Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Regulations criticized during jobs roundtable
Hurt: House is working on job creation
U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt, R-Chatham, addresses small business leaders and others Tuesday during a jobs roundtable at Maryâ€™s Diner in Danville. (Bulletin photo by Paul Collins)
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
DANVILLE - Several small business leaders from throughout Southside complained about burdensome governmental regulations Tuesday during a jobs roundtable hosted by 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt.
Amy Lampe, chief executive officer of Tacoma Inc. in Martinsville, stacked books a couple feet high on a table at Mary's Diner, where the event was held, and said they include depreciation rules and tax code regulations.
"You cannot keep up with all this," she said.
A bit later, she said, "Something has to be done. Business is crushing under the weight of paperwork."�
Another example Lampe gave was that new hires have to fill out about a dozen forms required by the government.
"They just sign them" and don't bother reading them, she said, calling it a waste of time. The company has to keep track of all the forms, she added.
Lampe was among about a dozen people who spoke during the event, which attracted about 60 people.
Hurt, R-Chatham, began the roundtable by saying that the biggest issue today is jobs. He noted that the U.S. has a 9.1 percent unemployment rate and Martinsville 19 percent, not counting those who have stopped looking for jobs.
Since January, job creation in the private sector has been the No. 1 priority in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, Hurt said. Part of that effort involves reducing regulations on small businesses, he indicated.
His staff passed out a sheet that lists House-passed jobs bills that are awaiting action in the Senate. The sheet lists 10 House-passed bills to "empower small business owners by reducing unnecessary regulations," five House-passed bills to "maximize domestic energy production" and one House-passed bill to "pay down America's unsustainable debt burden."�
Several of the speakers talked about the burden of governmental regulations. Among them was Skip Ressel of Ronbuilt Corp. in Martinsville, who complained of redundancy in regulations. He also asked why the United States is trading with countries without the same Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws that the U.S. has.
Rick Harrell of R.O. Harrell trucking in South Boston said EPA regulations have made tractors less efficient and much more expensive. He also cited the need for the U.S. to use more of its natural resources for energy.
The singlemost important issue is the need to create jobs in the private sector and getting government out of the business of creating jobs, said Michael Duncan of EIT South in Danville. He also said governmental regulations need to be reduced and governmental spending needs to be brought under control.
He also said the company is expanding its Danville operations.
Fred Shanks, who has a civil engineering business in Danville and is a city council member, complained about burdensome regulations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA. "Regulations are killing" the home building and related industries, including engineering, surveying, contractors, construction and construction vendors and suppliers, he said.
Shanks said the benefits of the regulations "are nowhere near the cost on us."�
Hurt told of a Pittsylvania County dairy farmer who, after a bad drought a few years ago, wanted to build an irrigation pond on his farm to water his 600 acres of corn so he could feed his 1,000 dairy cows.
"They (the government) wouldn't let him do it. It had wetlands issues," Hurt said, adding that the man had to spend "thousands and thousands of dollars." The farmer said it seemed the government cared more about snakes and mosquitoes than him, Hurt recalled.
Connie Nyholm, managing partner of Virginia International Raceway in Alton and a former Martinsville resident, cited the need for more regional cooperation in economic development projects.
Diane Arnold, director of the Longwood Small Business Development Center in Danville, talked about lack of access to capital, and she gave of an example of how that caused problems for a veteran, which she thought was "disgraceful." She also gave an example of how slow bureaucracy caused a company "to put cars in hock" to have operating money.
Businessman Jimmy Farlow suggested a moratorium on new regulations.
During his remarks, throughout the discussion and in an interview, Hurt talked about the need to reduce regulatory burdens that are stifling job creation in the private sector and the need to reduce the cost of doing business. He also mentioned the need for capital formation and the need to balance the budget by reducing spending.
In a news release on his congressional website, Hurt stated: "It is my hope that as the president visits the commonwealth today (Tuesday), he will listen to the people and urge the Senate to vote on the House jobs bills that would get America working again."�
Hurt said he found it remarkable President Barack Obama did not release a jobs proposal until September, referring to the American Jobs Act.
As he has said before, Hurt said the president has put forth "some ideas we can discuss," such as parts that call for reducing spending and regulations. But Hurt said he has a problem with the parts of Obama's proposal that call for raising taxes and that call for more government spending.
Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, thanked Hurt "for putting up a fight up there" in Washington, D.C. Marshall said the federal government could learn about budget cutting from Virginia.
Mentioning NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Act), Marshall thanked Hurt for voting against the U.S.-South Korean Trade Agreement. Hurt was one of only two U.S. House members from Virginia to do so. The bill passed the House 278-151 and the Senate 83-15, The Associated Press reported.
Small business leaders from Henry, Halifax, Pittsylvania and Franklin counties and the cities of Martinsville and Danville were invited, said Linda Hutson Green, district director for Hurt.
Also among those attending was George Lester of Martinsville, CEO of The Lester Group.