Regulatory Watch


Government regulations and red tape can be a tremendous barrier to small business growth. Small businesses' regulatory compliance costs are 36 percent higher than large businesses, so it is no surprise that regulations consistently rank as a top concern for small business owners. 

Below are regulatory proposals that have been published in the Federal Register and are open for public comment. An agency publishes an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) with a proposed rule if it expects that the rule will have a significant economic impact on substantial number of small businesses. The IRFA provides information about the potential effects of the proposed rule on small businesses.  

Agencies' initial analyses of small business impacts are not always correct or complete, so the Committee on Small Business encourages small businesses to file comments through the government's online portal,, and tell federal agencies how the regulatory proposal will affect them.


Regulations to Watch:

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)

Regulatory Reform Agenda

The NCUA has established a Regulatory Reform Task Force (Task Force) to oversee the implementation of the agency's regulatory reform agenda. This is consistent with the spirit of the president's regulatory reform agenda and Executive Order 13777. Although the NCUA, as an independent agency, is not required to comply with Executive Order 13777, the agency chose to comply with its spirit and reviewed all of the NCUA's regulations to that end. The Task Force published and sought comment on its first report in August 2017. Having reviewed all of the comments received, the Task Force is publishing its second and final report. (PUBLISHED 12-21-2018)


PUBLISHED 12/21/2018

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Promoting Investment in the 3550-3700 MHz Band

The FCC has adopted limited changes to the rules governing Priority Access Licenses (PALs) that will be issued in the 3500-3700 MHz Band (3.5 GHz band)—including larger license areas, longer license terms, renewability, and performance requirements—as well as changes to the competitive bidding rules for the issuance of PALs and to the ability to partition and disaggregate areas within PALs. These changes are consistent with the rules that helped foster the development of 4G and LTE services in the United States, and adopting similar rules in this band will help promote additional investment in the next generation of wireless services. The Commission also adopts changes to the technical rules to facilitate transmissions over wider bandwidth channels without significant power reduction and changes to the information security requirements to better safeguard commercially sensitive information and protect critical infrastructure. These targeted changes will spur additional investment and broader deployment in the band, promote robust and efficient spectrum use, and help ensure the rapid deployment of advanced wireless technologies—including 5G—in the United States. (PUBLISHED 12-7-2018)

IRFA – Yes



Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury

Estate and Gift Taxes; Difference in the Basic Exclusion Amount

The IRS is proposing regulations that will affect donors of gifts made after 2017 and the estates of decedents dying after 2017. The proposed regulations address recent legislative changes to the basic exclusion amount used in computing Federal gift and estate taxes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The IRS has stated that these proposed regulations only apply to individuals and estates of deceased individuals, not small entities, but is accepting comment on the impact of the proposed regulations on small entities. (PUBLISHED 11-23-2018)


COMMENTS DUE 2/21/2019

Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury

Limitation on Deduction for Business Interest Expense

The IRS is proposing regulations regarding the limitation on the deduction for business interest expense after the enactment of recent tax legislation. Specifically, these regulations provide general rules and definitions. The regulations also provide rules for calculating the limitation in consolidated group, partnership, and international contexts. The regulations affect taxpayers that have deductible business interest expense, other than certain small businesses, electing real property trades or businesses, electing farming businesses, and certain utility businesses. The proposed regulation also withdraws a notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the disallowance of a deduction for certain interest paid or accrued by a corporation, and provides notice of a public hearing. The IRS does not expect the rules to have a significant economic impact on small entities. (PUBLISHED 12-28-2018)


COMMENTS DUE 2/26/2019

Food and Drug Administration (FDA), HHS

Medical Device De Novo Classification Process

The FDA is proposing to establish requirements for the medical device De Novo classification process under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The proposed requirements establish procedures and criteria related to requests for De Novo classification. These requirements are intended to ensure the most appropriate classification of devices consistent with the protection of the public health and the statutory scheme for device regulation, as well as to limit the unnecessary expenditure of FDA and industry resources that may occur if devices for which general controls or general and special controls provide a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness are subject to premarket approval. (PUBLISHED 12-7-2018)



Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Treasury (OCC); Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board); Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

Prohibitions and Restrictions on Proprietary Trading and Certain Interests in, and Relationships With, Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds

The OCC, Board, FDIC, SEC, and CFTC (individually, an Agency, and collectively, the Agencies) are inviting comment on a proposal to amend the regulations implementing the Bank Holding Company Act's (BHC Act) prohibitions and restrictions on proprietary trading and certain interests in, and relationships with, hedge funds and private equity funds in a manner consistent with the statutory amendments made pursuant to certain sections of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. The statutory amendments exclude from these restrictions certain firms that have total consolidated assets equal to $10 billion or less and total trading assets and liabilities equal to five percent or less of total consolidated assets and amend the restrictions applicable to the naming of a hedge fund or private equity fund to permit an investment adviser that is a banking entity to share a name with the fund under certain circumstances. (PUBLISHED 2-8-19)

IRFA - Yes

COMMENTS DUE 3/11/2019 (PRA COMMENTS DUE 4/9/2019)

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Request for Comment on Earnings Releases and Quarterly Reports

The SEC is requesting public comment on how it can enhance, or at a minimum maintain, the investor protection attributes of periodic disclosures while reducing administrative and other burdens on reporting companies associated with quarterly reporting. The SEC is specifically requesting public comment on the nature and timing of the disclosures that reporting companies are required to provide in their quarterly reports filed on Form 10-Q, including when the disclosure requirements overlap with disclosures these companies voluntarily provide to the public in the form of an earnings release furnished on Form 8-K. It is interested in exploring ways to promote efficiency in periodic reporting by reducing unnecessary duplication in the information that reporting companies disclose and how such changes could affect capital formation, while enhancing, or at a minimum maintaining, appropriate investor protection. The SEC is also requesting public comment on whether its rules should provide reporting companies, or certain classes of reporting companies, with flexibility as to the frequency of their periodic reporting. In addition, it is seeking comment on how the existing periodic reporting system, earnings releases, and earnings guidance, standing alone or in combination with other factors, may affect corporate decision making and strategic thinking—positively or negatively—including whether these factors foster an inefficient outlook among registrants and market participants by focusing on short-term results, sometimes referred to as “short-termism.” (PUBLISHED 12-21-2019)


COMMENTS DUE 3/21/2019

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Revisions to the Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills To Address Advances in Liquids Management

The EPA is considering whether to propose revisions to the criteria for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills (MSWLFs) to support advances in effective liquids management. EPA is seeking information relating to: Removing the prohibition on the addition of bulk liquids to MSWLFs; defining a particular class of MSWLF units (i.e., bioreactor landfill units) to operate with increased moisture content; and establishing revised MSWLF criteria to address additional technical considerations associated with liquids management, including waste stability, subsurface reactions, and other important safety and operational issues. This Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) also discusses the results of related research conducted to date, describes EPA's preliminary analysis of that research, and seeks additional scientific studies, data, and public input on issues that may inform a future proposed rule. The EPA is not reopening any existing regulations through this ANPRM. (PUBLISHED 12-26-2018)


COMMENTS DUE 3/26/2019

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Federal Reserve System (Board)

Thresholds Increase for the Major Assets Prohibition of the Depository Institution Management Interlocks Act Rules

The OCC, the Board, and the FDIC (the agencies) are inviting comment on a proposed rule that would increase the major assets prohibition thresholds for management interlocks in the agencies' rules implementing the Depository Institution Management Interlocks Act (DIMIA). The DIMIA major assets prohibition prohibits a management official of a depository organization with total assets exceeding $2.5 billion (or any affiliate of such an organization) from serving at the same time as a management official of an unaffiliated depository organization with total assets exceeding $1.5 billion (or any affiliate of such an organization). DIMIA provides that the agencies may adjust, by regulation, the major assets prohibition thresholds in order to allow for inflation or market changes. The agencies propose to raise the major assets prohibition thresholds to $10 billion to account for changes in the United States banking market since the current thresholds were established in 1996. The agencies also propose three alternative approaches for increasing the thresholds based on market changes or inflation. Increasing the major assets prohibition thresholds would relieve certain (often small) depository organizations below the adjusted thresholds from having to ask the agencies for an exemption from the major assets prohibition. (PUBLISHED 1-31-2019)

