Small Businesses from Three States Join Advocacy in Dubuque
By Prianka Sharma, Assistant Chief Counsel
On July 19, 2018, Advocacy visited lovely Dubuque, Iowa. Set on the Mississippi river, Dubuque boasts beautiful hills with views of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Given its proximity to these three states, Advocacy heard unique perspectives from several tristate small business owners.
Wisconsin campground owners spoke about outdated FEMA flood insurance regulations. They stated that the worst thing for a small business is uncertainty in regulation. Furthermore, they stated that one-size-fits-all regulations simply do not work when each geographic region and business is unique. For example, the campground that they own is not a permanent structure; trailers are able to move with little notice in the event of a flood. They stated that even with a one percent chance of the campground flooding, they are still required to keep insurance, when they own no permanent structures on the site.
Small businesses also spoke about summer work jobs, and the lack of skilled labor. They stated that they rely on students on J visas for summer work because they are willing to do the job well and in return are able to learn about American culture and travel around the tristate area. Small businesses stated that lately it’s hard to find student workers because of school schedules. The students have to return to school earlier and earlier for extra-curricular activities and sports which cuts into their summer job opportunities and the amount of time they are able to work. These small businesses in the summer tour industry rely on student work to help their businesses operate.
Advocacy also heard from Illinois and Iowa small entities in the telecom industry who stated that small telecom providers often service other small businesses such as churches, non-profits, and shelters, and when a regulation hits a small telecom business this in turn affects the smalls they serve thus causing a “trickle down” burden to smalls alike.
Due to its proximity to the tristate area, and access to rivers and lakes, fishing is a popular pastime in the Dubuque area. Advocacy heard from a custom rod manufacturer who stated that new interstate tax rules are confusing, and that they get different answers every time they reach out to the IRS. They urged the Agency to clarify what items are subject to excise taxes and how much the tax rate should be to avoid further confusion.
One business owner stated that if small business are constantly forced to look over their shoulder due to overregulation and a lack of certainty, then there is no incentive to even try, and many will end up going out of business or moving on to other business ventures.
Advocacy was in Iowa for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables July 17-19.
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Prianka Sharma is an Assistant Chief Counsel for Advocacy whose portfolio includes natural resources, agriculture, and energy. Sharma can be reached at Prianka.firstname.lastname@example.org.