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Small businesses hoping for big reforms in 2019 General Assembly

Recent member surveys show that the National Federation of Independent Businesses support specific reform efforts for small business in this year’s Tennessee General Assembly.

NFIB is the state’s leading small business advocacy organization. The 2019 legislative session began on Jan. 8.

“Unlike other business groups, NFIB’s legislative agenda isn’t decided by a handful of board members,” said Jim Brown, NFIB’s state director for Tennessee. “Our agenda is driven by our members. We ballot them at least once a year on the issues facing Tennessee’s small businesses and carry their message to legislators.

“Recent ballot results show that our members want substantive tax reforms, while this year’s survey results show a continued appetite for cutting red tape and blocking or prohibiting unnecessary mandates. With a new administration and many new faces in the Tennessee legislature, 2019 will be a very important year.”

In last year’s survey, 88 percent of NFIB members responding said Tennessee “should do more to provide vocational and technology training for high school students who are not college-bound.”

In 2014, 67 percent supported phasing out the state’s professional privilege tax on 22 professions. NFIB is part of a coalition calling for elimination or a phase-out of the professional privilege tax and the amusement tax on small fitness centers, both of which are discriminatory.

Results from the latest NFIB Tennessee survey show:

  • 68 percent of respondents believe local governments in Tennessee should not be allowed to ban or regulate the use of plastic bags or other disposable packaging and containers, while 20 percent are in favor and 12 percent are undecided.
  • 81 percent believe each Tennessee resident should not be required to carry health insurance or pay a penalty, as some states are considering, while 11 percent are in favor and 8 percent are undecided.
  • 63 percent oppose Tennessee enacting legislation to prohibit employers from subjecting employees to workplace bullying and to establish written policies that define workplace bullying, while 23 percent favor and 14 percent are undecided.

Brown said NFIB members across the state are encouraged that Governor-elect Bill Lee and state legislators are prepared to focus on improving workforce development and vocational training programs. The problem of finding qualified workers continues to be the most significant for small businesses nationally, according to NFIB’s monthly Small Business Economic Trends surveys, mirroring ongoing feedback from Tennessee small business owners.

“Small business owners are eager to roll up their sleeves and work with new leadership in the executive and legislative branches,” Brown said. “Tennessee is one of the best states in which to own, operate and grow a business, but more work is needed to level uneven playing fields.”

For more than 75 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan and member-driven. For more information, visit