Editorial by NFIB/Idaho State Director Suzanne Budge
For the nation’s small businesses, one accomplishment of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days, marked on April 29, stands out above all others: His reining in of economy-crippling federal regulations.
Here in Idaho, Gov. Butch Otter and our legislators deserve as much a hand for doing the same. But first, some background on this little-understood issue is needed.
In its quadrennial Small Business Problems and Priorities report, the National Federation of Independent Business found unreasonable government regulations the second-biggest worry of small-business owners—out of 75 issues of concerns the report ranked.
This placement led NFIB to delve deeper into the issue with a special survey, conducted this year, on just regulations, three results from which bear highlighting:
- About 28 percent of small employers cite compliance costs as their largest regulatory issue followed by 18 percent citing the difficulty of understanding what they must do to comply. Seventeen percent find the extra paperwork required as their biggest issue. The balance of the results includes time delays regulations cause, limits placed on actions you want to take, and other reasons.
- All levels of government contribute to the regulatory compliance burden … But the main culprit for half of small employers is the federal government. Thirty percent find regulations promulgated at the state level most burdensome while 15 percent are most impacted at the local level.
- One-third of small employers have had a government official enter their place of business to inspect or examine their records and/or licenses or otherwise check on their compliance with some government requirement.
Upon entering office President Trump went after the biggest culprit early, issuing an executive order requiring two existing regulations to be repealed for every new regulation imposed and ordering federal agencies to create a regulatory budget that would limit the regulatory costs they could impose.
In February, the Idaho Legislature played tag-team partner to the president by passing House Bill 1, which Governor Otter signed into law. HB 1 solidified the right of elected officials to have final say on all rules and regulations and, if necessary, to reject the regulations put in place by state agencies.
Add to this, the Legislature’s recent passage of House Bill 97 re-establishing loser-pays court judgments on frivolous lawsuits and what you see coming from Washington D.C. and from Boise is something no one can remember having seen before: A state and federal governmental climate nurturing to small-business survivability and job-creation.
The authors of the Small Business Problems and Priorities report make two observations it would pay every policymaker to remember:
- Few if any regulatory agencies consider the overall costs of all regulations on firms when considering their own. Each agency acts as is if there is no limit to the amount of money that firms can collectively spend on compliance; there is no coordination, no priorities set.
- Unlike tax policy, which broadly impacts all firms in much the same way, regulations are administered by a myriad of government agencies, at different levels of government impacting sometimes very narrowly defined types of businesses. Thus, it is difficult to construct a comprehensive approach to easing the burden. However, the better policy makers understand the impact of regulations on small-business owners, the more able they will be to lessen the burden.
Considering 99 percent of all businesses in Idaho are small businesses, which employ more than 55 percent of private-sector workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it is no small matter what big things President Trump, Idaho’s legislators, and Governor Otter have done.
Throw in the president’s other executive orders slamming the brakes on forever-power-grabbing bureaucracies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and his successful nomination of a Supreme Court justice who believes in the rule of law as made by Congress, include our Legislature’s other accomplishments, such as prohibiting a crazy quilt of minimum-wage laws by denying local governments the ability to set their own rates, and what we are witnessing is the long-needed refurbishing of the house of the Idaho economy.
There’s a very inviting welcome mat now outside its front door.