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BPAA State Policy Update - March 26, 2021

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COVID-19 Updates and Tracking 

 

COVID Liability Protections & Updates 

  • Florida sends COVID-19 liability protection bill to governor Florida businesses, governments and healthcare providers will be protected from coronavirus lawsuits if they made a good effort to follow guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 under a bill the House sent to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday. 
    • In order for a lawsuit to move ahead, a plaintiff would have to show that the defendant deliberately ignored guidelines. A plaintiff would also need a signed affidavit from a doctor stating with reasonable certainty that injury or death caused by COVID-19 was a result of the defendant’s actions. 
    • The bill “provides limited liability protection to those entities in Florida that tried day after day to do what they were told they needed to do,” said Republican Rep. Colleen Burton. “The future of Florida depends on the ability of our business and healthcare providers to stay in business.” Read more at AP news. 
       
  • Missouri businesses testify in opposition of COVID liability protection during House hearing As COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Missouri, some lawmakers are concerned that lawsuits regarding the pandemic will increase. Nearly half of the country has passed COVID liability laws, which protect businesses, churches, and schools for being held liable for COVID-19 exposure. During a House hearing Tuesday, businesses spoke in opposition of the bill, worried this will bring them more lawsuits. It was standing room only for the House Special Committee on Litigation Reform to move COVID liability forward in the state. Read more here. 
     
  • Governor Abbott hosts small business roundtable to discuss COVID-19 liability legislation AUSTIN, Texas - Governor Greg Abbott today held a roundtable discussion with employees of Bison Coolers in Fort Worth. During the roundtable, the Abbott discussed the importance of fostering a strong business climate, supporting the small business community in Texas, and the need for COVID-19 liability protections for businesses that operated safely throughout the pandemic. He was also joined by Senator Kelly Hancock and Representative Jeff Leach, who have both filed legislation on COVID-related civil liability protections. Earlier this year, Abbott named COVID-19 liability protections as an emergency item for the legislative session. These protections would ensure that businesses that took measures to comply with appropriate government guidance for mitigating the spread of the disease would not be liable if a person contracted COVID-19 on the premises of the business. Read more here.  

 

Minimum Wage 

  • Wisconsin Democrats introduce bill to eliminate “tipped” minimum wage Wisconsin restaurant workers could see an hourly wage increase under a new bill introduced by Democratic lawmakers on Monday. Tipped workers currently make $2.33 an hour. The bill would increase the amount to the state’s current minimum wage $7.25 an hour. Lawmakers said the change is all about equity. Lucille, a downtown Madison restaurant, already has a similar structure in place. Read more here.  
  • House proposal would slow voter-approved minimum wage increase Missouri lawmakers are considering a bill that would overturn a voter-approved minimum wage increase plan after only its third year in action. 
    • On Tuesday night, the Special Committee on Small Business heard House Bill 726. The bill proposes slowing the schedule for increasing the minimum wage, delaying it by several years. 
    • “Higher minimum wage jobs actually eliminate jobs that are intended for people entering the workforce with minimal work skills,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage. “We oftentimes conflate minimum wage with living wage, and in my opinion, minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage.” Read more here.  

 

Political Rundown 

  • Michigan: 2020 Senate nominee John James (R) is reportedly considering a run for governor and recently met with the RGA. Conservative radio host Tudor Dixon (R) and businessman Kevin Rinke (R) have also met with the RGA “in recent weeks, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meetings.” (The Detroit News
  • Oklahoma: Stitt Begins 2022 Cash Dash: Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) “has begun seriously fundraising for his reelection campaign. This week, Stitt was the guest of honor at” fundraisers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa “that included a veritable who's who of leading Oklahoma Republicans.”  
    • “In January, the governor registered his reelection campaign with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission,” a procedural move allowing him to fundraise. Stitt “recently transferred more than $418,000 from his previous campaign committee into his 2022 committee.” (The Oklahoman
  • Wisconsin: Sen. Ron Johnson (R) “said Tuesday he has ruled out a run for Wisconsin governor in 2022, but he remains undecided about whether to seek a third term in the Senate.” Johnson: “I have no idea who started that rumor, but if I run for anything, it’s not going to be for governor.” (AP
  • Georgia: Vernon Jones: ‘I’m Looking Closely at GA’s Race for Governor’ Former state Rep. Vernon Jones (R) stated his interest on Twitter. Jones, who served as a Democrat, switched parties in January of this year after endorsing President Trump for reelection. Jones parroted Trump’s unfounded election conspiracies in his announcement on Twitter.  
    • JONES SAYS: “If it weren’t for Brian Kemp, Donald Trump would still be President of these United States.”  
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