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a speech in Congress by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), on

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Full Text Below, adapted from the Congressional Record.

Mr. President, yesterday I offered three amendments to the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Bill to make commonsense reforms to our regulatory system. Today, Senators Roberts and Barrasso join me in offering the ``CURB Act''--which stands for ``Clearing Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens.'' This legislation combines the provisions of those three amendments to force federal agencies to cut the red tape that impedes job growth.

As I explained yesterday, all too often it seems Federal agencies do not take into account the impacts to small businesses and job growth before imposing new rules and regulations. The bill we are introducing today obligates them to do so.

The CURB Act does three things: first, it requires Federal agencies to analyze the indirect costs of regulations, such as the impact on job creation, the cost of energy, and consumer prices.

Presently, Federal agencies are not required by statute to analyze the indirect cost regulations can have on the public, such as higher energy costs, higher prices, and the impact on job creation. However, Executive Order 12866, issued by President Clinton in 1993, obligates agencies to provide the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs with an assessment of the indirect costs of proposed regulations. Our bill would essentially codify this provision of President Clinton's Executive Order.

Second, the CURB Act obligates Federal agencies to comply with public notice and comment requirements and prohibits them from circumventing these requirements by issuing unofficial rules as ``guidance documents.''

After President Clinton issued Executive Order 12866, Federal agencies found it easier to issue so-called ``guidance documents,'' rather than formal rules. Although these guidance documents are merely an agency's interpretation of how the public can comply with a particular rule, and are not enforceable in court, as a practical matter they operate as if they are legally binding. Thus, they have been used by agencies to circumvent OIRA regulatory review and public notice and comment requirements.

In 2007, President Bush issued Executive Order 13422, which contained a provision closing this loophole by imposing ``Good Guidance Practices'' on Federal agencies, which requires them to provide public notice and comment for significant guidance documents. Our bill would essentially codify this provision of President Bush's Executive Order.

Third, the CURB Act helps out the ``little guy'' trying to navigate our incredibly complex and burdensome regulatory environment. So many small businesses don't have a lot of capital on hand. When a small business inadvertently runs afoul of a Federal regulation for the first time, that first penalty could sink the business and all the jobs it supports. Our bill would provide access to SBA assistance to small businesses in a situation where they face a first-time, non-harmful paperwork violation. It simply doesn't make sense to me to punish small businesses the first time they accidently fail to comply with paperwork requirements, so long as no harm comes from that failure.

Each of these provisions has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business, NFIB, and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. I urge my colleagues to support the CURB Act, which contains these important reforms to our regulatory system.