A Thousand Paper Cuts

Oregon businesses face death by a thousand paper cuts. When taken independently, individual government regulations might seem fairly innocuous. But when layered with the cumulative regulatory burdens they face, businesses find themselves buried alive by paperwork and fees.

Two cases in point:

At the state level, dairy facilities are regulated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Confined Animal Feeding Operation program, which inspects every operation annually. Since 2009, the Department of Environmental Quality also inspects the containment ponds on dairies, duplicating the ODA’s inspection and adding additional fees.

A second example is the new Internal Revenue Service reporting requirement included in the health care reform law passed earlier this year. The IRS now requires every business to issue a 1099 form to every service provider to whom it pays more than $600 per tax year. This will cover virtually all business transactions and increase burdensome paperwork, pulling resources and time away from core business functions.

All levels of government must identify and remove duplicative and unnecessary regulatory impediments, so that businesses once again can do what they are meant to do, instead of wrestling with a stack of paperwork that does nothing but burden their bottom line. There isn’t a silver bullet to improve the business climate in Oregon, but lessening the bureaucratic stranglehold on businesses would improve their outlook significantly.

Karla Kay Edwards is Rural Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute. She has held positions of leadership in numerous organizations focusing on agricultural and rural industries and issues, including the Fresno (California) Farm Bureau, Washington Cattlemen’s Association and the Oregon Department of Agriculture.