NASHVILLE – Beacon Impact, the 501(c)(4) advocacy partner of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, has released its 2021 legislative agenda, under the theme of innovation. Beacon’s goal is to make Tennessee the innovation capital of the United States.
These reforms will encourage new and existing entrepreneurs to open up shop in the Volunteer State without the overregulation and red tape that discourages entrepreneurship and small business ownership. Laws and rules suspended during COVID-19 serve as a great example of unnecessary red tape that can hurt businesses. Regulations should serve only to protect health and safety and if they can be safely removed during a pandemic, they shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Below are some of the policies that Beacon Impact will advocate for in the state legislature during the 2021 legislative session.
Cementing “Right to Work” in the Tennessee Constitution
Tennessee’s Right to Work law has been one of the prominent drivers of the state’s booming economy and a significant selling point for small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to start a new business or relocate an existing business to our state. It is important to protect workers’ freedom to choose whether or not to join a union and pay union dues. Placing Right to Work in the Tennessee Constitution would ensure worker freedom is always protected and that Tennessee will be a place where job-creators want to move and/or stay. Beacon will actively support the proposed resolution to place Right to Work on the ballot so that voters can decide if they want to add this right to the Constitution.
One of the most important steps we can take for small business owners and entrepreneurs is to slash government red tape. One sure way to do that is to fast-track new business innovations. Right now, bringing a new product or service to market in Tennessee requires innovators and entrepreneurs to jump through unnecessary regulatory hoops that have nothing to do with health and safety. Other states have solved this problem by passing laws that essentially fast-track new ideas that were not even contemplated when those regulations were passed, often decades ago. These laws allow new startups to apply for an innovation fast-track to operate in a “sandbox” free from those unnecessary and onerous regulations for a period of time, while still requiring them to protect consumers’ health and safety.
Reforming Tennessee’s Certificate of Need (CON) Laws
With the fluctuation in COVID-19 cases, fears of overwhelming our healthcare system’s capacity have understandably resurfaced. Preserving the healthcare system’s capacity, namely hospital beds, was one of the original justifications for government lockdowns in order to “flatten the curve.” Currently, 20 different services require a CON in Tennessee, including adding new hospital beds. Tennessee lawmakers should repeal all CONs, or at the least, reform the process for those that are not repealed. Had the government not been involved in rationing and approving hospital beds for the past few decades, chances are we wouldn’t be worried about healthcare capacity in the first place.
“We are very excited about our 2021 innovation agenda that will not only make it easier for native Tennesseans to start businesses out of their garage but will also attract successful innovators like Elon Musk to the Volunteer State,” said Beacon Impact CEO Justin Owen. “We want Tennessee to be the state where the next Uber, Doordash or self-driving car is invented, but we also want it to be a place where any Tennessean with a good idea can start a business without an overreaching government.”