Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Business owners rally at Capitol

Small-business owners from across Georgia gathered in Atlanta Thursday to discuss key issues critical to their businesses, such as the need for legal and health insurance reform.

Sponsored by the small-business group NFIB/Georgia and billed as a Small Business Day at the Capitol, the event allowed employers the opportunity to meet with and ask questions of lawmakers and officials regarding several Main Street agenda items.

Chief among the topics brought up by those in attendance was the need for health insurance reform. Many employers indicated that the high cost of health insurance is the top concern they face as business owners.

To help alleviate these concerns, NFIB is supporting the Consumer Choice Health Insurance Plan Act, a measure that allows health insurers to write policies that will meet the needs of small-business owners, as well as allowing for income tax deductions for individuals to offset the cost of health insurance they pay for themselves and their dependents.

"Frankly, Georgia employers are facing some major challenges as they try to grow and expand their businesses,”said NFIB/Georgia State Director Melody Harrison.

“Topping that list is the skyrocketing cost of health insurance. That’s why opportunities such as this for us to come together, pool our collective talents and make our voices heard to our elected leaders is critical.”

Main Street leaders also expressed concern to lawmakers that Georgia’s legal system is in need of reform. To do this, NFIB will support measures that would establish a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases and require expert witnesses to be licensed in the same profession as the defendant in such cases.

“By what we’ve heard today from the small-business community, it’s clear that we’ve got our work to do here in Atlanta to show them some tangible results this session," said Harrison.

“We look forward to working with lawmakers and the Perdue Administration to get meaningful legislation enacted.”

As a culmination of the daylong event, NFIB hosted a luncheon to honor the group’s former state director Bert Fridlin. After 22 years of service to the small-business community, Fridlin retired at the end of 2003. At the luncheon in his honor, Fridlin received accolades from several key policymakers, including Governor Perdue and leaders in the Georgia House and Senate. Over 200 people attended the tribute to Fridlin, demonstrating the effect he had in over two decades of service to Main Street.

"Bert’s voice has held unparalleled strength and conviction for small business over the last several years and he will truly be missed,” said Harrison.

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