Small Business Protection Act Can Help Keep Georgia #1 for Business for Decades to Come

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tony West, the State Director for Americans for Prosperity- Georgia. You can learn more about AFP by visiting

Last year, the Georgia legislature took a heartwarming and popular vote: it officially legalized the neighborhood kids’ summer lemonade stand. Believe it or not, before the legislature acted, those lemonade stands were illegal in Georgia. Legally, those lemonade stands needed to be licensed, permitted, and taxed and it meant that our kids were selling black market lemonade! But the General
Assembly wisely understood that kids’ lemonade stands don’t need to be heavily regulated, as they
don’t present a threat to public health, safety, or a significant revenue loss to states or localities.

Revisiting the legal landscape for lemonade stands created a better environment for children to explore
entrepreneurship, spend time outside, and build community with their friends. Lawmakers in Atlanta
should build on this good idea—and not just for children on summer break.

Businesses in every industry in Georgia operate under a web of laws, rules, and regulations. While the General Assembly passes the laws, the rules and regulations come from state agencies, who write and
enforce these regulations without close oversight from the state legislature. Some of these rules and regulations concern worker safety and public health—a sure net benefit to all involved. However, many are outdated, unnecessary, or needlessly expensive—and without a clear benefit to either businesses or
consumers. By channeling what the legislature did for lemonade stands through a regulatory review process, lawmakers could make Georgia friendlier to business and more attractive to investors.

Fortunately, Senate Bill 429, the Small Business Protection Act of 2024, does just that. Senator Greg Dolezal sponsored this trailblazing legislation, which just cleared the Georgia Senate. Now that we’ve hit “crossover day” and the two chambers have swapped legislation, the House should waste no time in
taking up this bill and sending it to Governor Kemp for his signature.

A bit more on how it works: the Small Business Protection Act, will require agencies to consider the financial and non-financial impacts of proposed regulations, and give thought to how many businesses and individuals would be affected by new regulations. This more thoughtful process will help to ensure only well-considered regulations advance to implementation.

Additionally, the legislature will have greater oversight capabilities to ensure rules and regulations make sense for Georgians. Because agencies write rules without oversight from the legislature, lawmakers will
often find out about problematic regulations only after rules go into effect. This puts them in the unenviable situation of mediating a dispute between their constituents and a state agency. By giving the General Assembly the ability to consider rules before they are adopted, lawmakers can stop or fix bad
regulations before they go into effect.

Aside from avoiding new and possibly unnecessary regulatory burdens, if the bill becomes law, there will be a new 7-year, rolling regulatory review process. Every seven years, each regulation that an agency
has on the books will come up for reevaluation. Whether a regulation is doing what it’s meant to, whether it’s worth the cost and whether there’s a better way, will determine whether a regulation should be on the books, or if it should be sunset. Again, the legislature essentially followed this process
with the Lemonade Stand Act. The Small Business Protection Act ensures that all regulations on the books are up for review and that the Georgia regulatory code reflects the needs and capabilities of the 21st Century workforce.

By implementing a law similar to the Small Business Protection Act, Florida was able to cut the annual rate of growth in their regulatory code from 2,500 new rules before the passage of their sunset legislation to just about 1,200 new rules promulgated for the 2022 calendar year. After passing that bill,
the regulations that were implemented were clearer, simpler, and more focused. This right-sizing of regulatory restrictions has coincided with tremendous economic growth, population growth, and prosperity for the Sunshine State.

Making Georgia’s regulatory climate friendlier and more straightforward will help maintain the Peach State’s competitive edge. It also helps build confidence between the government and the businesses it
regulates, while reducing costs for businesses and consumers. With a more thoughtful and considered regulatory regime, Georgians can expect to see more people come to Georgia to set up shop—and not just for lemonade stands. Every sector of the economy will benefit from this review process, which will
make it that much easier to put up a shingle and call Georgia home.

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