Stand up for small businesses

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2015

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us, the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season has officially started. From shopping for presents to finalizing your travel plans, the next few weeks are sure to be busy.

Many of you likely tried to get a head start on shopping last Friday, but did you know that Saturday was also a special day for shopping?

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Last Saturday marked Small Business Saturday. This is a day set aside to support our nation’s small businesses and to highlight the vital impact they have on our economy. Small Business Saturday is a relatively new tradition, but it has really taken off over the last few years.

Since our nation’s founding, entrepreneurs and innovators have built our economy up through small businesses. These small businesses are very important to our economy. In fact, half of all working Americans who have a job in the private sector are working at a small business.

From boutique clothing stores to ship repair companies to candle shops, Southwest Alabama is home to a wide range of small businesses. During my time in Congress, I have made it a top priority to visit these businesses in Southwest Alabama to learn more about the challenges they face.

Sadly, I quickly realized that small businesses are drowning in costly regulations and a confusing maze of red tape. Since 2008, more small businesses have closed than have opened. That’s why I have made it a priority over the last two years to push for legislation that cuts back regulations, gets Washington out of the way, and allows small businesses to flourish.

For example, the tax code is far too confusing and complicated for our small businesses. I believe we should simplify the tax code and make it easier for all Americans. It shouldn’t require countless hours and hundreds of dollars to do your taxes each year. A fairer, simpler tax code would go a long way toward getting the federal government off the back of our small businesses.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) isn’t the only federal agency making life harder for small businesses. There is also the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), which puts excessive compliance requirements on small businesses that simply don’t make sense. Regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are also driving up energy costs and making it harder for small businesses to get ahead. It seems like every day the Obama Administration is putting out a new, costly regulation.

In the House, we have an entire committee devoted to fighting back against these regulations and supporting our nation’s small businesses. Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and the House Small Business Committee work diligently to advance legislation designed to make life easier for our small businesses.

This year alone, the House has passed a number of bills designed to support small business. In February, the House passed H.R. 527, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. This bill would require the federal government to conduct detailed cost analysis of proposed regulations and ensure small businesses have input before regulations are released.

Another example of a House-passed small business bill is the Small Business Investment Company Capital Act of 2015, which would boost the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC). The SBIC is a public-private partnership that helps new small businesses gain access to equity and financing.

In Congress, I am committed to being an outspoken advocate for small businesses as we work to get Washington bureaucrats out of the way. You can also do your part. As you check items off your Christmas list, don’t forget to spend time shopping at small businesses in your local community. They are the real backbone of our economy.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.