Assemblymen Promise to Fight for Small Business COVID-19 Relief
As part of Small Business Day, NFIB members here in New Jersey engaged on several issues that would be devastating to small business owners across the state: the need for the state to use federal aid to replenish the $1 billion loss the state’s Unemployment Fund (UI) has taken since the pandemic hit, passing important liability protection for responsible small business owners, providing struggling small business owners with important grants to help them recover from the pandemic, and getting New Jersey’s economy back open.
“I know I am not speaking just for myself when I say that the past 13 months have been among the most challenging I have faced in the 33 years that I have been at the helm of my business. Many of the Executive Orders coming from the Governor have made the cure worse than the disease. Many of our political leaders and the media continue to lump all business together as though we are all multi-national corporations. Fortunately, NFIB provides us a way to collectively voice our opinion regarding legislation that is often detrimental to not just our businesses, but to the millions of people we collectively employ,” said small business owner and NFIB member Joe Olivo. Olivo is the owners of a second-generation small business, Perfect Communications in Moorestown.
“Our 2021 Small Business Day was a wonderful opportunity for our small business owners to engage with their legislators,” said Eileen Kean, NFIB State Director in New Jersey. “They need to hear from real people that are being affected by what they do in Trenton. There are a few simple things they can do that would make an immediate and positive impact on not only New Jersey small business owners, but New Jersey’s economy. The way back from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is to make sure our small business owners thrive.”
“There is no better way to move the state forward than to help small business owners. The state should support those hard-working entrepreneurs to dedicate at least $300 to the state’s programs that aid small business owners. I support that legislation and will fight in the legislature to make that happen,” said Assemblyman Brian Bergen. Bergen is a small business owner himself. Seven years ago he started Bergen Botanicals, an indoor landscape company.
“On the issue of immunity, even though I am a plaintiff lawyer I support protecting small business owners who take reasonable precautions. You shouldn’t be help responsible. In my office I have put up shields for all my paralegals and secretaries but it’s not enough. How do you defend yourself from a frivolous lawsuit? I am doing everything I can to help small businesses thrive in New Jersey,” said Minority Leader Jon Brammick.
Here is the list of small business issues NFIB is pushing lawmakers to take action on:
Grants for small businesses
- Governor Murphy’s proposed State Fiscal Year 2022 Budget includes a 100-million-dollar appropriation to provide grants to small businesses.
- Previous New Jersey Economic Authority (NJEDA) programs to assist businesses have been immediately oversubscribed, cutting many small businesses out of the process.
- NFIB is urging the legislature to dedicate at least 300 million to the fund as part of the Budget they send to the Governor.
COVID- liability reform
- Legislation providing immunity to businesses against claims stemming from exposure to COVID-19 at business establishment premises needs to be enacted.
- Immunity would be based on good faith reasonable compliance with or exceeding applicable health and safety measures to prevent or mitigate a person’s exposure.
- Immunity would not apply to willful misconduct, reckless or intentional infliction of harm.
- The fear of a lawsuit is the last thing a small business owner needs while trying to financially stay afloat.
- NFIB is urging legislators to pass COVID-19 liability protections to protect small businesses from frivolous lawsuits. You can take action on this issue here.
Refill Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund
- New Jersey employers are facing over a billion-dollar unemployment insurance payroll tax increase.
- New Jersey’s federal pandemic windfall must be earmarked to offset unemployment taxes that rise automatically when UI funds are depleted.
- The state’s economy will be energized promoting job growth as a result of avoiding costly tax increases for businesses trying to rehire and maintain employees.
- Funding UI will alleviate the financial burdens businesses are already facing and help them get back on their feet.
- NFIB is asking legislators to earmark federal funds to refill the UI trust fund and prevent a tax increase. You can take action on this issue here.
New Jersey COVID-19 response
- Since March 9, 2020 Governor Murphy has issued over 100 Executive Orders (EO) shutting down the state’s economy while interrupting and even destroying small businesses.
- Currently there is not a timeline to establish normalcy. There is not a plan to further open indoor dining, restore pre-COVID-19 capacities, allow non-essential workplaces to return employees to the office, or bring state employees back to work.
- Schools throughout the state have never reopened in 2022 requiring parents to serve as teachers.
- Government actions have done little to restore consumer confidence to encourage retail shopping and other pre-COVID business experiences.