Background

Government regulations and red tape can be a tremendous barrier to small business growth. Small businesses' regulatory compliance costs are 36 percent higher than large businesses so it is no surprise that regulations consistently rank as a top concern for small business owners. Roughly 3,300 regulations are in the pipeline this year and many of them will affect small businesses. 

Below are regulatory proposals that have been published in the Federal Register and are open for public comment. An agency publishes an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) with a proposed rule if it expects that the rule will have a significant economic impact on substantial number of small businesses. The IRFA provides information about the potential effects of the proposed rule on small businesses.  

Agencies' initial analyses of small business impacts are not always correct or complete, so the Committee on Small Business encourages small businesses to file comments through the government's online portal, Regulations.gov, and tell federal agencies how the regulatory proposal will affect them. If you provide input to an agency, please feel free to share your concerns with the Committee through our Open Mic page.



 
Government Contractor Employee Compensation Report

Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

The OFCCP has issued a proposed rule that would require certain federal government contractors and subcontractors to submit an annual report with information on compensation paid to employees by sex, race, ethnicity, and specified job categories. Certain small contractors and subcontractors with more than 100 employees would be affected. (Published 8-8-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-6-2014

Definition of "Waters of the United States" Under the Clean Water Act
 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
Department of Defense, Department of Army, Corps of Engineers (Corps)

The EPA and Corps have proposed a rule to revise the definition of “Waters of the United States” for the purpose of identifying which waters are subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Under the proposed rule, all tributaries (including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, impoundments, canals and ditches unless excluded in the definition) and all adjacent waters and wetlands will be subject to CWA jurisdiction, permitting and other requirements.  On a case-by-case basis, EPA and the Corps could assert CWA jurisdiction over “other waters.”  Small businesses, such as farmers, ranchers, home builders and transportation construction firms, which carry out activities and projects on land with jurisdictional waters, may face new costs from permit applications, compensatory mitigation, and project delays, redesigns and relocations. (Published 4-21-2014)

IRFA - NO | COMMENTS DUE 11-14-2014
  

Produce Safety

Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA has proposed a revision to its proposed rule, issued in January 2013, that would establish standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption.  Farms would be subject to the rule which includes water quality standards and related testing and recordkeeping provisions. The FDA is seeking comment on its proposed revisions to the proposed rule. (Published 9-29-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-15-2014




Establishing Transit Areas Through Walrus Protection Areas
 
Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The NOAA has issued a proposed rule that would establish transit areas through the Walrus Protection Area at Round Island and Cape Peirce in northern Bristol Bay, AK.  Small businesses that operate vessels with Federal Fisheries Permits and transport herring or salmon from fisheries in northern Bristol Bay would be affected. (Published 9-24-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-3-2014

Importation of Fruits and Vegetables

Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

The APHIS has issued a proposed rule to allow it to approve all new fruits and vegetables for importation into the United States using a notice-based process, rather than through rulemaking.  The proposed rule would remove the region- and commodity-specific phytosanitary requirements from the regulations and replace them with a single performance standard.  Small farmers and wholesalers could be affected.  (Published 9-9-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-10-2014

Small Business Size Standards: Industries With Employee Based Size Standards

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA has issued a proposed rule to increase employee based small business size standards for 30 industries and three sub-industries and decrease them for three industries that are not part of North American Industry Classification System Sector 31-33 (Manufacturing), Sector 42 (Wholesale Trade), or Sector 44-45 (Retail Trade).  Businesses in a variety of industries including: energy production; mining; transportation; and publishing could be affected. (Published 9-10-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-10-2014

Small Business Size Standards for Manufacturing

Small Business Administration (SBA)


The SBA has issued a proposed rule to increase small business size standards for 209 industries in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Sector 31-33, Manufacturing. The SBA has also proposed to increase the refining capacity component of the Petroleum Refiners (NAICS 324110) size standard to 200,000 barrels per calendar day total capacity for businesses that are primarily engaged in petroleum refining.  (Published 9-10-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-10-2014

Performance Goals Identified in the Healthcare Connect Fund

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC has issued a proposed rule that would change requirements related to the performance goals identified in the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Order.  The HCF directs universal service support for broadband connectivity to eligible individual and consortium health care provider applicants.  The proposed rule has the potential to impose new reporting requirements and costs on thousands of small rural health care providers, ambulatory health care service providers, and small hospitals. (Published 9-26-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-10-2014

