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Donovan Launches Effort To Help Small Businesses Navigate Vt. Laws, Regulations

Taylor Dobbs
Ted Hobson, right, is the head of the Consumer Assistance Program. Attorney General TJ Donovan, left, has directed Hobson and his staff to roll out new resources for small businesses to help them navigate Vermont's legal and regulatory systems.

Attorney General TJ Donovan announced Monday that he plans to use his office’s Consumer Assistance Program to work with small businesses in Vermont to make it easier for small companies to navigate the legal and regulatory systems.

Donovan said it will be good for both customers and businesses if companies have a solid understanding of Vermont’s laws and regulations.

“The best way to enforce the law in Vermont is to give people the opportunity to comply with it,” Donovan said.

The new efforts will be based on three principles: “Keep listening” to business owners and business organizations in meetings all over the state; translate complicated legal jargon into plain English to make Vermont’s laws and regulations easier to understand without the help of a lawyer; and add new resources online to make it easier for businesses to find answers to questions they have about doing business in Vermont.

"The best way to enforce the law in Vermont is to give people the opportunity to comply with it." — Attorney General TJ Donovan

Donovan’s pledge to “keep listening” came after the Attorney General and his staff met with 42 businesses and trade associations during his first 60 days in office, Donovan said.

Lindsay DesLauriers, the Vermont director of the business advocacy group Main Street Alliance, commended the announcement. She said resources to help businesses follow regulations are in high demand.

“Everything from, you know, getting your employment set up to preparing for inspections to going through the permitting process – these things are a challenge for anyone, but they’re a real challenge for small business owners who don’t have legal counsel all the time, in many cases really don’t have access to legal counsel,” DesLauriers said.

Donovan said the new initiative won’t lessen the Consumer Assistance Program’s focus.

“I think it strengthens the mission [of the Consumer Assistance Program],” Donovan said at a news conference Monday. “We want a culture of compliance, and when businesses don’t feel that they have somebody they can call … they don’t have the resource to understand what the law is. By creating this culture of compliance to comply with the rules and regs that oftentimes were put in place to protect consumers, this strengthens consumer protection.”

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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