Iowa Small Business Applauds Passage of COVID-19 Liability Protections

Date: June 11, 2020

Iowa Small Business Owners Are More Optimistic About Iowa’s Economic Future

Des Moines, June 11, 2020 – Today small business owners across Iowa, and NFIB’s state director, the head of Iowa’s leading small business organization, are thanking the state legislature for passing important legislation that will protect small businesses from frivolous lawsuits. The bill contains limited liability protections for small businesses that manufacture or sell personal protective equipment. It also shields small businesses from potential COVID-19 exposure inside their business if the owner takes measures to follow federal and state regulations and health directives. The bill also protects health care providers as they respond to COVID-19. Individuals who bring a suit would be required to meet minimum medical conditions such as hospitalization or death and it must be proved that the defendant acted in a way that was intended to cause harm or acted with malice.

“Today’s action by the Senate to get this bill passed is giving small business owners across the state some much needed peace of mind. A recent NFIB survey found that 70% of small business owners are worried about increased liability surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NFIB State Director in Iowa, Matt Everson. “Small business owners have a lot on their plate right now. They should be focused on how to safely re-open their businesses and keep their employees and customers safe – and not have to worry about being slapped with a frivolous lawsuit. Thankfully, the Iowa House and Senate took decisive action and small businesses can now do what they do best: create jobs and get Iowa’s economy back up and running. There’s more good news: on Tuesday, June 9, NFIB’s Optimism Index shows that small business owners are optimistic about future business conditions and expect the recession to be short-lived.”

In Pella, small business owner Lana Pol is doing everything she can to protect her employees and customers from exposure to the coronavirus by putting together best practices in all areas, yet she can’t quite put her mind at ease as she opens her doors at Mowbility Sales and Service, a lawn equipment dealer and at Geetings, Inc., a trucking and warehouse company. “Liability issues have been a huge concern since the beginning that we might be responsible if someone would get COVID-19 from being exposed at work or on the road such as our truck drivers. One of the things we cannot control is how our employees or anyone authorized to visit our facilities is handling their personal life. A person could contract COVID outside our organization and bring it in asymptomatic and expose our employees without us ever being able to detect it. This bill would be a high sigh of relief to myself and many other small business owners in Iowa. This will allow us to operate and re-open with confidence so we can get the local and state economy moving again,” said Pol.

Lana at Mowbility small.jpg

Lana Pol chats with one of her employees before the COVID-19 pandemic at Mowbility Sales and Service in Pella.

Today’s passage of liability legislation comes on the heels of Tuesdays NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, which increased 3.5 points in May to 94.4, a strong improvement from April’s 90.9 reading. Eight of the 10 Index components improved in May and two declined. The NFIB Uncertainty Index increased seven points to 82. Reports of expected business conditions in the next six months increased 5 points to a net 34%, following a 24-point increase in April. Owners are optimistic about future business conditions and expect the recession to be short-lived.

The Small Business Optimism Index increased 3.5 points in May to 94.4, a strong improvement from April’s 90.9 reading. Eight of the 10 Index components improved in May and two declined. The NFIB Uncertainty Index increased seven points to 82. Reports of expected business conditions in the next six months increased 5 points to a net 34%, following a 24-point increase in April. Owners are optimistic about future business conditions and expect the recession to be short-lived.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Earnings trends declined six points to a net negative 26%. Among owners reporting weaker profits, 46% blamed weak sales, 12% blamed usual seasonal changes, 9% cited price changes, 4% cited labor costs, and 4% cited material costs.
  • Five percent of owners reported thinking it’s a good time to expand, up two points from April.
  • The net negative percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes improved 18 points to a net negative 24% of owners.
  • A net 14% (seasonally adjusted) reported raising compensation (down 2 points) and a net 10% plan to do so in the coming months (up 3 points).

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