Complying with regulations has become ‘Mission Impossible’ | Don Brunell

It’s hard enough for employers to cope with hundreds of new regulations passed each year, added to the tens of thousands of regulations already on the books.

 

It’s hard enough for employers to cope with hundreds of new regulations passed each year, added to the tens of thousands of regulations already on the books.

But now, agencies are adding insult to injury by imposing standards that are impossible to meet.

The Small Business Administration estimates employers spend $1.75 trillion dollars a year complying with federal regulations, a burden that falls heaviest on small businesses, America’s job engine. The SBA reports it costs small employers more than $10,500 per employee to comply with federal regulations.

But now, employers are facing what must seem like a nightmare:  regulations that are impossible to comply with.

Case in point:  Cellulosic ethanol.

Cellulosic ethanol is made from wood waste, crop stalks — even municipal waste. The idea was to create a biofuel that used waste products and didn’t take farmland out of production.

The push for cellulosic ethanol began in the Bush administration. The federal government provided grants and loans to producers and imposed mandates on oil companies to blend cellulosic fuel into conventional gasoline. The mandate was 100 million gallons by 2010, 500 million in 2012 and 10.5 billion gallons a year by 2020.

At the time, nobody produced cellulosic ethanol. Today, that’s still the case

Despite $1.5 billion in taxpayer grants and loans, no one has been able to commercially produce cellulosic ethanol. According to The Wall Street Journal, the half-dozen or so companies that received the first round of subsidies never got

off the ground and Cello Energy, which boasted that it would produce 70 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2010, filed for bankruptcy in October of that year.

Nevertheless, the Environmental Protection Agency penalizes refiners for not using cellulosic ethanol in their gasoline. Even though the EPA adjusted the mandates downward, oil companies had to purchase $10 million in “waiver credits” in 2010 and 2011 for failing to comply with a mandate to buy a product that doesn’t exist — costs that were passed on to consumers at the pump.

Of course, the federal government doesn’t have a monopoly on such regulations.

Seattle’s new paid sick leave policy applies to any business with five or more employees — even if that business isn’t located in Seattle.

The new law says that, if one or more of your employees spends more than 240 hours a year in Seattle on business, you must pay them pro-rated benefits.  That’s less than an hour per work day. Don’t know how long your employees spend in Seattle? You’ll need to track their hours to find out.

For example, the city says that, if you operate a flower shop in Kent and deliver bouquets in Seattle, you must keep track of how long each driver was inside the city limits. Have an out-of-state tech company or sales firm that regularly

sends people to Seattle? You have to track their time as well. If an employee claims they’re not receiving earned benefits, it’s up to the employer to document the actual time they spent inside city limits throughout the year.

This rule is a recordkeeping nightmare visited on overwhelmed employers already struggling in these tough times.

If you faced a paperwork and legal nightmare just for having your employees briefly do business in Seattle, what would you do?

In a time when local governments should be doing everything they can to encourage and attract more business, this does just the opposite. The city’s new ordinance might be better called the “Stay out of Seattle” law.

What we don’t need right now are reasons to send employers — and jobs — elsewhere.

 

More in Business

Seattle’s misstep highlights need for new approach

Last week, Seattle’s City Council did an “about face” revoking the onerous… Continue reading

Washington’s expensive culvert court case

Too much money is spent in court where it should go to increasing the salmon population

Lt. Dan needs lots of helping hands

Gary Sinise formed the “Lt. Dan Band” in early 2004 and they began entertaining troops serving at home and abroad. Sinise often raised the money to pay the band and fund its travel.

New Enumclaw wine bar aims for broad audience

Bordeaux Wine Bar is scheduled to be open Wednesdays through Sundays.

Streamlining regulations makes more housing affordable

There were over 21,000 people homeless in Washington State last year.

New approaches needed to fight super wildfires | Don Brunell

Last year, wildfires nationwide consumed 12,550 square miles, an area larger than Maryland.

Skilled trade jobs go unfilled in our robust economy

Known as blue collar jobs, they routinely pay $45,000 to $65,000 a year or more.

Streamlining regulations helps Americans compete

The cost of regulations is a key American competitiveness issue. It is a major reason our companies re-locate to other countries and our manufacturers and farmers have difficulties competing internationally.

Water pressure mounting in West as population spikes

What is happening in California with water allocation disputes is a harbinger of what is to come in our state as well.

Railroads implementing positive track

While the investigation continues into the deadly AMTRAK derailment near Dupont, the clock continues to tick on the implementation of Positive Track Control (PTC). The deadline is Dec. 31, 2018.

Keep the holiday spirit all year long | Don Brunell

During the holidays, our thoughts naturally turn to giving — not just giving gifts, but donating our time and money to charities, disasters and community programs.

Finding balance in occupational licensing

Recently, the Institute for Justice (Institute) determined state licensing barriers for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs not only hurts people trying to establish themselves in a profession, but annually drives consumer prices up by $203 billion.