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Let’s Talk Federal Regulations

Red tape can be a nightmare, right? But it may be scarier to see how regulations are made.

That’s my view after taking part in the SBE Council’s first Regulatory Accountability Day and visiting federal regulators and their staff. The group was led by Karen Kerrigan, President and CEO of the SBE Council, and included Brian Moran, Victoria Braden, Todd Flemming, and me. For two days, we visited the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Health and Human Services (HHS), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), among others.

Here is what I learned:

  • There are a lot of federal employees involved in the regulatory process.
  • All of those we met with seemed highly knowledgeable and hardworking.
  • The pace of regulatory process is slow, and depends in part on political winds.
  • The input from small business is genuinely valued.
  • Showing up matters. Regulators may not understand the impact of their proposed rules, and putting a face on the potential impact is critical.
  • Small business owners need to directly engage in this “shift in power”—from Congress to the regulatory agencies.

My message to small business owners:

Stay abreast of regulatory developments that may impact your business. Note proposed regulations and the period during which you can submit comments. Submit your comments; the agencies proposing the regulations are required to read each and every one them and actually do so (there have been about 4 million comments submitted to the FCC regarding the net neutrality proposals and have read about 3 million to date). Make your comments constructive by specifying ways in which the proposed regulations can be improved, and how they directly impact your business.

One resource to keep up-to-date on regulatory matters is the SBA’s Office of Advocacy’s email communications, including its bimonthly eNewsletter. Subscribe here.

Find out more about the SBE Council’s regulatory visits here.