SBA Launches New Regulations Web Page

New tool allows business owners to get updates and submit comments on proposed regulations

By Devlin Smith

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Got a beef about a proposed government regulation? With the SBAOffice of Advocacy's new Regulatory Alerts page, now it's a little easierto speak your mind. Launched in June, the new Web page allowsbusiness owners to get information on pending regulations and voicetheir thoughts on those proposals.

"This is one additional way to try to guarantee that we areresponsive to the interests of small business," says AdvocacyChief Counsel Thomas M. Sullivan. "There's another toolfor trade association officials and small-business ownersthemselves to look at what the government is thinking about doingand tell us, as well as the actual regulatory agency, whetherit's a good idea, a bad idea or could be changed in way that ismore responsive to the unique situations of smallbusiness."

Visitors to the Regulatory Alerts page can read up onregulations divided into several categories: environmental;general; procurement; safety, healthy and labor; tax;telecommunications; and transportation. With each alert is a linkto send by a certain date an electronic comment to the regulatoryagency making the proposal, as well as the name and phone numberfor someone within the Office of Advocacy familiar with the issuewho can answer questions.

Considering that the Office of Advocacy doesn't have thestaff available to track all pending regulations and determinewhich proposals could impact small businesses, it behooves businessowners to voice their concerns. "We try to solicit commentfrom as many trade and membership organizations who represent smallbusiness as possible, and from them surf through the rules andregulations that are in proposal stage and place them up on the Website," Sullivan says. "It is not a comprehensive list ofopen comment."

In fact, interest from various business groups influenced theOffice of Advocacy to include on the site a proposal regardingovertime exemptions. "We were approached by the NationalRestaurant Association, [which] said this proposal is going toaffect a tremendous amount of small-business owners," Sullivansays. "We put it up on the Web site to get an even broadersense from the small-business community on what works and whatdoesn't work [regarding overtime exemptions] and what theDepartment of Labor can do in their final rule to actually solvesome of this confusion."

The Office of Advocacy's home page also has an e-mail form as well as alink to names and phone numbers for all staff members so thatbusiness owners can suggest regulations and other issues the officeshould be tracking. Along with the Regulatory Alerts Web page, saysSullivan, this is part of the Office of Advocacy's goal torespond directly to small-business interests.

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