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America Outdoors E-Bulletin
April 26, 2006


 
Contents:
Tapping into the Small Business Administration Resources for Advocacy and Regulatory Relief Save Up to 20% on QuickBooks® and Other Intuit Products
Unit Management Plan for the Hudson Gorge May Challenge Water Releases and Use Levels Drug Testing of Prospective Employees By AllBusiness.com
Dam Removal Proposed for Upper Klamath River Basin Forest Service Not Following Law for Many User Fee Sites

Tapping into the Small Business Administration Resources for Advocacy and Regulatory Relief
 

Little known to most small businesses are two arms of the Small Business Administration established with legislative authority to assist small businesses with regulatory relief. The Office of Advocacy deals with rules, regulations and plans that are being proposed by federal agencies that impact small business. Their authority to modify the impact of these rules is granted under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Ten Regional offices are located throughout the country. http://www.sba.gov/advo/region.html The Ombudsman's Office assists with heavy-handed regulation, such as audits and penalties for violation of agency regulations, which may include BLM, Forest Service or National Park Service outfitter and guide regulations.

The Office of Advocacy weighs in at the national level on rules as they are developed. Their office has developed model regulatory flexibility legislation for adoption by various states. Since the release of Advocacy's model legislation report, many states have taken steps to strengthen regulatory flexibility for small business. As of December 2005, 33 state legislatures have considered regulatory flexibility legislation, 15 regulatory flexibility bills have been signed into law, and four Executive Orders implementing regulatory flexibility have been signed by Governors.

The SBA's Ombudsman's office helps small business with the implementation of regulations, including excessive penalties. The Ombudsman's office assists small businesses with unfair and excessive federal regulatory enforcement, such as repetitive audits or investigations, excessive fines, penalties, retaliation or other unfair regulatory enforcement action by a federal agency. The National Ombudsman receives complaints and comments from small business concerns and acts as a "trouble shooter" between them and federal agencies. Small business comments are forwarded to federal agencies for a high level review and federal agencies are requested to consider the fairness of their action.

Some examples of the Ombudsman's office work include reduction or elimination of excessive penalties and unrealistic fees being charged by federal agencies.

  • The IRS refunded $1,200 IRS to Mid-America Hearing Center in Mt. Vernon, Missouri after reconsidering their fine because the small business had changed from accrual to cash accounting.
  • The IRS reviewed and gave an abatement of penalties against Suburban Water Testing Labs in Temple, Pennsylvania. In addition, the IRS corrected a systemic problem involving incorrect notices being sent to the taxpayer.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reopened conciliation discussions with Caltag in Burlingame, California.
  • The IRS reviewed and waived a penalty for Print Wizard in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

To file a complaint go to http://www.sba.gov/ombudsman/comments/commentform1.html

  • Complete, date, and submit the Federal Agency Comment Form.
  • If your comment is about the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you must also complete IRS Tax Information Authorization Form 8821.
  • Provide documentation to substantiate your comment, such as correspondence, enforcement letters, citations, phone logs, or other proof of the federal agency's action.
  • Substantiation may be faxed to (202) 481-5719, e-mailed to Ombudsman@sba.gov or mailed to Office of the National Ombudsman, U. S. Small Business Administration, 409 3rd Street, SW , Washington , DC 20416

Save Up to 20% On Quickbooks®
and Other Intuit Products
 

America Outdoors is an authorized affiliate for QuickBooks and other Intuit Products. America Outdoors members can save on QuickBooks® software (up to 20%) through our partnership. QuickBooks: Pro Edition 2006 is the leading choice of small businesses for fast and easy financial management. QuickBooks: Premier Edition 2006 gives you comprehensive financial management and planning tools to help take your business to the next level. Visit the America Outdoors Member Benefits page for details.

Unit Management Plan for the Hudson Gorge May Challenge Water Releases and Use Levels
 

The New York Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is developing a unit management plan for the Hudson Gorge Primitive Area, which also must comply with guidelines for the Adirondack Park master plan. All of the "Potentially Significant Adverse Impacts" except one are related to whitewater rafting and kayaking and the water releases from Lake Abanakee provided by the town of Indian Lake. Indian Lake is a small community near the Gorge that receives economic benefits from the 19,000 boaters who run the Gorge annually. DEC appears to be favoring a run-of-river type operation of the dam. The Gorge is largely inaccessible except by raft and kayak and the fishery is not natural, but established through stocking of non-native rainbows and brown trout. A run-of-river dam operation would virtually eliminate reliable commercial rafting on the Hudson.

