Vote on Reg Reform Bills Planned

May 17, 2017

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has scheduled a markup for May 17, and will vote on four bills that would change the federal rulemaking process and have an impact for small businesses. All four measures are supported by NSBA and include: S. 951, the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA), S. 21, Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, S. 34, the Midnight Rules Relief Act and S. 584, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, along with a handful of other bills.

Introduced by Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the NSBA endorsed, RAA would amend the 70-year-old Administrative Procedure Act to require more scrutiny of major and high-impact rules. It tasks agencies with computing the costs and benefits of new rules and then choosing the most cost-effective option. The measure would also mandate automatic reviews of major regulations, allow hearings on the most significant federal actions and require more advance notice of potential rules.

The NSBA supported, REINS Act, which is sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), seeks to restore authority to Congress by allowing lawmakers to have final say on regulations with an estimated economic impact of more than $100 million. Under the proposal, which passed the House in January, both the House and the Senate would hold an up-or-down vote before the rule could take effect.

Chairman of the committee Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) bill, the Midnight Rules Relief Act—which NSBA supports—would allow Congress to overturn any presidential or executive branch regulation finalized within the final 60 days of an administration. Under current law, Congress can only overturn one regulation at a time, but this bill would speed up the process and allow for potentially dozens of regulations to be overturned at once. The amended version of the measure passed the House (H.R. 21) in January.

The NSBA-supported Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, will modernize and strengthen the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) and the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996 by requiring all federal agencies appropriately consider their impact of rules and regulations on small businesses before imposing burdensome mandates while also providing small businesses with a voice in the rulemaking process. Congress enacted the RFA in 1980, and it serves as the primary way for small businesses to influence rulemaking and ensure their voices are heard. The statute requires agencies hold small-business review panels to assess the potential impacts of rules. It also mandates agencies identify alternative regulatory approaches for small businesses. Under this legislation, federal agencies would be required to enhance their analysis of proposed regulations, provide greater opportunity for small business input, and ensure agencies regularly review existing rules for their economic impact on the small-business community.

As proven by the 2017 NSBA Regulations Survey, small businesses are being inundated with rules that affect the very existence of their business and in order to strengthen the barrier between small firms and damaging government regulations, there is an urgent need to greatly reduce regulatory complexity, streamline the web of federal, state and local regulations, and adhere to plain language statutes. Therefore, NSBA is pleased to see the scheduled markup of these bills through committee, as we continue to be tireless advocates against unfair, unnecessary and disproportionately burdensome regulations.

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