Jim Brown, the Nashville-based Tennessee state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, reacts to April's NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism:
"At last month’s Small Business Day at the Capitol, many NFIB members echoed what’s in this month’s report. The uncertainty over Obamacare continues to be a real weight on their decision to expand, hire or invest. Small business owners in Tennessee are using more brake and less pedal because of harmful federal policies like Obamacare."
Members of the National Federation of Independent Business in Tennessee strongly support major reforms to Tennessee’s workers’ compensation system, according to a recently conducted survey released Monday.
Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee, said his group "will support comprehensive workers’ comp reforms to include a tighter definition of injury causation and shifting the resolution of disputed claims to a purely administrative process.”
“Tennessee’s processes are bureaucratic, which leads to high costs for employers and delays in medical treatment, return to work and disability payments for employees," said Brown (pictured). "Gov. [Bill] Haslam’s administration has identified many much needed reforms, and we look forward to working with him and members of the General Assembly to improve our workers’ comp system.”
Brown said NFIB, the state’s largest small business association, also will work with leaders to ensure Tennessee small business owners are guaranteed a fair, impartial appeals process for disputes that arise through tax audits.
“Tennessee taxpayers deserve to have their tax hearing appeals heard by an independent body, rather than the same department that decided the case in the first place,” said Brown, noting most states have established an independent appeals process. “Smaller taxpayers who cannot afford to file a lawsuit especially need a less expensive, expeditious and independent forum. Tennessee can accomplish this important goal with almost no additional bureaucracy.”
Preliminary survey results from NFIB/Tennessee’s 2013 Member Ballot indicate the following:
• 77 percent of members oppose Medicaid expansion, while 11 percent favor and 12 percent are undecided
• 79 percent believe Tennessee should prohibit taxpayer-funded government entities from competing directly with private business, while 11 percent oppose and 10 percent are undecided
• 75 percent believe Tennessee should prohibit local governments from enacting minimum or living wages, while 17 percent oppose and 7 percent are undecided
• Members were split on establishing a state-run health exchange (41 percent support, 38 percent oppose and 20 percent are undecided)
• Members were split on legislation that would require insurance companies to cover oral chemotherapy drugs (41 percent support, 36 percent oppose and 23 percent are undecided).
The 108th Tennessee General Assembly is schedule to convene today.
The National Federation of Independent Business has named Sarah Waters member support manager for Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee.
Waters, who will be based in Nashville, will work closely the NFIB directors in the four states to help NFIB members engage in the legislative and political processes.
“We’re pleased that Sarah has joined our team,” Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee, said in a release. “Sarah has a lot of experience and a lot of energy, and that's important when it comes to helping the voice of small business be heard.”
Prior to joining NFIB, Waters was political programs manager and legislative affairs administrative coordinator for the Credit Union National Association in Washington, D.C. Before that, she was the senior manager of advocacy for Psoriasis Cure Now and staff assistant to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida's 13th District. Waters also was a regional field manager for North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Bill Graham.
Jim Brown, state director of National Federation of Independent Business/Tennessee, issued the following statement related to the October national jobs numbers (171,000 jobs added for the month) and based on NFIB’s soon-to-be-released monthly economic survey:
“Many small businesses in Tennessee are reluctant to hire because they believe the federal government is actively working against them," Brown (pictured) said. "Until that changes, our members are telling us they’re likely to remain in idle or reverse.”
The NFIB survey was conducted in October and reflects the responses of 2,029 sampled NFIB members. It will be released on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
The Tennessee chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business has endorsed Metro Councilman Robert Duvall in the 59th House District race.
Duvall, a Republican who represents District 33 on the council, is facing Democrat Sherry Jones, who has held the state House seat since 1995.
“Robert Duvall is the advocate small business owners in House District 59 sorely need because he understands bigger government dampens free enterprise and job creation,” Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee, said in a release.
NFIB/Tennessee SAFE (Save America’s Free Enterprise) Trust, which is comprised exclusively of NFIB members, made the endorsement.
In addition, NFIB has endorsed Republican Steve Dickerson in the race for the 20th Senate District. Dickerson will face Democrat Phillip L. North.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The executive director of the Tennessee office of the National Federation of Independent Businesses is praising recently signed state legislation reducing construction contractor fees.
Jim Brown, head of the state division of Washington, D.C.-based NFIB, said the legislation, which decreases by 50 percent the registration and renewal fees associated with the Workers’ Compensation Exemption Registry for construction contractors, is needed. The two fees cost businesses $100 apiece every two years, he said.
“NFIB appreciates the ongoing work from the General Assembly and [the Gov. Bill] Haslam administration to help contractors and subcontractors survive and thrive, while maintaining the integrity of the Employee Misclassification Fund, which is designed to protect workers,” said Brown (pictured here). “We’re seeing a willingness from many leaders throughout state government to review and lower fees, which helps stimulate more investment and increase margins for struggling entrepreneurs.”
The reduction in fees was part of Senate Bill 2923, sponsored by Sens. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, and Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro. The legislation clarifies that either party in a workers’ compensation dispute may bring suit in the county in which the employee resided at the time of the injury rather than where the employee resides at the time of filing suit.
During the process, Overbey said the law is designed to discourage forum shopping — an informal term describing the practice some litigants use to have their legal cases heard in the courts most likely believed to provide favorable judgments.
The fee reduction follows state financial experts predicting the Employee Misclassification Fund, which is being used to address cases of employee misclassification, was growing unnecessarily large. The fund was established as part of legislation (instituted two years ago) that allows certain construction business owners to exempt themselves from a previously enacted requirement to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
The Workers’ Compensation Exemption Registry comprises individuals who are sole proprietors and own 100 percent of the assets of the business, or an officer of a corporation, or a member of a limited liability company with at least a 20 percent ownership interest, or a partner in a partnership with at least a 20 percent ownership interest.
The state's largest small-business association went on the record yesterday about the rise in gasoline prices, saying Tennessee's Congressional delegation should support legislation to restart and expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling and improve the supply-demand equation.
Jim Brown, Tennessee state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the $1.01 year-over-year increase in the price of a gallon of gas is " taking a big toll on small businesses."
“Small businesses operate on thin profit margins even in the best of times, and these aren’t the best of times,” he said.
“If you’re a small business owner, you’re paying more for supplies and inventory and more on transportation,” Brown said. “You have a choice: Jack up prices and risk driving your customers away, or absorb the increase and lose money […] A dependable source of affordable oil would help our businesses grow and create jobs and finally put this recession in our rearview mirrors.”