Some of the most important work I conduct in Washington is in the two committees on which I serve. It is in these committees where ideas become legislation and where that legislation is fine-tuned before it goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
I am honored to serve as the chairman on the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee on the House Financial Services Committee. Equally as important, I also serve, for the second term, as vice chair of the House Small Business Committee.
Recently, the House Small Business Committee convened a hearing entitled "How Streamlining Federal Permitting Can Cut Red Tape for Small Businesses." As many of you know, before a business can begin a construction project it is required to obtain a myriad of permits from the federal government. The federal permitting system is a complex and costly regulatory network, particularly in the construction industry. The National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) are just a few examples of legislation that place undue burdens on small businesses through the permitting process. Often times these laws produce unnecessary and duplicative regulations with multiple government agencies regulating the same actions.
One of the individuals who testified before the committee was Louis Griesemer, a small business owner from Springfield. In his testimony, he stated the ESA permitting process can delay or kill projects. Griesemer said, "A 'regulated until proven otherwise' approach is very costly and difficult for any business, particularly a small company like mine, without the resources for dedicated compliance staff that larger corporations employ. This is not an efficient use of resources for either the company or the agencies and punishes the businesses who are trying to comply and care deeply about safety and the environment."
ESA is outdated, complex and has long been a burden on Missourians. Earlier this year, I introduced the legislation that would reform ESA to make it more transparent and accountable. This legislation is just one step Congress can take in the right direction to ease the burdens off of small businesses.
In addition to the House Small Business Committee this week, I convened a hearing in my Financial Institutions Subcommittee entitled "Legislative Proposals for a More Efficient Federal Financial Regulatory Regime." My colleagues and I discussed several bills that would allow financial companies to better serve their customers. One of the pieces of legislation discussed was my bipartisan bill, the Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act. This bill will improve the manner in which financial institutions are regulated by more closely tying the designation of "systemically important financial institution," or SIFI, to actual risk posed to the financial system, as opposed to current law which only measures risk by arbitrary thresholds that in no way reflect the stability of individual institutions.
In order to preserve consumer choice and financial independence, Congress must tackle regulatory reform and simplify rules. All of the bills debated in my subcommittee achieve those goals and start to break down those barriers.
As your 3rd District representative, I look forward to taking on more tough issues and making sure the topics that are important to you are considered fairly, honestly and transparently in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., shares his perspective each week on national issues, including ones that affect Missouri. He represents the state's 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 573-635-7232.