The House Committee on Small Business has approved legislation requiring federal agencies and regulatory commissions considering new regulations to notify small businesses if they may affect them.

The bill, passed by a 28-0 vote in the committee, will be sent to the House floor, probably in September, according to a spokesman for the committee.

"I have talked with small business owners from across the nation and they are unanimous in seeking assistance in coping with federal regulations and paperwork," said Rep. Neal Smith (D-Iowa), chairman of the committee. "I feel this bill will go a long way toward helping them with these problems."

Ironically, if the bill passed by Congress, the Small Business Administration must devise regulations to implement it, according to a spokesman at the SBA's office of advocacy.

The SBA has lists of trade associations representing small business by industry and is developing a roster of opinion leaders, "people active in specific industries" to notify of any new regulations being considered, the SBA spokesman said.

Other agencies already have instituted such policies, the SBA spokesman said. For example, the Federal Trade Commission voluntarily alerts various consumer groups about impending regulations, the spokesman said.

The legislation requires the regulators to notify small business of impending new regulations at least six months ahead of time in media other than the Federal Register. When possible, the agency may exempt small business from compliance with the new regulations or suggest a multitiered standard affecting businesses at different economic levels.

The National Federation of Independent Business, which claims membership of about 600,000 businesses, has advocated passage of legislation using the two-tier approach.