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Senators Shaheen, Collins Introduce Bill to Help Ensure Small Businesses’ Voices are Heard by Federal Agencies

*The bipartisan legislation would allow small businesses to remotely provide feedback to regulators*

(Washington, D.C.)—In an effort to ensure that the concerns of small businesses are taken into account during the federal rulemaking process, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Helping Entrepreneurs Affect Regulatory Decisions (HEARD) Act today. Their bill would allow small business owners and employees to participate in Small Business Advocacy Review panels remotely.

When federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, propose a new regulation with a potentially large economic impact, they must convene Small Business Advocacy Review panels.  These panels allow small businesses to provide input on how a particular regulation may affect them.  The panels also give small businesses the chance to work with regulators to address challenges and concerns.

Small Business Advocacy Panel reports often include comments on the agency's preliminary analysis of the impact of the rule on small businesses and provide recommendation for regulatory alternatives.  The agency reviews the report, makes any appropriate revisions to the rule, and publishes the proposed rule with the panel report as part of the record.

“Granite State small business owners deserve to have a say in how federal rules will impact them and their livelihoods. This bill will help ensure they have a seat at the table – even if they can’t take time off from running their business to travel to Washington, D.C.,” said Senator Shaheen. “New Hampshire is a small business state, so it’s critical that our owners have an active role in decision-making that will affect their bottom line. This is a common-sense, bipartisan fix to empower our small business community and I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join Senator Collins and me in this effort.”

“Small Business Advocacy Panels provide an invaluable opportunity for local employers to provide direct feedback on how proposed regulations would affect them.  Attending these meetings is often a challenge, however, especially when they are held hundreds of miles away and participants must travel at their own expense,” said Senator Collins.  “By allowing electronic participation, this straightforward legislation would make our government agencies more accessible to our nation’s small businesses, the backbone of our economy, and improve participation in the regulatory process.”

As a senior member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Shaheen has led efforts to promote and protect the growth of Granite State small businesses. In May, Shaheen introduced the Small Business Regulatory relief Act, which would help small businesses navigate excessive red tape and empower them to grow and create jobs. Shaheen also introduced the bipartisan Restoring Investments in Improvements Act earlier this yearwhich would ensure restaurants and retailers can take full advantage of a 2017 tax law provision allowing them to write off costs associated with improving facilities immediately. Shaheen opposes internet sales tax collection requirements, which are very burdensome for small businesses, and successfully led the charge in Congress to stop the unfair requirement from being instituted through the Marketplace Fairness Act. In response to the Supreme Court ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., Shaheen has led efforts in Congress opposing the ruling that allows states to collect sales from out-of-state businesses, creating significant obstacles for businesses in New Hampshire that operate in a state without a sales tax.