OLYMPIA, Wash., Jan. 18, 2017—The goal is clear and simple: “Identify what rights or protections, if any, a small-business owner has when selected for audit, inspection, or other agency enforcement action, and how those rights or protections are communicated to the business owner prior to or at the time of the agency visit,” according to a one-page Small Business Bill of Rights document issued by NFIB today, which is now taking the form of legislation.
“I am excited to report that two of NFIB’s recent Leadership Council members are prime sponsors of companion NFIB priority bills in the House and Senate,” said NFIB/Washington State Director Patrick Connor about Sen. Lynda Wilson and Rep. Andrew Barkis. “We felt the need for legislation requiring selected agencies to review their enabling laws, rules, and applicable internal policy documents to identify what rights, if any, a small-business owner has when a state agent comes to the door asking to conduct an audit or inspection.”
According to Connor, the Bill of Rights “also asks the attorney general to review the administrative procedures act for that same purpose. Based on this information, the AG will report to selected legislative committees how we can improve the process of notifying small-business owners of their rights, either in advance of or at the time of an audit, inspection, or other enforcement action. We have secured impressive, bipartisan support, and the affected agencies and governor’s office are neutral.”
Wilson and fellow NFIB member Sen. Guy Palumbo are the lead co-sponsors of Senate Bill 5230, and Barkis, together with Rep. Mike Chapman, are the key co-sponsors of House Bill 1352, the companion measure to the SB 5230.
- “The ability to grow a business, invest and create jobs is as inalienable as our traditional basic freedoms,” said Wilson, R-Vancouver. “Too often, business owners have their rights to due process and legal rights run over when government agencies get involved. These are basic protections that we can all agree any individual or small business deserves to have to get a fair chance to build a future.”
- Added Palumbo, “Family-run small businesses don’t have the luxury of in-house attorneys like large corporations do. That’s why we need to do better as a state, letting small-business owners know what their rights are when inspected or audited, so they can comply with the rules without having to break the bank on a high-priced lawyer.”
- Said Chapman, “This will help small businesses in Washington state understand what their rights are and make it a little easier to deal with regulatory agencies. In Washington state we want to signal that we support small-business owners and all the jobs they create.”
In addition to Wilson and Palumbo, Senate sponsors of SB 5230 include John Braun, Mark Mullet, Mike Baumgartner, Dean Takko, Sharon Brown, Karen Keiser, Curtis King, Mark Miloscia, Maralyn Chase, Maureen Walsh, Judy Warnick, and Steve Hobbs.
In the House, in addition to Barkis and Chapman, sponsors include James Walsh, Matt Shea, John Koster, J.T. Wilcox, Gina McCabe, Mark Harmsworth, Eileen Cody, Gael Tarleton, Joel Kretz, Joe Schmick, Shelly Short, Brandon Vick, Paul Harris, Matt Manweller, Norma Smith, Drew Stokesbary, Drew MacEwen, Terry Nealey, Cary Condotta, Ed Orcutt, Kristine Lytton, Larry Springer, Steve Kirby, Brian Blake, Michelle Caldier, Laurie Jinkins, David Taylor, and Liz Pike.
The Senate bill will be heard on January 26 in the Senate Commerce Committee, where the chairman and ranking member are both co-sponsors.
[Tile photo: Senators Palumbo and Wilson putting SB 5230 into the hopper.]
For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.
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