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Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for Oct. 14, 2021

The past year has presented many challenges for our state’s business community. From COVID-19, supply chain disruptions and staffing issues, some businesses have had a rough time. That said, the General Assembly remains committed to finding solutions that support our small businesses as best as we can.

With the pandemic at the forefront of our minds during this past legislative session, the General Assembly passed reasonable legislation to help give businesses the confidence they need to open their doors and stay open throughout the pandemic. Senate Bill 51, which the governor has since signed into law, puts in place a number of protections for businesses, manufacturers and others against frivolous lawsuits relating to COVID-19. These provisions protect businesses from lawsuits in case someone gets COVID on their premises, unless the plaintiff proves the business engaged in recklessness or willful misconduct that caused an actual exposure to COVID-19.

Senate Bill 51 also includes language to shield manufacturers who stepped up during the pandemic and acted in good faith to supply us with critical equipment and supplies. From distillers who produced hand sanitizer to t-shirt factories creating face masks, these companies retooled and reworked their operations to help meet the demands of the moment, and I believe they should not be punished for simply trying to help. It’s worth underscoring that this bill does not protect those who commit fraud or mislead the public about the products they put out.

The General Assembly also passed and the governor signed House Bill 476, which I handled in the Missouri Senate. This professional registration bill contains several important provisions, including my legislation on pesticide certification and training. Essentially, the legislation updates Missouri’s Pesticide Use Act in order to keep the state in compliance with federal EPA regulations. By making these changes, we also ensure Missourians keep their voice in guiding the state’s pesticide certification process.

All told, I’m proud of the work we accomplished this past legislative session to stand up for our small businesses all across the state. My colleagues and I will continue to do what we can to cut red tape and ensure businesses are able to succeed right here in Missouri.

Missouri Electric Cooperatives Award

I received the Missouri Electric Cooperatives’ Legislative Leadership Award. I am honored and very thankful for being recognized by this outstanding organization. As we begin to look to the year ahead and the next legislative session, know I will do everything I can to support access to affordable and reliable energy throughout rural Missouri.

As always, it is an honor to serve the 6th Senatorial District. If my office can be service to you, please feel free to contact us at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bernskoetter.