ABC-VA Blog

Safety Tip - Contact Tracing Scams

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about contact tracing. It’s the process of identifying people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, instructing them to quarantine and monitoring their symptoms daily.

Contact tracers are usually hired by a state’s department of public health. They work with an infected person to get the names and phone numbers for everyone that the infected person came in close contact with the possibly infectious. Those names and phone numbers are often kept in an online system. People who had contact with someone infected with COVID-19 may first get a text message from the health department, telling them they’ll get a call from a specific number. The tracer who calls will not ask for personal information, like a Social Security number. At the end of the call, some states ask if the contact would like to enroll in a text message program, which sends daily health and safety reminders until the 14-day quarantine ends. But tracers won’t ask you for money or information like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.

There’s no question, contact tracing plays a vital role in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. But scammers, pretending to be contact tracers and taking advantage of how the process works, are also sending text messages. But theirs are spam text messages that ask you to click a link. Check out the image below. Unlike a legitimate text message from a health department, which only wants to let you know they’ll be calling, this message includes a link to click.

 

Don’t take the bait. Clicking on the link will download software onto your device, giving scammers access to your personal and financial information. Ignore and delete these scam messages.

There are several ways you can filter unwanted text messages or stop them before they reach you.

  • Your phone may have an option to filter and block messages from unknown senders or spam.
  • Your wireless provider may have a tool or service that lets you block text messages.
  • Some call-blocking apps also let you block unwanted text messages.

Here are several other steps you can take to protect yourself from text scammers.

  • Protect your online accounts by using multi-factor authentication. It requires two or more credentials to log in to your account, which makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do get your username and password.
  • Enable auto updates for the operating systems on your electronic devices. Make sure your apps also auto-update so you get the latest security patches that can protect from malware.
  • Back up the data on your devices regularly, so you won’t lose valuable information if a device gets malware or ransomware.

FTC Consumer Information COVID-19 Contact Tracing Text Message Scams

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Main Street Lending Program New Docs & ABC Urges Senate to Act on PPP Fixes

New Main Street Lending Program Materials:

 

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve released new legal forms and agreements and new FAQs for eligible borrowers and eligible lenders to participate in the various Main Street Lending Programs—MSNLF, MSELF, or MSPLF. This morning Fed Chairman Jerome Powell in an interview said that the MSLP will begin lending in a few days.

 

The Main Street Lending Program will function more like a traditional loan, and not a forgivable loan program like the PPP. The Federal Reserve estimates that the program, which is open to companies with as many as 10,000 employees and will be run directly through lenders, will support up to $600 billion in new loans. 

 

You can also view a Webinar from the Fed on the program that has a link to materials here. PDF is also attached.

 

ABC Urges Senate to Move Quickly on PPP Fix Legislation:

 

With the House of Representatives passing H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 417-1, ABC released a statement following the House’s passage to urge the Senate to take up the measure swiftly to further assist small businesses.

 

While the Senate is expected to take up the bill next week, Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has stated that while the bill “is good” he is seeking clarification from the U.S. Treasury Department on how it intends to interpret some of the bill’s provisions.

 

Further, while the policy fixes in H.R. 7010 should address the immediate-term problems with the program, proposals with bipartisan support remain in play for future packages, including:

 

  • Tax deductibility of forgiven expenses
  • Expansion of allowable uses (e.g. PPE, other COVID-related safety expenses)
  • Interaction with Employee Retention Tax Credit
  • Expansion of PPP to 501(c)(6) organizations

 

ABC will continue to provide updates on the bill and any additional action on ABC’s PPP priorities.

 

IRS Issues Renewable Safe Harbor Deadline Extension:

 

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service issued a notice yesterday, clarifying and modifying the guidance in prior IRS notices regarding the beginning of construction for IRC Sections 45 and 48. Importantly, IRS said it would give companies that began construction in 2016 or 2017 an extra year before projects must enter into service. From the notice itself:

 

the notice extends the Continuity Safe Harbor for both the production tax credit for renewable energy facilities under section 45 and the investment tax credit for energy property under § 48 for projects that began construction in either calendar years 2016 or 2017. This notice also provides a 3½ Month Safe Harbor for services or property paid for by the taxpayer on or after September 16, 2019 and received by October 15, 2020.

 

Republicans Float Return to Work Bonus:

 

This week, a number of Republicans have discussed a return to work bonus to counter current unemployment benefits and assist the 40 million Americans currently unemployed in getting back to work as the U.S. seeks to recover from the pandemic.

 

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has proposed that the federal government give people who stop collecting unemployment and go back to work $450 a week for several weeks. Others, including White House officials and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), have discussed allowing workers to get up to $1,200 if they find a job. On CNBC yesterday Rep. Brady stated:

“We think the focus ought to be making sure these 40 million Americans aren’t permanently unemployed. One of the keys is to get them back to work in a safe, healthy environment. We think a return to work bonus – that allows workers to keep $1,200, two weeks of their unemployment – for taking that job that they just left makes good economic sense.”

“Depending what state you’re in, between two-thirds and three-fourths of workers get paid more on the unemployment system today than they do at their previous job. That’s going to make it tough for that business to be able to remake and rebuild their workforce and reopen again during this recovery.”

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House Passes PPP Fix Bill

House Passes PPP Fix Bill:

 

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 417-1, with Republican Thomas Massie (KY) as the lone vote against. This bill addresses concerns expressed by the small business community such as adjusting current restrictions on nonpayroll expenses, extending loan forgiveness beyond the eight-week covered period and extending the rehiring deadline for employers.

Earlier this morning, ABC issued a key vote to the House urging members to vote YES on H.R. 7010. And also released a statement following the House’s passage to urge the Senate to take up the measure swiftly to further assist small businesses.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday the House and Senate should be able to quickly agree on changes. ABC will continue to provide updates on the bill as we monitor its progress.
 

ABC Expresses Concerns About Requiring OSHA to Issue an Emergency Temporary Standard:

 

In advance of today’s House Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing, “Examining the Federal Government’s Actions to Protect Workers from COVID-19,” ABC and more than 50 other organizations wrote a letter to the Subcommittee to advise against requiring OSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard at this time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Such a requirement is included in the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020 (H.R. 6559).

 

OSHA should instead continue with its current approach of issuing industry-specific guidance based on the latest information from the CDC. This approach provides a more nimble and effective solution than issuing a rigid, one-size-fits-all standard.

 

Employers and employees alike are far better served by an approach that focuses on disseminating the latest information available and tailoring safety guidance to reflect the rapidly evolving understanding of this public health emergency than a rigid standard that would limit our collective ability to quickly adjust to changing circumstances.

 

ABC Launches Safe and Healthy Construction Pledge

ABC recently launched the Safe and Healthy Construction Pledge, an industry-wide call to action to redouble construction jobsite safety commitments under new protocols due to the coronavirus outbreak. Open to all U.S. contractors and industry associations, the pledge calls for prevention, preparedness and response plans to prevent injuries and disease and safeguard total human health.

