Wyoming Small Businesses Ride the Federal Regulatory Rodeo
By Jamie Saloom, Assistant Chief Counsel
Advocacy recently had the opportunity to visit with small businesses in Casper, Wyoming at the first of three Advocacy regulatory reform roundtables in SBA region 8 (followed by Fort Collins and Colorado Springs). We heard from a diverse group of stakeholders, including a small telecommunications company, small businesses in the energy industry, small business lenders, and individuals in the agricultural and livestock industries. All expressed concerns about the impact that federal regulations have on the ability of rural states, like Wyoming, to grow their economies and keep existing businesses in the state.
An employee from Union Wireless, a small telecommunications firm serving rural businesses and residents in Wyoming had a variety of concerns, including delays in permitting under NEPA and inefficiency in the administration of the FCC’s Universal Service Fund program. She stressed that broadband deployment involves dealing with a number of different agencies at both the federal and local level; simplifying regulations and reducing barriers to deployment will help bridge the urban-rural divide.
The energy industry is a leading source of jobs and growth in Wyoming and we heard from an individual representing small merchant refiners about the impact on their operations of purchasing bio-fuel credits and importing ethanol. These small refiners are unable to blend bio-fuels, so they must purchase credits; EPA has the ability to exempt small refiners from these requirements, but has only historically provided one-year exemptions. EPA can also decide to grant petitions for exemptions to small businesses that have asked for them.
On the access to capital front, we heard from several small business lenders about the impact that Dodd-Frank regulations have had on small banks; specifically, how proposed small business data collections could cause increased consolidation in the banking industry. We also heard about issues related to the SBA 504 and 7(a) loan programs, with one participant expressing the view that the two programs are pitted against each other and provide disincentives for banks to provide loans to small business.
In a region characterized by vast stretches of open land, it came as no surprise that transportation, specifically trucking, is a huge concern for small businesses hoping to move their products through and out of the state. We heard from several individuals about the impact that DOT’s hours-of-service rule, as well as proposed electronic-logging-device requirements, are having on trucking operations and the small businesses dependent on those operations. Individuals in the agricultural and livestock industries raised concerns about the feasibility of complying with certain transportation regulations when transporting perishable goods and live animals.
A representative from the Wyoming Farm Bureau spoke to transportation issues, but also spoke at length about a number of land management concerns including: critical habitat designations, forestry management, and timber salvage. He also raised a unique concern about weight-limits for hauling that affect the ability to transport livestock across state lines for rodeos–he indicated the newer trailers and trucks can haul heavier loads and that the standard should be re-evaluated.
In spite of all the issues raised and the challenges presented by some federal regulations, those in attendance were hopeful their concerns would be addressed by federal agencies.
Advocacy was in Wyoming and Colorado for Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables August 7-9.
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.
Jamie Saloom is the Assistant Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property and Telecommunications. She can be reached at Jamie.Saloom@sba.gov.