Members heard from, talked directly to, top legislative leaders
NFIB Utah members joining this year’s virtual Small Business Day on February 17 were treated to a comprehensive briefing on legislative issues and initiatives affecting their right to own, operate, and grow their businesses.
Senators Kirk Cullimore, the majority assistant whip, and Lincoln Fillmore, a small-business owner, and Rep. Joel Ferry, chairman of the House Business and Labor Committee, gave NFIB members the very latest information on measures of vital importance.
The hour-and-a-half event started off with briefings from NFIB Utah’s lobbying team of State Director Candace Daly, Abby Evans, and Stuart Call, and later a Congressional update from Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB’s vice president of federal government relations, was provided. In between, members heard from the top three lawmakers and asked questions of them.
- Sen. Lincoln Fillmore led things off, discussing his new store-front small business and one lesson worth always keeping in mind: “If you treat your customers right and treat your employees right, if you get those two things right, almost everything else tends to go right.” The senator also expressed a shared concern of all small business owners about the perverse incentives of making unemployment more lucrative than having a job. When asked what he was working on this session, he said it was his Senate Bill 95, which would remove the double taxation on some services.
- Sen. Kirk Cullimore followed Fillmore and said one of his legislative priorities is to get some state financial help in the hands of small businesses hardest by the pandemic. He is aiming at enterprises that have suffered a 90% loss of revenue from quarter to quarter. He also said overall tax cuts are a possibility given the healthy condition of state revenues. Cullimore was thanked for leading the way in a first-in-the-nation law providing liability protection for small-business owners against unfair COVID lawsuits. “The reality is … nobody’s regularly sued when somebody catches the flu. They don’t try to trace it back to ‘oh, I caught the flu at my gym’ or ‘I caught the flu at the movie theater’ or wherever. But with COVID this heightened awareness of it and contact tracing that was going on … it posed a real problem for businesses and none of them were sure how to re-open and the CDC was changing its recommendations week to week at that time … I thought let’s nip this in the bud and just preclude any claim for contracting COVID except in instances of willful conduct or gross negligence. That really provided a way for everybody to open up without having to be scared that they were going to get sued.”
- Rep. Joel Ferry, chairman of the House Business and Labor Committee, said he considered keeping regulations low and making Utah the best place to do business the major thrust of his committee’s work. It’s not “to pick winners and losers but create a level playing field for everybody.” A small-business owner himself, Ferry also shares NFIB members’ concerns over finding qualified labor and the needlessness of raising the minimum wage when job-creators can’t even hire at $12 to $14 an hour. Ferry also discussed the housing shortage, parental leave, and transportation issues.
Kevin Kuhlman talked about the minimum wage from a Congressional perspective and he also warned small-business owners to prepare for the new reporting requirements contained in the National Defense Authorization Act, which incorporated elements of the Corporate Transparency Act. “This legislation would burden small businesses with 12.2 million new initial paperwork hours at a cost of $531 million, something small business employers simply cannot afford as they deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Kuhlman said in a news release. NFIB helped stop the Corporate Transparency Act when it was a stand-alone bill, but proponents tucked it into the defense bill, making it difficult for lawmakers to vote against it.
In their report from the State Capitol, Daly, Evans, and Call mentioned a bill by State Rep. Ashlee Matthews that would raise the minimum-wage rate but in a way that accommodated geography and business size. They also discussed what a bill called the Regulatory Sandbox Amendment sought to do.
Click the arrow below to hear the entire, highly informative Small Business Day of 2021.
One of the bigger benefits of membership in NFIB is the opportunity to hear directly from top elected officials and to discuss with them how policies are affecting your right to own, operate and grow your business. Keep an eye on your email for more to come. And check in occasionally with the NFIB Utah webpage for the latest small-business information.