Missouri lawmakers are working to promote home-based businesses while keeping necessary protections in place. It's a delicate balance.
The pandemic showed our workforce is flexible and dynamic. In June 2020, by the time the pandemic was in full swing, 42 percent of U.S. workers were working from home, according to a Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research study.
The pandemic showed us working from home is not only possible, it can be advantageous for employees and employers.
Meanwhile, some people realized they could be their own boss. The U.S. has seen a rise in residence-based small businesses during the past two years amid COVID-19.
Government needs to do its best to help those businesses thrive, then stay out of their way.
Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-St. Charles County, is looking to help home-based businesses with House Bill 2593, which would prohibit political subdivisions from restricting no-impact home-based businesses (which do not have the outside appearance of a business or employees outside of residents of the home) by requiring permits, variances or other prior approval. Local governments would be able to enact safety and health regulations.
It's a constantly evolving bill that isn't perfect. But it's one of the bills that have gained a good amount of support and still is in the mix near the end of the legislative session.
"Especially during the pandemic, thousands of people across the state have decided to turn hobbies into little side incomes, or in a lot of cases, primary incomes out of their home," Lovasco said in our recent coverage. "Unfortunately, the hoops that a lot of folks have to jump through in order to do that and comply with the local requirements, simply to ask permission to do something that, quite frankly, a lot of folks are doing anyway is rather onerous."
We think the goals of the legislation are good, but we share concerns that some opponents have.
We're reluctant to bind the hands of local jurisdictions, unless absolutely necessary. And the bill needs to protect the sanctity of neighborhoods with regulations against disruptive businesses. Home-based businesses need to flourish, but not at the expense of their neighbors.
We hope lawmakers still have time to work on the language of the bill so that both goals can be accomplished.