Tag: regulation

Tales from the Small Business Trenches, Part 5: With a Little Help From My Friends

It’s been another one of those weeks where the job of job creation has to give way to actually doing my own job. My daughter suggested seeking out a bookkeeping and payroll company to take me through the process and handle the paperwork. She holds such a position for a large organization, and she does it so indispensably that she was still answering text messages while she was in labor – until her husband turned off her phone.  She worked for me part time when she was in college, and she knows I need help.

A neighbor has provided payroll service for small businesses in the past and still has a few clients. However, last time we chatted, she said it was getting to be such a headache she’s cutting back and focusing on running a new business – without employees. Anyway, paying a consultant to create and manage one job just doesn’t pencil out.

A Facebook friend also provided helpful advice. She is another one of those capable women who run offices. The list of federal withholding forms and new hire reporting requirements didn’t phase her a bit, and she confidently said she could help. I’d already made one mistake about being an employer – the purpose of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) forms. I said last week in Tales:

“Apparently I may have to serve as a collection agent if I hire someone who is delinquent in child support payments.”

My young friend corrected me:

“It isn’t even delinquent. They can be perfectly current and you still would have to serve as collection agent. I currently process anywhere from 80-100 employees with child support just in WA state . . . you also could have to deal with OTHER state orders coming in.

You also would have to serve as collection agent for the courts if the person has court-ordered Writ of Garnishment. I also process many of these every week. Not nearly as many as child support, but plenty of them.

I hadn’t even thought of those items that you would have to do once someone is hired – mainly because it is second nature to me after almost 9 years of doing payroll/HR.

Don’t forget about the laws relating to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace; discrimination; small employers may not be subject to Equal Opportunity Employment (not sure on this one) but even if not, you still could run into issues if someone thinks you slighted them for the job because of their race/nationality/heritage.”

Clearly creating a job is a tough do-it-yourself project, and networking with family, friends and neighbors for advice will be critical. Meanwhile I have deadlines for paying clients.  Job creating will have to take a back seat until next week.


For previous stories in the series, see the links below:

Part 1:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/09/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-in-the-beginning-the-owner-created-jobs/

Part 2:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/09/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-2-there-is-a-purgatory-for-job-creators/

Part 3:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/10/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-3-working-conditions/

Part 4:  http://www.nwdailymarker.com/2011/10/tales-from-the-small-business-trenches-part-4-into-the-mountains/


[photo credit: hojusaram]

Cantwell Acts to Derail Development in Alaska, Threatens Future Jobs

Last week, Washington State junior U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell joined in the Obama administration’s curious war on American jobs. The newest target in Cantwell’s sights is a large proposed project in a sparsely populated corner of Southwest Alaska called the Pebble Mine, an undertaking to unearth rare natural resources that could provide thousands of well-paid jobs and millions in tax revenue to an area that is currently impoverished.

Even before the project has applied for permits, while plans for the Pebble Mine are being worked on and costly studies conducted, Cantwell has already requested the Environmental Protection Administration invoke subsection 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. Subsection 404(c) denies the disposal of dredge spoils or fill onto any land potentially draining into the nearby Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers. Though Cantwell purports to have made the request to protect fisheries downstream in Bristol Bay, it seems obvious that her demand is a transparent attempt to halt an industry essential to modern life but now deemed too “dirty” for the sensibilities of today’s environmental activists.

Cantwell’s request amounts to one more example of a lawmaker using the Clean Water Act to impose economic paralysis on any development judged environmentally undesirable, a capricious use of federal power. Because the federal government’s authority has expanded to cover virtually every gallon of running or standing water in America, there is almost no development that cannot be aborted over hypothetical concerns about possible water pollution. The type of stalling action employed here by Cantwell also makes a mockery of the entire environmental review process because it seeks to halt the project before the developers can even present their case.

The real irony is that the Pebble Mine is being designed by its developers to be a showcase of environmentally responsible mining methods, plus the area has rich deposits of copper, gold and other minerals that would make the mine a job creator for decades. To this date, the Pebble Partnership have demonstrated their willingness to respond to the concerns of environmentalists. They acknowledge that it is to their obvious benefit to be the most careful stewards of the environment surrounding the mining operations.

The Pebble Partnership has already invested more than $120 million on environmental and socioeconomic studies associated with the Pebble Mine proposal, research that would be open to the scrutiny of the EPA, the Congress, environmental activists, and the public, if it were not for Cantwell’s move to preempt. They anticipate spending several times that amount by the time the 70 required state and federal permits have been obtained for the project.

This country needs to have a serious conversation over whether the excessive regulatory burdens imposed by the EPA are killing jobs and unduly harming industry. But if Senator Cantwell is successful, it would appear that the conversation is whether industry itself is still allowed in America.


[photo credit: JRockefellerIV]

Tales From the Small Business Trenches, Part 2: There is a Purgatory for Job Creators

Last week’s article ended with a question emailed to the Office of Regulatory Assistance. An efficient staff member replied the same day. I asked, “How do I know if our business is already licensed to be an employer and I need to re-file my Business License?” Her answer suggested that I read the ORA guidance on the subject. Of course, it was the ORA guidance that prompted me to ask the question. Sigh . . .

I called the woman at ORA and left a voice mail clarifying my question. She cheerfully called back within two hours and said that if our business was licensed to be an employer, then we would have been filing reports with the Department of Labor & Industries for the past year even though we have no employees. We haven’t been reporting to L&I, so that clears up the question. Re-file it is.

Back to the State of Washington Business Licensing Service web page and halfway through I hit the next roadblock – I can’t complete the Business License process unless we plan to hire within 90 days. Our timeline to hire is early next spring. New business license goes back on the To Do list and on to the first link on the ORA checklist – the Employment Security Department Workforce Explorer website, which offers a link to another website for writing a job description. Shouldn’t be too hard to write a description for a hired hand – someone willing to put his/her hand to any chore that comes up at the ranch. Do I really need another website?

An article in the Capital Press tells me maybe I do. A Yakima area rancher has been sued twice on behalf of three sheepherders who came from South America to work. The rancher won the first suit at the Washington Supreme Court, and now is facing another suit. Lawyers for the sheepherders claim they were asked to perform ranch hand duties outside their job description, like fixing fences, maintaining machinery and general ranch chores. Fixing fences, maintaining machinery and pitching in with chores comes with the territory when taking care of livestock. Writing a defendable job description looks like a necessity.

On to the ESD website. Unfortunately, the ESD job description builder breaks a job down into discrete parts and doesn’t lend itself to the non-specialized and unpredictable environment of family farming and ranching. An hour later, I had a properly filled out form that didn’t really describe what we’re looking for. Another link offered an option to search by job title. A search for “hired hand” turned up a formal description that wasn’t far off, and included a range of wage rates. Another link offered an opportunity to explore wages in more detail by region in the state, but I gave it up after about six clicks. Too Much Information.

I untangled myself from the web and took a deep breath. Creating a job is going to involve not only figuring out the applicable regulations but sorting through a lot of clutter. Clearly I can’t try and squeeze this into bits of time available in between other duties as a small business owner and community volunteer.  Next week I’ll set aside a half day and tackle the job of creating a job as a part-time job in its own right.


[photo credit: Daniel Davies]

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