Lori Caplis

These are challenging times for Montana’s small businesses. There seems to be an endless deluge of pressure that small businesses are facing.

Disruption of supply chains, worker shortages, raging inflation - to name a few - has forced businesses to either increase their prices, cut back on services, or both. All of this on the heels of a historic pandemic. Add in the recent flood and fire damage in several Montana communities, and it’s becoming an overwhelming situation.

This is a time when we need leaders who recognize the challenges that small businesses are facing. That’s why I read with concern that President Biden has nominated someone to a federal post - that if confirmed - might bring an agenda that would make it more difficult for Montana small businesses to operate.

Kalpana Kotagal has been nominated to be the tie-breaking vote on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC serves as the primary body overseeing federal laws aimed at preventing discrimination in the workplace.

While the EEOC serves an important and necessary purpose, there also needs to be a commonsense approach so that small businesses in places like Montana aren’t faced with new, overly burdensome regulations and threats of litigation. This is the last thing Montana small businesses need right now.

It appears that Ms. Kotagal has an agenda that is far out of the mainstream for Montana. She has been a leader of using the threat of onerous lawsuits against businesses to pursue an agenda. She has worked to erase workplace arbitration agreements between businesses and employees, preventing disputes from being resolved using a negotiated process.

She even chose to represent the leader of the “Defund the Police” movement who has called the police a tool of white supremacy and wants the police abolished. This sounds like someone with a big-city agenda who won’t prioritize the unique challenges facing small businesses in rural Montana communities.

I’m hoping Montana’s congressional delegation will take a close look at this nomination with small businesses in mind.