Let’s keep bad regulations from hurting small businesses

Small business owners understand that rules and regulations often are needed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Sometimes they are necessary to safeguard consumers, working families and local communities.

However, small businesses can be deeply affected when government agencies implement rules without analyzing their impact. Businesses also can face unnecessary headwinds when policymakers fail to consider the feedback of the small business community before rules are enacted.

Indeed, bad regulations can devastate small businesses, cost jobs, and hamper economic development in our state.

The Small Business Advocacy Council worked with a group of bipartisan policymakers to pass legislation that protects small businesses from the unintended consequences of government regulations.

This bill secured robust support from legislators throughout our state. Enacted into law in 2018, the legislation requires agencies to consider the impact proposed rules will have on small businesses, not-for-profit corporations, and small municipalities before they are established.

It also requires policymakers to consider how to reduce any negative consequences associated with the enactment of new or modified regulations. This can include establishing less stringent reporting requirements and more relaxed deadlines for small businesses. State agencies also can exempt small businesses from rules where compliance is not needed and may cause significant harm.

The law also provides a crucial notice period that allows the small business community to be heard and participate in the rule-making process. It requires agencies seeking to enact or change a rule that may have an adverse impact on small businesses to identify the types and estimated number of businesses affected.

Each agency must prepare, file, and publicize an economic impact analysis that highlights, among other things, the administrative burdens associated with a proposed rule and whether there are less intrusive ways of achieving its goals.

Finally, the law directs the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to post all proposed rules affecting small businesses, along with a summary on its website.

We will be meeting with legislators and policymakers in Springfield next week to discuss how this law has been implemented and ways to make information easier to find for small business owners.

This legislation can help ensure policymakers consider the ramifications of proposed rules and receive important input from small business owners and advocates before they are put in place. The key is getting information into the hands of small businesses and ensuring business owners understand how to make their voices heard.

Small businesses too often are blindsided by new regulations. They often lack the time and resources needed to comply with overly burdensome rules with unintended consequences.

This bill was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support because legislators recognized that thriving small businesses drive our economy, create jobs, and support local communities.

Ensuring this law is effective and impactful is a high priority in 2024.

• Elliot Richardson is co-founder and president of the Small Business Advocacy Council.

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