Small business owners excited for more freedom under Trump

Trump's minimum wage target
Trump's minimum wage target

With President-elect Donald Trump in the process of transitioning from Trump Tower to the Oval Office, industries across the country are wondering how his promises to ease regulation might impact their futures.

One thing is for sure: for many on Main Street, the notion of deregulation is welcome. Nonpartisan advocacy groups say a Trump presidency may spark new, important discussions about how regulations impact the country's smallest businesses.

"We have the opportunity in the next year to really address how the government looks at all types of regulations, and clearing the underbrush," says Todd McCracken, president and CEO of the National Small Business Association. "There's not a lot of prescriptive detail in Trump's platforms … a group like ours can help him fill in the blanks."

From labor rules to Obamacare, here's what small business advocates say they'd like to see addressed by the new administration to ease regulatory burden for small companies.

Health Care Reform

Trump has promised to repeal and replace President Obama's sweeping health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said acting on the law quickly would be a priority, but did not specify what would stay or go, outside of two popular provisions he said he will keep.

One provision prohibits insurers from denying individuals coverage based on preexisting conditions, while the other allows young people to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26.

One concern for small companies is the employer mandate, which requires employers with 50 or more workers to offer coverage or face penalties of up to $2,000 per worker per year. Some companies chafe at the law's myriad reporting requirements. Premium increases are also hitting some employers hard, according to advocates.

"Obamacare is causing a lot of pain amongst our business owners," says Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. "Costs were supposed to go down, not up. A surge in costs and lack of competition in the marketplace needs to be addressed, as does the complexity of the law. The employer mandate — not only costs of insurance, but complying with the new system — should be a priority."

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Labor Regulations

Another pain point for small companies is the Department of Labor's new overtime regulations, which kick in on December 1. The rules double the salary threshold for those working more than 40 hours a week from $23,660 to $47,476 annually, making eligible an additional four million workers.

The move is a part of the Obama Administration's push for better worker protections in the face of a stagnant federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

"It will impact small businesses in low-cost areas of the country," Kerrigan says. "It's something we'd like to see fixed. It will be disruptive to many of our members and unfortunately many of their employees as well."

A decision from a federal judge in Texas on potentially delaying this rule ahead of its implementation is expected in the next week.

We think it's impossible to set a federal minimum wage.
Karen Kerrigan
President and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council

The Minimum Wage

While campaigning, Trump went back and forth on his stance on the federal minimum wage before settling on $10 an hour, up from today's $7.25, where it has stood since 2009. With Republicans maintaining control of both chambers of Congress, small business advocates say it's unlikely Trump will make raising the wage a priority, as his predecessor did.

"I think it's very unlikely this Congress would increase minimum wages beyond where they are federally," McCracken says. "The debate really has moved, and will continue to move to states. It's become highly-localized."

There's no denying the momentum nationally has continued to favor higher wages. 29 states and Washington, D.C., have wages in place that are higher than the federal minimum, and four additional states— Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington — voted in wages at and above $12 an hour, which will be implemented by 2020.

Kerrigan maintains the fight should be a local one.

"We think it's impossible to set a federal minimum wage, given the difference in cost in areas of the labor market, and the difference of labor markets across the country," she says. "It's a concern, but we hope President-elect Trump won't move forward in that regard."