Survey shows strong regulatory impact on R.I. small businesses

Forty percent of Rhode Island small-business owners consider Rhode Island’s regulatory environment relatively poor compared with other states, and 66 percent believe there are too many regulations imposed on businesses in the state, according to the R.I. Office of Regulatory Reform’s 2014 Small Business Survey. More

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Survey shows strong regulatory impact on R.I. small businesses

COURTESY R.I. OFFICE OF REGULATORY REFORM
RESPONSES TO THE R.I. Office of Regulatory Reform’s 2014 Small Business Survey showed an overwhelming sentiment among small-business owners that the state's businesses taxes and regulations have significant impact on business growth.
COURTESY R.I. OFFICE OF REGULATORY REFORM
RESPONSES TO THE R.I. Office of Regulatory Reform’s 2014 Small Business Survey showed that nearly 40 percent of Rhode Island small-business owners feel that the state's regulatory environment is "poor" compared with other states.
COURTESY R.I. OFFICE OF REGULATORY REFORM
RESPONSES TO THE R.I. Office of Regulatory Reform’s 2014 Small Business Survey showed that Rhode Island small-business owners view health insurance costs as the No. 1 challenge impacting their businesses, followed by labor costs and state regulatory concerns.
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Posted 5/16/14

PROVIDENCE – Forty percent of Rhode Island small-business owners consider Rhode Island’s regulatory environment relatively poor compared with other states, and 66 percent believe there are too many regulations imposed on businesses in the state, according to the R.I. Office of Regulatory Reform’s 2014 Small Business Survey.

Conducted as part of the ORR’s ongoing efforts to analyze all state-agency regulations and their impact on Rhode Island’s small businesses, the survey included responses from 376 small-business executives in the state.

For the second consecutive year, respondents said health care costs represent the No. 1 challenge impacting their businesses. Labor costs, and state and federal regulations also ranked highly. Local ordinances, which was ranked at No. 9 in the 2013 survey, moved up to the No. 6 concern this year.

Roughly 85 percent of respondents said business taxes have a moderate to major impact on their businesses, and more than 70 percent said the same for employment regulations, and health and safety regulations.

Among specific regulations cited as of particular nuisance were the R.I. Division of Taxation’s business corporation tax, and local meals and beverage taxes, the R.I. Department of Labor and training’s unemployment insurance and disability insurance regulations, and the R.I. Department of Administration’s regulations with regard to registering contractors and satisfying construction standards.

Many business owners also pointed to discrepancy between state and local regulations and allegedly unfair enforcement as impeding business growth.

“We are the smallest state in the Union, and we have how many independent cities and towns with their own infrastructure?” said one survey respondent in a comment. “Centralization and simplification needs to be created that will in my opinion increase the efficiency, costs and attractiveness to business in our state.”

In conjunction with its release of the 2014 Small Business Survey, the ORR on Thursday issued its annual report to Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and the R.I. General Assembly.

Last year, the ORR reviewed 1,089 regulations, or 66.2 percent of the total regulations on file with the Secretary of State, the report stated. Of the 1,089 regulations received, 14 were recommended for appeal, 57 recommended for amendment and 16 were identified as regulations for which agencies can provide special accommodations for small businesses.

Now going into the final phase of the Regulatory Reform Initiative, the ORR will complete review of the remaining regulations submitted, update and solidify its recommendations, and identify the state’s next steps in the regulatory reform process.

The regulatory review, which began in 2012, is expected to be completed this year.

“ORR will continue its work of resolving regulatory and permitting inefficiencies, inconsistencies and misalignments that interfere with business growth and investment,” said Peter Marino, director of the R.I. Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the ORR. For example, he said, after receiving complaints on the business bi-weekly pay application, his department worked with the DLT to design a more efficient, user-friendly form.

To view the complete annual report, CLICK HERE.

To view the 2014 Small Business Survey, CLICK HERE.

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