Associations such as the Tire Association of North America and the Automotive Service Association support a bill designed to ensure that federal regulatory agencies obey their legal mandate to consider the impact on small business of every regulation they issue.
The Agency Accountability Act of 2001 was introduced in May 2001 by Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo. Essentially, the bill:
* Strengthens the ability of small businesses to participate in the regulatory process;
* Gives them a more effective way of appealing regulations; and
* Expands the number of agencies that must appoint Small Business Advocacy Review Panels during rule making, as well as clarifies the review panel process.
The final GAO report-issued in December 2001-surveyed the activities of six federal agencies under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), including the Commerce Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. According to that report, SBREFA ``does not appear to have had much of an impact in the agencies and years that we examined.''
The GAO found the agencies they reviewed have broad discretion as to how they issue the SBREFA-required compliance guides to affected small businesses, the ASA said. They have the power to decide which rules call for compliance guides, what the guides contain, when to issue them and how to distribute them.
Meanwhile, the Agency Accountability Act is before the Senate Small Business Committee, but several votes have been postponed. ``We keep hoping that something will happen,'' said Becky MacDicken, TANA director of government affairs.