IRFA – Yes


Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 

E-Rate Program Amortization Requirement, Modernizing the E-Rate Program for Schools and Libraries

The FCC proposes to eliminate the E-Rate amortization requirement, which requires E-Rate applicants to amortize over three years upfront, non-recurring category one charges of $500,000 or more. Through this measure, the Commission seeks to further the Commission's goal of closing the digital divide by facilitating and promoting increased broadband infrastructure deployment to our nation's schools and libraries. (PUBLISHED 2-14-2019)

IRFA - Yes


Department of Energy (DOE) 

Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Direct Heating Equipment

DOE is initiating an effort to determine whether to amend the current energy conservation standards for direct heating equipment. Under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, as amended, DOE must periodically review these standards and publish either a notice of proposed rulemaking  to propose new standards for direct heating equipment or a notice of determination that the existing standards do not need to be amended. This request for information (“RFI”) solicits information from the public to help DOE determine whether amended standards for direct heating equipment would result in significant energy savings and whether such standards would be technologically feasible and economically justified. DOE welcomes written comments from the public on any subject within the scope of this document (including topics not raised in this RFI). (PUBLISHED 2-26-2019)


COMMENTS DUE 4/12/2019

International Trade Administration (ITA), Commerce (DOC)

Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Interim Procedures For Considering Requests and Comments From the Public for Textile and Apparel Safeguard Actions on Imports from Korea

Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. (PUBLISHED 2-14-2019)


Comments Due 4/15/2019

Department of Energy (DOE) 

Energy Conservation Program for Appliance Standards: Proposed Procedures for Use in New or Revised Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Consumer Products and Commercial/Industrial Equipment

The DOE is proposing to clarify that the Process Rule applies to the establishment of new or revised energy conservation standards and test procedures for both consumer products and commercial/industrial equipment. This proposed rule would make the specified rulemaking procedures binding on DOE, and it would also revise language in certain provisions to make it consistent with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), as amended, and other applicable law. It also proposes to expand early opportunities for public input on the Appliance Program's priority setting and rulemaking activities, to define a significant energy savings threshold for updating energy conservation standards, to commit to publishing final test procedures at least 180 days in advance of a standards proposal, and to delineate procedures for rulemaking under the separate direct final rule and negotiated rulemaking authorities, among other issues. (PUBLISHED 2-13-2019)


COMMENTS DUE 4/15/2019

Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers (COE), Department of Defense; and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States”

The EPA and the Army are publishing for public comment a proposed rule defining the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This proposal is the second step in a comprehensive, two-step process intended to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with the Executive Order signed on February 28, 2017, “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the `Waters of the United States' Rule.” This proposed rule is intended to increase CWA program predictability and consistency by increasing clarity as to the scope of “waters of the United States” federally regulated under the Act. This proposed definition revision is also intended to clearly implement the overall objective of the CWA to restore and maintain the quality of the nation's waters while respecting State and tribal authority over their own land and water resources. (PUBLISHED 2-14-2019)


COMMENTS DUE 4/15/2019

Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Treasury

Deduction for Foreign-Derived Intangible Income and Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income

This document contains proposed regulations that provide guidance to determine the amount of the deduction for foreign-derived intangible income and global intangible low-taxed income. This document also contains proposed regulations coordinating the deduction for foreign-derived intangible income and global low-taxed income with other provisions in the Internal Revenue Code. (PUBLISHED 3-6-2019)



Regulatory Resources:

The Regulatory Flexibility Act
Regulatory Agenda
Tips for Submitting Effective Comments