WASHINGTON – A “timeout” on new federal regulations would help rev up the economy and create more jobs, Sen. Susan Collins said today.

The Maine Republican, who delivered the national Republican address given each Saturday as a counterpoint to President Obama’s weekly address, said legislation she has authored granting a one-year moratorium on new federal rules would halt the imposition of “crushing new regulations” that are hurting the economy.

In President Obama’s weekly address, he focused on education reform, and his announcement Friday that he would grant states waivers from the No Child Left Behind education law’s academic achievement requirements. Local educators had complained that the achievement requirements were unrealistic. Maine is one of the states seeking a waiver.

Obama said that, “While the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable, experience has taught us that the law has some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them.  Teachers are being forced to teach to a test, while subjects like history and science are being squeezed out.  And in order to avoid having their schools labeled as failures, some states lowered their standards in a race to the bottom.”

While the problems have been “obvious to parents and educators” for years, for too long “Congress has failed to fix them,” Obama said. “So now, I will. Our kids only get one shot at a decent education.  It’s time for us to let states, schools and teachers come up with innovative ways to give our children the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future.”

In her address, Collins said that the nation’s economic future at least partially depends on lessening the impact of federal regulations on businesses.

“No business owner I know questions the legitimate role of limited government in protecting our health and safety,” Collins said.  “Too often, however, our small businesses are buried under a mountain of paperwork.”

Collins charged that, “Business owners are reluctant to create jobs today if they’re going to need to pay more tomorrow to comply with onerous new regulations.  That’s why employers say that uncertainty generated by Washington is a big wet blanket on our economy.”

Collins and a number of other lawmakers, mostly Republicans but also some Democrats, have proposed an array of regulatory overhaul bills this year.

In addition to her regulatory “timeout” proposal, Collins has introduced, along with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a bill delaying federal new federal regulations limiting emissions from industrial boilers.

The bill gives the Environmental Protection Agency 15 months to re-examine the issue of boiler emission regulations and come up with final rules and also extends compliance deadlines for businesses that use boilers to five years from the current three years.

The boiler emissions legislation by Collins and Wyden – other co-sponsors are GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas – is similar to a bill also pending in the House, and backers there include Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has proposed a regulatory reform bill of her own that would require federal agencies to do a better job periodically assessing whether federal regulations’ impact on small businesses are needlessly burdensome and costly and take 1 percent of an agency’s budget for salaries if it doesn’t review a regulation at least once a decade.

The Obama administration has launched its own push to streamline duplicative or burdensome federal regulations, but has expressed concern that some of the pending legislation goes too far in stripping needed regulations, and would spur more court battles and inject more uncertainty into the regulatory process.

Critics of Collins’ measure and other regulatory overhaul proposals say regulatory reform proponents are offering a false argument, and that regulations offer more benefits to public health and safety and to the overall economy than they cost businesses to implement. They also charge that regulatory reform proponents vastly overstate the cost on businesses of adhering to regulations.

Critics such as the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards say that it was a lack of federal regulatory oversight that led to the collapse of the financial markets and the mortgage foreclosure crisis in 2008, as well as other recent environmental and safety disasters such as the BP Oil spill.

“Sen. Collins claims she is trying to help the economy and create jobs – but since when does creating more pollution create more jobs? Her legislation stops the EPA from cleaning up air pollution that causes tens of thousands of premature deaths and countless illnesses that will result in higher medical bills and lost productivity. That hurts consumers, businesses and the American economy overall,” charged Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a coalition member.

A number of environmental groups also have been critical of an Obama administration move earlier this month to halt the development of new regulations limiting ozone levels.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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