Last week I was privileged to stand with Governor Tom Corbett and state Rep. Tina Pickett and celebrate what most small business-owners thought was only a distant possibility: a regulatory flexibility law for Pennsylvania.
In fact, similar legislation sponsored by Rep. Pickett twice made it to the desk of the last governor – only to be vetoed both times. Ironically, in his veto message, former Gov. Ed Rendell said such a law would impose a burden on state regulators who were tasked with writing these rules.
To which current Governor Corbett asked, “What about the burden being placed on those being regulated?”
It’s hard to believe but until now, small businesses in Pennsylvania had virtually no voice in the processes of drafting regulations by which they are so deeply affected. In fact, until now, the term “regulatory-flexibility” would have provoked laughter as an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp.
But starting this month, small businesses now have a seat at the rulemaking table. Why is this new law important?
If you ask any small business owner, he or she will tell you that regulatory compliance might be just as frustrating and costly as excessive taxes. In fact, small-businesses typically spend about 40-percent more to comply with the same regulations as large corporations.
The new regulatory-flexibility law recognizes the inherent differences between small and large companies and the potential harm caused by one-size-fits-all regulations. The new law will ensure a dialogue between state regulators and the small business community in order to develop sensible regulations that improve compliance, public protection and ensure businesses remain competitive.
It is also important to remember that the Regulatory Flexibility Act is only one of several important regulatory reforms undertaken by Governor Corbett and lawmakers to streamline and simplify the regulatory process for small businesses to make it a little easier to run and grow a company in Pennsylvania.
The governor issued an executive order making the regulatory process more transparent. He also signed a new law requiring that proposed regulations be based on peer-reviewed, scientific data. And most recently officials in the Department of Environmental Protection announced a guarantee that decisions on permits by that department would be issued in a timely and predictable fashion.
Thanks in large part to Governor Corbett’s initiatives the regulatory environment in Pennsylvania is steadily improving. Small businesses have waited a long time for leaders in Harrisburg who view them as partners in rebuilding the state economy.
If only the policymakers in Washington, DC, shared the same perspective.
Unlike the Corbett administration in Pennsylvania which is working diligently to reduce paperwork headaches and red tape; the executive branch in Washington inexplicably just keeps piling on more.
Over 4,100 new regulations await action by the federal government with an estimated economic cost of more than a half-trillion dollars!
More than 1 million Pennsylvania workers could be affected by these rules and experts predict $106 billion of Pennsylvania’s gross state product could be negatively impacted.
Is this what the economy needs to grow its way out of this recession? Of course not.
But that’s a question that federal regulators never ask.
Thankfully, common sense has been the signature of the Corbett administration and the governor and his legislative allies recognize that small employers play an important role in our economic recovery.
On behalf of small business owners across Pennsylvania, I would like to thank Governor Corbett for working with NFIB and our allies to make it a little bit easier to start, run and grow a business in Pennsylvania.