1998 Scorecard Vote
Oversight for numerous environmental programs depends on reliable reporting and record-keeping information, as required by law. These requirements would be undermined by H.R. 3310, the Small Business Paperwork Reduction Act Amendments of 1998, sponsored by Rep. David McIntosh (R-IN). The bill would waive civil penalties for first-time violations of reporting and record-keeping requirements, regardless of the importance of the missing or incorrect information or the magnitude of the violation itself.
Among the programs affected are those that track hazardous materials, report on hazardous emissions, report on drinking water contamination, and require meat packers to prevent bacterial contamination.
Supporters claim the bill would reduce unnecessary paperwork and protect small businesses that make innocent mistakes. Currently, however, agencies already have the discretion to waive fines for first-time violators who claim to make good-faith efforts to comply. By effectively mandating the waiving of fines on willful first-time violators, H.R. 3310 could create an incentive for businesses to break the law while conferring a competitive disadvantage on businesses that comply with the law.
Recent laws--including the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, amendments to the Paperwork Reduction Act, and the Regulatory Flexibility Act--reduce the paperwork required of small businesses. While conservationists support the elimination of unnecessary paperwork, they believe existing environmental and public health protections should not be jeopardized.
On March 26, 1998, the House passed H.R. 3310 by a vote of 267 - 140. NO is the pro-environment vote.