U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, has thrown his support behind U.S. Sen. James Lankford’s, R-Okla., proposal to eliminate fines for small businesses for first-time paperwork violations with some exceptions.
Rubio, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, are cosponsoring Lankford’s “Harmless Error Lesser Penalty (HELP) for Small Businesses Act” which, according to the Florida Republican’s office, would “waive fines for first-time paperwork violations by small businesses, excluding fines for violations that endanger the public health or safety, criminal activity, IRS enforcement, and issues that could cause harm to the public interest.”
Lankford and the other senators weighed in on Thursday as to why they were backing the legislation.
“The goal of our bill is to give small businesses in Oklahoma and around the nation forgiveness for mistakes that are truly just small, innocuous paperwork violations,” Lankford said. “Trying to deal with government bureaucratic paperwork and red tape is one of the most prolific complaints I’ve heard over the years from Oklahoma small businesses. Additionally, it is sometimes impossible to know whether or not a small business has sufficiently and correctly filled out the paperwork to be in compliance. One small, harmless paperwork error should garner a one-time grace opportunity so we do not drive away otherwise rule-following small businesses that have difficulty wading through the vast quagmire of federal paperwork. I am grateful for Senator Hassan’s bipartisan support of this bill as we continue to work together to reduce excessive federal regulations on Americans and their small businesses.”
“America’s small businesses are often balancing competing priorities and are usually not experts in compliance,” Rubio said. “Small businesses that are making a good faith effort to comply with federal regulations should not be subject to fines for first-time paperwork violations. I am proud to work with my colleagues on this bill and to incorporate this language into my plan to reauthorize the Small Business Act.”
“Small businesses play such a vital role in the Granite State economy and our country as a whole,” Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill will help ensure that if a small business owner works in good faith and makes a first-time small error, they would not have to worry about it threatening their bottom line.”
“As a small business owner, I know firsthand how endless paperwork and burdensome regulations can stifle innovation and growth of businesses across the country,” Inhofe said. “One outrageous example—small businesses can be fined hundreds or thousands of dollars for an innocuous paperwork error. That shouldn’t be the cost of doing business. That’s why the legislation I am cosponsoring today would provide relevant agencies with the ability to waive federal fines imposed when a small business has not previously violated a similar paperwork error. It’s just common sense. Let’s keep cutting red tape and allow hard-working Oklahomans to do their jobs.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday. So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. House.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.