Fishing Vessel Capital Construction Fund Procedures

Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


The NOAA has issued a proposed rule that would amend the Capital Construction Fund (CCF) regulations by eliminating the minimum cost and maximum allowable completion time for reconstruction projects.  CCF is a voluntary program that provides tax deferred benefits to qualified applicants.  The agency does not expect the proposal to impose any new recordkeeping requirements or costs on the over 1,600 CCF participants, most of which are small businesses. (Published 9-25-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-10-2014

Smoothhound Shark and Atlantic Shark Management Measures

Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The NOAA has issued a proposed rule to implement management measures for smoothhound sharks (e.g., smooth dogfish, Florida smoothhound, and Gulf smoothhound). Small commercial fisherman and Atlantic shark dealers may be affected. (Published 8-6-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-14-2014

Comprehensive Review of the Uniform System of Accounts

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC has issued a proposed rule to review its Part 32 Uniform System of Accounts regulations.  The agency seeks comment on the costs and burdens of its accounting rules and how the burdens of the rules could be minimized for small telecommunications carriers. (Published 9-16-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-14-2014

Energy Conservation Standards for Packaged Terminal Air Conditioners and Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps

Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy


The DOE has issued a proposed rule to amend energy conservation standards for packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs) and packaged terminal heat pumps (PTHPs).  The agency expects that small manufacturers would likely face product conversion costs associated with testing and certifying PTACs and PTHPs redesigned to comply with amended standards. (Published 9-16-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-17-2014

Cancellation Ceiling for Multiyear Contracts

Department of Defense (DOD)

The DOD has issued a proposed rule that would amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement to update the cancellation ceiling threshold for multiyear contracts and correct statutory references.  The agency requests comment on how the proposed rule may affect small businesses. (Published 9-19-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-18-2014

Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) for the Disabled

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)


The FCC has issued a proposed rule that would allow for compensation for TRS calls between two or more individuals with disabilities.  The agency says that small TRS providers and wireless telecommunications carriers could face increased recordkeeping requirements.  (Published 10-21-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-20-2014

Federal Supply Schedule Contracting

General Services Administration (GSA)

The GSA has issued a proposed rule to amend the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) to clarify and update the contracting by negotiation GSAR section and incorporate existing Federal Supply Schedule Contracting policies and procedures, and corresponding provisions and clauses.  Small contractors could be affected.  (Published 9-10-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-21-2014

Margin and Capital Requirements for Covered Swap Entities

Department of Treasury, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC);
Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System (Board);
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC);
Farm Credit Administration (FCA);
Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)


The OCC, Board, FDIC, FCA, and FHFA (collectively, the ‘‘agencies’’) have proposed a joint rule to establish minimum margin and capital requirements for registered swap dealers, major swap participants, security-based swap dealers, and major security-based swap participants for which one of the agencies is the prudential regulator.  The agencies seek comment from small financial institutions that could be subject to the proposed rule’s requirements and counterparties that engage in swap transactions. (Published 9-24-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-24-2014

Basic Health Program Federal Funding Methodology

Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

The CMS has issued a proposed methodology to determine federal payment amounts made in 2016 to states that elect to establish a Basic Health Program under the Affordable Care Act.  The agency is uncertain if the proposal will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small hospitals and seeks comment on its expected impact. (Published 10-23-2014)

IRFA - NO | COMMENTS DUE 11-24-2014

Assessment and Collection of Fees for FY 2013 and 2014

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC has issued a proposed rule on regulatory fees.  The proposed rule seeks comment both on how to ensure compliance with a regulatory fee requirement for toll free numbers, as well as the impact of a new direct broadcast satellite regulatory fee category. The agency expects the proposal to potentially raise fees on thousands of small wired telecommunications carriers, local carriers, and interexchange carriers and prepaid calling providers.  (Published 10-27-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 11-26-2014

Captioning and Audio Description for Movie Theaters

Department of Justice (DOJ)

The DOJ has issued a proposed rule that would require movie theaters to provide closed captioning and audio description at all times.  Movie theaters would also need to have a certain number of individual closed captioning and audio description devices available, unless it would result in an undue burden or fundamental alteration.  Movie theater firms, 98 percent of which are small, would be affected. (Published 8-1-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-1-2014

Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA has issued proposed emission guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.  State-specific emissions goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector are included in the proposal.  States will establish standards that could affect small public power utilities and rural electric cooperatives. (Published 6-18-2014)

IRFA - NO | COMMENTS DUE 12-1-2014

Energy Conservation Standards for Small, Large, and Very Large Air-Cooled Commercial Package Air Conditioning and Heating Equipment

