Government called drag on business

September 12, 1997


Staff Writer

Small businesses face pressures because of piece-by-piece additions to government regulations made by lawmakers, according to an organization that represents many small companies.

"They never stop to think of the pile of regulatory burden that is already on small businesses," said Jim Goeden, Maryland director of the National Federation of Small Businesses.

The organization hosted a meeting Thursday morning at the Best Western Venice Inn to discuss legislative issues with state Del. D. Bruce Poole, D-Washington, and Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington.


Some of the issues discussed included:

* Wrongful discharge reform. The organization is seeking legislation to cap civil awards in cases where employees are wrongfully fired from their jobs.

"We're wide open to almost any kind of liability anyone can come up with. Something needs to be done about that," Goeden said.

Poole called wrongful discharge a "sleeper" issue that came as the result of a court decision, not legislative action, to remove the exemption small businesses have had in such cases. He said it can hurt small businesses by an employee making a sexual harassment allegation or other wrongful-discharge claim, even if it is never proven.

* Prevailing wage repeal. The state's prevailing wage law dictates wages for public works projects and increases the cost of constructing schools, roads and other government facilities by 10 percent to 30 percent.

* Right-to-work legislation. Attempts to make affiliation with a labor union not a requirement of getting or keeping a job have failed in the General Assembly many times. But Goeden said the effort needs to continue because Maryland loses jobs to other states because it doesn't have a right to work law.

Goeden said while there are many troubling issues for small businesses, the local region has a reputation for being an advocate for smaller firms.

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