North Country Congressman Bill Owens announced late last week a new initiative aimed at removing onerous regulations that impede small business growth.
The Democrat from New York's 23rd Congressional District is asking small business owners to help him identify existing and proposed federal regulations that "impede economic development and job creation."
In order to collect feedback from entrepreneurs in northern New York, Owens and his staff launched a new page through his website.
Owens wants small businesses to get in touch with him and "share information on their interactions with the federal government."
"I have had the opportunity to hear about many of these issues through meetings with constituents, and I hope to cast a wider net with this request for feedback," he said, noting that through this new webpage he wants to learn about regulations that are unnecessary, cost money and waste time.
The new addition to the Congressman's website will feature space for small business owners to provide descriptions of regulations they feel are onerous.
Owens also wants information on the estimated time and cost required to comply with such regulations. He adds that he wants to hear about proposed solutions, as well.
In February, the House voted overwhelmingly for legislation targeting the removal of burdensome regulations - the measure also called for the analysis of existing federal rules to better understand their impact on small business owners.
Owens points to recent noise-abatement regulations proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as one example of the federal government attempting to enact unnecessary and costly rules at manufacturing facilities.
According to Owens, OSHA proposed additional regulations "relating to small business noise standards" which would have required manufacturers to spend money on engineering studies and solutions.
In December, Owens partnered with officials from IntraPac - a Plattsburgh-based manufacturer of packaging solutions - to call on OSHA to abandon its plans to enact the costly regulation.
"And we wrote to OSHA and said, 'give us the science behind this,'" Owens said. "If you're going to make a change like this that's going to increase cost, we want to know what the science is and we want to know what potential damage is being done to employees, and whether or not there's an alternative approach. OSHA then promptly withdrew the regulation."
Bob Blankenheim is vice president of operations and general manager of IntraPac. He commended Owens for taking a stand against unreasonable regulations, adding that the proposed rule by OSHA would have cost jobs in the 23rd district.
"The regulation proposed on noise levels would have been impossible for us to meet and would have put every job within our facility in jeopardy," he said.
More recently, Owens joined both Republicans and Democrats in calling upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to end a rule that classified milk spills in the same manner as oil spills. The EPA relented on the regulation.
Owens and other representatives also want the EPA to drop a proposal that would "over-regulate" waste oil produced by motorists performing their own oil changes.
Owens says reducing regulation and streamlining government will lead to more jobs.
"I look forward to hearing from local business leaders and farmers on this issue as we work together to create jobs and continue down the path of economic recovery," he said.
Similar outreach efforts led Owens to sponsor legislation repealing the 1099 reporting requirement included in last year's massive health care reform bill.
In New York's 20th Congressional District, Republican Chris Gibson is calling for the passage of the REINS Act, which would require an up-or-down vote in Congress in order to approve all major rules issued by federal agencies.
The legislation would require congressional approval for any proposed federal regulation resulting in an annual economic impact of more than $100 million.