 

To learn more and sign the pledge, visit safeandhealthyconstruction.org.

 

New from CDC:

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ABC Action Alert & Key Vote on PPP Fix Legislation

ABC Action Alert and Key Vote on PPP Fix Legislation:

 

Tomorrow, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on legislation to fix the small business loan Paycheck Protection Program. Introduced by Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, is a bipartisan measure that addresses concerns such as eliminating restrictions on non-payroll expenses, extending loan forgiveness beyond the 8-week covered period and extending the rehiring deadline for employers. ABC sent out an action alert in support of the bill this morning and we plan to send a key vote letter to Congress once the vote is scheduled. (Note the bill was refiled and bill number changed to H.R. 7010). We are hearing some Members of Congress are pushing against moving this bill forward, so it is critical that House Reps. hear from ABC members in their districts about their support for this bill.

 

ABC, as part of the Steering Committee for the Parity for Main Street Employers coalition, also sent a letter to Congress in support of the bill.

 

Late last week, the Senate attempted to pass legislation to fix outstanding issues with the PPP but was unable to obtain unanimous consent to move the bill forward. ABC has vocalized its support for similar actions, joining more than 120 organizations in a business coalition letter addressed to Congressional leadership and Trump Administration officials requesting similar fixes.

 

ABC Pushes for Liability Protection for Construction Businesses:

 

Today, ABC joined more than 200 trade groups in a letter to lawmakers calling on Congress to quickly enact temporary and targeted liability relief legislation related to the COVID-19. In an effort spearheaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the letter urges Congress to enact temporary liability protections for:

 

  1. Businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions that work to follow applicable public health guidelines against COVID-19 exposure claims;
  2. Healthcare workers and facilities providing critical COVID-19-related care and services;
  3. Manufacturers, donors, distributors, and users of vaccines, therapeutics, medical devices, as well as PPE and other supplies (such as hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies) that are critical to the COVID-19 response; and
  4. Public companies targeted by unfair and opportunistic COVID-19-related securities lawsuits. In addition to being temporary, we believe that these liability protections should be limited in scope and preserve recourse for those harmed by truly bad actors who engage in egregious misconduct.

 

U.S. DOL’s OSHA Issues Coronavirus-related Guidance for Construction Employers and Workers:

 

Today, OSHA announced a webpage that includes coronavirus-related guidance for construction employers and workers,

According to OSHA’s press release, the webpage includes information regarding:

  • Using physical barriers, such as walls, closed doors, or plastic sheeting, to separate workers from individuals experiencing signs or symptoms consistent with the coronavirus;
  • Keeping in-person meetings (including toolbox talks and safety meetings) as short as possible, limiting the number of workers in attendance, and using social distancing practices;
  • Screening calls when scheduling indoor construction work to assess potential exposures and circumstances in the work environment before worker entry;
  • Requesting that shared spaces in home environments where construction activities are being performed, or other construction areas in occupied buildings, have good air flow; and
  • Staggering work schedules, such as alternating workdays or extra shifts, to reduce the total number of employees on a job site at any given time and to ensure physical distancing.

Visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage frequently for updates. For further information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

OSHA Releases Agency and Industry-Specific COVID-19 Resource Guide:

 

On May 26, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the OSHA Alliance Program issued an updated list of COVID-19 resources from various federal and state agencies and non-government organizations.

 

The document includes both a list of general COVID-19 resources grouped by agency and additional industry-specific COVID-19 resources grouped by industry, which includes resources for the construction industry.

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House Pushes PPP Fix & SBA Releases New Loan Forgiveness Guidance

House Set to Vote on PPP Fix Legislation:

 

Potentially tomorrow night, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on legislation to fix the small business loan program known as the Paycheck Protection Program. Introduced by Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), H.R. 6886, the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, is a bipartisan measure that addresses concerns such as eliminating restrictions on non-payroll expenses, extending loan forgiveness beyond the 8-week covered period and extending the rehiring deadline for employers. ABC will be sending out an Action Alert in support of this bill tomorrow morning.

 

Late last week, the Senate attempted to pass similar legislation to fix outstanding issues with the PPP but was unable to obtain unanimous consent to move the bill forward. ABC has vocalized its support for similar actions, joining more than 120 organizations in a business coalition letter addressed to Congressional leadership and Trump Administration officials requesting similar fixes.

 

SBA and Treasury Release IFR on Loan Forgiveness:

 

On Friday night before the long weekend, the Trump administration released long-awaited rules on how government-backed PPP small business loans can be forgiven, but the guidance falls far short of what employers and lawmakers have pushed for in the popular program and shows a need for the legislation mentioned above to implement necessary flexibility and resources for small businesses.

The administration released two new rules specifying what qualifies as payroll expenses and detailing limits on the amount of loan forgiveness available for owner-employees. One added details on the requirements for loan forgiveness. The other outlined lenders' responsibilities in the forgiveness process and SBA's procedures for reviewing loans to determine borrower eligibility.

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Senate Attempts to Move PPP Fix Bill & Senate Banking Hearing Addresses Main Street Lending Program Launch

REMINDER -- ABC Requests PPP Stories:

 

As ABC continues to work on providing clear guidance on PPP,  we are also urging members to send any personal stories they are comfortable sharing on their experience with the loan program and any issues they have run into while seeking to provide critical pay and benefits for their employees. If ABC members have any information they would be willing to share, please email [email protected] to provide information.

 

Senate Attempts to Move First on PPP Fix Bill:

 

While yesterday’s update noted the House’s efforts to pass fixes to PPP H.R. 6886, the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, today, the Senate is attempting to pass a bill authored by Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that, as currently drafted, would extend the deadline to apply for PPP until the end of the year and allow borrowers 16 weeks to use their loan funds, instead of the current 8 week requirement. The bill would also allow employers to use the loan for purchases of PPE for employers and pay for adaptive investments needed to reopen safely.

 

The Senate is attempting to hotline this bill through today ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, however, it would require an agreement by all 100 Senators to move forward. ABC has advocated for an extension of the 8 week period for the loans and will continue to provide updates on the progress of legislative fixes to this issue.  

 

Senate Banking Hearing with Powell and Mnuchin Addresses Main Street Lending Program:

 

On Tuesday, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Quarterly CARES Act Report to Congress. At issue were questions about the Federal Reserve’s plans to launch its lending facilities, including the Main Street Lending Program.

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed that the facilities should be operational by the end of the month:

 

  • Powell: "We expect all of them to be stood up and ready to go by the end of this month… People are working literally around the clock and have been for weeks."

 

  • Mnuchin: “We fully expect [the Main Street and Municipal Lending] facilities to be up and running by the end of the month.”

 

Secretary Mnuchin further indicated that Treasury expects to fully exhaust the $454 billion in stabilization funds provided in the CARES Act: “I have allocated about half of that—and let me be clear: I am prepared to allocate the rest of that. The only reason I have not allocated it fully is we are just starting to get these facilities up and running. We want to have a better idea of which one of the facilities needs more capital, as well as the potential for adding additional facilities. So I expect to allocate all the capital, as needed, as was given to us.”

