This week, Chrissy Buteas, NJBIA’s Chief Government Affairs Officer, updated the Assembly Business Caucus on the need for a safe and predictable opening for the business community.
Buteas, along with NJBIA’s Government Affairs team, stressed the need to have clear metrics for business to follow, as well as guidance the state needs to meet to safely reopen the economy following the COVID-9 response.
Buteas further added that the unemployment of the civilian workforce is at 29% and the economic impact of this pandemic can’t be ignored, while also stating the need for liability or a “safe harbor” protection program for the small business community.
“Legislation on the federal or state level should encourage good faith compliance with CDC guidance, OSHA requirements, and state mandates should provide a safe harbor from lawsuits on businesses who substantially comply with the guidance and mandates,” Buteas said.
Buteas also requested the Business Caucus be mindful of the impact of any additional mandates that may be placed on the business community, such as changing workers compensation benefits.
Currently there is proposed legislation (S-2380/A-3999) which states any employee working at an “essential business” who develops COVID-19 is presumed to have caught the virus on the job and, thus, deemed eligible for all workers’ compensation benefits.
The shift in presumption is a change from current statute. NJBIA has opposed this legislation, which is now passed out of the Senate.
Small business owners, Buteas said, are also very concerned about the mandatory increase in the minimum wage set to increase by $1 in January, 2021. NJBIA has long supported an “economic offramp” in the event of a catastrophic event, such as COVID-19.
“NJBIA believes the Legislature needs to fully understand what the impact of a mandatory wage increase will have on the small business community and the many businesses that have been forced to close and are still not permitted to reopen at this point in time,” Buteas said.
NJBIA will continue to work with the Assembly Business Caucus as the Legislature continues to hold committee meeting and voting sessions throughout the month of June.
Anyone with questions about these topics can contact Chrissy Buteas at firstname.lastname@example.org.