Detroit Regional Chamber > Business Resources > COVID-19 > Business Organizations Provide Testimony on Liability Protections

Business Organizations Provide Testimony on Liability Protections

September 1, 2020
Businesses that take reasonable steps to follow public health guidelines should be protected against COVID-19 liabilities. The Detroit Regional Chamber has been advocating on behalf of businesses for liability protections since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brad Williams, the vice president of Government Relations, and other leaders from business organizations across the state, attended the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee today to provide testimony on a package of bills that would help employers navigate the crisis with protections. View the full testimony:

Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee.  My name is Brad Williams and I am the vice president of Government Relations at the Detroit Regional Chamber.  Chamber members range in size from sole proprietors to Fortune 500 companies, however since March, we have ceased asking businesses if they are members when they call for assistance. The Chamber is here to serve the needs of business and throughout the pandemic we have been doing so regardless of membership status.

Prior to the “Stay at Home” order, when businesses began the first steps of work-from-home plans, we undertook an effort to provide the best and latest information to businesses in as many ways as possible. We used all of our traditional channels and began a series of tele-townhalls, which seemed novel at the time. The first session with the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Donofrio drew 700 participants with very little time to promote. We proceeded to schedule these events every day during the worst of the shutdown. While we weren’t able to get to every question in the allotted 30 minutes, our staff would work through unanswered questions similar to how your staffs do constituent work.

This is all to say, that we have a good sense of what is on the mind of our members and non-members in the business community alike. We fielded questions on executive orders, PPE procurement, workshare, PPP loans, but without question. The number one topic businesses came back to over and over again is opening safely, bringing employees and customers back, and not losing everything because someone gets sick. Many of these businesses have or are currently facing an existential threat, the Legislature has the power to protect them from another.

Beyond the direct impact on businesses affected by the threat of a lawsuit, the lost opportunity for other businesses catering to those employees can be devastating. One need look no further than the businesses outside this Capitol that serve the needs of state employees. The lack of foot traffic can break the back of restaurants, drug store,s and dry cleaners additionally.

This issue is not limited to state law either. This summer, the Chamber led an effort with our Chamber and business association colleagues from across the state to ask the members of our congressional delegation to support a federal liability protection along with financial supports for state and local government.

We believe that providing limited and targeted protection to the businesses that support Michigan families will hasten our economic recovery.

Video of the full session is available here. Testimony on this bill package will continue next week.

The package of bills include:

  • HB 6030: Provides protection from liability to certain persons during the Covid-19 emergency.
  • HB 6031: Provides protection from liability to certain persons on the reopening of a business or school during the Covid-19 emergency.
  • HB 6032: Prohibits an employer from taking adverse employment action against an employee who is absent from work during a declared emergency.
  • HB 6101: Provides protection from liability to certain persons on the reopening of business or school.