The House Small Business Committee passed a bill in July that would force federal agencies to better comply with a law already on the books requiring them to consider how regulations could impact small businesses.  It’s called the 2011 Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act, and would require a full assessment of the impact that regulations will have on small businesses and would force federal agencies to perform periodic reviews of rules to assess their impact.

I think New York State needs to consider a similar law that would require state agencies, AND the State Legislature, to fully analyze the impact of any new law or regulation on businesses (small businesses in particular) BEFORE it is implemented.  This law should also require state agencies AND the State Legislature to conduct a full and thorough review of all laws and regulations currently on the books and determine the impact of each law or regulation on private sector businesses and their ability to maintain existing jobs or create new jobs. Developing what I’m sure will be creative and collaborative economic development plans at the regional level is a critically important piece in the economic recovery puzzle, but if it is not accompanied by a renewed focus on empowering and enabling private sector business to spend more time growing their business and less time navigating the complicated and complex world of increased government regulation, it is quite simply doomed to failure.

Governor Cuomo, in announcing the formation of the 10 regional Economic Development Councils several months ago, declared that New York State is “open for business”.   Creating these Councils and earmarking funding for economic development projects, while important, does not create the business friendly environment that New York must have in order to keep existing businesses here and attract new businesses and the jobs that they create.  What business in its right mind would come into a state that has a law on its books called the “Wage Theft Prevention Act”?  This law, which went into effect in April 2011, is based on the assumption that New York State employers are pre-disposed to stealing the wages of their employees and must be prevented from doing so through the passage of the ill-conceived law.  It requires an onerous amount of paperwork , constant employee notifications, and even prescribes in great detail what information employers are required to provide to their employees on their wage statements.  It is just one example of many ill-conceived laws and regulations here in New York that stifle economic growth and stunt job creation.

Rather than sending the “open for business” message, these kinds of laws instead communicate that New York is “closed and out to lunch”.  We must change this message if our economic development efforts are to have any chance for success going forward.