Delaware is focusing its efforts on reducing regulations that put extra burdens on its small businesses.
On Wednesday, Gov. Jack Markell, D-Delaware, signed three pieces of legislation that cuts some of the rigorous restrictions that effect a business’s ability to be successful.
“Some regulations make a lot of sense—it’s important we keep the environment clean, for example—but when regulations exist that don’t accomplish their goal and only prevent people from getting hired, we need to fix that,” Markell said.
“This is not to say we’re going to get rid of all of them, but we’re going to be thoughtful about nuance in the future and regularly look at ones that already exist,” he added.
House Bill 147, sponsored by several legislators including Representatives Bryon Short, D-Highland Woods, and Danny Short, R-Seaford, and Senators Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, and Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, requires executive branch agencies to review regulations every four years to modify or eliminate those that are no longer needed.
Two other pieces of legislation require agencies to consider the impact of new regulations and to examine ways to reduce burdens on small businesses.
Senate Bill 113, sponsored by Senators Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, and Robert Marshall, D-Wilmington, and Representatives Bryon Short and Quinn Johnson, and others, requires each agency to submit a regulatory impact statement when it proposes regulations.
The statement would include the purpose of the regulation, estimated costs of compliance, and a description of less burdensome methods of achieving the regulation’s purpose. The statements would then be submitted to the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 120, sponsored by several legislators including Senators Marshall and Hocker and Representatives Johnson and Short, requires agencies to also submit a regulatory flexibility analysis that examines ways to lessen the impact of the regulation, such as extended deadlines and exemptions.
The latter two legislations become effective for all new or amended regulations submitted to the Registrar of Regulations on or after January 1, 2016.
“We value all businesses in Delaware, but small businesses serve the needs of Delaware,” said Short, D-Brandywine. “They deserve for us to fight for their success.”
Jeffrey Ulmer, Owner of Action Hardware in Wilmington, said there are several regulations that affect small businesses more than large corporations.
He said there have been times his business had to pay for legal consultation to ensure it was taking appropriate measures, while large corporations often can afford their own lawyers.
“Delaware is starting to recognize small business are different than large corporate businesses, and we have different problems and things that come up that affect us in a direct way that large corporations can absorb, like regulations and fees,” Ulmer said.
Efforts to cut red tape in business have been ongoing for a number of years. In 2012, Markell issued an executive order to meet with residents, business and state agencies to identify and remove burdensome regulations.
In 2013, Markell released a report detailing modifications to or the deletion of more than 140 state regulations.
State agencies eliminated unwarranted requirements on businesses and individuals, extended compliance deadlines for businesses, instituted time-lines for government officials to respond to business proposals and removed outdated and applicative rules.
During a State of the State address in January, Markell stated that cutting the red tape for small businesses would be a top priority this year.
“While regulations are sometimes necessary, we must strive to ensure that they don’t impose unnecessary burdens upon our citizens,” Markell said during the address.
Ulmer said he believes the State has done its part to stress the importance of supporting local businesses.
“Local businesses are backbone of the state,” he said. “We employ a lot of people, our jobs are often better and have better benefits than big corporate jobs, and its important to shop locally and support local business because it helps everyone.”
Ulmer added the new legislation also will help businesses provide customers an improved shopping experience.
“It helps us hire people easier and spend less money on fees and lawyers and more money on employees and more merchandise,” he said.
“Any time we’re able to lower costs or lower time we have to spend on things that don’t directly affect our customers the more time we can spend on our customers.”
Short said the pieces of legislation show the State’s efforts to encourage more people to set up businesses in Delaware.
“This is the place people should be coming to start their business or expand their business because we really listen and care and because of our size we can turn around and get things done,” he said.