By Les Davies, Region 5 Advocate
SBA Administrator Linda McMahon says it often – the SBA is the best kept secret in the U.S. government. In my travels throughout my region, I have learned that if the SBA is the best kept secret, then the Office of Advocacy must be Top Secret. Outside of the Beltway there are far too few who know who we are and understand what we do. With regulatory reform so high on President Trump’s agenda there is no better time than now to declassify the Office of Advocacy as the voice of small business to the federal government. As a Regional Advocate, I live and work in my region – which covers six Midwestern states – to listen to the concerns of small businesses and bring those concerns to Washington.
I love to camp and what better place than by a lake or river in the Dells of Wisconsin. In September, I met with the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners at the Rivers Bay Campground in Lyndon Station, Wisconsin. The unique nature of the seasonal camping industry does not fit well within the regulatory framework. Adam Malsack, President of WACO, told me all I needed to know about his plight.
One issue that we discussed was campground flooding. In the case where preemptively elevating them above base flood elevation is not practical, during a flood event, camping units (even park model trailers which look like small manufactured homes) can be moved much more readily than any type of home, including manufactured homes. Similarly, accessory structures to campgrounds can be readily engineered to withstand flood events, or to be removable within the notification time frame. The National Flood Insurance Program is inherently protected by the fact that camping units cannot obtain flood insurance. Campgrounds with legitimate flooding problems have already been implementing procedures to mitigate flooding impact for years and with great success but recently, they were told they were not allowed to do so. As a Regional Advocate, I can bring this information to our office in Washington as well as work with the Wisconsin DNR and Office of Administration to find a resolution and seal the gap.
It doesn’t make a very good acronym, but former President Ronald Reagan was famous for saying that the nine most frightening words you can hear are: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.” In Advocacy, however, we are sincerely here to help and are partnering with state and federal agencies to expand our outreach efforts. The 1990 Clean Air Act mandated that each state form a Small Business Environmental Assistance Program and Ombudsman office under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency to assist small businesses with regulatory compliance. I recently addressed the EPA’s SBEAP for Region 5 in Chicago and joined the National Steering Committee in a conference call where we discussed opportunities to partner in small business outreach. The result is that we are working toward connecting the Regional Advocates with their respective SBEAP counterparts in each state to work together in both of our outreach efforts to the nation’s small businesses.
Les Davies is the Office of Advocacy’s regional advocate representing Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. 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.
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.
By Apollo Fuhriman, Region 10 Advocate
In December, I met with Meishelle Haverkamp who works for a local affiliate of Swisslog Healthcare, a company that provides automation solutions for pharmacies, including those in hospitals.
In her role, she has seen that a possible upcoming guidance regulation could actually increase time and costs within healthcare, especially with hospitals and clinics that have a decreased capacity to absorb these costs (or even to find enough qualified people given geographic constraints).
Congress passed the Drug Supply Chain Security Act in 2013. The Food and Drug Administration is working on guidance for the implementation and rollout of the act. If guidance includes that every dose of a medication must be tracked every time it is touched within the hospital walls (from the time it is received from the wholesaler until the time it is administered to the patient), this will have an adverse impact on the workflow productivity of hospital pharmacy staff, without providing much value, according to Haverkamp.
“The burden will be excessive for small, independent hospitals,” she added. They can’t afford the radio-frequency identification technology that will most likely be employed by large health systems if the DSCSA guidance requires per dose tracking within the hospital walls.” (An RFID tag can cost more per dose than some of the medications.)
The DSCSA’s purpose is to keep counterfeit medications from entering into the supply chain. How often do counterfeit medications enter the supply chain within a hospital’s walls? Haverkamp could not find even anecdotal evidence to suggest this has ever happened in the United States.
Haverkamp explained the typical process for the majority of medications that are in a hospital:
With the exception of the final administration, each of these steps is done in bulk, and common practice is to scan one dose and then key in the total quantity of doses being picked or put away. If the pharmacy technician had to scan every dose, it would take an exceedingly long time and be a highly repetitive process.
Sometimes, well-intentioned regulations can create a greater burden and in some instances, possibly reduce time that medical professionals have to spend with patients.
Apollo Fuhriman is the Office of Advocacy’s regional advocate representing Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. 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.
By Elmo Rinaldi, Region 3 Advocate
In December, I had the opportunity to hold my first roundtable in Washington, D.C. Jerry Pierce, President of The Interamerica Group, offered his office and conference room for the meeting. Arriving early with the Senior Advisor to the Chief Counsel, Mitch Tyner, we had the pleasure of speaking with Jerry about his life story, which was quite amazing. A college football star at Dartmouth College, still holding the all-time record for tackles, to missionary work in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, to Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, to Assistant Secretary of Administration under George Bush and Jack Kemp, through further political committees and roles to his current successful company and small business. What a story Jerry has and he had even more to tell us from this newest chapter in his life.
Joining us in our roundtable was Jerry’s Director of Operations and Business Strategies, Kellen Dunning, and six other minority small business owners lead by Larry McKenney, President of Capitol Radiology (who started a landscaping business in D.C. and grew it to a $ 40 Million company.)
Rounding out the participants were Aaron Manaigo, Managing Partner of Global Political Solutions; Jorge Lazano, CEO and President of Condortech Services; Fernando Torres, President of Nanotech Computers; Jacob Daniels, President of Sonoran Policy Group; and Jackie Krick, ECU Communications President.
While sitting and listening, this passionate and enthusiastic group spoke, in turn, around the table, and it became apparent that they had several similar concerns, which was partly due to dealing with GSA bids and contracts.
The united focus was the lack of winning bids. They reported that large business are obtaining the vast majority of contracts. They believed that they and other small businesses could jumpstart the economy for the current administration and the country the fastest if small business could get 20-25 percent of all contracts offered by the federal government. They repeated to us almost in unison: “We are the experts. We do it faster, better and cheaper than large companies.”
This, in turn, led the Quality versus Best Value Act, an Executive Order from the 1990’s, which the group said prevents small business from getting work and contracts.
It was wonderful to see hard-working, passionate small business people sharing their frustrations and submitting a calculated resolution to take back to the Office of Advocacy.
Elmo Rinaldi is the Office of Advocacy’s regional advocate representing Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. 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.
By Dillon Taylor, Assistant Chief Counsel
Since the 19th Century, Kansas City, Mo., has developed as a transportation and railway hub in the United States. As part of its regulatory outreach effort, on Sept. 14, staff from Advocacy visited one of Kansas City’s railroads, Kaw River Railroad (KAW), a short line railroad company.
By Linwood By Rayford, Assistant Chief Counsel
On Sept. 14, Advocacy’s regulatory team visited Light Bulbs Etc. in Lenexa, Kansas, to see their operation and learn of their regulatory concerns.
By Bruce Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel
The Office of Advocacy hosted a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Overland Park, Kan., on Sept. 14th that attracted scores of small businesses and their representatives who were eager to discuss federal regulations that burden small business. Read More
Increases Volume through Technology and Strategic Production
By Linwood Rayford, Assistant Chief Counsel
On Sept. 12, Advocacy’s regulatory team visited Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate located in St. Louis, Mo., to hear, first-hand, what regulatory burdens this business is facing.
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. Read More
By Claudia Rodgers, Senior Counsel
The Office of Advocacy once again heard an earful at its most recent Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtables held in St. Louis, Mo., on Sept. 12th and in Overland Park, Kan., on Sept. 14th, 2017.