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Hoeven co-sponsors debt bill

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced Wednesday that he is co-sponsoring bills that would eliminate a new reporting requirement for small businesses and add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require each year's fiscal budget to be balanced.

The first bill, advanced by Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., would eliminate a reporting requirement included in the year-old health care reform package that mandates every business, charity and local and state government entity submit 1099 forms for business transactions totaling $600 or more in a year.

The requirement adds routine business expenses like phone, office products and shipping costs, according to Hoeven, while increasing businesses' reporting requirements by as much as 2,000 percent.

Under the health care reform law, the 1099 form also would be used to track spending for services and goods.

In a written statement, Hoeven said the country's 17 million small businesses "are the engine that drives our economy" and have created 64 percent of all new jobs in the U.S. over the past 15 years.

"If we expect small businesses to create jobs and get our economy moving again, we need to reduce their regulatory burden rather than bury them under a new mandate, and make sure they have a tax and regulatory climate that promotes hiring," he wrote.

Hoeven also announced his co-sponsorship of a balanced budget amendment bill that, if passed, would require each year's fiscal budget to be balanced beginning in four years unless two-thirds of the House and Senate approve deficit spending.

The bill also wouldn't allow federal spending to exceed 20 percent of the previous year's Gross Domestic Product or taxes to be raised without the consent of two-third of the House and Senate.

In addition, the president would be required to submit a balanced budget to Congress -- a requirement that would be waived in times of war or military conflict.

"Every family working to stay on budget understands the logic of this amendment -- you can't spend and borrow more than you take in," Hoeven said in a written statement.

Hoeven and 18 other Republican senators are sponsoring the balanced budget bill.

This report was compiled by the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.