First Baumgartner bill passed by Senate would help small businesses

Senator Michael BaumgartnerThe Washington State Senate today unanimously approved a measure that would require state agencies to pay more attention to the interests of small businesses concerning the costs imposed by agency rules. Senate Bill 5500 is the first piece of legislation introduced by Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

“Small business is the engine that drives our economy, and far too often, regulations from Olympia have thrown sand in the gears,” said Baumgartner. “Making Washington an easier place for small businesses to operate isn’t just common sense, it’s smarter government. We must make our state more competitive and improve Washington’s business climate; that is the only way to grow our economy.”

Washington’s Regulatory Fairness Act, adopted in 1994 to protect small businesses from being disproportionately impacted by state regulations, requires the development of small-business economic-impact statements. Baumgartner’s legislation would build on that small-employer protection by requiring agencies to consider specific methods to reduce the impact of a proposed rule on small businesses, including those suggested by small businesses and their advocates. SB 5500 also would require agencies to post small-business economic-impact statements online.

“Government agencies often implement new and burdensome regulations that negatively impact small businesses, without taking their concerns into consideration,” said Baumgartner. “If we don’t learn to listen to our state’s small employers, we risk losing them and the jobs they create for our state.”

SB 5500 would also require the state Department of Commerce to assess the potential negative impact of new regulations on small businesses, and fully consider feedback from small-business representatives on making impacts less severe.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.