 

In the same exchange with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID), Secretary Mnuchin addressed questions regarding Treasury’s appetite for risk: “For any facility that the Fed believes puts them at risk, I put up capital, so by definition that capital is at risk, and we are fully prepared to take losses in certain scenarios on that capital.” He later called the absorption of these losses his “base case scenario.”

 

This is a significant departure from previous public comments in which Secretary Mnuchin indicated he intended to fully recover the money used to seed the Federal Reserve programs, and an indication of Treasury’s willingness to take on more risk.

 

New from CDC: What Construction Workers Need to Know about COVID-19:
 
Topics include:
  • As a construction worker, how can I protect myself and slow the spread?
  • What steps should my employer take?
  • Reducing transmission among workers
  • Maintaining a healthy work environment
  • Maintaining healthy business operations

 

Learn more here.

 

Also, see ABC’s Emergency Preparedness and Safety Resources.

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ABC Seeks PPP Success Stories, Bipartisan Legislation Introduced on PPP Fixes, President Issues EO on Reg Relief & Senate Looks to Draft Liability Protection

REMINDER -- ABC Requests PPP Stories:

 

As ABC continues to work on providing clear guidance on PPP,  we are also urging members to send any personal stories they are comfortable sharing on their experience with the loan program and any issues they have run into while seeking to provide critical pay and benefits for their employees. If ABC members have any information they would be willing to share, please email [email protected] to provide information.

 

Bipartisan Bill to Fix PPP Concerns Gains Traction in House:

 

Earlier this month, Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) introduced H.R. 6886, the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, which would make urgently needed changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), addressing many of the concerns ABC has expressed to Congress to make the program more effective in providing businesses the resources needed to continue operations. Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi and House leaders agreed to hold a vote on this bipartisan legislation, and ABC will continue to provide updates on its progression through Congress. See here and below for additional information on this bill:

  1. Allow forgiveness for expenses beyond the 8-week covered period.  The 8-week timeline does not work for local businesses that are prohibited from opening their doors, or those that will only be allowed to open with restrictions. Businesses need the flexibility to spread the loan proceeds over the full course of the crisis until demand returns. Otherwise, employees could simply be furloughed at the expiration of the 8 weeks.
  2. Eliminate restrictions limiting non-payroll expenses to 25% of loan proceeds.  Currently, the PPP loans require that 75% of the loan go to payroll, but for many businesses, payroll simply does not represent 75% of their monthly expenses and 25% does not leave enough to cover mortgage, rent, and utilities. 
  3. Eliminate restrictions that limit loan terms to 2 years.  Full recovery for many industries could take more than two full years and it will take many businesses more than two years to achieve sufficient revenue to pay back the loan, if they are not granted full loan forgiveness.
  4. Ensure full access to payroll tax deferment for businesses that take PPP loans.  
  5. Extend the rehiring deadline to offset the effect of enhanced Unemployment Insurance. To receive loan forgiveness under PPP, a business must rehire employees by a deadline of June 30, 2020.  However, the enhanced Unemployment Insurance created through the CARES Act is higher than the median wage in 44 states.  Many businesses have reported an inability to rehire employees because they are making more on Unemployment than they made working, and the deadline to rehire employees under PPP should be extended to align with the expiration of enhanced Unemployment Insurance.

Bipartisan Support Builds for Expansion of Employee Retention Tax Credit:

While the HEROES Act was a largely partisan wish list for Democrats in Congress, it did contain one area of emerging bipartisan agreement to expand the CARES Act Employee Retention Tax Credit for COVID-impacted employers that retained their workers. The Heroes language was pulled from a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), that would make the credit significantly more generous, phase in eligibility for a broader range of companies, and clarify the credit’s interaction with PPP loans. Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters last week “we are willing to discuss, in a bipartisan way, how to make the credit work better and to expand it.” ABC will continue to monitor these discussions and provide updates.

President Trump Signs Executive Order to Provide Regulatory Relief:

On May 19, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery, which will cut red tape to help to jumpstart the economy and get Americans back to work.

The EO does the following:

  • Directs agencies to use all emergency authorities to swiftly identify regulations that can be rescinded or temporarily waived to promote job creation and economic growth. 
  • Asks agencies to speed up the rulemaking process by moving proposed rulemakings to interim final rules with immediate effect. 
  • Directs agencies not to over-enforce when a business is working in good faith to follow the law. 
  • Establishes a “Regulatory Bill of Rights,” a set of 10 basic principles of fairness to govern the administrative enforcement and adjudication process.

Currently, the Trump administration has taken over 600 regulatory actions to combat the coronavirus, including suspensions, waivers, enforcement discretion, and more.

ABC National will be submitting to the Trump administration a list of regulations to rescind in order to help small businesses create jobs and revitalize the economy.

 

Cornyn-McConnell Continue Crafting Liability Legislation:

 

While the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by House Democrats last week neglected the liability issue for America’s employers, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are working to introduce legislation that would establish liability protection for businesses, universities, nonprofits, and more from COVID-19 lawsuits as more states start to reopen businesses and essential work continues throughout the country.

 

While a final bill has not yet been released, it will likely contain the following elements:

  • Medical malpractice protection for hospitals and healthcare workers, including an increase in the liability threshold for COVID related malpractice lawsuits.
  • A new legal safe harbor for businesses, raising the standard to prove a business is at fault.
  • Additional legal protections for manufacturers. Leader McConnell said the bill would “find ways to expand existing protections for the manufacturers of therapeutics, diagnostics, and potential vaccines.”
  • The bill would not provide immunity from lawsuits, as Leader McConnell put it, legislation would safeguard employers who follow “public health guidelines to the best of their ability…We are not talking about immunity from lawsuits… There will be accountability for actual gross negligence and intentional misconduct." Businesses might have to show they required mask wearing, provided PPE, provided hand sanitizer, conducted tests, etc.
  • Business groups have also advocated for making any liability changes temporary, tying protections to the duration of the national emergency.

A reminder that ABC National recently signed on to a letter drafted by the US Chamber asking Congress for a COVID-19 specific, limited liability safe harbor for companies and other organizations that follow government guidance and operate during the health crisis. If your organization is willing to add its name to the list of signatories, Please respond to Roger Gibboni here at U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform at [email protected] or (202) 538-9767. The Chamber is asking for responses by COB TODAY, May 20, 2020.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: ABC Action on Liability, SBA Data, and Congressional Oversight of COVID-19 Response

SBA Releases Updated Data on Paycheck Protection Program:

Last night, SBA released a summary of PPP lending. Importantly, a significant amount of the $650 billion allocated to the program is still available for eligible companies in need. ABC is also working to urge additional guidance on the program from SBA and Treasury.
 

