By MARY CLARKIN
Special to The Hays Daily News
U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman, an Independent from Olathe, rolled out a plan for small businesses Friday as he brought his campaign to the Hutchinson vicinity.
He called for:
* Fixes to Dodd-Frank, financial legislation that is spurring smaller banks and credit unions to merge because of the cost of regulations. Dodd-Frank was opposed by Orman's opponent, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Orman said Dodd-Frank contained "some necessary reforms" after the financial crisis of 2008, but he wants "to relax some restrictions."
* Streamlining and evaluating federal agencies and programs serving small businesses. "There is no single website where a business owner can go and review all of the programs available," the plan stated.
* Compelling small business regulators to work together. "To accomplish this we should offer incentives for a state to begin a trial program that integrates state and federal regulators so that they can regulate businesses together, similar to the way state regulators work with the FDIC to regulate banks," the plan said.
* Reviewing every federal regulation at least once a decade, eliminating those no longer needed. To critics who say there are too many regulations to review, Orman countered: Why do we expect business to comply with them? "We need to be less inclined to pass a regulation and forget about them," he said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Roberts also had business announcements Friday. The National Federation of Independent Business endorsed Roberts, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is expected to make a similar announcement Monday in Topeka.
Orman, 45, is a multimillionaire business owner and investor who views the job of senator as also an economic development role.
"I learn something new with every trip I take," Orman said of his campaign travels.
The biggest impediment to economic development in western Kansas is the lack of housing, he said.
"I called three housing developers I know," he said, and told them about needs in the Garden City and Dodge City area. All three of them were in contact with Garden City economic development representatives, he said.
Around Manhattan, Orman said, there is a need for venture capital, to boost opportunities for young entrepreneurs who want to stay or return.
Orman favors a simplified tax code. He noted while Congress cracked down on earmark spending, tax credits represent an even bigger cost. "We hide things in the tax code," he said. "We need transparency."
Through time, he thinks the production tax credit for wind energy should be replaced by a grant process in the overall budget. "Migrate to where the spending is done directly," he said, rather than indirectly. Devising wind energy storage capacity is the "holy grail" for the wind industry, said Orman, whose background includes work in the electric utility sector.
During his stop in downtown Hutchinson, Orman talked with Memory Lane Antiques owner Roberta Avery.
"I own my own building, and that helps," she told him.
She has seen some recent growth in sales and said her customers include antiques dealers from California.
Old political campaign buttons were among Avery's merchandise. The past candidates were Republicans or Democrats.
Running as an independent is "very liberating," Orman said.
He said more than 700 people have signed up to volunteer.