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Joni Ernst’s bill looks to regulate federal regulators in defense of ‘job creators’


Joni Ernst campaigning with Sen. Rand Paul in Iowa City -- photo by Adam Burke
Joni Ernst campaigning with Sen. Rand Paul in Iowa City — photo by Adam Burke

The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee has approved a bill written by Sen. Joni Ernst that would help protect small businesses impacted by federal rules. The rule was drafted in response to the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that was certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year. In it, the EPA said that small businesses would not be significantly impacted by the WOTUS decision.

“Today’s committee passage of the Prove It Act is an important step to help our small businesses who are stymied under the weight of burdensome federal rules and regulations,” said Senator Ernst on May 11.

Last November, she wrote an opinion piece about WOTUS last year that said, “this rule is not about clean water. The heart of this issue is about how much authority the federal government and unelected Washington bureaucrats should have to regulate what is done on private land. For example, the WOTUS rule would give EPA extensive power to regulate water on 97 percent of the land in my home state of Iowa.”

Ernst does not talk about the increasingly poor quality of Iowa waters. About half the state’s waterways are seriously impaired, according to a 2014 report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) which reported 725 polluted water bodies in the state to the EPA that year. The last time the IDNR reported, in 2012, 630 lakes, rivers and streams were found to be polluted.

In the city of Des Moines, the city’s water treatment facility, Des Moines Water Works, is suing three surrounding counties, Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun County, over the high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers.

Ernst’s bill would authorize the Small Business Administration (SBA) to request the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review any federal agency certification that a proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on small businesses.

“It [the Prove It Act] brings us a step closer to preventing harmful rules like the expanded definition of WOTUS, while also incentivizing better rule making to free up our job creators,” she said, “I encourage my Senate colleges to support this commonsense proposal that streamlines our regulatory system and helps our small businesses focus on growing their business and creating jobs, rather than worrying about costly regulations.”

In 2014, at a Senate primary debate, Ernst said the Clean Water Act, enacted in 1972, was one of the most damaging laws for businesses.

In February, Ernst invited EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to Iowa to see the potential impact of overregulation in Iowa. McCarthy has not taken Ernst’s invitation.

Ernst’s bill, S. 2846, passed out of committee last week and now heads to the Senate for a vote.


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