Shaheen, Risch Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Facilitate Disaster Assistance for Rural Small Businesses

February 12, 2020

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) introduced the Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act, legislation that will level the playing field for small businesses in rural areas and better facilitate disaster aid when necessary. 

Under current law, substantial roadblocks prevent small businesses and homeowners in rural communities from accessing Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance in the event of a natural disaster. This bipartisan legislation creates a waiver at no cost to taxpayers that will allow rural small businesses to more readily secure SBA disaster assistance in the case of a presidentially-declared disaster. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of New Hampshire’s economy and play a particularly important role in the economic development of our rural communities. That’s why it’s so important for small business owners to have access to the financial assistance they need to recover should disaster strike,” said Shaheen. “In the aftermath of a natural disaster, the last thing Granite Staters should be worried about is navigating cumbersome rules and regulations to obtain the emergency funds they need to rebuild. I’m glad to partner with Senator Risch on this bipartisan bill to address this bureaucratic burden and ensure emergency dollars are available to Granite State business owners when they need it.” 

“When Idaho County flooded last year, critical federal disaster assistance was delayed to Idaho homeowners and small businesses due to bureaucratic red tape. Disaster victims in rural areas already face significant challenges – obtaining disaster relief should not be one of them,” said Risch. “The Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act will ensure that rural communities have access to vital disaster assistance their tax dollars fund.” 

As a senior member of the Senate Small Business Committee and a former small business owner, Shaheen has been a powerful advocate for Granite State small businesses. In June 2019, Shaheen reintroduced the Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act, to stop states with a sales tax from creating red tape for small businesses as a result of the Supreme Court’s Wayfair ruling. Shaheen has fought to make permanent and strengthen the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, which award competitive contracts to small businesses to develop innovative technologies that keep the U.S. economy competitive and address national security needs, as well as the HUBZone program, which helps small businesses located in urban and rural communities with low household incomes and high unemployment gain preferential access to federal contract opportunities, in turn, helping the businesses expand and create jobs. Shaheen has introduced various pieces of legislation designed to cut red tape for Granite State small businesses and help them lower costs, grow and create jobs.