Obenshain: Small businesses must have regulation protection
WINCHESTER — Small businesses are the backbone of Virginia’s economy and need protection from destructive policies, says state Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg.
He spoke on Friday at the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber’s public policy breakfast in the Hilton Garden Inn.
Obenshain is the Republican candidate for attorney general in the Nov. 5 election, facing state Sen. Mark Herring, D-Leesburg.
He noted that many of the two dozen-plus people in the audience were involved in small businesses.
“You know that small business fuels Virginia’s economy,” he said. “Forty-eight percent of the workforce in Virginia works in small businesses. We are 13th in the country in small business start-ups, which is good, but not good enough.”
While Virginia was recently listed as the fifth most business-friendly state by business news channel CNBC, it is important to not become complacent, and focusing on fundamentals is crucial, Obenshain said.
“Regulations are, of course, across the country the No. 1 job- killer,” he said.
In the last four years, Obenshain said, 1,400 new regulations have been adopted in Virginia. “That’s a staggering number.”
While many of those regulations are well-founded, some impose hardships, he said. “I have long believed that it’s critical for us to take a good hard look at the economic impact on businesses in Virginia on the adoption of regulations.”
Obenshain said he worked on a statute that called for the economic impact on small businesses to be studied before a proposed regulation is adopted.
“One of the less exciting, shall I say, responsibilities of the attorney general’s office is to engage in regulatory review,” he said. “It’s really one of the more important functions of the attorney general’s office.”
Business trends look promising, the candidate said. In the Northern Virginia area — which includes Winchester — about 16 small business startups take place per 10,000 people.
Obenshain said 500,000 Virginians are self-employed, and 150,000 own small businesses.
Small businesses have led the state’s recovery from the recession, he said. Businesses with four and fewer employees are adding the most new hires, Obenshain said.
“I really truly believe that we need to make sure that government does not stand in the way of continuing that recovery and continuing economic growth,” he said.
Another way to promote and protect economic development is to keep Virginia a right-to-work state, Obenshain said.
Public safety is also crucial to continue business growth, he added.
“You know and I know that businesses aren’t going to want to locate in, or expand in, or aren’t going to be able to recruit employees if we can’t perform the most basic and fundamental of government functions, if we can’t ensure that our citizens are safe. We really need to promote awareness of the growing challenges in connection with human trafficking. It’s the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, and it’s happening here in Virginia right under our noses.”
Obenshain also touched on energy issues, and the impact of environmental regulations on coal workers.
Jay Marts, chairman of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, said off-shore oil drilling and fracking are potential energy sources for the state.
Obenshain said that while the Obama administration has indicated a willingness to allow off-shore drilling, it would prohibit states from receiving royalties.
“It makes no sense,” he said. “It’s talking out of both sides of your mouth.”
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