Florida’s small businesses vs. federal regulations: uncertainty prevails

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The following is a guest op-ed from Bill Herle, executive director of the NFIB/Florida.

When you speak to Florida’s small-business community, you repeatedly hear certain concerns – one of them being uncertainty.

This uncertainty can pertain to workload, the amount of eligible skilled workers and even gas prices. Beyond operational uncertainties, however, there is also a great deal of anxiety concerning governmental regulations.

In the last few years, business owners have seen a growing trend in what some call “overregulation.” While some regulation is surely necessary in various industries, it is the excessive and unpredictable regulations that are the most harmful to an economy working to recover. And the problem is not just in Florida.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released poll results in February that showed a solid majority of Americans are receptive to reforming the federal regulatory process. Some of the more surprising results show that 63 percent of respondents believe the rules issued by the federal government have done more to hurt than help small businesses. Another 90 percent would favor regulatory reform that requires government agencies to work with small businesses to help them comply with new rules, rather than fine them for first-time violations. Furthermore, the poll found 85 percent of survey respondents would endorse reform efforts that allow new rules to receive input from impacted small businesses before they are required to follow them.

The survey tells us what I have already heard from countless independent Florida businesses – sensible regulatory reform is necessary. Florida’s unacceptably high unemployment figures underscore the need for balance in the federal regulatory process. If level-headed reform prevails, small businesses can get back to hiring and investing in their future.

But regulations are not just burdensome on the federal level, they impact us on the state level as well. This session, however, we saw several business-friendly measures that give us hope that our state government is turning a regulatory corner. One example is the increase in Florida’s corporate income tax exemption from $25,000 to $50,000, which also provides sales tax exemptions to certain industries. Reducing government-imposed costs is the kind of reform that keeps businesses alive.

Our recent survey results show the time for sensible regulatory reform has come. NFIB has even established a coalition to support this push called Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations, which represents 350,000 members of NFIB nationwide as well as hundreds of NFIB members in Florida. Small-business owners are job creators and they deserve a seat at the table as we look for public policy solutions to grow the economy. These regulatory reforms are overdue and a sensible answer to the uncertain times that lay ahead.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.