Business

Small business advocates focus on liability protections to aid pandemic recovery

Posted January 13, 2021 3:20 p.m. EST
Updated January 13, 2021 3:38 p.m. EST

FILE - In this Jan. 4, 2021, file photo, a person walks through an entrance to the Farm Boy Drive-In restaurant during a protest rally near Olympia, Wash. The restaurant has been facing fines and penalties for continuing to offer inside dining despite current restrictions on the practice in Washington state due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Helping small businesses recover from the pandemic will be a top priority when the legislative session begins on Wednesday, the state director of the National Federation of Independent Business said.

"Our members are doing their best to follow safety protocols and keep the lights on, but one in four small businesses surveyed last month by the NFIB Research Center warned they could go out of business within the next six months unless economic conditions improve soon," director Gregg Thompson said.

The NFIB is urging the General Assembly to broaden liability protections, which would protect more businesses from COVID-related lawsuits. Right now, essential businesses and "emergency response entities," like those who manufacture PPE, are protected from lawsuits by a state provision. The NFIB is advocating for all businesses to be included in that provision.

"We can’t allow overzealous trial lawyers to file frivolous claims against small businesses when they’re at their most vulnerable," Thompson said.

NFIB leaders say liability protection is one of several issues they’re following closely. Others include how additional state sales tax revenues will be allocated for small business relief, any introduced insurance mandates and efforts to increase the statewide minimum wage and require all employers to provide paid time off or sick leave.

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