Businessmen from Geneva and Batavia joined Congressman Randy Hultgren Thursday to push legislation aimed at slashing government red tape that CEOs said is crippling their operations. Hultgren's bill may also provide a new opening for Republicans to attack President Barack Obama's health care laws.
The Regulatory Sunset and Review Act of 2011 would require a cataloging and review of every federal rule and regulation that has a $100 million impact or more on the economy. The idea is to eliminate conflicting and burdensome government regulations. The bill is part of a fall Republican agenda to "target job-crushing red tape," Hultgren said.
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"A significant part of our work has been trying to reign in regulators," Hultgren said. "One of the things we're focused on is the EPA. So much of what's gone on is far beyond what was intended."
Hultgren said many of the newest Environmental Protection Agency regulations are "unbelievably costly with very little likelihood of having a positive impact on the environment."
Hultgren lined up several local business representatives to help promote the proposed legislation during a conference call Thursday.
Roger Harris, president of Producers Chemical Company in Batavia, said his business has a hard time keeping up with new regulations because the EPA is fining companies for violating rules before explaining how to comply with them.
"We feel like we're more or less under attack," Harris said. "They are out, in force, fining these companies with things we didn't even know we had to comply with. It's something that we continue to be worried about every day."
Joe Slawek deals with an alphabet soup of government agencies because his company, FONA International, manufactures food flavors in Geneva. The FDA, USDA, DEA, OSHA, the Department of Homeland Security and even the FAA all oversee various aspects of Slawek's operations. Slawek said the demands of those agencies have forced him to spend more than $1 million on "cosmetic, qualitative issues" in recent years to reduce the dust and odors created by his company's manufacturing process.
"The trend we see in regulations are that fines are much more aggressive now," Slawek said. "We've even been fined by the FAA for checking the wrong box on an overnight shipment. Our legal bills go higher and higher because we need legal counsel to understand the new laws. The result is large government breeds large business at the expense of small business. (Big business') costs of compliance per employee is so much lower."
Hultgren's bill focuses mainly on existing federal rules and regulations businesses already must comply with. However, reviewing all those rules will take years to complete. The timeline could put Obama's health care package on the radar, especially if business owners spur a new public outcry for such a review as the various provisions of the health care law come online.
"I don't know how directly (my bill) will have an impact on that," Hultgren said. "We'll see. Any legislation that potentially brings regulators in, this will oversee. So I would think it probably would have an impact there. We'll have to take a look at it."