House Small Business Committee Republicans today will launch a new effort aimed at getting small business owners more involved in the federal rulemaking process.
"Small Biz Reg Watch" is designed as an early alert system for regulations that would affect small companies, using emails and social media to call attention to five to 10 rules in the regulatory pipeline. The program will direct participants to a committee website that will allow companies to send official comments to the rulemaking agency.
Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said in a statement the effort is designed to aid those small businesses that don't have the time and resources it takes to monitor and engage in the federal rulemaking process.
"Most small businesses don't have lawyers or lobbyists who focus on regulatory compliance, like larger corporations may have," Graves said. "Because small businesses bear a regulatory cost that is much higher than the cost of compliance for large businesses, our Committee wants to help small companies make their voice heard as federal regulations are being considered."
Graves noted that while not all regulations are bad, "many can be unnecessarily burdensome and it is important that small companies express their concerns before a rule is finalized."
The effort will likely be viewed skeptically by Democrats and groups that have long accused Republicans of putting roadblocks in front of rules that would protect public health and safety and the environment.
Of the six rules that will be highlighted by "Small Biz Reg Watch" today, two are being developed by U.S. EPA, including an effort to expand rules on lead paint and a review of standards for concentrated animal feeding operations. Also in focus is an effort by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to change regulations for analyzing critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act.
The new program comes just days after independent watchdog groups sought to shine a spotlight on concerns they have with the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.
The left-leaning Center for Progressive Reform and the Center for Effective Government (formerly known as OMB Watch) released separate reports this week accusing the executive branch office of making regulation blocking its de facto top priority. Both groups are calling for increased congressional oversight of the office (Greenwire, Jan. 29).