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Small Business Advocate

Maine’s Small Business Advocate serves as an independent voice for Maine small businesses within our state’s regulatory system, ensuring it functions fairly and effectively. The Advocate works directly with small businesses of  less than 50 employees that have specific grievances with one or more regulatory agency’s enforcement actions. The Advocate’s top priority is to assist small businesses to understand and comply with Maine’s many regulatory requirements.

The Advocate is not a substitute for established agency procedures or the formal appeals process, nor can the Advocate reverse legal or adjudicatory determinations.

The Regulatory Fairness Board:

Maine’s Regulatory Fairness Board is modeled on a similar board housed under the federal Small Business Administration.  Like the federal Regulatory Fairness Board, Maine’s board holds public forums across the state to hear directly from small businesses on regulatory issues. The Board is chaired by the Secretary of State and its members are from the private sector appointed by the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House.  The Board reports annually to the legislature and Governor with recommendations for regulatory and statutory changes that may enhance Maine’s business climate.  The Advocate advises and staffs the Regulatory Fairness Board.

Why is the work of the Small Business Advocate important?

The Advocate serves as an autonomous voice for Maine’s small businesses with in the State’s regulatory system.  The advocate helps small businesses with the challenges of understanding and complying with Maine’s regulatory structure.

The Advocate testifies on legislation and comments on rules affecting the interest of Maine’s small businesses.  Based on its work with small businesses, the Advocate identifies statutes and rules that present an unnecessary regulatory burden on small businesses.

As an appointee of Maine’s Secretary of State, the Advocate is outside of both the executive branch and the legislative branch and provides an objective voice for small businesses to address and change Maine’s regulatory structure.

How are small businesses served by the Small Business Advocate?

  1. A small business owner who feels aggrieved by a state agency through its regulatory enforcement action contacts the Small Business Advocate requesting assistance, offering sufficient information regarding their grievance to enable the Advocate to effectively research and address their grievance.
  2. The Advocate conducts fact-finding by researching pertinent statutes and rules and regulations, then consulting with the small business and state agency involved.
  3. The Advocate then serves as an intermediary between the small business and the agency to determine, if appropriate and if the agency has discretion, whether there is an alternative means of effective enforcement possible that would not cause a significant economic hardship to the business.
  4. When necessary, the Advocate will request that the Secretary of State issue a regulatory impact notice to the Governor outlining the fact finding and recommending an alternative means of effective enforcement that would relieve the small business of the significant economic hardship imposed.

How to file a grievance:

If you feel that your business has been aggrieved by a state agency through a regulatory enforcement action and would like to request assistance from the Small Business Advocate, please fill out the following three forms (all must be completed) and return them by mail, e-mail or fax to:

Please ensure that you return both the Privacy Act Authorization Form as well as the Office of Small Business Advocate Disclaimer.  This Office cannot begin a review of your complaint without them.

Once all of the requested documents have been received, the Advocate will review the information provided and contact your business to advise you on what assistance this Office may be able to offer.

Contact the Small Business Advocate:

Peggy Schaffer, Small Business Advocate
Office of the Secretary of State
148 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0148
Telephone: (207) 626-8410
Fax: (207) 287-8598

It is important to note that the Advocate is not a substitute for established agency procedures or the formal appeals process, nor can the Advocate reverse legal or adjudicatory determinations.