Posts tagged as:

small business

In North Carolina, lawmakers seem inclined to favor the big distributors, who as a group are major campaign donors. [NBC Charlotte]


Licensed to grill

by Walter Olson on September 12, 2013

CBS New York reports breathlessly on underground dinner parties in New York — people invite strangers into their homes! And charge them money! — and quotes an ex-official who says it should be illegal unless they get a restaurant-type license. [CBS New York (auto-plays video ad), Shackford] Radley Balko, on Twitter: “Reporter astonished that New Yorkers invite people into their homes for dinner without notifying the local politburo.” More: J.D. Tuccille.


When Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, some (I included) warned that it would lay serious regulatory burdens on small producers and distributors of food, threatening to drive many of them out of markets even when their products posed no actual material risk. Lawmakers gestured toward relief for small producers in an amendment, but apparently “gestured” is the operative word. “Now that those who will be regulated under the Act have had time to review and consider the FDA’s proposed FSMA rules, small farmers …are panicking. And with good reason.” [Baylen Linnekin, Reason, earlier; Daren Bakst, Heritage; "New federal regulations could threaten local farms," Michael Tabor and Nick Maravell, The Gazette (suburban Maryland)]


Nick Sibilla of the Institute for Justice says the re-regulation plan has some devilish details:

Portions of the current proposal could cripple entrepreneurship. For starters, food trucks that park at an expired meter could face $2,000 fines for a first-time offense. From there on, fines would escalate quickly, reaching $4,000 for the second infraction, $8,000 for the third, and $16,000 onwards. In D.C., this would be a Class 1 infraction, the same legal category as possessing explosives without a license.

Earlier here; more background, NBC Washington.

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Traditional refillable open-spouted vessels and dipping bowls will need to give way to “pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labeling in line with EU industrial standards.” [Bruno Waterfield, Daily Telegraph] In perhaps not unrelated news, a new poll finds Euroskepticism strong in the U.K. [Telegraph]:

When voters are asked the exact question Conservatives want to put to the public in the 2017 referendum, “Do you think that the UK should remain a member of the EU?”, 46 per cent opt to come out, a higher figure than in other recent polls, while just 30 per cent want to stay in.

Update: May 23 (proposal dropped).


“The FDA has issued two proposed rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act enacted in 2011.” [Brian Wolfman, Public Citizen, with details and links; The Packer] “The costs to fruit and vegetable growers for complying with the newly proposed produce safety regulation have been estimated at more than $30,000 annually for large farms and about $13,000 per year for smaller farms.” [The Grower] How much do typical US farm households make in a year, you may wonder? According to U.S. government figures (here and here, for example) a large proportion of smaller family farms make little or no profit, and are instead supported by the off-farm earnings of family members. The 2011 law does provide exemptions for some of the very smallest producers, and the FDA also contemplates delayed implementation of rules for some others.

We followed the issue of small farms/foodmakers and the cost of the new law here, here, here, here, here, here (amendments aimed at lessening some burdens on small producers), and on a predecessor bill, here, here, and here.

“The California Homemade Food Act clears the way for home cooks to make and sell a wide range of products, such as jams and jellies, without the need to invest in commercial kitchen space or comply with zoning and other regulations.” [Christian Science Monitor]


Kerri Smith came up with a new design for a maternity support pillow and decided to sell it online. Then came the unpleasant surprise: 15 states require “law tags” on pillows and each charges its own fee, ranging from $5 to $720 a year. First year cost of complying with those state laws in order to start taking orders from anywhere in the country: $4,660. And that’s before more states join the 15 that currently exact fees. [Becket Adams, The Blaze/WTAM] As for a pillow intended for the actual baby, don’t even ask.


Chicago hits a rough patch [Aaron Renn, City Journal] “Cook County is viewed negatively from a litigiousness standpoint,” a statement touched with the quaint understatement for which the insurance business is known [PC 360 on AON, NATO] And here’s a video on how small businesses can face the “Chicagoland shakedown” [via John Cochrane]


Used and vintage dealers in Adams-Morgan and other in-town Washington, D.C. neighborhoods are aghast at city regulations that would require secondhand dealers “to submit to MPD’s [the Metropolitan Police Department's] pawn unit a detailed list of goods acquired each time they make a purchase. Additionally, MPD wants the stores to hold items for 15 days for police inspection before they can be sold.” Whether or not such regulations make sense as applied to traditional pawnshops, dealers in vintage apparel, records and books say it would make their business uneconomic or drive them to the suburbs. [Prince of Petworth, DCist]

Update: Via Twitter, the D.C. government says after talking with business owners it is proposing to exempt book, record and apparel resellers from having to get a secondhand goods license; they would need only a general business license. It also says the regulations to the contrary are not new but have simply gone unenforced before now (via Alexander Cohen, Business Rights Center).

