House Committee Approves COVID-19 Liability Protections (HB 7)

Date: February 03, 2021

On Wednesday, NFIB State Executive Director Bill Herrle submitted a letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Pandemics & Public Emergencies in support of House Bill 7, a measure that would provide much-needed COVID-19 liability protections for small businesses and other organizations.

The committee passed the bill by a vote of 11-6. The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

In his letter to Pandemics & Emergencies Chairman Thomas J. “Tom” Leek, Herrle said small businesses throughout the state are struggling to remain open and provide jobs during the pandemic. 

“The NFIB Research Center measures one in four small business owners will no longer be in business in six months if conditions do not improve,” Herrle said. “Providing small business owners with COVID liability protection that will help improve small business owners confidence to keep their doors open. Without it, small business owners must weigh the additional risk of facing a ruinous lawsuit in addition to all the other business risks and challenges out there today.”

Herrle also cited a study released last month by Florida TaxWatch which said failure to pass COVID-19 liability protections would have a $16.1 billion impact on the state’s gross domestic product and lead to a loss of over 200,000 jobs statewide. 

“HB 7 is critical to restoring small business confidence and will help restore consumers confidence to return to normal commerce knowing that the plaintiffs’ bar will be appropriately focused on grossly negligent actors,” Herrle said.

Read the letter in full:

“On behalf of the 10,000 small business owners of the National Federation of Independent Business, I encourage the Committee’s favorable support for HB 7 relating to COVID Liability Protection. 

“Since the beginning days of this pandemic, small business owners have strived to stay open, when allowed, provide the goods and services consumers need, and provide jobs for Floridians all while making their best efforts to follow public health guidelines.

“They have been asked to make innumerable decisions adapting their business operations in the name of public health.  They need to know that the state has their back when they make these operational adaptations.  HB 7 provides this assurance.

“The NFIB Research Center measures one in four small business owners will no longer be in business in six months if conditions do not improve.  Providing small business owners with COVID liability protection that will help improve small business owners confidence to keep their doors open.  Without it, small business owners must weigh the additional risk of facing a ruinous lawsuit in addition to all the other business risks and challenges out there today. 

“The Florida TaxWatch study released in January highlights the economic need for COVID liability reform. The study states that the absence of COVID liability protection would have a negative $16.1 billion dollar impact on Florida’s GDP, and an attendant loss of 208,000 jobs.   

“Small business owners confidence to keep their doors open hinges on their personal assessment of the risks.  This legislature has the ability to boost small business owners confidence with HB 7.  This is as much an economic development bill as it is a tort bill.

“HB 7 is critical to restoring small business confidence and will help restore consumers’ confidence to return to normal commerce knowing that the plaintiffs’ bar will be appropriately focused on grossly negligent actors.

“We encourage you to support HB 7.”

 

Related Content: Small Business News | Florida

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