!”
Other issues discussed in these roundtables include EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, capital restrictions and burdensome regulations from CFPB as a result of the Dodd Frank Act, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Electronic Logging Device rule, FDA’s Tobacco Deeming rule and how it will put thousands of small premium cigar businesses out of business immediately, EPA’s Solid Waste regulations, redundancy in Food Safety and Modernization Act rules, and so many more.
“Regulations are overdone and go too far,” exclaimed a small business in the hotel industry in the Orlando area. These and other sentiments were heard by Advocacy staff across Florida through these roundtables and while attending other smaller roundtables and individual business site visits attended by Advocacy staff. Businesses were appreciative of the time and attention Advocacy is paying them by coming to their area and hearing directly from them. Most had not heard of the Office of Advocacy and were happy to finally realize they have a voice in Washington, DC to fight for the little guy.
Advocacy will continue to compile specific regulatory complaints and suggestions for improvement as these roundtables are being held across the country and will continue to work with federal regulatory agencies to ensure these important small business voices are heard.
Advocacy was in Florida for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables June 5-7th.
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.
Claudia Rodgers is Advocacy’s Senior Counsel. She can be reached at Claudia. Rodgers@sba.gov.