I experienced many sleepless nights navigating the challenges of COVID as a business owner and worrying that I was going to lose everything that I had worked for the past 37 years.
This week, I have found myself unable to sleep once again. I’m sure most of you feel the same way. The task we have before us is monumental because it impacts lives AND livelihoods of Tennesseans.
Prior to the pandemic my company employed approximately 140 people. The COVID crisis now has my company down to below 100 people and with the pending Biden Executive Order, I am happy about that. I have instructed my management team that even if we could find people to hire we will not go above 100 employees.
I can’t help but believe that if the Biden executive order had never been drafted, we wouldn’t be here today. I was disturbed when I first heard about the executive order, and I’m even more disturbed by it now.
In regards to HB 9077, I have always supported Tennessean’s right to make their own decision regarding vaccines and mask. As a conservative, I believe in personal responsibility and less government intervention. This is not the piece of the legislation that I take issue with.
In my district, I have lots of small business owners and I’ve heard from many of them. They are scared. As a conservative, I believe in free enterprise. When we open up Pandora’s Box and set a precedent by telling businesses what they can and can’t do, we run the risk of suffering unintended consequences.
I appreciate what the Sponsors and Leadership have done regarding provisions for Health Care Facilities and those businesses who have federal contracts. But there are many other small businesses that will be found outside of those provisions. Do we really want to pit our small business owners between the State Government and the Federal Government?
What if a company had required the vaccine prior to the effective date of this legislation, if it passes? Will the employer have immunity and if so, how will the time of the occurrence be proven if the situation arises?
Tennessee has been referred to as a business-friendly state, and in my opinion that has driven the positive growth we have experienced from an economic development standpoint. I hope we do not do anything to harm that reputation.
Again, I have the utmost respect for the sponsors, who happen to be my colleagues from East TN, but I’m concerned that we are creating a nightmare for some of our small business owners who have already been through hell for the past 18 months. Doing that will never be my objective.