Pair of legislative measures address regulatory impact on small businesses

Friday, March 14, 2003

A pair of bills making their way through the Missouri General Assembly could spare the state's small business from unfair regulation, according to sponsors.

House Bill 322 and Senate Bill 0069 both call for the establishment of the Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board, which would ensure new governmental rules do not adversely affect small businesses.

The bills are already receiving praise from groups such as the U.S. Small Business Administration. Thomas M. Sullivan, chief counsel for advocacy of the SBA, said nearly 120,000 Missouri small businesses will benefit from the board.

"There is no question that small business is the backbone of the economy here in Missouri just as it is throughout the country," he said. "Sometimes, because small businesses are small, it is easy to overlook their aggregate importance to the economy and it is easy to overlook how the mass of federal and state mandates is crushing them."

Rep. Jim Seigfreid of Marshall agreed, noting that, when looked at as a whole, small businesses represent a significant portion of Missouri's employers.

"A lot of times we pass laws meaning to help small businesses, but they end up hurting them instead," he said. "These businesses are important to small towns like Marshall and Sweet Springs and we certainly don't want to regulate them out of business."

If the bill becomes law, government agencies preparing to implement new rules would have to consider the impact on small business and develop creative, innovative or flexible methods for businesses to comply with them.

"The intent of this legislation is to have state agencies consider the consequences on small business before they regulate," Sullivan said. "Missouri's effort to offer this important new tool guarantees small business a seat at the table where government decisions are made."

As a member of the newly-formed House Committee on Small Business, Seigfreid was part of the group which reviewed HB 322. Following that review, the committee voted 13-2 to advance the bill. Seigfreid said the main objection raised by those who voted against the measure was that the state already has enough regulatory board and commissions.

HB 322 was sent Thursday to the House Budget Committee. SB 0069 has been reviewed and approved by the Senate Financial and Governmental Organization, Veterans' Affairs and Elections Committee. It is on today's (Friday) informal calendar of Senate bills for perfection.

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