“Frustrated and Perplexed”
by Lisa Davidson, Senate Minority Blog, February 26, 2014
So commented Chair of the Small Business Regulatory Review Board (SBRRB), Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock, in testimony opposing the repeal of the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act. Chapter 201M of the Hawaii Revised Statutes was originally introduced to allow a feedback mechanism for small businesses when new regulations are under consideration. SB 2487 criticized the Board for “going beyond the scope of its powers.” Since its inception in 1998, the Board has reviewed more than 600 proposed rules and provided advice to state and county agencies.
Testifiers unanimously opposed the repeal. The board is entirely comprised of volunteers, eight appointed pro-bono members and one ex officio through the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Since small businesses are the backbone of Hawaii’s economy (according to the Chamber of Commerce, approximately 80% of its members are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees), some mechanism to give these businesses a voice is essential. Hawaii’s more than 117,000 small businesses provide over 475,000 jobs.
As Christopher Manfredi, President of the Hawaii Farm Bureau remarked, the SBRRB provides help “in areas where an agency might be stifling commerce …” SB 2487 would eliminate “an important process that provides checks and balances.” Tim Lyons of the The Hawaii Business League called the SBRRB “a great vehicle.”
Greg Thielen added that the all-volunteer board provides the sole opportunity for “the small business community to have a voice in the regulation process.”
Following the testimony, Chair Baker amended the bill to delete the repeal language, ask for an annual report from the SBRRB, and insert a sunset date of 2019. The amended bill passed in committee with four “ayes” and two excused.
Edited by Lisa Davidson as compiled from a report generated by Colleen Meyer, 2/26/14