Food law roundup

by Walter Olson on May 31, 2012

  • Bloomberg’s petty tyranny: NYC plans ban on soft drink sizes bigger than 16 oz. at most eateries, though free refills and sales of multiple cups will still be legal [NBC New York]
  • Will Michigan suppress a heritage-breed pig farm? [PLF] NW bakers cautiously optimistic as state of Washington enacts Cottage Food Act [Seattle Times]
  • Hide your plates: here comes the feds’ mandatory recipe for school lunch [NH Register] School fined $15K for accidental soda [Katherine Mangu-Ward] Opt out of school lunch! [Baylen Linnekin]
  • Losing his breakfast: court tosses New Yorker’s suit claiming that promised free food spread at club fell short [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • Amid parent revolt, Massachusetts lawmakers intervene with intent to block school bake-sale ban [Springfield Republican, Boston Herald, Ronald Bailey]
  • Interview on farm and food issues with Joel Salatin [Baylen Linnekin, Reason]
  • “Nutella class action settlement far worse than being reported” [Ted Frank]
  • Under political pressure, candy bar makers phase out some consumer choices [Greg Beato] Hans Bader on dismissal of Happy Meal lawsuit [CEI, earlier]


Travails of French employers under the Code du Travail — though it’s not as if America doesn’t have plenty of firms that follow the same strategy of keeping head counts below a certain regulatory-trigger threshold. [Business Week]

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I’ve got some comments on an interesting new survey from the Kauffman Foundation/ [Cato at Liberty; & welcome Neal Boortz readers]

Related: “When Julia tried to start a small business” [Coyote]


I’m quoted by Scott Reeder on the regulatory obstacles a Bloomington, Ill. woman faces in trying to start a taxi business. [Reason]

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The Lookout News of Santa Monica, Calif. reports on obstacles to the revitalization of the Pico Boulevard commercial district:

“Businesses on Pico have been very frustrated by code compliance regulations for years,” [Pico Improvement Organization chairman Robert] Kronovet said. “You have a business that might have a sign in the wrong place or a door that isn’t right and the city fines them to the point that they don’t want to stay.

“These are small businesses. They don’t have the money to fight it.”…

Proprietor Elvira Garcia [of Caribbean restaurant Cha Cha Chicken] says business has been terrific, but that the success has been hard-won.

“We wanted to renovate our bathroom areas to make it more handicap-accessible and it took us almost three years to get all the permits,” Garcia said.

“We kept giving all the paperwork they need, but it took forever. We needed the Pico Improvement Organization to plead our case.”

California has the nation’s most active entrepreneurial corps of ADA enforcers, roaming business districts to file mass complaints against small businesses over handicap accessibility which they then settle for cash.


Annals of wage and hour law

by Walter Olson on February 15, 2012

New York’s notoriously stringent Department of Labor has fined a pizza shop owner $5,535 for not giving his employees enough polo shirts to wear — at least five for those who work five days a week, even if they work only a few hours a day. Owner Christian King

was told that an appeal would take years due to the backlog and the fine would accrue with interest….

“What happened to him is not unusual,” agreed Richard De Groot, a Syracuse consultant who advises businesses — including King’s — on human resource issues. He represents employers across much of the Eastern Seaboard and says New York is unusually demanding.
“There is so much in the way of state rules and laws,” he said, adding that he would advise some businesses, such as manufacturers, to simply look to elsewhere.

[Albany TImes-Union via Stoll]


February 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 14, 2012

  • “Brazil Sues Twitter in Bid to Ban Speed Trap and Roadblock Warnings” [ABA Journal]
  • Obama nominates Michigan trial lawyer Marietta Robinson to vacancy on Consumer Product Safety Commission, ensuring aggressively pro-regulatory majority [Bluey, Heritage]
  • “AMA reports show high cost of malpractice suits” [HCFN] “Average expense to defend against a medical liability claim in 2010 was $47,158″ [American Medical News, more] Survey of 1,200 orthopedic surgeons finds defensive medicine rife, at cost of billions, accounting for 7 percent of all hospital admissions [MedPageToday]
  • “Sue us only in Delaware” bylaws would kill off forum-shopping and what fun is that? [Bainbridge, Reuters]
  • Trial by media: Lefty “SourceWatch” posts, then deletes, docs from Madison County pesticide suit [Madison County Record]
  • Think you’ve beaten FCPA rap? Meet the obscure “Travel Act” [Mike Emmick, Reuters] Federal court expands “honest services fraud” in lobbying case [Paul Enzinna, Point of Law]
  • “On the horrors of getting approval for an ice-cream parlour in San Francisco” [NYT via Doctorow/BoingBoing]

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January 5 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 5, 2012

  • Big business vs. free markets again: light bulb makers “fuming” over GOP effort to restore consumer choice [Sullum] Large grocery chains like DC’s bag tax [Tim Carney]
  • Eeeuw! Bystander can sue train fatality victim whose body part flew through air and hit her [Chicago Tribune]
  • “Recommended Cell-Phone Ban Comes as ‘Shocking,’ ‘Heavy-Handed’ To Some” [Josh Long, V2M]
  • “Exploding churros are newspaper’s fault, Chilean court rules” [AP]
  • In New Jersey and North Carolina, GOP friends of trial bar block legal reform bills [Armstrong Williams, Washington Times]
  • Kozinski vs. ill-prepared lawyer in case of Sheriff Arpaio vs. newspaper that covered him [The Recorder; Phoenix New Times case]
  • Federal judges block cuts to in-home personal care services in California, Washington [Disability Law, San Francisco Chronicle, KQED]