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Economy

Survey shows small businesses are concerned about lawsuits over COVID-19

Brandon Moseley

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A majority of Alabama small business owners surveyed by the National Federation of Independent Business said that they are concerned about the possibility of lawsuits related to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the NFIB.

Sixty-nine percent of owners who responded to the online survey say that they are very or moderately concerned about increased liability. Twenty-one percent say they’re not too concerned, while just nine percent say they aren’t concerned at all.

“Even in the best of times, small businesses are often the target of opportunists trying to make a buck by filing a frivolous lawsuit,” NFIB State Director Rosemary Elebash said. “It’s clear from the survey that Alabama small business owners are concerned about the potential for lawsuits to try to exploit the already devastating effects of the coronavirus.”

“During the regular session of the legislature, Sen. Arthur Orr introduced a bill that would provide civil immunity for businesses, healthcare providers, churches, schools, and other organizations in connection with the novel coronavirus during a declared state of emergency,” Elebash said.

“The reasonable measures provided in Senator Orr’s bill would protect businesses struggling to keep their doors open from the risk and expense of lawsuits associated with COVID-19,” Elebash said. “If the legislature is called back for a special session, Senator Orr’s bill will be one of NFIB’s top priorities.”

The Senate wanted to address the Orr bill; but the leadership in the House of Representatives demanded that the legislature deal solely with the budgets, the school buildings bond issue, supplemental appropriations, and local legislation. The legislature left for spring break on March 12; but returned two weeks later on March 31 to a different world. Fears of contracting the virus turned the remainder of the 2020 legislative session into a much abbreviated limited affair more concerned with social distancing than passing legislation.

In other results, the survey respondents said: 70 percent say they’re very or moderately concerned about getting customers back; 69 percent are concerned about managing the health and safety of their customers; 66 percent are concerned about managing the health and safety of employees; 69 percent are concerned with having to comply with new regulations related to the coronavirus; and 68 percent are concerned about finding an adequate supply of supplies such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

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“This has been a challenging spring for Alabama’s small businesses,” Elebash said. “NFIB is committed to working closely with elected officials to develop strategies that allow more businesses to reopen fully so people can get back to work.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the U.S. economy lost $8 trillion in projected economic growth moving forward due to the COVID-19 crisis and the forced economic shutdowns to fight the spread of the virus and that is could take until 2030 for the economy to fully recover.

The federal government released the May jobs report and unemployment was 13.3 percent which is an unexpected improvement from April’s 14.7 percent

Many businesses are still closed down by government order in states that are reopening more slowly than Alabama. Other businesses can not reopen economically due to social distancing guidelines in place limiting their occupancy and the liability issue only adds another fear that is holding some business owners back, further slowing the economic recovery.

Public Service Announcement

The National Federation of Independent Business is the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization. The NFIB was founded in 1943. 110,173 Americans have died from COVID-19.

To learn more visit their website: www.NFIB.com.

Original reporting by the Wall Street Journal and CNBC contributed to this post.

 

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with over nine years at Alabama Political Reporter. During that time he has written 8,297 articles for APR. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Economy

New unemployment claims increased again last week

It is the highest number of new claims recorded in a single week since July.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 14,084 new unemployment claims filed last week, up from 10,986 new claims the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

The number of new claims was the highest in a single week since July.

Of last week’s claims, 11,124 were related to COVID-19, representing 79 percent. Of the previous week’s claims, 80 percent were related to COVID-19.

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Economy

Officials offer thoughts on Huntsville Space Command decision

“We welcome Space Command to Huntsville with open arms and a good dose of southern hospitality,” the lieutenant governor said.

Charlie Walker

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Several elected officials on Wednesday offered their appreciation toward the U.S. Space Command location decision that was made for Huntsville.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth released the following statement regarding the announcement of Huntsville’s selection as the headquarters of U.S. Space Command:

“Alabama-made rockets first launched Americans into space and later carried them safely to the moon. Huntsville’s selection as the headquarters for the U.S. Space Command further solidifies Alabama as the national leader in aerospace research and development. We welcome Space Command to Huntsville with open arms and a good dose of southern hospitality.” 

