Where to look for help with state/local laws, regulations

With state and local governments frequently adding laws, ordinances and regulations, small business owners likely will find it hard or impossible to keep track of all the requirements they must meet in the course of running their companies.

Whether they’re employers, doing construction or are involved in highly regulated work like running a restaurant, owners should consider getting help from consultants or professionals like lawyers or accountants, especially since they may also have to comply with federal statutes or rules.

Getting advice and guidance will head off problems, even lawsuits, down the road, says Scott Scheel, president of The Commercial Academy, a commercial and retail real estate owner and manager. He notes that companies that violate zoning ordinances or other building codes can be forced to rip apart or demolish the work they’ve done.

“Be sure what you’re looking to do is permitted,” Scheel says.

Some places where owners can get help:

Labour LAWS

Human resources consultants or providers and employment law attorneys are resources for owners who want to be sure they are in compliance with all labour laws, ordinances and regulations. Owners whose companies are in highly regulated industries — for example, manufacturing facilities that must comply with many Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules — should consider a consultant or attorney with expertise in that area.


HR consultants and payroll companies can help businesses with the calculation and reporting requirements for paid sick and family leave time in states and localities where these benefits are mandated by law. They can also help with reporting requirements for the Affordable Care Act.


Owners should consider hiring consultants or project managers who can oversee work and be sure that local zoning and building ordinances are complied with. State and local planning boards and building departments can also be a resource, Scheel says.

Local officials can also guide companies about compliance with laws and ordinances that aim to protect the environment. These can be an issue during construction projects.


Local health departments are resources for finding out the requirements for handling and storing food, and how kitchens are to be built. When it comes to choosing stoves and refrigerators, Scheel also recommends kitchen supply companies. They should know how local rules apply to their equipment.


Local building and consumer affairs offices can be resources about occupancy rates, hours of operation, noise levels and other issues that can arise when people assemble in a public space.


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Joyce M. Rosenberg, The Associated Press