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Legislation to help small businesses survive a health crisis overcomes first hurdle with approval by Senate Commerce and Labor Committee


Tennessee State GovernmentNashville, TN – The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee today approved legislation, sponsored by Senator Bill Powers (R-Clarksville), allowing businesses to remain open during a pandemic or other health emergency provided they follow guidelines issued by any government to keep their customers and employees safe.

District 22 Tennessee State Senator Bill Powers.

District 22 Tennessee State Senator Bill Powers.

The Tennessee Business Fairness Act puts all businesses on the same playing field in a declared state of emergency so small businesses are not forced to close, while their bigger competitors stay open. 

The bill is championed by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). 

“We learned a lot over the last year about public health guidelines, essential vs. non-essential businesses, social distancing, and more during the pandemic,” said Senator Powers.  “We also learned that certain small businesses were impacted much more negatively than others, and that certain industries needed greater flexibility.” 

Senate Bill 474 addresses those concerns going forward.  It would first, provide greater flexibility for businesses to follow the public safety guidance – state or local – that works best for them, their customers and employees,” he added.  “Secondly, it will ensure government isn’t in the business of picking winners and losers like Michigan, where big box retailers are thriving while small retailers remain at 50% capacity, as of early March.”

Powers said, “This kind of thing unfortunately happened here in Tennessee too where small businesses were forced to close, while their customers bought products they sell from big box stores down the road.  This is inherently unfair and a main reason for this legislation.”

“I am very pleased this bill has overcome its first hurdle and look forward to seeing it enacted into law soon,” he concluded.

The bill is also up for consideration in the House of Representative’s Business and Utilities Subcommittee.




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