Department of Energy (DOE)

The DOE has issued a proposed rule to amend the energy conservation standards for small, large, and very large air-cooled commercial package air conditioning and heating equipment.  Small manufacturers, those with 750 employees or less, may be disproportionately affected by product conversion costs which include product redesign, testing, and certification costs.  The DOE requests comments and data on the impact of the proposed standard on small manufacturers. (Published 9-30-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-1-2014

Irish Potatoes Grown in Colorado

United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)


The USDA has issued a proposed rule that would increase the quantity of Irish potatoes grown in Colorado that may be handled under the Colorado potato marketing order, from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds.  The agency estimates that nearly 500 small handlers, producers, and importers of potatoes could be subject to the proposal and seeks comment on its expected impact. (Published 10-6-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-5-2014

Preventive Controls for Human Food

Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)


The FDA has proposed a revision to its proposed rule, issued in January 2013, that would modernize its current good manufacturing practice requirements and add requirements for certain domestic and foreign facilities to establish and implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for human food.  Covered facilities would be required to maintain a food safety plan, perform a hazard analysis, and to institute preventive controls for the mitigation of those hazards.  The FDA is seeking comment on its proposed revisions to the proposed rule. (Published 9-29-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-15-2014

Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals

Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA has proposed revisions to its proposed rule, issued in July 2013, on foreign supplier verification programs for importers of food for humans and animals.  The proposed requirements concerning compliance status review of food and foreign suppliers, hazard analysis, and supplier verification activities have been changed.  The FDA is seeking comment on its proposed revisions to the proposed rule. (Published 9-29-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-15-2014

Preventive Controls for Animal Food

Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)


The FDA has proposed revisions to its proposed rule on preventive controls for animal food that was issued in October 2013.  The proposed rule would require certain domestic and foreign facilities to establish and implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for food for animals.  The FDA is seeking comment on its proposed revisions to the proposed rule. (Published 9-29-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-15-2014

Licensing and Operating Rules for Satellite Services

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC has issued a proposed rule to amend its rules governing licensing and operation of space stations and earth stations for provision of satellite communication services.  The agency expects that small satellite telecommunications firms, those with $32.5 million or less in annual receipts, and some earth station applicants and licensees that qualify as small firms, would be affected.  (Published 10-31-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-15-2014

Prohibitions Against Pay Secrecy Policies and Actions

Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

The OFCCP has issued a proposed rule that would prohibit federal contractors from discharging or discriminating against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their own compensation or the compensation of another employee or applicant.  The agency estimates compliance costs would be less than three percent of the average revenue of small contractors but seeks feedback on its analysis. (Published 9-17-2014) 

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-16-2014

Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region

Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The NOAA has proposed an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the exclusive economic zone of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and Atlantic Region.  The proposal would affect all commercial and for-hire fishing vessels that harvest the coastal migratory pelagic species managed in the Gulf and Atlantic regions. (Published 10-17-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-16-2014

Requirements for Dental Practices to Control Discharges of Mercury

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


The EPA has issued a proposed rule that would require dental practices to comply with requirements for controlling the discharge of mercury and other metals in dental filling material into publicly owned treatment works.  The EPA estimates that over 109,000 small dental offices are potentially subject to this proposal.(Published 10-22-2014) 

IRFA - NO | COMMENTS DUE 12-22-2014

Importation of Beef From Argentina

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

The USDA has issued a proposed rule to allow, under certain conditions, the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from northern Argentina.  Small United States beef producers would be affected. (Published 10-31-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-29-2014

Test Procedure for Ceiling Fans

Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

The EERE has issued a proposed rule that would revise the statutory definition of a ceiling fan to include hugger ceiling fans (those typically understood to be set flush to the ceiling) and to amend its test procedure for ceiling fans.  If the proposed rule is finalized, small ceiling fan manufacturers would incur additional compliance costs associated with testing ceiling fans. (Published 10-17-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 12-31-2014

Test Procedures for Ceiling Fan Light Kits

Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

The DOE has issued a proposed rule that would revise its test procedures for ceiling fan light kits (CFLK).  The department expects that small CFLK manufacturers would face new costs associated with new efficiency performance testing requirements for certain CFLKs.  (Published 10-31-2014)

IRFA - YES | COMMENTS DUE 1-14-2015


Regulatory Resources
 

The Regulatory Flexibility Act
Regulatory Agenda
Tips for Submitting Effective Comments