First Report of the Congressional Oversight Commission & Main Street Lending Program:

The “First Report of the Congressional Oversight Commission” was issued yesterday and the report summarizes the federal government’s economic response to COVID-19 and the various programs implemented to help businesses of all sizes survive the pandemic with their employment base intact. The report also raises important questions that can and should be raised regarding the CARES Act Emergency Economic Stabilization Funds, including a better sense of timing as to when these programs will be dispensing actual funds to businesses.  ABC has raised concerns over the report’s findings, including the following, and will continue to monitor any response from our federal agencies:

 

  • Of the $500 billion provided to the Treasury Department on March 27th to fund to businesses and state and local governments to help them stabilize the economy, why has the Treasury only dispersed $37.5 billion, and all of those funds have been used to purchase the corporate debt of large public companies. 

 

  • The Main Street Lending facilities were established to help businesses of all sizes access credit at this difficult time.  The Federal Reserve initially announced it would purchase stakes in qualifying loans initiated prior to April 8th.  Term sheets released on April 9th included a number of limitations to the program and asked for comments.  Further announcements on April 30th adjusted many of the terms of the programs, yet none of the $75 billion of announced funding has been dispersed.
     

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Federal Permitting and Approval Process:

 

The Unlock American Investment coalition, of which ABC is a member, is hosting a discussion tonight at 5:00 pm with Senator Mike Lee on the need to modernize the federal permitting and approval process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Senator Lee will discuss his legislative efforts to update NEPA in his role as chair of the Senate Joint Economic Committee and the chair of the Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. You may register for the event here.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: PPP Feedback and Recent Guidance

PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and Additional Guidance:

As noted on Friday, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, released the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application and detailed instructions for the application. While this application provides answers to some administrative questions, it leaves other issues unresolved, including flexibility for small businesses on when the eight-week loan forgiveness period should start, or extending the covered period more than eight weeks. ABC continues to push for critical additional guidance on loan forgiveness to ensure that borrowers have clear and consistent guidance on applying for PPP loan forgiveness.

A reminder that ABC also submitted comments to the U.S. Small Business Administration on Friday. In the letter, ABC highlights some concerns with the current guidance and suggested changes to the operation of the PPP loans in order to better serve construction small businesses. You may view the full letter here.

 Today, the SBA also released an Interim Final Rule on Treatment of Entities with Foreign Affiliates, and last week released Requirements for Loan Increases for Partnerships or Seasonal Employers.

 

ABC Urges Action on PPP Stories:

 

As ABC continues to work on providing clear guidance on PPP,  we are also urging members to send any personal stories they are comfortable sharing on their experience with the loan program and any issues they have run into while seeking to provide critical pay and benefits for their employees. If ABC members have any information they would be willing to share, please email [email protected] to provide information.

 

Construction Included in First Phase of Massachusetts Reopening:

 

Today, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that construction, along with a select group of other industries such as manufacturing, may resume operations immediately as part of the first phase of the state’s reopening. The administration released sector-specific protocols and best practices which can be found here. For more information on the full four-phase reopening you can visit this page.

 

DOL Posters – Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

 

More information on the FFCRA is available here.

 

House Passes $3 Trillion Spending Bill:

 

On Friday, the House passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill by a vote of 209-199. Only one Republican (Rep. Peter King, NY) voted for the largely messaging bill that has not been negotiated with the Senate or White House, while 14 Democrats opposed the legislation.

 

Looking ahead, the House will not be back in Washington until after Memorial Day, while congressional leaders are not negotiating at this time, and Republicans continue to message on the need to see the impact of the first $2 trillion relief bill before enacting additional legislation to address the ongoing crisis.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: ABC Letters on Liability & PPP Guidance, Dems Push $3 Trillion Spending Bill

ABC Signs Letter on Limited Liability Safe Harbor for Companies:
 

ABC National recently signed on to a letter drafted by the US Chamber asking Congress for a COVID-19 specific, limited liability safe harbor for companies and other organizations that follow government guidance and operate during the health crisis. If your organization is willing to add its name to the list of signatories, Please respond to Roger Gibboni here at U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform at [email protected] or (202) 538-9767. The Chamber is asking for responses by COB on May 20, 2020. 
 

ABC Submits Comments to SBA on Paycheck Protection Program:

 

This afternoon, ABC submitted comments to the U.S. Small Business Administration in response to the administration’s interim final rule. In the letter, ABC highlights some concerns with the current guidance and suggested changes to the operation of the PPP loans in order to better serve construction small businesses. You may view the full letter here.

 

House Dems Move Forward with $3 Trillion Spending Bill & Proxy Voting:

 

Democratic leadership in the House is pushing for a vote today on their $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which is largely a messaging bill that has not been negotiated with the Senate or White House. The proxy voting system would only be temporary and one lawmaker could only vote for up to 10 members. The House GOP whip team is formally urging a “no” vote on both the proxy voting plan and the relief bill. Democratic leaders are confident they have the votes for the measure — but there will likely be defections on both sides of the aisle. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said he and several other Republicans are expected to support the package, while both the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic party have expressed serious concerns with the bill.

 

Construction Reopening in Five New York Regions Today:

 

In New York, construction resumed today in five regions of the state cleared to begin reopening, provided that appropriate social-distancing and cleaning measures are in place. Owners and operators of construction projects are required to follow, at a minimum, the interim guidance issued by the New York Department of Health, which can be found here. The guidance also encourages employers to put in place additional restrictions and safety measures to increase jobsite safety.

 

The areas opening for construction are the Finger Lakes, including Rochester; Central New York, a five-county area including Syracuse; the Southern Tier, which borders Pennsylvania; the Mohawk Valley, west of Albany; and the rural North County, which includes the Adirondack Mountains. Five regions in New York State, including the New York City area, remain under the state’s extended stay at home order.

 

Helpful Tip of the Day -- ABC’s Coronavirus Update Webpage:

 

ABC is committed to providing its members with the latest health, safety, economic and policy information regarding the coronavirus pandemic. To better manage the growing number of resources, ABC updated its Coronavirus Update webpage to simplify and improve navigation, with topics and resources organized in four different categories: Employer Resources, Employee Resources, National Markets and State & Local Markets.

 

Today’s spotlight is State & Local Markets—visit it today!

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COVID-19 Daily Update: PPP Safe Harbor Date Extended, House Set to Vote on Massive Funding Bill & Republicans Win Special Elections in CA and WI

Helpful Tip of the Day -- ABC’s Coronavirus Update Webpage:

 

ABC is committed to providing its members with the latest health, safety, economic and policy information regarding the coronavirus pandemic. To better manage the growing number of resources, ABC updated its Coronavirus Update webpage to simplify and improve navigation, with topics and resources organized in four different categories: Employer Resources, Employee Resources, National Markets and State & Local Markets.

 

Today’s spotlight is Employer Resources—visit it today!

