South Carolina Senate Fails to Advance Tort Reform Measure

South Carolina Capitol

The South Carolina Senate did not pass a measure aimed at stemming lawsuit abuse, likely killing the push for the legislative session.

Senate Bill 533, the South Carolina Justice Act, would have amended the South Carolina Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act and moved the state toward a model in which a defendant is financially liable based on their percentage of fault. Proponents say this would reduce excessive damage awards in civil cases.

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Ohio Business Optimism Rises, Concerns Remain Real

Business Owner

Ohio businesses were more optimistic in December but still well below normal, citing inflation as their biggest concern, according to a new survey from the National Federation of Independent Business.

The most recent study showed the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.3 points in December to 91.9 but is still well below the 50-year average of 98. It’s the 24th consecutive month the index failed to meet the long-term benchmark.

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Groups Oppose ‘High Hazard’ Hiring Requirements at Ohio Oil Refineries

Opposition surrounds a proposal in the Ohio House that would increase hiring requirements at oil refineries in the state, including a mandate that employees demonstrate fluency in English.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and Americans for Prosperity-Ohio (AFP-Ohio) turn their arguments against House Bill 205 – dubbed the “High Hazard Training Certification Act” – to the Senate after it passed the lower chamber earlier this week. It has not been assigned to a committee in the Senate.

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Bipartisan Pennsylvania Bill Would Allow ‘Personal Option’ Through Association Health Plans

A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania state lawmakers are championing legislation enabling small-business association healthcare plans to offer workers affordable coverage. 

Such plans facilitate lower costs by allowing business and industry organizations to pool their members and negotiate insurance prices. The measure’s author, Representative Valerie Gaydos (R-Moon Township), was among numerous sponsors who told The Pennsylvania Daily Star they experienced firsthand how governmental burdens have made it harder for companies to provide their members with inexpensive medical coverage. Gaydos said this is particularly true since the Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, heavily restricted association plans. 

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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine Backs State Issue 1 to Raise the Threshold to Amend the State Constitution

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said that he intends to vote for Ohio State Issue 1 aimed at altering the process of how initiative petitions can propose constitutional amendments at the statewide special election in August.

Issue 1, if approved by voters, would mandate a 60 percent approval percentage for any future constitutional amendments, call for signatures from all 88 counties, and do away with the opportunity to “cure” petitions by collecting additional signatures if necessary.

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Ohio Republicans Launch Campaign to Shed Light on Importance of Protecting State Constitution Through Issue 1

A group of Republicans have launched a campaign in support of State Issue 1 the proposal aimed at altering the process of how initiative petitions can propose constitutional amendments.

The campaign group called Protect Our Constitution is co-chaired by State Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and State Representative Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) and is backed by three major business groups in the state including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Restaurant Association, and the National Federation of Independent Business.

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Governor DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Husted Announce Ohio Administrative Code Regulatory Reform

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted have unveiled a new strategy to streamline the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) by focusing on redundant clauses, out-of-date portions, and pointless mandates.

The strategy, which DeWine is launching with the aid of the Ohio Common Sense Initiative (CSI), makes recommendations for the removal of portions of the OAC using modern AI technologies that it identifies as unnecessary.

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Ohio Self-Serve Betting Machines to Be First in Nation

Beginning on January 1st, 2023, sports betting will be legal in Ohio. Betting will be legal to take place through smartphone applications, at casinos, racinos, sports stadiums, and other retail sportsbook facilities. However, Ohio will also be the first state in the nation to offer over 1,000 self-service betting machines in bars, restaurants, grocery, and convenience stores around the state.

Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 29, which legalized sports betting in Ohio, authorizing the move and giving oversight to the Casino Control Commission.

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Ohio Legislative Committee Approves Universal License Recognition Bill

Advocates for occupational licensing reform successfully urged an Ohio House panel on Tuesday to unanimously pass a Senate bill to recognize professional certifications awarded by other states.

Eighteen states, varied in their politics and geography, already recognize out-of-state licenses for most professions, including neighboring Pennsylvania. These universal-recognition laws all require the licensee to have current permission to work in his or her state and have no pending professional disciplinary matters or disqualifying criminal records. Licensees remain subject to any fees or testing required by their adopted states. 

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Ohio’s Buckeye Institute Takes Stand Against Vandalism by Unions

The Columbus-based Buckeye Institute submitted a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of cement manufacturer Glacier Northwest’s argument that workers’ unions cannot claim vandalism their members commit during labor disputes is “protected activity.”

Last December, the Supreme Court of the state of Washington, in which Glacier is based, ruled that employers could not invoke state law to sue labor organizations over some acts of vandalism committed during strikes which the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects. 

