Regulatory Watch


Government regulations and red tape can be a tremendous barrier to small business growth. Small businesses' regulatory compliance costs are 36 percent higher than large businesses so it is no surprise that regulations consistently rank as a top concern for small business owners. Roughly 3,300 regulations are in the pipeline this year and many of them will affect small businesses. 

Below are regulatory proposals that have been published in the Federal Register and are open for public comment. An agency publishes an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) with a proposed rule if it expects that the rule will have a significant economic impact on substantial number of small businesses. The IRFA provides information about the potential effects of the proposed rule on small businesses.  

Agencies' initial analyses of small business impacts are not always correct or complete, so the Committee on Small Business encourages small businesses to file comments through the government's online portal,, and tell federal agencies how the regulatory proposal will affect them. If you had trouble with an agency or regulation, please feel free to share your story with the Committee.

Regulations to Watch:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Receipt of Several Pesticide Petitions Filed for Residues of Pesticide Chemicals in or on Various Commodities

EPA has received several petitions requesting the establishment or modification of regulations for residues of pesticide chemicals in or on various commodities. The EPA is taking public comments on these requests. Small businesses in the crop production, animal production, food manufacturing, and pesticide manufacturing could be affected if EPA promulgates regulations for residues of pesticide chemicals.  (PUBLISHED 12-9-2016)



Small Business Administration
Office of Women's Business Ownership: Women's Business Center Program

The SBA has issued a proposed rule that would create regulations outlining policies and procedures for the WBC Program. These revisions would clarify key terms, regulate WBC facilities and administrative infrastructure, standardize how the SBA issues a notice of an award for WBC Recipient Organizations, and other measures. Currently, there are almost 100 WBCs throughout the United States, and in FY 2013 they trained almost 134,000 entrepreneurs. (POSTED 11-22-2016)


COMMENTS DUE 1-23-2017

Department of Defense (DoD) General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Federal Acquisition Regulations:Effective Communication between Government and Industry

DoD, GSA, and NASA have issued a proposed rule that would permit and encourage agency acquisition personnel to engage in responsible and constructive exchanges with industry, in a manner consistent with existing law that does not promote unfair competitive advantages. The agencies expect the rule would positively affect the approximately 75,000 small businesses that received federal contracts in FY 2015. (PUBLISHED 11-29-2016)


COMMENTS DUE 1-30-2017

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Contact Lens Rule

The FTC has issued a proposed rule that would require optometrists to keep signed acknowledgement forms of patients verifying that a contact lens prescription has been prescribed. This proposed rule would increase paperwork burdens for optometrists, since the forms would need to be kept on record for at least three years. (PUBLISHED 12-7-2016)

IRFA - Yes

COMMENTS DUE 1-30-2017
Department of Defense (DoD) General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Federal Acquisition Regulation:Set-Asides Under Multiple-Award Contracts

DoD, GSA, and NASA have issued a proposed rule that would allow federal agencies to issue partial small business set-asides on multiple award contracts, small business reserves on full and open multiple-award procurements, and small business set-aside orders under multiple award contracts. The agencies expect this proposed rule would affect 304,980 small businesses who may have increased access to federal contracts. (PUBLISHED 12-6-2016)

IRFA - Yes


Small Business Administration (SBA)
SBA Small Business Investment Companies-Administrative Fees

The SBA has issued a proposed rule that would increase Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) licensing and examination fees over five years. While the fees currently cover about 40 percent of administrative expenses for this program, this proposed rule would attempt to cover 70 percent of these costs. After five years, the SBA would recalculate the examination and licensing fees annually to reflect increases in the consumer price index. In 2015, there were approximately 35 applicants for final SBIC licensing and 300 operating SBICs, all of which would face higher fees. (PUBLISHED 12-16-2016)

IRFA - Yes 

COMMENTS DUE 2-14-2017

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Sea Turtle Conservation; Shrimp Trawling Requirements

In an effort to reduce incidental bycatch of small turtles, NOAA has issued a proposed rule that would require all shrimp skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and butterfly trawls to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs). The agency expects the industry to be negatively impacted by the proposed rule by approximately $13.7 million in the first year. There are an estimated 5,837 vessels that would be affected by this rule, many of which are small independently owned vessels. (PUBLISHED 12-16-2016)

IRFA - Yes

COMMENTS DUE 2-14-2017
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Security Training for Surface Transportation Employees

The TSA has issued a proposed rule that would require security training for employees of freight and passenger railroad carriers, public transportation agencies, and bus companies. The agency has calculated that the proposed rule’s requirements would cost small freight rail companies $6,068.49 per company, or $66.78 per employee, and cost small bus companies $3,347.67 per company, or $33.41 per employee. (PUBLISHED 12-16-2016)

IRFA - Yes

COMMENTS DUE 2-14-2017
Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Prevention of Workplace Violence in Healthcare and Social Assistance

OSHA is considering whether standards to prevent workplace violence in the health care and social assistance industries is necessary and is seeking information that would help develop such standards. Specifically, OSHA is interested in feedback regarding currently implemented workplace violence prevention programs and policies, hazard identification and prevention, recordkeeping policies, and other workplace violence prevention evaluations. (PUBLISHED 12-7-2016)



Regulatory Resources:

The Regulatory Flexibility Act
Regulatory Agenda
Tips for Submitting Effective Comments