Smith’s bill to aid small businesses signed into law

Small-business owners saddled with thousands of duplicate and confusing state agency rules and regulations can breathe a little easier today because House Bill 2603, sponsored by Rep. Norma Smith, was signed into law.

At a time of record high unemployment and with the cost of doing business in Washington on the rise, Smith’s legislation is one of very few measures passed during the 2010 session that will assist small-business owners trying to keep their doors open in a difficult economy.

House Bill 2603 is the product of a small-business conference Smith attended last year. The new law allows companies found out of compliance with a state agency rule or regulation two business days to come into compliance without a financial or civil penalty. Protections in the bill ensure the violations in question do not endanger employees or the public.

“Small businesses are the cornerstone of Washington state’s economy. They provide the jobs and support our communities, families and individuals. This is why I believe state agencies should do all they can to assist businesses by offering guidance and information rather than simply issuing fines and penalties,” said Smith, R-Clinton. “Even the most conscientious employers can miss a new rule or regulation, or simply misunderstand how to meet the codes outlined by state agencies. This law simply gives employers the benefit of the doubt by allowing a two-day grace period to come into compliance with the rule or regulation without a fine or other penalty. It’s responsible and common-sense legislation that will provide much-needed relief and assistance to small businesses.”

The state’s leading small business association, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), representing 8,000 small employers statewide lauded Smith’s efforts on behalf of the state’s job-creators.

Rep. Norma Smith’s bill is one of the very few bright lights for small business coming out of this legislative session,” said Patrick Connor, NFIB’s Washington State Director. “Small businesses are buried in complex, confusing and often contradictory regulations from local, state and federal agencies. As a result, an occasional, unintended violation can occur. Thanks to Rep. Smith’s efforts, state regulators will now be required to provide a copy of the rule in question and allow the small business a reasonable timeframe to correct unintended violations before a fine or other penalty can be issued. After all, education is the best way to ensure compliance.”

Connor added that NFIB Washington is proud to have supported Smith’s House Bill 2603 and appreciates her leadership and hard work on behalf of the state’s thousands of small businesses.

“I look around and see the hard-working entrepreneurs in the Tenth District and elsewhere in the state struggling and I know we can do more to offer them certainty in the regulatory climate and tax structure,” Smith said. “This is one step in the right direction, but it is imperative that we continue in this direction.

Smith said that adding to the cost of doing business in Washington state during a recession is unacceptable, and puts the state’s economic future at further risk.

“State lawmakers must work together toward policies that keep our job-creators competitive, allow them to keep their doors open and put people back to work,” Smith concluded.

The governor signed House Bill 2603 on March 24.


Washington State House Republican Communications