 

PPP Safe Harbor Date Extension & ABC Guidance Provides Additional Clarification on Good-faith Certification:

 

Late last night, the SBA extended the safe harbor date for returning PPP loans until Monday, May 18, through a new PPP FAQ. This followed an FAQ released on the good-faith certification, which clarifies that borrowers with loans of less than $2 million are deemed to have made the certification in good faith, and provides additional guidance on SBA reviews for borrowers with loans of more than $2 million. Full FAQ is also below.

 

ABC recently released a statement calling for additional clarification and consistent guidance from the SBA to provide certainty for employers. While the new guidance alleviates some concerns, particularly for those businesses with loans under $2 million, ABC would welcome additional clarification on “access to liquidity” as referenced in the previous FAQs and IFR, and will be submitting comments to SBA to address these concerns. Further, ABC continues to push for clear guidance on the forgiveness of PPP loans to provide additional clarity for employers and will continue to provide updates on these efforts.

 

House Dems Move Forward with $3 Trillion Spending Bill & Proxy Voting:

 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated on a caucus call with House Democrats yesterday that the House will vote Friday on both the proxy voting plan and their $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which is largely a messaging bill that has not been negotiated with the Senate or White House. The proxy voting system would only be temporary and one lawmaker could only vote for up to 10 members. The House GOP whip team is formally urging a “no” vote on both the proxy voting plan and the relief bill. Some moderate democrats may oppose the bill, but it is expected to pass with mainly Democratic support in the House.

 

Republicans Win Special Elections Amid Pandemic:

 

On May 12, two special elections were held in Wisconsin’s 7th and California’s 25th congressional districts, each won by the respective Republican candidate. Early in the vote tallying process, the election for Wisconsin’s 7th district was called for state Sen. Tom Tiffany over Democrat Tricia Zunker by the vote of 57% to 42%; replacing former Rep. Sean Duffy (R). Although the seat was expected to remain firmly in Republican hands, the large margin of victory was encouraging for Wisconsin Republicans, as both ABC PAC and the ABC Wisconsin chapter endorsed now-Rep-elect Tiffany earlier this year before the northern-Wisconsin based seat’s primary election. Upon Rep-elect Tiffany’s election, ABC Wisconsin released the following statement:

 

“On behalf of the nearly 900 hard-working ABC of Wisconsin member companies literally building Wisconsin, congratulations to State Senator Tom Tiffany for his election to Congress,” Mielke said. “His willingness in the state legislature to champion reforms like prevailing wage repeal, project labor agreement neutrality, and right to work will be a great addition to Wisconsin’s congressional delegation.”

 

In what was expected to be a much closer race for Southern California’s 25th congressional district, Republican candidate Mike Garcia scored an impressive victory over Democrat Kristy Smith by an unofficial 56% to 44% margin. Despite thousands of ballots still to be received and counted in the California election, Smith, a Democratic state Assemblywoman, conceded defeat to Garcia, a retired Navy fighter pilot. Rep-elect Garcia will head to Washington to fill the seat that scandal-ridden Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned from late last year.  Rep-elect Garcia was endorsed by ABC PAC and the ABC Southern and Central California Chapters, and even headlined the first virtual ABC PAC virtual meet and greet ahead of the election.

 

The Garcia win is big for the national Republican Party at a time when it needed to score a victory.  Winning a seat in California, where President Trump is extremely unpopular (in CA-25, Hillary Clinton’s winning margin was 50-44%, after Republicans at the congressional level had carried the seat consecutively from 1992 until 2018) is a boost for them nationally and should help with fundraising and candidate enthusiasm. Garcia’s success also dispels theories of relative performance disparity favoring Democrats in mail-in ballot elections, which will bolster Republican’s confidence heading into an uncertain summer and fall.

 

With the conclusion of these two special election races, three US House vacancies remain, two of which will likely stay without representation for the remainder of the current Congress.  New York’s 27th CD will be filled in a special general election on June 23rd.

 

New York Issues Interim Guidance For Construction:

 

New York issued interim guidance for construction activities during the COVID-19 public health emergency to provide owners/operators of construction projects and their employees and contractors with precautions to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 as indoor and outdoor construction sites reopen. You may view the guidance here.

 

Coping with COVID-19 Webinar: SBA Updates on CARES Act Programs to Help Small Businesses and Private Non-Profits:

Get answers to questions like these...Which SBA programs do I qualify for through the CARES Act and how can they help me sustain my operations? What are my options if I'm a sole proprietor or an independent contractor? What is the status of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) / EIDL Advance program? Who can help me develop, adjust, or rework my business plan?

 

When

Friday, May 15, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm (EDT)

STEP 1: Dial into the conference.

Dial-in: 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633

Enter Access Code: 0172365##

STEP 2: Join the conference on your computer.

Entry Link: https://ems8.intellor.com/login/826109

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COVID-19 Daily Update: PPP FAQ Update on Good-Faith Certification & ABC Responds to HEROES Act Tax Hike

New PPP Guidance Provides Additional Clarification on Good-faith Certification:

 

Ahead of tomorrow’s safe harbor date for returning PPP loan funds, a new PPP FAQ was released on the good-faith certification, which clarifies that borrowers with loans of less than $2 million are deemed to have made the certification in good faith, and provides additional guidance on SBA reviews for borrowers with loans of more than $2 million. Full FAQ is also below. ABC recently released a statement calling for additional clarification and consistent guidance from the SBA to provide certainty for employers.

 

46. Question: How will SBA review borrowers’ required good-faith certification concerning the necessity of their loan request?

 

Answer: When submitting a PPP application, all borrowers must certify in good faith that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has determined that the following safe harbor will apply to SBA’s review of PPP loans with respect to this issue: Any borrower that, together with its affiliates,20 received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith.

 

SBA has determined that this safe harbor is appropriate because borrowers with loans below this threshold are generally less likely to have had access to adequate sources of liquidity in the current economic environment than borrowers that obtained larger loans. This safe harbor will also promote economic certainty as PPP borrowers with more limited resources endeavor to retain and rehire employees. In addition, given the large volume of PPP loans, this approach will enable SBA to conserve its finite audit resources and focus its reviews on larger loans, where the compliance effort may yield higher returns.

 

Importantly, borrowers with loans greater than $2 million that do not satisfy this safe harbor may still have an adequate basis for making the required good-faith certification, based on their individual circumstances in light of the language of the certification and SBA guidance. SBA has previously stated that all PPP loans in excess of $2 million, and other PPP loans as appropriate, will be subject to review by SBA for compliance with program requirements set forth in the PPP Interim Final Rules and in the Borrower Application Form. If SBA determines in the course of its review that a borrower lacked an adequate basis for the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request, SBA will seek repayment of the outstanding PPP loan balance and will inform the lender that the borrower is not eligible for loan forgiveness. If the borrower repays the loan after receiving notification from SBA, SBA will not pursue administrative enforcement or referrals to other agencies based on its determination with respect to the certification concerning necessity of the loan request. SBA’s determination concerning the certification regarding the necessity of the loan request will not affect SBA’s loan guarantee.

