WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH) held an online roundtable of several New Hampshire small business owners, seeking feedback on how each of these businesses are handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mary McDonald of Genuine Local in Meredith expressed concern over liability her business is exposed to if any customers contracted COVID-19 while stopping at her store, in spite of the safety protocols she follows.
Pappas replied with the belief that there should be a safe harbor liability provision for any business that follows COVID-19 safety guidelines and was disappointed that was not part of recent COVID-19 relief legislation along with assistance for local communities.
On international trade issues faced by Andrew White of the Campton-based Comptus, Pappas believed that the U.S./Mexico/Canada (USMCA) Free Trade Agreement was a good framework for future agreements and hopes the federal government can pursue a policy that avoids punitive tariffs and also encourages more manufacturing in the U.S.
Several members of the forum also expressed concerns over the difficulties faced by small business owners in providing healthcare coverage to their employees.
Pappas believes that the purchasing power of Medicare could be used to help lower prescription costs and that there is enough money at the federal level to address the economic burden healthcare poses on small businesses and individuals. He also praised recent legislation passed prohibiting surprise charges.
“it’s harming economic mobility in this country, it’s harming innovation, and it’s something we need to address,” said Pappas on the issue.
He concluded with the expectation that additional COVID-19 relief legislation is coming in late January or early February and he seeks input from constituent as well as his colleagues in Washington in helping to craft that legislation.
“Our political system is under strain right now, we’re going through some tough times,” “There are good people here in Washington with a variety of views. I think it’s critical that we work to turn the page and look for ways to partner and compromise and find solutions.”