Regulatory Watch


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,, and tell federal agencies how the regulatory proposal will affect them. If you had trouble with an agency or regulation, please feel free to share your story with the Committee.

Regulations to Watch:

Department of the Interior (DOI)

Regulatory Reform

The DOI has issued a request for public comment to identify regulations for repeal, replacement, or modification. Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on existing regulations that eliminate jobs, are outdated, impose costs that exceed benefits, or interfere with regulatory reform initiatives. This request for comment is in accordance with Executive Order 13777, "Enforcing the Regulatory Agenda." (PUBLISHED 6-22-2017)

IRFA - No 

Accepting comments on rolling basis: COMMENTS DUE

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 

Mercury; Reporting Requirements for the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Mercury Inventory

The EPA has issued a proposed rule that would impose reporting requirements under the TSCA on businesses that supply, use, or trade mercury. The agency expects that this proposed rule will cost a combined $5.96 million and 74,000 hours on the estimated 506 businesses that handle mercury. Of those businesses, the agency estimates that 211, or 42 percent, of them are considered small businesses. (PUBLISHED 10-26-2017) 

IRFA - Yes

COMMENTS DUE 5/24/2018

Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Information Collection; Small Business Size Re-Representation

The DOD, GSA, and NASA are submitting a previously approved information collection requirement to the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act regarding small business size re-representation. The Small Business Administration’s regulation, which is implemented by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, requires that a concern that initially represented itself as small at the time of its initial offer for a federal contract must recertify its status as a small business under certain circumstances. This ensures that small business size status is accurately represented and reported. (PUBLISHED 3-14-2018)

IRFA - No 

COMENTS DUE 5/14/2018

The Small Business Administration (SBA)

Determining the Number of Employees for Purposes of the “Small Business” Definition in Parts 117 and 507: Draft Guidance for Industry; Availability

The SBA has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking and is seeking comments to assist in establishing a permanent alternative size standard for its 7(a) and 504 Loan Programs. Section 116 of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 directed the SBA to establish an alternative size standard using maximum tangible net worth and average net income for applicants of the SBA's Business Loan Programs. The agency seeks comment on whether or not the alternative size standard under the Interim Rule is appropriate under the current credit environment and as a new permanent alternative size standard. The agency also seeks comments regarding the impact of using an alternative size standard on small businesses utilizing SBA lending programs. (PUBLISHED 3-22-2018)

IRFA - No 

COMMENTS DUE 5-21-2018

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Elimination of Obligation To File Broadcast Mid-Term Report (Form 397)

The FCC is proposing to eliminate the rules requiring certain broadcast television and radio stations to file Form 397, the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Mid-Term Report. The FCC believes eliminating this requirement will advance its goal of reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens without undermining statutorily-required mid-term reviews of broadcaster compliance with EEO rules. The initial regulatory flexibility analysis analyzing the impact of this proposed rule on small businesses concludes that this rule will benefit small entities because it reduces costs and recordkeeping burdens. (PUBLISHED 3-21-2018)

IRFA - Yes 

COMMENTS DUE 5-21-2018

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Request for Information Regarding Bureau Rulemaking Processes

The CFPB has issued a request for information from the public to assist the Bureau in assessing the overall efficiency and effectiveness of its rulemaking processes, and whether any changes to its rulemaking processes would be necessary. Specifically, the Bureau is requesting information regarding positive and negative aspects of the Bureau's processes, as well as evidence to support suggestions regarding if Bureau processes should be modified. The Bureau will issue subsequent requests regarding specific regulations either adopted or inherited by the CFPB. (PUBLISHED 3-9-2018)


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

Tobacco Product Standard for Nicotine Level of Combusted Cigarettes

The FDA has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to help the agency develop a tobacco product standard to set the maximum nicotine level for cigarettes. The FDA is considering taking this action to reduce the level of nicotine in these products so they are minimally addictive or non-addictive. In comments, the agency seeks responses regarding the scope of a proposed rule, the maximum nicotine level, implementation, and the testing method for new regulation. (PUBLISHED 3-16-2018)

IRFA - No 

COMMENTS DUE 6-14-2018

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

The Internet of Things and Consumer Product Hazards

CPSC issued a request for comment regarding safety hazards associated with Internet-connected consumer products. The Commission is specifically interested in comments identifying products with a risk of remote operation, unexpected operating conditions, loss of a safety function, or hazards from a product feature when connected to the Internet. The Commission also welcomes information on how it can reduce hazardous risk from these types of products. (PUBLISHED 3-27-2018) 

IRFA - No 

COMMENTS DUE 6-15-2018

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Request for Information Regarding the Bureau's Adopted Regulations and New Rulemaking Authorities

The CFPB is seeking comments on whether, consistent with its statutory authority to prescribe rules pursuant to Federal consumer financial laws, the Bureau should amend rules it has promulgated since its creation or issue new rules. The CFPB seeks feedback on the content of Adopted Regulations, not its rulemaking processes, implementation initiatives that occur after the issuance of a final rule, or Inherited Regulations. (PUBLISHED 3-21-2018)

IRFA - No 

COMMENTS DUE 6/19/2018

The Small Business Administration (SBA)

Small Business Size Standards: Revised Size Standards Methodology

The SBA has revised its white paper for how it establishes, reviews, and modifies small business size standards. The agency is requesting comments on whether it should establish size standards that are higher than industry's entry-level business size, whether size standards should vary from program to program, whether size standards should vary by region, and other topics. (PUBLISHED 4-27-2018)

IRFA  - No

COMMENTS DUE 6-26-2018

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Request for Information Regarding Bureau Guidance and Implementation Support

The CFPB issued a request for information to assist the Bureau in assessing the overall effectiveness and accessibility of its guidance materials to the public. Specifically, the Bureau is interested in suggestions or modifications to guidance, identification of any aspect of the Bureau's approach to guidance, and feedback regarding strengths and weaknesses of the Bureau's previous guidance materials. (PUBLISHED 4-2-2018)

IRFA - No 


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 

Identifying Regulatory Reform Initiatives

The USDA has issued a request for comment on regulations, guidance documents, or policy documents that are in need of reform, modification, or repeal. Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on regulations that eliminate jobs, are outdated, impose costs that are higher than benefits, or interfere with regulatory reform initiatives. The agency is also interested in the total compliance costs of USDA regulation on individual organizations. (PUBLISHED 7-17-2017)


COMMENTS DUE 7-18-2018

Rural Utilities Service, Department of Agriculture

Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees Program

The Rural Utilities Service is now accepting applications for fiscal year 2018 Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees Program. This loan program provides funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of products to provide broadband in rural areas. Loans under this authority must be between $100,000 and $25,000,000. (PUBLISHED 3-28-2018)


Applications under this NOSA will be accepted immediately through September 30, 2018

Regulatory Resources:

The Regulatory Flexibility Act
Regulatory Agenda
Tips for Submitting Effective Comments