Billings Chamber Pushes to Protect Businesses from Liability
Among business organizations in Montana passing legislation that will provide liability protection for businesses, non-profits and other organizations is at the top of all their priority lists. The Billings Chamber of Commerce stands among them, according to Daniel Brooks, Billings Chamber’s business advocacy director.
Brooks is monitoring the 3000-plus bills that are waiting to be considered in the state legislature, working as much on defense as offense in dealing with issues that the Billings Chamber has identified as important. Chamber membership developed a policy statements a couple months ago that will guide Brooks advocacy efforts.
At the forefront of legislation dealing with providing liability protections is Senator Steve Fitzgerald’s bill SB65. Governor Greg Gianforte has declared that before he will lift the COVID mask mandate in the state he must have a bill to sign that will provide liability protection.
Brooks said that he will also be focused on a proposed change in gaming license law, reducing the cost of doing business in Montana and working on making broadband more available to communities. The latter is a most important issue given how much the COVID crisis has transitioned businesses to doing business much more business virtually. While the need for better connectivity throughout rural Montana, even in Billings with the providers there are, “we need more capacity,” said Brooks, “With everyone loading up the system we will drop a zoom call.” Adequate broadband is also necessary to attract more businesses.
Also identified as an important mission by Brooks is passage of the early childhood education for which he is working in collaboration with other organizations, including the Missoula Chamber of Commerce.
The top priorities identified in the Chamber’s policy guide include making the state more attractive to the “next generation” workforce; invest in education; address gaps in equality of opportunity for minority populations; reduce the cost of doing business in Montana; diversify government revenue streams to alleviate dependence on property taxes; encourage economic development “tools.”