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Virginia Small Businesses Request Tax Relief, Lower Regulations

With Virginia’s 2022 legislative session underway, a small business association is asking lawmakers to consider tax relief, lower regulation and other policies to help the commonwealth’s business community.

The National Federation of Independent Business announced its Small Business Recovery Plan, which includes four legislation principles they hope lawmakers consider during the session. The NFIB plan includes lower taxes, repealing some regulations, financial assistance and unemployment insurance reform, which the group believes will help businesses that are still struggling from their pandemic-era losses, a labor shortage and skyrocketing inflation rates.

“Virginia’s small businesses have had a rough couple of years, starting with the pandemic and continuing with the labor shortage and disruptions to the supply chain,” NFIB State Director Julia Hammond said in a statement. “Our ‘Small Business Recovery Plan’ is a set of legislative principles that outlines the issues of greatest concern to Virginia’s small businesses. Legislators should keep these principles in mind while crafting bills during this year’s session of the General Assembly.”

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Supreme Court’s Conservative Justices Seem Skeptical of Biden Admin’s Workplace COVID Vaccine Rules

The Supreme Court on Friday hearing oral arguments on two major Biden administration efforts to increase the country’s vaccination rate against COVID-19 — starting with the mandate requiring large-scale employers to require workers to be vaccinated or tested.

In the first case, the National Federation of Independent Business, et al., Applicants v. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, et al.

OSHA is more specifically requiring businesses with 100 or more workers either require them to be vaccinated or et tested weekly and wear masks while working, with exceptions for those who work outdoors.

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Trucking and Retail Associations Sue Biden Administration over Vaccine Mandates

Multiple trucking and retail groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the Biden Administration, seeking to block implementation of the federal vaccine mandate, as reported by Breitbart.

The lawsuit, filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, is led by multiple organizations, including “the National Retail Federation, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the American Trucking Associations.” The suit specifically targets the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the primary federal agency that has been tasked by Biden to carry out the many sweeping vaccine mandates.

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Ohio Supreme Court Accepts Appeal of DeWine Move to Cut Off $300 Unemployment Bonus Early

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to take up the appeal of Governor Michael DeWine’s decision to cut off the $300 bonus unemployment checks funded by the federal government.

The court announced it will take up the case from the 10 District Court of Appeals but has yet to schedule a hearing date or indicate if the appeal warrants oral arguments.

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Think Tank Offers Policy Changes for Ohio’s Emerging Technologies

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed technology to the forefront in the lives of Ohioans, and a policy group has released a list of more than two dozen recommendations it believes the state should enact to make it a leader in the area.

The Buckeye Institute, a Columbus-based think tank, developed the policy list that ranges from data sharing to reducing government red tape. All, it said, would develop economic benefits and improve the quality of life of Ohioans.

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Fully-Vaccinated Virginians No Longer Need Masks in Most Settings

Fully-vaccinated Virginians no longer need to wear masks in most places, including indoors. On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam updated his mask mandate, effective Saturday, to align with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance released Thursday.

“Virginians have been working hard, and we are seeing the results in our strong vaccine numbers and dramatically lowered case counts,” Northam said in his announcement.

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Virginia’s Minimum Wage Increases to $9.25 an Hour May 1

Virginia’s minimum wage is going up to $9.25 an hour on May 1. The change is the result of 2020 legislation, part of several pro-worker changes initiated by the Democrat-controlled General Assembly in 2020 and 2021. Advocates say the change will boost the economy by enabling more people to pay rent and spend money in Virginia businesses. But opponents say the increase violates free-market principles and will harm employers who have to increase their hourly compensation while dealing with a COVID-19 economy.

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Northam Administration Moves to Tax PPP Loan Recipients

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s administration has recommended to the General Assembly that the state not conform its tax code to specific provisions included in the recently-signed federal emergency relief bill that gives businesses who received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans a significant tax benefit.

Under the provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), signed into law by President Donald Trump in late December, businesses in the Commonwealth that got forgivable PPP loans would not be taxed on that income and could deduct their business expenses covered by the federal payment.

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Issue of Paid Sick Leave Returning to Virginia General Assembly in 2021

The debate over whether or not businesses should be required to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave will again be taken up by the Virginia General Assembly when it convenes for its regular session on January 13th.

After multiple bills calling for paid sick leave were killed by a Senate committee during this past summer’s special session, those same lawmakers are once again intending to offer legislation on the issue.

