Editorial--Some Good Bipartisan News Out of Santa Fe

Date: May 17, 2017

By NFIB/New Mexico State Director Minda McGonagle

Democrats and Republicans prove they can unite on important issues of the day.

With an oft-touted storyline that obstruction trumps governing, bipartisan initiatives call for applause. And applause is what legislators from both parties deserve for coming together on House Bill 58, “Rulemaking Requirements,” which Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law.

New Mexico small businesses are now crossing their fingers that same spirit infuses the upcoming special session when they return to Santa Fe.

The creation and issuance of regulations have no glamour for most people, but the real-life impact leaves no one untouched in the businesses that owners are committed to seeing remain open and continue to provide jobs.

Every four years, the National Federation of Independent Business, which has been measuring the pulse of small business since 1943 publishes its Small Business Problems and Priorities study. The latest results released last summer found “unreasonable government regulations” the No. 2 problem small-business owners’ face—out of 75 issues measured in the study.

Wanting to dig deeper on that finding, NFIB polled its members this year seeking more information. A few highlights from the poll are worth every policymaker’s attention:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The poll points out, “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. The ripple effect cannot be underestimated. While legislators do not craft regulations they create the laws that set them in motion.

From these and other findings in the poll, its authors point out:

  • Few if any regulatory agencies consider the overall costs of all regulations on businesses when considering their own regulatory framework. Agencies often seem to believe there is no limit to the amount of money that a business can be collectively spent on compliance. There isn’t evidence of interagency coordination or priorities setting.
  • Unlike tax policy, which also has broad impacts, regulations are administered by a myriad of government agencies at differing levels of complexity and application to 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 see and allow appropriately reducing the burden.

Although states aren’t as big of a headache-inducer as the federal government has proven to be, they do chip in, which is why House Bill 58 is such a welcome relief. According to the Legislative Finance Committee analysis of HB 58, “it provides a uniform process for the consideration of rule changes across state government while increasing the opportunities for the public to participate in the rulemaking process.”

Democrat Representatives Linda Trujillo and Tomas Salazar, in partnership with Rep. Nate Gentry, the Republican minority floor leader, and Democrat Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto sponsored HB 58. The jointly shepherded bill passed the House of Representatives by an impressive 63-to-0 vote and later passed the Senate by an equally notable 40-0 vote. The governor signed it into law April 7 and now has a beneficial new tool that demonstrates what “business friendly” means.

What a nice gift HB 58 is to the thousands of Main Street, mom-and-pop shops in New Mexico whose “Open” signs all of us want to see on their front doors and the welcome mat out for teens and young adults seeking their first opportunities to start out on their working lives.

Democrats and Republicans deserve praise for together engineering and following through on this.

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minda-mcgonagle

NFIB/New Mexico State Director Minda McGonagle

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