Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa this week is partnering with Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota on two pieces of legislation. One bill would give the U.S. Small Business Administration’s watch-dog agency more authority to force federal officials to assess and acknowledge the financial impact proposed regulations have on small businesses.
“Right now we just don’t see that they are being taken seriously by some of these bigger agencies,” Ernst said. “They just really are running roughshod over the Office of Advocacy.”
Ernst said the Obama Administration’s EPA ignored complaints from this SBA office about the “costly and direct impact” the Waters of the U.S. rule would have had on small businesses. Ernst and her North Dakota colleague are calling their bill the “Prove It Act”.
“We do want to make sure that we are protecting small businesses and that they do have a voice as these regulations are coming out from the larger agencies,” Ernst said.
Earlier this week, Heitkamp and Ernst introduced another proposal they hope will be included in the next Farm Bill. It seeks to correct the way price supports are calculated for commodities. The two senators want payments to reflect the price support level for the county in which the crop was grown rather than the county where the farmer’s main operation is located.
“We see that in so many areas, like down in my area we have many farmers that will farm in Montgomery County, over into Cass County, maybe in Adams County,” Ernst said, “and it’s not based just in one particular county.”
Ernst said in spite of all the attention paid to the political divides and controversy in the U.S. Senate, there are plenty of important agenda items where Republicans and Democrats “actually do function well together.”
“Normally when I am introducing a bill, I will have a Democratic cosponsor,” Ernst said. “We can formulate plans together and compare because one size may not fit all and so if I am looking just from the Iowa perspective, it may not be inclusive of other issues that are happening in other states and I think by reaching out and doing that, it is very helpful and it puts together a complete picture of whatever the issue is that we may be working on.”
In August, the president signed a bill Ernst co-sponsored with a West Virginia Democrat. That bill gives a private foundation authority to begin raising money for a new memorial on the National Mall in Washington. The “Global War on Terrorism” memorial is to honor soldiers who’ve served since 9/11.