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Opinion: Republicans should quit virtue-signaling and pass COVID liability protections

The Republican Party is the party of entrepreneurs and hard work. We’re the party that applauds building a family business from the ground up and being able to operate that business without the government’s interference. But right now, some in the Republican-led Missouri legislature are leaving our small businesses vulnerable to attacks by frivolous lawsuits and greedy trial lawyers.

As the Missouri legislative session draws to a close, it’s become all hands on deck to pass SB 51, the COVID liability protections bill, and send it to the governor. This bill is designed to help our state reopen safely and follows what other states are doing to protect local businesses. Certain liability protections are necessary so that people looking for a quick cash grab can’t sue the local mom-and-pop store, the local hospital, or the local church into oblivion. COVID-19 is a serious disease, but that does not mean that hard-working local businesses should be afraid to open their doors, lest they be sued into bankruptcy.

Of course, passing SB 51 means that trial lawyers will lose out on their favorite cash cow: quick and easy settlements. In response, those very same trial lawyers are bringing everything they have so they can mislead the public on the plain facts about this legislation.

I, along with my colleagues, am grateful we have a Speaker who is passionate about our beliefs and has championed this cause from the beginning of his leadership. I applaud Speaker Rob Vescovo for his enthusiastic support of protecting small businesses and ensuring that greedy trial lawyers don’t have free reign. We should follow his example and make passing COVID liability a priority.

Therefore, I implore the legislature to get COVID liability protection done. As Republicans, we often condemn the left for “virtue signaling,” but that’s exactly what some Republican legislators are doing: bowing to fake facts and special interests to appease critics. There is no time for virtue signaling. With two weeks left of the legislative session, we must protect our small businesses now.

Enough is enough. The Missouri Legislature can no longer allow a small group of trial lawyers to bully our local business owners. We are Republicans. Now is the time to do what we came here to do.