Regulatory Watch


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 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 Specifically, the agency is seeking comment on existing regulations that eliminate jobs, are outdated, impose costs that exceed benefits, or interfere with regulatory reform initiatives.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 1/11/2018

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 

Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units

The EPA has issued a proposed rule to repeal the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (EGUs), commonly referred to as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). After examining the regulation, the agency is concerned that the CPP threatened to impose massive costs on the power sector and consumers, invaded traditional areas of state regulation, deviated from prior regulatory practices, and did not contribute to the national interest of affordable, reliable electricity. (PUBLISHED 10-16-2017)

IRFA - No

COMMENTS DUE 1-15-2018

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

National Organic Program (NOP); Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices-Withdrawal

The AMS has issued a proposed rule that would withdraw a final rule published on January 19, 2017 that added requirements to USDA organic regulations for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions. AMS is withdrawing this rule because the agency believes the Organic Foods Production Act does not authorize the animal welfare provisions of the final rule. Furthermore, the USDA is concerned that the rule could have unintended consequences for the growth and innovation of the organic agriculture industry. The agency estimates that almost all of the 722 organic egg producers in the United States qualify as small businesses. (PUBLISHED 12-18-2017)

IRFA - No

COMMENTS DUE 1-17-2018

Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Hours of Service of Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles; Proposed Regulatory Guidance Concerning the Transportation of Agricultural Commodities

The FMCSA has issued regulatory guidance to clarify the "agricultural commodity" exception to the "Hours of Service of Drivers" regulations. This regulatory guidance seeks comments on whether grain elevators and/or livestock sale barns should be considered a "source" of agricultural commodities. Furthermore, this regulatory guidance seeks to provide clarity to the agricultural exception in scenarios where drivers are driving to pick up an agricultural commodity, are on a return trip following the delivery of an agricultural commodity, or the trip involves transporting the commodity more than 150 miles from its source. (PUBLISHED 12-20-2017)

IRFA - No 

COMMENTS DUE 1-19-2018

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD Regulatory Reform Task Force, Review of Existing DoD Regulations

The DOD has issued a request for comment on existing DOD regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification. The agency seeks comments on regulations that eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation, are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective, impose costs that exceed benefits, or create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies. This request for comment is in accordance with Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda.” (PUBLISHED 10-23-2017)

IRFA - No

COMMENTS DUE 1-22-2018

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service

National Environmental Policy Act Compliance

The Forest Service has issued a request for comment on how the agency can modify its environmental analysis to increase efficiency. Specifically, the agency is seeking comments that identify processes and analysis that can be modified to reduce time and cost, and ways the agency can coordinate environmental review efforts with other federal agencies. (PUBLISHED 1-3-2017) 

IRFA - No

COMMENTS DUE 2-2-2018

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Review of Existing General Regulatory and Information Collection Requirements of the Food and Drug Administration

The FDA has issued a request for comment on existing regulations that could be repealed, replaced or modified to reduce burdens on the public while allowing the agency to continue to fulfill its obligations. Specifically, the agency is looking for existing general regulations that eliminate jobs, are outdated, impose costs that are higher than benefits, or interfere with regulatory reform initiatives. This request for comment is in accordance with Executive Orders 13771, "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs" and 13777, "Enforcing the Regulatory Agenda." (PUBLISHED 9-8-2017)

IRFA- No

COMMENTS DUE 2-5-2018

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Review of Existing Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Regulatory and Information Collection Requirements

The FDA has issued a request for comment on existing regulations from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition that could be repealed, replaced or modified to reduce burdens on the public while allowing the agency to continue to fulfill its obligations. Specifically, the agency is looking for existing regulations on food or cosmetics that eliminate jobs, are outdated, impose costs that are higher than benefits, or interfere with regulatory reform initiatives. This request for comment is in accordance with Executive Orders 13771, "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs" and 13777, "Enforcing the Regulatory Agenda." (PUBLISHED 9-8-2017)

IRFA- No 

COMMENTS DUE 2-5-2018

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Review of Existing Center for Tobacco Products Regulatory and Information Collection Requirements


The FDA has issued a request for comment on existing regulations from the Center for Tobacco Products that could be repealed, replaced or modified to reduce burdens on the public while allowing the agency to continue to fulfill its obligations. Specifically, the agency is looking for existing regulations on tobacco products that eliminate jobs, are outdated, impose costs that are higher than benefits, or interfere with regulatory reform initiatives. This request for comment is in accordance with Executive Orders 13771, "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs" and 13777, "Enforcing the Regulatory Agenda." (PUBLISHED 9-8-2017)

IRFA - No

COMMENTS DUE 2-5-2018

Department of Energy (DOE), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, (FERC)

Cyber Security Incident Reporting Reliability Standards

The FERC has issued a proposed rule that would direct  the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop and submit modifications to the NERC Reliability Standards regarding reporting of cybersecurity incidents.  The proposed rule requires the Reliability Standards to include mandatory reporting of cybersecurity incidents that compromise, or attempt to compromise, an electric utility’s covered assets. This proposed rule is in response to concern that the current reporting threshold for cybersecurity incidents understate the true scope of cyber threats and the fact that there were no reported cyber related incidents reported in 2015 and 2016. This request is in an effort to improve awareness of existing and future cybersecurity threats and potential vulnerabilities. (PUBLISHED 12-28-2017)

IRFA - No

COMMENTS DUE 2-26-2018

Department of Labor (DOL), Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Definition of “Employer” Under Section 3(5) of ERISA-Association Health Plans

The EBSA has issued a proposed rule under Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act that would broaden the criteria for determining when employers may join together for the purpose of offering “employee welfare benefit plans” and “group health plans.” The regulation would modify the definition of "employer" to permit smaller businesses that are joined in trade or business partnerships to join together and form Small Business Health Plans. The agency has determined that by broadening the definition, 5.6 million small businesses would have access to more affordable health benefit options. (PUBLISHED 1-5-2018)

IRFA - Yes 

COMMENTS DUE 3-6-2018

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

VA Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Verification Guidelines

The VA has issued a proposed rule to amend its regulations governing the VA's Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) Verification Program. Specifically, this proposed rule would remove all references to ownership and control to allow for new definitions from the Small Business Administration. It would also clarify certain terms and references and provide circumstances where businesses can qualify as a VOSB when there is a surviving spouse or an employee stock ownership plan. This rule would impose an average cost to businesses applying for VOSB status of around $803 for legal fees, employee costs, and accounting costs. (PUBLISHED 1-10-2018)

IRFA - No

COMMENTS DUE 3-12-2018

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)

IRFA - No

COMMENTS DUE 7-18-2018



Regulatory Resources:

The Regulatory Flexibility Act
Regulatory Agenda
Tips for Submitting Effective Comments