Gaming the Rules: How Big Business Hijacks the Small Business Review Process to Weaken Public Protections

Small businesses are heroic and iconic figures in the American story of opportunity. The vast majority of private enterprises in the U.S. today employ fewer than 100 workers, and many workers aspire to own their own business. So when small businesses argued that the federal rulemaking process should pay attention to their special needs, policymakers listened. By law, three federal agencies – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – are required to convene a small business review panel any time they plan to issue a rule that could have a significant economic impact on small businesses. To determine who was serving on these panels and whether they were, in fact, representing and protecting the interests of small businesses, staff at the Center for Effective Government examined 20 Small Business Advocacy Review panels convened between 1998 and 2012.

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The Benefits of Public Protections: Ten Rules That Save Lives and Protect the Environment

This report examines the public health, worker safety, and environmental benefits projected from ten proposed or final rules issued between 2009 and 2014 by five federal agencies (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service). These rules range from reducing toxic air pollutants from power plants and other large industrial sources, to reducing workers’ exposure to disease-causing silica, and to making vehicles safer.

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The Bridge to Prosperity: Reverse Reckless Cuts, Restore Our Infrastructure, and Revive Jobs

The United States is facing a growing infrastructure crisis and a lingering jobs crisis. Most of America’s infrastructure was built in the decades directly after World War II. Each day in America, more than 700 water mains break. Seventeen percent of water pumped by municipal pumping stations never reaches consumers’ faucets – a waste of 2.4 trillion gallons of precious water each year. Potholes on the nation’s roads cost the average family $355 in additional car repairs annually, deficient roads and bridges will cost businesses an estimated $43 billion a year in transportation delays and shipment rerouting, and too many children attend schools with leaky roofs, rattling windows, and decrepit plumbing.

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The Disappearing Corporate Tax Base: How to Reclaim Lost Tax Revenue to Rebuild State Budgets

American states and cities and the people who live in them are hurting. States and cities were ravaged by the Great Recession of 2007-2009. While the recession is officially over, its damage remains deeply felt in families and communities across America. More than 10 million Americans remain out of work, nearly half of them for more than six months. More than half a million state and local public jobs disappeared because of budget cuts and have not been refilled.

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Making the Grade: Access to Information Scorecard 2014

A building block of American democracy is the idea that as citizens, we have a right to information about how our government works and what it does in our name. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to promptly respond to public requests for information unless disclosure of the requested information would harm a protected interest. Unfortunately, since its passage in 1966 and reform in 1974, federal agencies have failed to implement the law consistently, which can make it challenging for citizens to gain access to public information as the law guarantees.

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Best Practices for Agency Freedom of Information Act Regulations

Of the 100 agencies in the federal government subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), dozens of agencies have not yet updated their FOIA regulations to reflect requirements in the OPEN Government Act of 2007. The OPEN Government Act required federal agencies to better assist people who make requests for public information under FOIA – for instance, by providing individualized tracking numbers in order to check the status of a request. Despite additional direction from President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to improve FOIA processing, six years later, most agency regulations include few of the best practices described in this report.

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The Corporate Tax Rate Debate: Lower Taxes on Corporate Profits Not Linked to Job Creation

The American corporate tax system is badly broken. Some corporations pay more than a third of their profits in federal income taxes, while other equally profitable firms pay nothing at all. On average, corporations pay just 12.6 percent of their profits in federal income taxes, according to a recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

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Platinum-Plated Pensions

In the current budget debate, the loudest calls for Social Security cuts are coming from two lobby groups led by CEOs who will never have to worry about their own retirement security.

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ALEC’s Latest Trojan Horse: The Attack on Standards and Safeguards Moves to the States

In recent years, special interests and their allies in Congress have pushed a number of dangerous proposals to "reform" the rulemaking process to undermine the standards and safeguards that guarantee clean air and water, safe workplaces, healthy food, and safe medicines. Now, these same special interests are pushing similar proposals in the states. Many of these so-called "reforms" expand or institutionalize requirements that delay and weaken important regulations and increase the already outsized influence of corporations in setting environmental, food, consumer, and worker safety policies.

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Securing the Right to a Safe and Healthy Workplace

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), passed in 1970, recognizes that workers play a critical role in ensuring their workplaces are healthy and safe. The OSH Act gives workers the right to report unsafe working conditions and the right to refuse to work under such conditions without reprisal. The concept is for workers to function as the “eyes and ears” of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and help the agency prioritize its limited resources to focus inspections on the most dangerous work sites. Workers will only report safety and health hazards in the workplace, however, if they can come forward without fear of reprisal. Thus, the law prohibits employers from taking any adverse action against employees who exercise the rights provided to them under the OSH Act.

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