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COMMUNITY VOICE

Act would discourage federal regulations with costs that exceed their benefits

Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 12:01 am

Because of sensible reforms enacted by our state in recent years, today the Hoosier economy is ripe for new investment and growth, which will lead to more good-paying jobs and opportunity for Indiana’s workforce.

In a report released last week, Indiana’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent, well below the national average of 6.7 percent.

But as I meet with Hoosiers in coffee shops and on factory floors, I consistently hear about the negative impact of heavy-handed, misguided and inefficient federal regulations on businesses of all sizes.

Federal bureaucrats are regulating too many successful Indiana employers out of business or hamstringing their ability to expand.

A few examples:

The Environmental Protection Agency continues efforts to regulate water and farm dust. Small farms such as Sunrise Produce in Goshen are dealing with a “barrage of regulations.”

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are choosing not to expand because of Obamacare.

Recently enacted financial regulations have imposed what Indiana bankers refer to as an “avalanche” of new regulations. Community banks and credit unions serving Hoosiers are spending as much as 70 percent of their time and 10 percent of their net income on compliance reporting.

Environmental air regulations are forcing electricity providers to pass along significant price increases to manufacturers and consumers. For many Indiana manufacturers, these increased costs are preventing the hiring of new workers.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the cost of complying with federal regulations exceeds $1.75 trillion every year, which amounts to more than $10,500 per American worker. Meanwhile, the number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations has expanded from 71,224 in 1975 to 174,545 in 2012.

For small businesses in particular, Washington’s regulatory burden can be crushing. The SBA found that complying with federal regulations costs small businesses 36 percent more per employee than larger firms.

To help address this growing problem, I recently introduced the Sound Regulation Act, legislation that will help businesses focus on creating more jobs instead of more unnecessary paperwork.

Supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association, the bill would require every federal agency to engage in an extensive analysis to determine the actual cost, in dollars, of regulations under each agency’s jurisdiction. Too many new federal rules that burden our job creators are created without any consideration of their economic impact.

My legislation would use nonpartisan data to discourage all federal regulations with costs that exceed their benefits. The Sound Regulation Act would apply to all agencies of the federal government and would require cost-benefit reviews to take place every four years.

While some regulations are well-intended, it is evident that Washington’s rules are unnecessarily increasing costs and slowing productivity for Indiana employers. My proposal would help strike the right balance between responsible government oversight and allowing job creators to operate free of crippling regulatory burdens.

The rising tide of red tape is one of the most critical issues facing business owners today. Rather than continuing to discourage growth, it is time to empower Hoosier job creators by eliminating Washington’s ineffective rules.

Sen. Dan Coats is a Republican from Indiana.