Mr. BENTIVOLIO. Last quarter, the economy actually shrunk rather than grew. That's unacceptable. Something has to change.
As I've traveled throughout my district in Michigan, business leaders tell me the same thing over and over again: It's too hard to start or to expand my small business because I can hardly understand how to comply with the latest regulations that have come out of Washington.
It appears this is no longer a Nation of laws but of regulations--more than 80,000 pages at last estimation. And they're right. Over the last 4 years, the number of business regulations has skyrocketed, and the result has been the worst economic recovery in nearly a century. We've had such weak economic growth that I'm not even sure we can call it a recovery. The millions of people still out of work sure haven't recovered.
As many of you know, I own a small business. I understand what it's like to work hard in trying to build a business from the ground up. The small business owners I know back home are not trying to game the system, and they're not trying to manipulate the market to gain a competitive advantage. What they're trying to do is build lives for their families. They're trying to put food on their tables, send their kids to college, and put a little savings away for the future. They're good, honest, hardworking people who are trying to carve out a small slice of the American Dream.
These small business owners try to follow the rules, but it's becoming more difficult to do so. This may come as a surprise to bureaucrats here in Washington, but most small businesses don't have legal departments. They have their spouses, family members or friends who are trying to get them through all the red tape. These businessmen and women are too busy creating wealth and jobs to constantly stay up to date with the thousands of new regulations being thrown at them from the White House. The work of compliance is not done in a skyscraper downtown. It's done around a kitchen table after a hard day's work.
For example, a few weeks ago, a liberal writer for Slate.com wrote about the difficulties he faced when he tried to start his own small business and how surprised he was at his experience. After describing the problems he'd had, he concluded that red tape, long lines, inconvenient office hours, and other logistical hassles probably won't stop tomorrow's supergenius from launching the next great billion-dollar company, but it's a large and needless deterrent to the Nation of humble workaday firms that, for many people, are a path to autonomy and prosperity.
He also said:
Ideology aside, simply putting a little more thought into the process could make things much easier.
I agree. That's why I introduced the Protect Small Business Jobs Act of 2013.
For too many businesses, the central planners in the numerous agencies of this government have set up roadblocks to their success. My bill offers a simple correction. If found to be in violation of a Federal regulation, a small business, as defined by the Small Business Administration, is given a 6-month grace period to correct the problem before being sanctioned. It allows for an extension of 3 more months if the business is making a good-faith effort to correct the problem, and if the problem is corrected, at the end of the grace period the fine is waived.
This allows small companies to have a chance at becoming compliant without being hit with devastating fines. It levels the playing field and keeps thousands, if not millions, of American workers in their jobs because over 60 percent of new work in America is created by small businesses. Giving companies a grace period may seem controversial, but I'd like to dispel some concerns I've heard since I've introduced this bill.
What about environmental issues? Contamination will only be covered if the small business can actually clean it up within 6 months. This gives more incentive to fix the problem because, if the choice is between closing up shop due to an oppressive penalty or cleaning up their mess and staying in business, the latter is going to be chosen. Furthermore, this bill gives a grace period for regulations, not law. Any breaking of property law will still be prohibited.
What if an accident occurs? Firstly, most violations that could cause harm to people are largely covered under an exception in the bill. Secondly, this bill does not prevent workers from suing for damages if their company fails to keep their work environment safe. This bill really only affects sanctions in issues of prior restraint.