Local Small Employer Urges Legislators to Establish Checks and Balances
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which represents over 10,000 small businesses in Minnesota, announced its support for a proposal to reform the state’s Peacetime Emergency Law, an outdated statute that failed to protect small businesses during the pandemic. Main Street employers were disproportionately impacted by emergency orders, resulting in abrupt job losses, widespread sales declines, and many permanent closures. The House introduced the bill today, following actions by the Senate earlier this week.
Senate File 3512, would protect small businesses and establish a system of checks and balances in the event of a future peacetime emergency.
- For orders or rules issued after the first 10 days of a peacetime emergency, a seven-day notice is required and affected entities must be consulted in advance.
- Rules and orders under a peacetime emergency expire after 30 days unless continued by a majority in both houses of the Minnesota Legislature.
- The burden of enforcement for rules or orders cannot be shifted from government to private businesses or citizens without their consent.
Many small businesses are still reeling from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic headwinds. In NFIB’s most recent Small Business Recovery survey, nearly two thirds of small employers reported sales were still below pre-pandemic levels. Small businesses are also reporting high rates of burnout as they to keep up with the lingering effects of the pandemic, inflation, supply chain disruptions and worker shortages.
“The pandemic had an outsized impact on Main Street businesses. The effects still show in empty storefronts and many struggling with their bottom line,” said Mike Flynn, a small business owner in Southeastern Minnesota and longtime NFIB member. “We should strike a better balance for the future.”
Flynn owns a travel plaza on Interstate 90. He started the small business, which includes a gas station, deli, and restaurant, 30 years ago. Flynn says he’s never experienced a bigger challenge than the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A common concern over during the peacetime emergency was a lack of consultation with affected industries and short time for small businesses to prepare,” said NFIB State Director John Reynolds. “This framework strikes a balance by providing an initial window to react to peacetime threats while establishing a more cooperative process during the remainder of an emergency.”
According to National Conference on State Legislatures, nearly every state has seen at least one proposal to reform emergency powers since 2020. Many states have taken action to increase legislative oversight and involvement in the use of emergency powers.
The proposal does not impact existing national security emergency powers in state law, which were not invoked during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation was introduced in the Minnesota Senate by Sen. Mark Johnson (East Grand Forks) and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Peggy Scott (Andover) and Rep. Greg Davids (Preston).