A popular phrase in the media is “not a whole lot is getting done in Washington, D.C.” That statement is partially true, especially when speaking to the stalemates that have defined the legislative process in recent years. However, that statement fails to account for the regulatory community, which falls under the executive branch of government and has been churning out rules, requirements and regulations at a record-setting pace.
I like to use the phrase that “if they (the government) can't legislate it, they will regulate it.” Never has that phrase been as true as it was in 2010, when the federal government issued 43 new regulations at an estimated cost of $26.5 billion to the private sector. While I understand there is a need for regulations, it is hard for me to grasp what regulations were so important that the executive branch needed to saddle nearly $30 billion on the private sector during the middle of an economic downturn. And, in case you think that was a onetime shot, think again; more than 4,200 proposed rules are in the pipeline in 2011.
Of particular interest to HARDI members will be the EPA, Department of Energy and National Labor Relations Board. The latter has displayed particular aggressiveness in recent months with new appointments to its five-man board. This board demonstrates a heavy tilt in favor of organized labor.
In the midst of all of this regulatory darkness, there is some hope. The House of Representatives recently decided to assert its long-forgotten responsibility of oversight. This means that the House will be ordering the heads of federal bureaucracies to testify before Congress and explain exactly why they implemented certain rules and regulations, who were the information resources during the implementation process, and most importantly, did they consider the full impact of the regulation.
This oversight does not mean all of the regulatory burdens will be lifted from the backs of business by the end of the year. However, it does mean the House is willing to listen to the concerns of businesses, shine a light on regulatory agencies and quite possibly slash the budget of agencies they perceive to be serial offenders. (This is a prime reason you should make your voice heard with members of Congress at the HARDI Congressional Fly-In May 18-19 in Washington, D.C.)
HARDI has been and will continue to be in contact with congressional leaders expressing the concerns of our members. I strongly encourage all members to contact Talbot Gee or myself if they have any issue with the federal government, to ensure that we can provide you with the tools to navigate the federal bureaucracy and notify legislators of burdensome regulations or aggressive action by a regulatory agency.
Additionally, HARDI is working to provide its members with yet another competitive advantage — developing educational programs designed to help educate you, your employees and your customers about key regulations and how to ensure that you and your customers have the appropriate measures in place to be in compliance with the laws.
The new rules and regulations in California provide the perfect illustration of our efforts to provide the necessary tools for our members. Recognizing the wide impact on distributors across the state, HARDI did the necessary research, developed and distributed multiple informative pieces to review in advance of the rules implementation.
As advocates for our members, we took the added step of designing an online class and exam they could administer to employees ensuring everyone was aware and informed of the legal requirements. Being at the forefront of timely, relevant and menacing issues is what we are good at and our members' organizations benefit greatly from this knowledge. It provides them with a marketable competitive edge.
If you are interested in learning more about HARDI's advocacy efforts, please reach out to us; we would love to hear from you.
Jon Melchi is HARDI's government affairs manager. Contact him at 614/345-HEAT (4328) or [email protected].