Senators Lankford, Hassan, Inhofe, Rubio Introduce Small Business ‘Mulligan’ Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) today announced the introduction of their Harmless Error Lesser Penalty (HELP) for Small Businesses Act (S. 2757). This simple, straight-forward, bipartisan good government bill would waive fines for first-time paperwork violations by small businesses, excluding fines for violations that endanger the public health or safety, criminal activity, IRS enforcement, and issues that could cause harm to the public interest. 

“The goal of our bill is to give small businesses in Oklahoma and around the nation forgiveness for mistakes that are truly just small, innocuous paperwork violations,” said Lankford. “Trying to deal with government bureaucratic paperwork and red tape is one of the most prolific complaints I’ve heard over the years from Oklahoma small businesses. Additionally, it is sometimes impossible to know whether or not a small business has sufficiently and correctly filled out the paperwork to be in compliance. One small, harmless paperwork error should garner a one-time grace opportunity so we do not drive away otherwise rule-following small businesses that have difficulty wading through the vast quagmire of federal paperwork. I am grateful for Senator Hassan’s bipartisan support of this bill as we continue to work together to reduce excessive federal regulations on Americans and their small businesses.”

“Small businesses play such a vital role in the Granite State economy and our country as a whole,” said Hassan. “This bipartisan bill will help ensure that if a small business owner works in good faith and makes a first-time small error, they would not have to worry about it threatening their bottom line.”

“As a small business owner, I know firsthand how endless paperwork and burdensome regulations can stifle innovation and growth of businesses across the country,” said Inhofe. “One outrageous example—small businesses can be fined hundreds or thousands of dollars for an innocuous paperwork error. That shouldn’t be the cost of doing business. That’s why the legislation I am cosponsoring today would provide relevant agencies with the ability to waive federal fines imposed when a small business has not previously violated a similar paperwork error. It’s just common sense. Let’s keep cutting red tape and allow hard-working Oklahomans to do their jobs.” 

“America’s small businesses are often balancing competing priorities and are usually not experts in compliance,” Rubio said. “Small businesses that are making a good faith effort to comply with federal regulations should not be subject to fines for first-time paperwork violations. I am proud to work with my colleagues on this bill and to incorporate this language into my plan to reauthorize the Small Business Act.”

Lankford serves as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management.