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Tennessee Amusement Tax Punishes Small Business, NFIB Says

If you own a small gym in Tennessee then state officials force you to pay what is called an amusement tax, and that’s especially bad for the state’s overall physical health, according to a business expert. Large gym owners don’t have to pay this tax. Small business owners must pass the higher costs of doing business down to their customers. The tax amounts to about 10 percent, said Jim Brown, Tennessee director of the National Federation of Independent Business. Tennessee officials used the amusement tax to take about $16 million out of the economy and put it in state coffers last year, Brown told The Tennessee Star. The Volunteer State, Brown went on to say, is not among the healthiest of the 50 states. Tennessee, for instance, ranks as the nation’s sixth most unhealthy state, according to a 2017 Tennessean article. And this tax discourages people from getting in shape. That’s why Brown said he and other grassroots groups plan to push hard to do away with the tax this new legislative session. “We can talk a lot about health care reform, but we don’t talk enough about health reform. This is excellent tax reform that is health reform,” Brown…

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National Federation of Independent Business Endorses Marsha Blackburn for Senate

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) on Thursday endorsed U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) for the Senate, the latest of many notable endorsements she has received leading up to the Nov. 6 election. “Congressman Blackburn has been a dedicated supporter of Tennessee small businesses throughout her time in the United States House of Representatives,” said NFIB’s Tennessee State Director Jim Brown. “She has a true understanding of the issues that matter to our members, and we are confident that she will continue to support efforts to roll back onerous regulations and protect small business tax cuts. On behalf of small businesses in Tennessee, we are proud to endorse Congressman Marsha Blackburn for election to the U.S. Senate.” NFIB’s Political Director Sharon Sussin said, “Congressman Blackburn’s voting record speaks volumes of her support of small businesses in Tennessee and across the country. We are glad to endorse her today and we know that she will be a staunch supporter of small business issues in the U.S. Senate.” Speaking about the endorsement, Blackburn said, “National Federation of Independent Business is a strong voice for small businesses nationwide, committed to advocating for the best interests of business owners. Small business owners deserve…

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National Federation of Independent Business Endorses Mark Green

Mark Green

The National Federation of Independent Business has this week endorsed Mark Green for Tennessee’s Seventh Congressional District. Republican Marsha Blackburn currently occupies that seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is right now running for the U.S. Senate. In a statement, NFIB Tennessee State Director Jim Brown said Green is “an exceptional supporter of small businesses in Tennessee.” “Over the years, he has proven himself to be a steady advocate for small business in the Senate Commerce Committee. He is a recipient of the prestigious NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award and holds a 100 percent voting record on the issues that matter to small businesses in our state,” Brown said. “As a former small business owner, he has a deep understanding of the challenges that our members face daily. On behalf of our members in Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District, we are proud to endorse him for election to the United States House of Representatives.” NFIB joins two other national grassroots organizations that have endorsed Green in recent weeks — the NRA and the National Right to Life. The Club for Growth, FRC Action, Combat Veterans for Congress, FreedomWorks, House Freedom Fund, Campaign for Working Families, and GOPAC have…

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Blackburn, Bredesen Reveal Stark Differences on Judges, Obamacare at NFIB Forum

Phil Bredesen, Marsha Blackburn

NASHVILLE, Tennessee–Tennessee U.S. Senate Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-07) said, if elected, she’ll vote to appoint federal judges based on whether they abide by what’s in the U.S. Constitution. Her opponent, Democrat Phil Bredesen, said voting to appoint a judge really boils down to his or her qualifications and temperament. When it comes to the debate over health insurance and Obamacare, Blackburn said she wants laws changed to allow Tennesseans to buy health insurance across state lines. That would create more competition and lower costs. Bredesen, when pressed for his opinion on the matter, said he favors Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. These were among some of the insights members of the Tennessee business community could glean from both candidates at a forum Wednesday at Lipscomb University in Nashville. The Tennessee chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business sponsored the event, along with the Tennessee Business Roundtable, and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Per the rules, both candidates spoke separately, and neither of them could discuss their opponent. In her opening remarks, Blackburn told the audience the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorses her candidacy. “They feel I will bring the best ideas. I will help remove the obstacles…

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Tennessee Adds 45,000 Jobs Over Past Year

Handshake deal

Tennessee’s unemployment rates remain low and the state added 45,000 jobs the past year, the National Federation of Independent Business said. According to the March 2018 numbers from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 82 of the state’s 95 counties saw lower unemployment rates that month than they did in February, NFIB said. The lowest rate, 2.5 percent, was in Williamson County; the highest, 5.8 percent, was in Houston and Bledsoe counties, although that rate was a decrease for both counties from the prior month. Between April 2017 and April 2018, Tennessee added approximately 45,000 new jobs, with the biggest swells occurring in the leisure/hospitality, professional/business services, and education/health services sectors. “It doesn’t seem that long ago that several Tennessee counties had unemployment rates in the high teens, so the continuing trend of low unemployment rates across the state is wonderful news,” NFIB/TN State Director Jim Brown said. The good news continued in April as well. In mid-May, Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced that the statewide unemployment rate in April was 3.4 percent, representing the third consecutive month this number had held steady. April 2018 marked one year since…

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