 

ABC Responds to HEROES Act Tax Hike for Small Construction Businesses:

 

As part of the Parity for Main Street Employers coalition, ABC responded to House Democrat’s proposal that would raise taxes on small construction businesses through the repeal of the bipartisan supported net operating loss carryback and loss limitation provisions previously included in the CARES Act. The CARES Act included a 5-year carryback for losses incurred in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and suspended the loss limitation rules for those years to provide critical relief for pass-through businesses with large losses. ABC previously joined over one hundred national business trade groups in a letter of support for this provision, and calls on Congress to keep this important relief intact as it considers additional responses to COVID-19.

 

While the Democrats 1,815 page bill is largely a messaging bill, ABC will continue to provide updates on its progress through the House and further negotiations on additional relief funding.

 

IRS provides tax relief through increased flexibility for taxpayers in section 125 cafeteria plans:

 

Yesterday, the Internal Revenue Service today released guidance to allow temporary changes to section 125 cafeteria plans. These changes extend the claims period for health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and dependent care assistance programs and allow taxpayers to make mid-year changes. The guidance issued addresses unanticipated changes in expenses because of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and provides that previously provided temporary relief for high deductible health plans may be applied retroactively to January 1, 2020, and it also increases for inflation the $500 permitted carryover amount for health FSAs to $550.

 

Reopening Plans Delayed for Northern Virginia as State Moves Forward:

 

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday that northern parts of the state closer to Washington, DC, will remain in “Phase Zero” of the state’s reopening plans, while the rest of the state moves forward with Phase 1 of reopening this Friday, May 15. According to Executive Order 62, Northern Virginia will now be delayed on reopening until midnight of Thursday, May 28. The delay is due to the heightened number of COVID-19 cases in those more populous and dense areas in the DC metro area suburbs.

 

Areas affected include Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg and Vienna.

 

Washington, DC has also extended its stay at home order until at least June 8.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: ABC Pushes PPP Clarification & Dems Release Wishlist Bill for Relief Funding

ABC Pushes for Clear & Consistent PPP Guidance:

 

This morning ABC joined a group of small business advocacy organizations in a statement to the SBA and Treasury urging clear and consistent guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure that small businesses have the financial resources necessary to keep employees paid while government-mandated stay-at-home orders remain in place, and that applicants are held to the same guidance that was in place at the time the business applied for a loan. You can view a copy of the statement here.

 

ABC is continuing to push for new guidance on PPP to be released prior to the May 14th safe harbor date to return PPP funds.

 

House Democrats Introduce HEROES Act :

 

House Democrats today rolled out an ambitious and costly proposal to the next phase of emergency relief funding to combat the effects of COVID-19 on Americans, hospitals, and businesses. The 1,815 page bill would provide $3 trillion in federal funding and is set for a Friday floor vote in the House.

 

Democrats acknowledge that their proposal is more of a talking point than legislation that they expect to become law, but Speaker Pelosi is using the bill to push Republicans to the negotiation table on a new round of funding to respond to the ongoing health crisis. President Trump and Senate Republicans have so far objected to the Democratic proposal, saying there hasn’t been enough time since the $2 trillion CARES Act passed to determine whether new legislation is needed or necessary.

 

Pelosi and other top Democrats also plan to push through a House rules change that will allow proxy voting for U.S. Representatives and remote hearings for House committees. 

 

As currently written, the main focus of the House bill is funding to states and local governments, which have requested billions more to address budget shortfalls due to the coronavirus. The bill contains $500 billion for states, $375 billion for local governments, $20 billion for tribal communities, and another $20 billion for territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. The bill would also allocate $755 million to Washington in coronavirus aid. 

 

The bill would include another round of $1,200 payments to individuals, but would include an additional $1,200 per dependent, capped at three dependents, and would extend the expanded unemployment benefits authorized under the CARES Act through January 31, 2021.

 

While this is clearly a messaging bill, ABC is reviewing the legislation and will continue to monitor any progress and provide updates on its movement through the House and further negotiations between the House, Senate and White House.

 

CDC Updates Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), May 2020:

Summary of changes to the Guidance includes:

  • Updated strategies and recommendations for employers responding to COVID-19, including those seeking to resume normal or phased business operations:
    • Conducting daily health checks
    • Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
    • Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
    • Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
    • Improving the building ventilation system
  • A table outlining the engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment (PPE) that employers may use to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace

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COVID-19 Daily Update: Democrats Continue Work on CARES 2 and PPP Loans Cool Down

Helpful Tip of the Day – Recent USDOL Action:

 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has added new frequently asked questions connected to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The list now includes 93 questions and answers. Learn more about recent DOL actions here.

 

House Democrats Pushing Forward with CARES 2:

 

While it remains unclear when the House will return to Washington, Democrats continue to put together their legislative wish list for a coronavirus relief bill, or “CARES 2,” with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) seeking to lay down a marker for Democrats and turn up pressure on Republicans as Congress works to pass additional relief funding. However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told representatives that the House will not vote on its next coronavirus relief plan before Friday. Last week, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow also said he did not expect formal talks between the Trump administration and Congress on a new relief package to restart until late May or early June. 

 

Reports indicate that the Democrat’s bill will likely contain roughly $1 trillion for state and local governments who have been struggling with budget shortfalls due to the lockdowns imposed by the pandemic, more money for hospitals and COVID-19 testing, approximately $25 billion to keep the U.S. Postal Service afloat, expanded nutritional benefits for Americans, Medicaid funding and unemployment insurance, and potentially another round of direct payments to Americans.

 

PPP Slowdown:

 

While the first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans were quickly gobbled up by businesses in need within the first 14 days, the second round of funding has not seen the same fervor as day 14 (today) there still remains approximately $120 billion left in the program. While the reasons behind this cool down are speculative, the Wall Street Journal had some insight into the issue last week in an article that highlights the recent guidance from SBA and concern about loan forgiveness from businesses.

 

Concerns from businesses could also increase, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee to oversee the federal response to COVID-19 has focused on naming and shaming larger companies that applied for and received PPP loans. Republicans quickly indicated they opposed the move and expressed concern it would have a chilling effect on struggling companies.

 

"This action by Democrats represents dangerous government intimidation that could cause more widespread layoffs at a time when we should be trying to keep American workers on the payroll," said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the top Republican on the committee.

 

ABC continues to work to address these critical issues and urge the SBA and Treasury to issue clear, concise guidance on this critical program for the nation’s small businesses. We will be sure to provide updates this week on these continued efforts.

 

Vermont Eases Jobsite Restrictions

 

After construction jobsites were limited to “no more than 10 total workers” as Vermont began reopening their economy, the state is now allowing jobsites to return to full workers capacity beginning today. The state says that jobsites should be limited to “as few employees as necessary to permit full operations” but does not place a restriction on the number of workers as was previously in place. The state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development has released updated guidance here that contractors are required to follow.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: Employee Retention Tax Credit and PPP for 501(c)(6)s

Employee Retention Tax Credit Revised Guidance and New Legislation Introduced:

 

The IRS recently reversed its previous guidance and will now allow employers to treat qualified health expenses as qualified wages under the COVID Employee Retention Credit. You can view more on the IRS FAQs here.