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, in a statement, said:

“Today’s historic announcement that the Redstone Arsenal will be home to the permanent headquarters of the U.S. Space Force Command is fantastic news for Huntsville, the Tennessee Valley region, and the entire state of Alabama. I’m pleased that the site selection team recognized the obvious: Redstone and Space Command are a perfect fit. Alabama is already widely recognized for its important contributions to our national defense, and this decision further elevates our state as a leader in space and defense technology. I applaud the work of the Huntsville community, State leaders, the Congressional delegation, and especially my colleague Sen. Richard Shelby, for helping make this decision a reality. There will be a lot of work to do in the years ahead to turn today’s announcement into a reality on the ground, and I look forward to working closely with state and local leaders, Alabama’s Congressional delegation, and the Department of Defense to fully and efficiently implement this basing decision. It will be one of my top priorities.”

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, released the following statement:

“With the Pentagon’s selection of the Redstone as the new home of the U.S. Space Command, Alabama is once again blessed with new jobs, new opportunities for our citizens, and new recognition for all that our state has to offer. Since Redstone Arsenal first opened its gates, Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley have been the centerpiece of our nation’s efforts in spaceflight, aerospace, and missile defense. Bringing the headquarters of U.S. Space Command to Alabama only brightens that spotlight and enhances our prestige on a global level. As the need to defend American assets in space becomes commonplace in the 21st century and beyond, Alabama will remain firmly on the front lines of nation’s exploration and defense of the final frontier.”

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The U.S. Space Command was established in 2019, and is said to be the leading force of the Department of Defense’s space operations.

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Congress

Delegation’s actions diminish Alabama’s economic development outlook, say insiders

Brooks faces censure. Tuberville is considered by most a pariah. Only Shelby and Sewell will hold influence on Capitol Hill.

Bill Britt

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Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama., speaks Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, at a rally in support of President Donald Trump called the "Save America Rally." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, last week, along with President Donald Trump, used incendiary language to incite a group of Trump’s supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol Building — an offense that has never been undertaken by American citizens.

Add to Brooks’s insurrectionary role in the pro-Trump mob the fact that Republicans lost control of the U.S. Senate a day earlier and the combination has Alabama business leaders privately voicing concern over the state’s ability to advance economic development and secure federal funding for projects in the state.

Seven members of the Alabama congressional delegation moved to overturn the presidential election of President-elect Joe Biden by voting to not certify the Electoral College vote, thereby disenfranchise millions of lawfully cast ballots based on little more than social media-fueled conspiracy theories.

Brooks, long considered a political grand-standing rube, was joined by Congressman Robert Aderholt, Gary Palmer, Barry Moore, Jerry Carl and Mike Rogers, who, with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, worked to throw the presidential election to Trump illegally.

Only Alabama’s Republican senior U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell followed the law.

While some Alabama voters and at least one media outlet heralded the seven as heroes, most found their actions to overturn an election reprehensible. These men are also being viewed by many in the business community as impediments to the state’s economic progress.

Businesses nationwide have begun disavowing those who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election and will withhold campaign contributions for those who took part in the spectacle.

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Alabama-based businesses are expected to follow suit with their own sanctions in the coming days.

The group of seven’s efforts to suborn insurrection seems to have awakened some business leaders to the fact that Alabama’s political extremism has finally reached a boiling point, much like Bloody Sunday, the Birmingham riots and numerous other heinous events in Alabama’s Civil Rights struggle.

Brooks finds himself facing censure in the House while the other Alabama House members are further diminished in the capacity to help their districts. And Tuberville, widely seen by Senate colleagues as unqualified for the job, is now considered by most a pariah.

Only Shelby and Sewell will continue to hold influence in the halls of power.

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APR is already hearing from Hill insiders that Alabama will pay a price for Brooks’s actions and the others’ revolt, which may very well cost billions in economic development and federal funds over the next two years.

As one insider put it: “Welcome to a new reality Alabama, enough is enough.”

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Economy

New unemployment claims spiked last week

Of those claims, 80 percent were related to COVID-19.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 10,986 new unemployment claims filed online or by phone last week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. 

Of those claims, 8,734 were related to COVID-19, representing 80 percent.

The number of new claims increased from 5,506 the previous week, of which 39 percent were COVID-19-related.

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