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Businessman to tell Congress about red tape problems

February 02, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Hagerstown businessman Ryan Null will tell Congress today how the government's red tape ties him up.

The owner of Tristate Electronic Manufacturing, Null said he spends more than five work weeks every year taking care of federally mandated paperwork and regulations.

He is scheduled to testify before a House committee this afternoon on H.R. 350, The Mandate Information Act.

The act would require Congress to find out what new regulations cost the country's businesses before passing them.

It "directs the Congressional Budget Office to assess the impact of private-sector mandates contained in any bill presented to the floor of the House or Senate," according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Proponents say H.R. 350 would prevent lawmakers from imposing rules that become costly to seller and buyer.

"This will rein in new burdens on American workers, consumers and small businesses," Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., wrote in Investor's Business Daily.

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Null founded his company in 1985 "from nothing," he said.

Tristate Electronic Manufacturing employs 24 people and has $2 million in annual revenue, but the government's rules are a constant hurdle, he said.

"There are piles and piles of regulations and nobody knows what they are," Null said.

In his prepared testimony, he lists some of the paperwork. "We have Department of Labor reports, unemployment insurance reports, W-2, W-3, W-4, 1099, I-9, 940 and 941 reports and section 125 deductions," he wrote.

"The 401(k) plan alone has record-keeping, discrimination testing, top-heavy rules, outside administration costs and several other forms."

Although the regulations were instituted with good intentions, Null wrote, "the cost implementation for a small business is truly overwhelming."Fred Teeter, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, agreed.

"Paperwork has become a really big chore for businesses," he said.

When Congress enacts new mandates it drives up operating costs that are passed on to consumers, Teeter said.

Thomas Riford, marketing director of the Washington County Economic Development Commission, said he favors anything that cuts down on red tape.

"We are absolutely for anything that would reduce or lessen any onerous restrictions on the operations of our businesses," he said.

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