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WRA testifies for Small Business Bill of Rights

y Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Government Affairs

 I was proud to testify this week on behalf of The Small Business Bill of Rights, or Senate bill 5230.

If approved by the full Legislature, it would require the Attorney General to work with six regulatory departments to identify rights and protections for small businesses.

The Legislature already has agreed administrative rules can have burdensome impacts on small businesses that cannot afford to hire the staff to track all of the requirements and rules the state enacts. Many are overwhelmed and unprepared to avoid penalties that threaten their livelihoods.

Under the bill, the Attorney General would report back to the Legislature with recommendations after working with the Departments of Agriculture, Ecology, Labor and Industries, Revenue, Employment Security and the State Fire Marshal on the rules and regulations they enforce with small businesses. The goal is to help small business grasp the scope of requirements to better prepare for inspections, audits, site visits and reviews of records.

These six agencies are 60 percent of the state agencies that can inspect businesses. The bill is not asking for new rights, just to assemble information to capture all the rights small business owners must understand and use if necessary. So far, the bill passed the Senate unanimously and now is before the House of Representatives for review and action.

The bill would apply to any business with 250 or fewer employees. State law allows small businesses at least seven calendar days to correct violations before penalties can be imposed.

The bill is a good start toward better informing small businesses of their obligations and improves their chances of growing and improving the overall state economy. By far, most of the businesses in our state are small with many employing fewer than 50 people.

I want to extend special thanks to Senators Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver and Guy Palumbo, D-Snohomish for sponsoring this bill and urge the Legislature to approve it this session.

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