 

Also today, U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), introduced legislation to enhance the employee retention tax credit (ERTC), and are pushing for the proposal to be included in the next COVID-19 relief legislation. The full text of the bill can be found here. A one-page fact sheet on the bill can be found here. The Jumpstarting Our Businesses’ Success Credit (JOBS Credit) Act of 2020, would make a number of targeted improvements to the ERTC to better fulfill its goal of keeping workers connected to their jobs during this crisis. The changes include:

 

  • Increasing the credit percentage from 50 percent to 80 percent of qualified wages;
  • Increasing the per-employee limitation from $10,000 for all calendar quarters to $15,000 per calendar quarter (and an aggregate of $45,000 for all calendar quarters);
  • Changing the threshold for treatment as a large employer from employers having more than 100 employees to employers having more than 1,500 employees (based on the average number of full-time employees in 2019) or having gross receipts above $41.5 million in 2019;
  • Making it easier for employers to qualify for the credit by phasing in the credit, so that employers who have experienced more than a 20 percent decline in gross receipts can claim a portion of the credit;
  • Clarifying that “qualified wages” include qualified health benefits and that employers who continue providing such benefits to their employees qualify for the ERTC even if they do not continue paying other qualifying wages; 
  • Allowing state, territory, and tribal governmental employers (and any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of these entities) to claim the credit if these employers retain employees notwithstanding the closure of their operations; and
  • Improving coordination between the ERTC and the Paycheck Protection Program so employers can be eligible for both programs, but with guardrails in place to prevent “double dipping.” 

 

Lawmakers Push for Expansion of PPP for 501(c)(6)s:

 

The Local Chamber, Tourism, and 501(c)(6) Protection Act, introduced by Reps. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Greg Steube (R-Fla.) and Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.) on Wednesday, would allow chambers to receive forgivable loans authorized under the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). ABC has advocated for expansion of PPP for 501(c)(6)s.

Earlier this week, Speaker Pelosi discussed Democrats plans to push for a variety of reforms to the P3 program in the next round of emergency coronavirus legislation. Among the changes, Pelosi said, would be a shift to include 501(c)(6) trade groups.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is also working to include additional modifications to the program, including lengthening the time that small businesses can spend the money; allowing them to use less of the aid on trying to retain employees and more for expenses like rent; and expanding the relief to larger companies. ABC will continue to monitor these issues and provide updates on critical information.

Boston Provides Timeline for Construction Reopening

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced that essential construction projects, which meet a three criteria outlined by the city, will be allowed to resume work on May 18. Companies who wish to return to work must submit a safety plan and signed affidavit to city officials. The order also reads that no construction will be permitted beyond what the State of Massachusetts has deemed an essential construction projects. Nearly all construction projects in the City of Boston have been closed since March 23 per an executive order by the Mayor. The full announcement including timelines for reopening and paperwork submission procedures can be found here.

 

EEOC: What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws:

 

The EEOC has issued a technical assistance publication to address questions arising under the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

New at the CDC:

 

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COVID-19 Daily Update: ABC Action on Liability, PPP Interim Final Rule and FAQs & DOL Resources

ABC Urges Congressional Action on Liability:

 

This week, ABC joined a number of organizations in a letter to congressional leadership urging speedy action on liability protections for essential business. 

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled that they will not support an additional coronavirus relief bill unless it provides liability protections for employers

 

Talks surrounding the next relief package have continued this week as the Senate returned to D.C. on Monday, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House plans to come back May 11, though that could change depending upon the recommendation from the Capitol physician.

 

Helpful Tip of the Day – PPP Update and FAQs:

 

SBA & Treasury have released additional information regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). ABC also continues to push for clarification on certification requirements for borrowers ahead of the May 14th safe harbor date for returning PPP funds.

 

 

 

  • Please view a summary of PPP2 loan data as of 5pm EDT – Wednesday, May 6, 2020 (Please note PPP2 loan data will be posted here EOD going forward)

 

USDOL– Summary of Available COVID-19 Workplace Resources:

 

Over the last several weeks, USDOL has issued numerous COVID-19 Workplace resources. The Department has now created a list of general COVID-19 available resources grouped by agency and industry-specific COVID-19 resources grouped by industry. The summary includes resources from OSHA, DOL’s Wage and Hour Division and the CDC as well as specific resources for the construction industry. (The summary is intended as a resource and is not comprehensive).

 

Michigan Construction Back to Work Today, New Jersey Could be Next:

 

Some types of work, including construction, real estate and other outdoor work, resumed in Michigan today after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order last Friday allowing certain industries to resume activity. The move follows a six-week hiatus where most construction activity was shut down per the Governor’s stay-at-home order. The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity released an eight part plan specifically for the construction industry that includes guidelines for contractors in the state.

 

Yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy hinted that the construction industry could be included in the first phase of reopening the state’s economy, although further details including a target date for reopening or guidelines for the industry were not released. All non-essential construction projects in New Jersey have been shut down since April 10.

 

Political Watch List – Wisconsin and California Special Elections:

While the COVID-19 crisis has affected elections in numerous states, voters in Wisconsin and California will cast ballots for two important special general elections on Tuesday, May 12.

Voters in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District will head to the polls and cast their ballots for Sean Duffy’s vacant seat. Republican State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R) will face Wausau School Board President Tricia Zunker (D). Tiffany is favored to win this previously Republican-held seat as Duffy, who resigned last fall, won the seat by 21.6% in 2018.

In California, 420,000 ballots were sent to all registered voters in the 25th Congressional District ahead of Tuesday’s election. Republican Mike Garcia, decorated United States Naval Officer, will face California State Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a Democrat, to fill Democrat Katie Hill’s vacant seat.

Learn more at ABCVotes.com.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: PPP Safe Harbor Date Extended & ABC Urges PPP Tax Deduction

Helpful Tip of the Day – PPP Safe Harbor Date Extended to May 14th:

 

Last night, the SBA released additional FAQs that extended the safe harbor date for companies to return PPP funds to May 14th AND stated that the administration intends to provide additional guidance on borrower certification and we are hoping this will help provide additional clarity to recipients to make an informed decision on their loans. Full FAQ on this issue below and updated FAQs here. The updated FAQs also addresses a question in regards to counting the employees of foreign and U.S. affiliates. SBA also released a summary of PPP2 loan data as of 5pm EDT – Tuesday, May 5, 2020, noting that the program has provided more than 2.3 million loans for small businesses this round for a total of $181 billion, leaving approximately $129 billion still available.