The DEC in cooperation with the US Geological Survey is conducting a study this year on the impacts of water releases. The study does not include any study of the impacts of the introduction of non-native species on the native fish population.

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks and Trout Unlimited are pushing for changes to the operation of the dam. The Association website promotes wilderness management for the Gorge and also lists as concerns the number of users on the river and the presence of outfitters. An excerpt from the Association website includes the following:

"The Department of Environmental Conservation's Environmental Conservation Law provides further perspective on the situation. Chapter II, part 190.8 states 'the use of State forest preserve land or any improvements thereon for private revenue or commercial purposes is prohibited.' (see http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/regs/part190a.html#190.8.)

"The guidelines for Management and Use for Primitive Areas in the State Land Master Plan, states, 'The primary primitive management guideline will be to achieve and maintain in each designated primitive area a condition as close to wilderness as possible, so as to perpetuate a natural plant and animal community where man's influence is relatively unapparent.''' (27)

Drug Testing of Prospective Employees By AllBusiness.com

The ADA makes it illegal for any employer to test a prospective employee without first making a conditional offer of employment. The ADA also says you can´t discriminate against prospective employees on the basis of past drug-related problems. Then again, you may refuse to hire people if you have reason to believe they will return to substance abuse or endanger the safety and health of your workers. If you aren´t sure how to proceed with an applicant who has a history of drug abuse, consult an attorney. The ADA doesn´t prohibit asking a person with a history of substance abuse to enroll in a rehabilitation program before joining your firm.

The job itself. If a job has the potential to place the employee, coworkers or the public in danger, there may be stronger legal justification to test for drugs. Evidence of a drug problem. Some states require you to show probable cause to suspect employees are impaired before testing them for drugs. Whether the worker is already on staff. Once applicants are hired, your rights to test them for drug use may diminish. Some states require visible evidence of substance abuse such as an accident, a visible decline in work quality or the discovery of illicit drugs in the workplace before you have the legal right to test a current employee. Testing current employees at random or without prior notice is also illegal in many states.

*AllBusiness.com provides resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage, finance and expand their business. The site contains Forms & Agreements, Business Guides, Business Directories, thousands of Articles, Expert Advice, and Business Blogs. Material copyrighted by AllBusiness.com.

Dam Removal Proposed for Upper Klamath River Basin
 

Klamath Basin tribes and other groups are seeking removal of the dams on the Upper Klamath River Basin. Outfitters are caught in the middle because project operations provide flows for whitewater rafting on the Upper Klamath and dam removal would wipe out the opportunity because most of the natural flow river water is used for irrigation. Two federal agencies have supported the addition of $200 million fish ladders and turbine screens that would be so costly they might make the projects marginally profitable. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries recommended that fish ladders and turbine screens be installed at four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River below the Oregon-California line. They want the additions to be required as part of PacifiCorp's re-licensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is pending. But the agencies have no binding authority and only FERC can require the additions.

Forest Service Not Following Law
for Many User Fee Sites
 

In response to questions raised by Senator Larry Craig at a Congressional hearing last fall, Under Secretary of Mark Rey conceded in a recent follow-up letter that the Forest Service was not in compliance with the law (Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act) at most fee sites. The law requires that sites have a minimum of six amenities to qualify for collection of a Standard Amenity Fee. Of 1,339 sites that are located within agency-designated "High Impact Recreation Areas," 981 are Standard Amenity Fee sites. Forest Service documents revealed that 739 Standard Amenity Fee sites, or 75% of the total, do not have all of the amenities the law requires. It is uncertain whether the agency will cease collection of fees at these sites or try to bring them up to the standards to qualify for collection. On another matter, the Forest Service is planning to close many backcountry campgrounds due to lack of funds or lack of use. Some have pump wells that do not meet EPA standards for filtration systems.

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America Outdoors Staff Title E-mail address
David L. Brown Executive Director dbrown@americaoutdoors.org
Robin Brown Communications Director robin@americaoutdoors.org
Leah Koski Administrative Assistant office@americaoutdoors.org
Office Phone   865-558-3595
Office Fax   865-558-3598

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