GLASGOW – There are two pieces of proposed state legislation the Barren County Economic Authority and the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce are watching as part of their new legislative priorities agenda.
The entities will use their agenda to lobby state representatives to get support for proposed legislation.
The two pieces of proposed legislation the groups are watching closely are HB 10 and HB 278. Both are related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on businesses and industries.
“HB 10 is the one that protects employers from civil liabilities so long as they have acted in good faith and followed CDC guidelines,” said Maureen Carpenter, executive director of BCEA. “Obviously, we want our employers to be protected from any kind of undo liability that could come from COVID.”
“The chamber is here to help small businesses exceed and grow. We are very fortunate to have the local and state leadership representing our area that shares our vision in promoting small business in Glasgow-Barren County,” said Treva Shirley, president of the chamber of commerce.
Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow, said he understands why the two entities are working together to gain support for proposed legislation.
“We all realize that small businesses have been hurt exponentially during the pandemic, and it’s been a very difficult time for them both for health-related reasons and staffing. Many of them have struggled to maintain any form of stability,” he said.
Rep. Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville, said it’s always helpful to have organizations like the chamber of commerce and the economic authority supporting his and other state legislators’ efforts.
Rowland is one of the sponsors for HB 10, which has been referred to the Senate for consideration. There is a companion bill moving through the Senate with similar language.
“We want to get one of those bills passed, to give our businesses comfort that they know when they do open back up they aren’t going to be inundated with a bunch of lawsuits by people claiming they contracted COVID inside their business,” Rowland said.
HB 278 deals with the Paycheck Protection Program and the deductions involved with it, Riley said.
The proposed legislation will allow deductions paid with proceeds from a forgiven loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, according to a summary of the original version of the bill.
“I think when you’re going through a pandemic like this you have to give certain occupations, people, situations some form of leeway in order for them to survive. I think that’s what we are doing here,” Riley said.
Riley is a retired educator, while Rowland owns an insurance company with offices in Tompkinsville and Glasgow, and has personally witnessed the impact the pandemic has had on his own business, as well as his customers’ businesses.
“It’s changed the way we operated. I think during the first shutdown insurance agencies and banks were considered to be essential workers, so we were allowed to stay open. But we’ve had to adjust,” Rowland said. “Our doors have been locked at both of our offices for the majority of the summer and through the winter. We’ve learned how to communicate and interact with our customers virtually and by email, text and phone.”
But he has not been able to communicate with some of his customers by those means and said the pandemic has made conducting business with those customers more difficult.
“For the most part we have survived it. It’s been tough watching a lot of our customers who have had a really tough time and who have had to close. That’s been difficult for us to watch,” he said. “But we were able to adjust pretty well, I think, and have survived OK.”