And the survey says … less regulation, please

The results of a national survey confirm what small business owners think about government regulations. What most owners think is there are an increasing number of regulations that are costly and difficult with which to comply and, in the end, offer little or no value to consumers. Here’s the bottom line, so to speak: Nearly half of owners consider regulations a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem.

Given those kind of results, it’s not surprising a separate survey of small business owners reflects increased optimism in large part because of their expectations President Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress will roll back regulations. At the least, there’s the presumption the regulatory environment will become a bit more conducive to business, if not less openly hostile.

Meanwhile, there’s a measure in the Colorado Legislature that would take one small step toward and kinder, gentler regulatory regime. The survey results constitute a convincing argument in favor of more common-sense approaches.

The National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation announced the survey results based on 750 interviews with small firms that employ no more than 249 people. Some notable highlights:

50 percent of small employers reported an increase over the past three years in the number of regulations with which they must comply.

28 percent of small employers cited compliance costs as their biggest issue with regulations, while 18 percent cited difficulty understanding what they most do.

31 percent of small employers said they consider regulations of little or no value to customers or consumers, and 20 percent said they consider regulations of limited value.

25 percent of small employers characterized regulations as a “very serious” problem, while 24 percent said regulations were “somewhat serious.”

Tony Gagliardi, state director of the NFIB in Colorado, expects the survey results to help in enacting legislation that would change the way state agencies interact with small businesses in enforcing regulations.

Senate Bill 1 requires that when a state agency determines a small business has committed a minor violation of a rule, rather than impose a fine, the agency notifies the business in writing and gives the business 30 days to cure the violation. The measure doesn’t apply to violations that threaten public health, but to minor violations that often occur inadvertently. One result of Senate Bill 1 is the same in upholding state regulations. But the process is far different in helping small businesses comply rather than just slapping them with a fine.

There’s a bigger picture to consider, too, and that has to do with economic development. Where do you suppose entrepreneurs want to start or relocate their operations? And answer is rhetorical, of course: The place that offers the most business friendly environment with the lowest taxes and least restrictive regulatory regime.

Colorado ranks 13th among the 50 states, by the way, in the latest analysis of how taxes affect entrepreneurs and small businesses. States that rank in the top half in the analysis tend to experience faster economic and population growth than states in the bottom half.

It’s clear what small businesses think about government regulations. The only question is what those in government that create and enforce regulations are going to do about it.

Note to those in government: less is more.