Capitol Hill

Regulatory reform helps you

You probably are aware of NRCA's fight to pass association health plan legislation or create an energy plan, but you may not be aware of the enormous influence NRCA has had on regulatory reform, changing the process by which federal agencies write and implement regulations. Since the inception of NRCA's Washington, D.C., office in 1990, the pursuit of regulatory reform has been a top priority, and there have been many victories in the ensuing years. Following are several examples.

Small business

In 1996, Congress passed the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), which strengthened the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, or Reg Flex. The law essentially requires agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to take into account regulations' effects on small businesses to avoid imposing unnecessary burdens. NRCA led support for SBREFA's passage, which came in time to help thwart OSHA's ergonomics standard. SBREFA also influenced OSHA's decision in December 2002 to withdraw its proposed safety and health program standard, an enormous set of regulations that would have applied to every aspect of roofing work.

On Aug. 13, 2002, President Bush took an important step to bolster SBREFA when he signed Executive Order 13272, which requires federal agencies to protect small businesses when writing rules and regulations. Agencies were ordered to submit their plans about how they account for small business in their rulemaking process to the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy. Agencies now also must submit proposed rules to the Office of Advocacy before publication and are required to consider the Office of Advocacy's comments, which will reflect small-business views, when a rule is finalized. This could be vitally important to NRCA contractor members if OSHA reopens its fall-protection rulemaking.