Government Affairs: Everything is Connected

Amy Drumm

Sometimes I feel like a broken record. As we wrap up meetings with most of the newly-elected legislators and new committee chairs, the sentiment I’ve repeated countless times is asking them to be mindful of whether a proposed policy can realistically be implemented.

More times than not, bills have unintended consequences or inadvertently cover circumstances that aren’t the true problem the legislation seeks to solve. In the real world, some things just aren’t feasible. This is particularly true for small business owners who, in addition to making the larger business decisions of which products or services to sell, must also serve in compliance, hiring, HR, accounting, and cleaning roles. There are limited resources, both monetary and time, to meet every new regulation, benefit requirement, or compliance demand.

As I review legislation and talk with lawmakers, I do my best to remind them of this reality. Legislators this term are particularly interested in adding more affordable housing and helping residents adjust to inflation. Yet almost every new program (like the proposed state-run optimal family leave coverage), benefit (like increasing unemployment benefits from 20 to 26 weeks), or environmental goal (like the Senate Democrats’ Clean Energy Future Plan) comes with a cost associated with its implementation. With a finite number of resources, there need to be tough decisions made on how many workers can be employed, how many locations to have and where to locate, which days/hours to be open for business, what products/services to offer, which benefits can be offered, and which charities to support.

Each of these proposals have some merit and come with concerns. Some, as written, simply aren’t workable. But if several are adopted and businesses must meet a dozen or more new standards and policies, there will be consequences. Those could easily include some businesses reducing their workforce, cutting their local charitable giving, or even closing their doors.

Typically, that’s the opposite of the stated goal. It’s something to be mindful of, even on the most well-intentioned proposal.