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Small Businesses are a Big Deal for America

May 19, 2017
Senator Chuck Grassley , Dysart Reporter

Small businesses drive the U.S. economy and serve as the economic engine and job creator for local communities across America. More than 266,000 small businesses in Iowa employ nearly half of the workforce in the state. From my annual 99 county meetings, I witness the economic vitality and social impact that these employers bring to their hometowns all across Iowa. Beyond the payroll that supports employees who work in local manufacturing, grocery and convenience stores, insurance and financial services, coffee shops, gas stations, restaurants, bakeries, breweries and boutiques, the impact goes even beyond the economic investment. Small businesses contribute to the local tax base that support vital public services and infrastructure. Small business owners and employees serve as civic leaders, boosters for community betterment, and as volunteers who contribute their time, talents and treasure to local schools, youth sports, libraries, charities and other local projects that enrich the vitality and identity of the community. By every measure, local businesses and store fronts add tremendous value and energy to the public square, from rural towns and mid-size cities, to suburban centers and urban metropolitan areas. During the two-week congressional recess in April, I had the opportunity to visit a half-dozen small businesses and meet with their employees. I appreciate the opportunity to learn about their businesses and find out what's on the minds of the local workforce. It was a pleasure to meet Ben Puck, the founder and president of a small business in Western Iowa. Puck Custom Enterprises represents an impressive example of innovation and risk-taking that generations of Americans have pursued to achieve the American Dream. In fact, Puck's enterprising pursuits have earned U.S. patents that are a testimony to his ingenuity, hard work and ability to apply effective technology in the marketplace. His business is revolutionizing more efficient animal waste management and application for livestock operations that can help with better stewardship of natural resources. In fact, the Small Business Administration has named Ben Puck as the "Iowa Small Business Person of the Year," an annual award recognizing outstanding small business leaders since 1963. He will be visiting Washington, D.C., during National Small Business Week, April 30-May 6.

Without exception, I listen to strongly held concerns about the rising cost of health insurance as well as regulatory mandates, tax burdens and excessive litigation that make it more difficult for employers to grow their business and hire and retain workers. In fact, one of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act made it harder for small businesses to continue providing financial assistance for their employees to buy health insurance. The long-standing practice was stripped away from smaller employers with a measure that would slap up to a $100 fine per employee per day for reimbursing workers to buy health insurance. I worked to fix this misguided measure in the 21st Century Cures Act signed into law in December. Now, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees - are able to contribute money without financial penalty into Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). This gives workers more flexibility and opens up more choices for employees to obtain the most affordable health care coverage to meet their needs. HRAs will help small employers recruit and retain good employees with this employment benefit. The 115th Congress is working to reform the federal regulatory regime that makes it harder for small businesses and start-ups to get in business and stay in business. Federal regulations do not impact all businesses equally. Rather, the tangled web of federal rules disproportionately disadvantages small businesses who can't afford an army of lawyers and compliance officers to understand every new change published in the Federal Register or lobbyists to shape rules to their advantage. In fact, the bigger a corporation is, the more likely it is to support complex regulations that only a few big players really know how to navigate, thereby providing barriers to entry for small businesses and start-ups with innovative approaches trying to muscle in on their customers. I'm co-sponsoring a series of bills to provide a reality check to the federal rulemaking process and curb over-regulation that hurts the little guy and impedes competition. Consider the tab for regulatory compliance for small businesses reaches $108 billion each year. This is a hidden tax that slows job creation and effectively increases costs to the consumer. The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act seeks to unravel unnecessary red tape before it's too late. Giving small businesses a stronger voice at the table to explain how proposed rules would impact their ability to do business and serve their customers is a reasonable way to prevent unnecessary regulations. The Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act would improve transparency and root out what's called "sue and settle" litigation that keeps businesses and local governments in the dark when federal agencies reach settlement agreements with special interests. And when it comes to full transparency and the public's right to know, the Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act would shine a light on potential abuse of a federal law that was enacted to help individuals and small businesses challenge executive overreach. Congress and the American people need to know if the law is being used as intended, or if it's being abused by special interest groups to fund agenda-driven litigation on the taxpayer's dollar. This bill would put tools in place to uncover abuse while protecting the ability of individuals to challenge actions by the federal government. Small businesses also need relief from abusive litigation and opportunistic lawyers. My Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act would mandate sanctions on those who file frivolous lawsuits, putting in place a strong deterrent. Finally, tax reform and relief is at the heart of every Q/A during my annual 99-county meetings. The president got the ball rolling with an historic proposal to overhaul the federal tax code. I look forward to fleshing out the details that promote job creation and economic growth. Reducing unnecessary regulations, enacting tax relief and reforming ill-sought litigation will help revitalize the entrepreneurial spirit that has fostered opportunity and spread prosperity in America from one generation to the next.

Small Business Week was observed April 30-May 6 to celebrate the contributions of American small businesses to our economy and way of life. Iowa entrepreneurs who are looking to turn an idea into a business can check out the Small Business Development Center, funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, at 15 locations in Iowa. Go to or call (515)294-2030.



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