Small-business leaders hope Legislature takes action as session closes

Jessica Perry//January 9, 2012

Small-business leaders hope Legislature takes action as session closes

Jessica Perry//January 9, 2012

On the last day of the current legislative session, small business advocates spoke about the priorities of their constituents for Trenton in 2012.

Al Titone, Small Business Administration director for New Jersey, said the New Jersey Regulatory Flexibility Act, which is on the long list of bills being considered by the state Senate today, “would be a tremendous benefit for the small business community.”

Titone said the bill mirrors legislation created at the national level, endorsed by the SBA, that would give small businesses a larger voice during the regulatory process. The bill, which passed the Assembly in September 2010, forces regulatory agencies to consider the economic impact on small businesses during the rule-making process.

Laurie Ehlbeck, state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said she’s optimistic the bill will get passed by the Senate and sent to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

“It’s had bipartisan support — I’m optimistic it will happen,” Ehlbeck said. “It will add another layer of awareness.”

Ehlbeck said she had been in close contact with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s office and the state’s Red Tape Commission in working to give small businesses consideration.

“We have been talking to them about specific regulations that adversely affect my members, but looking forward we’d like to get this on the books,” Ehlbeck said.

Titone said he would also like to see the state’s online business portal continued in 2012, and increase the amount for matching grants for the Small Business Development Centers.

Ehlbeck said her constituency will be focusing on education reform in 2012, a departure from topics that have normally been addressed by the federation.

“We have a ballot out now that is heavy on education reform, and it’s a little bit different direction for us to go in — but my members really feel that the education system feeds them their future employees” Ehlbeck said. “We’re going to be supporting the proper education reform looking forward.”