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Ayotte hears from Amoskeag Beverages about burdensome federal regulations

Union Leader Correspondent

May 29. 2014 8:07PM
Sen. Kelly Ayotte speaks with Tom Bullock, president of Amoskeag Beverages about burdensome regulations on businesses. (Julie HansonUnion Leader Correspondent)

BOW — Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., heard about the challenges of over-regulation first-hand during a tour of Amoskeag Beverages Thursday afternoon.

The alcohol industry has always been highly-regulated at the state level, but recent federal regulations are making it difficult for small business to survive, said Tom Bullock, president of Amoskeag Beverages.

“It used to be you had to survive against the competition, now it’s against the federal government,” Bullock said. “That’s the hard part.”

Amoskeag Beverages was incorporated in Manchester in 1946. Bullock joined the company as a business partner around 1976. About 95 percent of the organization’s 237 employees are full-time, Bullock said. He was forced to start charging them for insurance benefits about six years ago.

The warehouse has seven or eight rooms equipped with energy-efficient lighting and electric forklifts.

Despite his cost-saving efforts some increases are out of his control. The company has seen about a 42 percent increase in health care costs over four years, Bullock said. His business is also affected by Department of Transportation regulations regarding the trucking industry, he said.

The answer for Bullock is regulating business on the local level and letting the federal government turn its attention toward issues such as defense.

Ayotte said that every business she visits is having problems with some sort of regulation.

“It’s out of control right now,” Ayotte said,

She’s co-sponsoring a bill to restore the 40-hour, rather than 30-hour work week to the health care bill.

“If you’re going to redefine the 40-hour work week the only ones who are getting hurt are the employees,” Ayotte said.

She’s also sponsoring a bill to push back hours of service regulations on long-haul truckers that hurt small trucking companies and the businesses that rely on them, Ayotte said.

Creating a better dynamic will allow businesses to put their resources toward growing jobs and putting people to work instead of doing paperwork, Ayotte said.

“The laws need to be simple so we all understand what they are and what they require,” she said.

Ayotte asked Bullock if he would pursue the same business path knowing what the climate is now. He answered that starting where he did no business could keep up with the amount of regulation currently required.

“That’s what worries me,” Ayotte said.

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