SB Wednesday: key issues of concern to small business include inflation, vaccine mandates

Melinda Zosh and John O'Neal discuss vaccine mandates.
Melinda Zosh and John O'Neal discuss vaccine mandates.(WVVA News)
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 5:32 PM EST
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - WVVA is helping to answer your questions about small business. Every Wednesday, John O’Neal, the Executive Director of the Development Authority of Mercer County, joins us to answer your questions.

WVVA: John, what are some key issues of concern to small business, both locally and nationally?

O’Neal: Among the issues of concern to small business and workers are inflation, tax and spending bills, and vaccine mandates.

WVVA: John, what is going on with inflation, and why should small business and workers be concerned?

O’Neal: Inflation refers to price increases for goods and services. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, we are experiencing the most extreme levels of price increases in the last 30 years. Gas prices are up over 50%. Food prices are up, every category in the index is up significantly. Major price increases without wage increases are equivalent to tax increases.

WVVA: What are some of the concerns from the business community regarding current federal legislation?

O’Neal: The business community has serious concerns over the efforts of some leaders in DC to dramatically expand social programs. Trillions of dollars in new spending will likely add to the already historic levels of inflation. There are also serious concerns about funding for this extraordinary level of new government spending.

Democrat leaders in DC are proposing major tax increases on business and individuals. They are also proposing dramatic increases in monitoring and reporting of bank account activity of citizens in an effort to secure additional tax revenues. Many people are alarmed, on both sides of the aisle.

US Senator Joe Manchin said, “This cannot happen. This is screwed up.” Stay tuned. This budget bill is still a work in progress.

WVVA: Finally, changing gears, what is the latest on employer vaccine mandates?

O’Neal: As a reminder, there is no federal mandate on employers to require vaccine mandates at this time. President Biden has imposed a vaccine mandate on federal employees. He has instructed OSHA to bring forward rules to require employers with more than 100 employees to impose a COVID vaccine mandate. This has not occurred yet, and it will be challenged in court. Any private employer imposing a vaccine mandate now is doing so for their own reasons. The West Virginia legislature just passed a law granting some relief from employer vaccine mandates. Exemptions must be granted for health and religious reasons, including for people that have natural immunity due to recovering from COVID.

As a result of this action by the legislature, several large employers have delayed or canceled their vaccine mandates. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of jobs have been saved.

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