Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 89 is an open rule providing for the consideration of H.R. 327, the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act.
The rule provides for 1 hour of general debate, equally divided and controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on Government Reform.
The rule provides that it shall be in order to consider as an original bill for the purpose of amendment an amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD and numbered 1. The rule further provides that the amendment in the nature of a substitute shall be open for amendment by section.
Finally, the rule allows the chairman of the Committee of the Whole to accord priority in recognition to Members who have preprinted their amendments in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, [Page: H932]
and provides for one motion to recommit, with or without instructions.
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of H.R. 327 is to facilitate compliance by small businesses with certain Federal paperwork requirements and to establish a task force to examine the feasibility of streamlining paperwork requirements applicable to small businesses.
This bill is similar to legislation passed by the House in the 106th Congress but on which the Senate failed to act. However, this year's bill omits language contained in the earlier version which limited the imposition of civil penalties on small businesses for certain first-time violations.
In addition, H.R. 327 requires the director of the Office of Management and Budget to publish annually in the Federal Register a list of requirements applicable to small businesses with respect to the collection of information by Federal agencies, so that small businesses can easily inform themselves about these requirements.
The bill also requires that all such information be made available on the Internet.
H.R. 327 would require every Federal agency to establish a single point of contact between the agency and small businesses.
Finally, the bill requires each Federal agency to make additional efforts to reduce the paperwork burdens on small businesses with fewer than 25 employees.
Mr. Speaker, as a longtime small business owner myself, I can assure my colleagues that this is a bill whose time has come. It is hard enough for most small businesses to comply with the paperwork requirements that they know about, but it is the requirements that we do not know about that can really come back to haunt us.
Large firms have in-house accounting, legal, and reporting compliance personnel that are beyond the means of small businesses. I know firsthand the costs and difficulty of wading through time-consuming, duplicative, and sometimes unnecessary paperwork.
Small business men and women should not have to sacrifice productivity in order to complete endless forms when paperwork requirements can easily be streamlined.
For years small businesses have created the largest share of new jobs in our economy. We should act today to reduce their paperwork burden so that they can continue to do so.
Mr. Speaker, because H.R. 327 was not reported by a committee, no official cost estimate is available. However, the Committee on Government Reform did receive a preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office which stated that the bill, and I quote, ``would result in minimal costs for Federal agencies each year because the bill would not affect direct spending or governmental receipts. Pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply.''
Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to support both the rule and the underlying legislation, H.R. 327.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this open rule and the underlying bill. It is noncontroversial. Concerns that were raised during consideration of the measure regarding civil penalties during the last Congress have been addressed.
The business community has often voiced concern about the burden of government regulations and the resulting paperwork. In response to this concern, Congress has passed paperwork reduction legislation such as the Paperwork Reduction Act, PRA, and the Small Business Reporting Enforcement Fairness Act.
Moreover, the last administration streamlined regulations by reinventing government and implementing many of the recommendations made by the White House Conference on Small Businesses.
The measure before us today, H.R. 327, continues this effort to reduce unnecessary paperwork for small businesses.
There are a number of provisions in H.R. 327 to address streamlining paperwork that bear mentioning. They require agencies to publish annually paperwork requirements on small businesses, to establish a small business liaison, to make efforts to reduce further the paperwork burden on small businesses with fewer than 25 employees, and to establish a task force to study the feasibility of streamlining paperwork requirements.
Again, I know of no opposition to this measure.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.