 

43. Question: FAQ #31 reminded borrowers to review carefully the required certification on the Borrower Application Form that “[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” SBA guidance and regulations provide that any borrower who applied for a PPP loan prior to April 24, 2020 and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith. Is it possible for a borrower to obtain an extension of the May 7, 2020 repayment date?

 

Answer: SBA is extending the repayment date for this safe harbor to May 14, 2020. Borrowers do not need to apply for this extension. This extension will be promptly implemented through a revision to the SBA’s interim final rule providing the safe harbor. SBA intends to provide additional guidance on how it will review the certification prior to May 14, 2020.  

 

ABC Opposes IRS Ruling on PPP Forgiveness, Congressional Leaders Urge Action from Treasury & Introduce Legislation:

 

On Thursday, April 30th, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2020-32 which clarified “that no deduction is allowed under the Internal Revenue Code (Code) for an expense that is otherwise deductible if the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a covered loan pursuant to section 1106(b) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).” It is ABC’s view that this ruling is at odds with the legislative text of the CARES Act, which included Section 1106(i), which says that, with regard to the “taxability” of the loan forgiveness available to PPP recipients, any amounts forgiven by a PPP loan “shall be excluded from gross income.”

 

ABC recently signed on to a letter that will be sent to Congressional leadership urging opposition to IRS Notice 2020-23 regarding deductible expenses related to Paycheck Protection Program loans. If your chapter or business would like to add their signature, please click on this link to add your signature and provide contact info so you will receive a copy of the final letter.

 

Additionally, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Treasury urging the Department to allow small businesses to deduct PPP expenses and you may view the letter here. Further, Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.) today introduced the Small Business Expense Protection Act, which would clarify that small businesses can deduct expenses paid with a forgiven PPP loan from their taxes.

 

Senators Announce Bipartisan Proposal to Restart Small Businesses and Modify PPP Loans:

 

U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) announced a proposal to implement a new RESTART loan program to provide funding to jump-start the hardest-hit businesses for the remainder of 2020, provide loan forgiveness, and make enhancements to the Paycheck Protection Program. Specifically the plan would  extend the 8-week covered period to deploy PPP funds and earn loan forgiveness to 16 weeks after the loan is disbursed for the hardest-hit businesses that have seen revenues decline by at least 25%; and propose a new RESTART Program, to provide funding to cover the next 6 months of payroll, benefits, and fixed operating expenses for businesses that have taken a substantial revenue hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. You may view more about this proposal here.

 

Reminder: Opening America’s Workplaces Again—Submit Your Ideas:

 

DOL is hosting a national online dialogue, Opening America’s Workplaces Again about the challenges that may be faced as businesses reopen and how best to help employers and workers safely reopen America’s workplaces. The opportunity to submit public feedback ends on May 7, 2020, and the public is invited to participate in the dialogue and share ideas on the below topics here:

 

  1. Reopening businesses;
  2. Commuting safely;
  3. Working safely;
  4. Accommodating members of vulnerable populations;
  5. Supporting America’s families; and
  6. Reducing regulatory burdens.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: PPP Loan Calculations and DOL Guidance on Unemployment

Helpful Tip of the Day – Coping with COVID-19 Webinar: SBA Updates on CARES Act Programs to Help Small Businesses and Non-Profits

Join Antonio Doss, District Director of the Washington Metropolitan Area District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, as he and his team conduct another in a series of weekly webinars to discuss the financial tools and resources available to help small businesses and non-profits endure these uncertain times. The conference begins at 2:00 pm (EDT) on Friday, May 8, 2020.

 

STEP 1: Dial-in: 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633

Enter Access Code: 0277060##

STEP 2: Join the conference on your computer.

Entry Link: https://ems8.intellor.com/login/826108

 

PPP Calculation Guidance:

 

Since we have received some questions on what should be included when determining the maximum loan for the Paycheck Protection Program, the Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, is providing this guidance to assist businesses in calculating their payroll costs for purposes of determining the amount of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan businesses can apply for. You can view their guidance here.

 

DOL Guidance on Unemployment Insurance:

 

Please view the U.S. Department of Labor’s FAQ’s on unemployment insurance and three critical FAQs below for employers

 

Q: My employer has remained open because it is essential. I’m not sick, nor is anyone in my household sick. I do not have children or care for someone who cannot care for themselves. However, I’m afraid of getting coronavirus from customers coming to the store, so I quit and filed for unemployment. Can I obtain benefits under the CARES Act?

 

A: No. Under the CARES Act, you may be eligible for benefits if you meet one of the circumstances listed in the Act, but none include the scenario described. On these facts, you are not eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) because you do not meet any of the qualifying circumstances.

 

There are, however, circumstances under the CARES Act in which specific, credible health concerns could require an individual to quit his or her job and thereby make the individual eligible for PUA. For example, an individual may be eligible for PUA if he or she was diagnosed with COVID-19 by a qualified medical professional, and although the individual no longer has COVID-19, the illness caused health complications that render the individual objectively unable to perform his or her essential job functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation. However, voluntarily deciding to quit your job out of a general concern about exposure to COVID-19 does not make you eligible for PUA. If you believe your employer’s response to the possible spread of COVID-19 creates a serious safety hazard or if you think your employer is not following OSHA standards, you can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

 

As a general matter, you are likely to be eligible for PUA due to concerns about exposure to the coronavirus only if you have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine as a result of such concerns. For instance, an individual whose immune system is compromised by virtue of a serious health condition, and who is therefore advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine in order to avoid the greater-than-average health risks that the individual might face if he or she were to become infected by the coronavirus will be eligible for PUA if all other eligibility requirements are met.

 

Q: I was furloughed by my employer, but they have now reopened and asked me to return to my job. Can I remain on unemployment?

 

A: No. As a general matter, individuals receiving regular unemployment compensation must act upon any referral to suitable employment and must accept any offer of suitable employment. Barring unusual circumstances, a request that a furloughed employee return to his or her job very likely constitutes an offer of suitable employment that the employee must accept.

 

While eligibility for PUA does not turn on whether an individual is actively seeking work, it does require that the individual be unemployed, partially employed, or unable or unavailable to work due to certain circumstances that are a direct result of COVID-19 or the COVID-19 public health emergency. In the situation outlined here, an employee who had been furloughed because his or her employer has closed the place of employment would potentially be eligible for PUA while the employer remained closed, assuming the closure was a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and other qualifying conditions are satisfied. However, as soon as the business reopens and the employee is recalled for work, as in the example above, eligibility for PUA would cease unless the individual could 

 

Q: One of my workers quit because he said he would prefer to receive the unemployment compensation benefits under the CARES Act. Is he eligible for unemployment? If not, what can I do?

 

A: No, typically that employee would not be eligible for regular unemployment compensation or PUA. Eligibility for regular unemployment compensation varies by state but generally does not include those who voluntarily leave employment. Similarly, to receive PUA, an individual must be ineligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or federal law, or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, and satisfy one of the eligibility criteria enumerated in the CARES Act, as explained in Unemployment Insurance Program Letter 16-20. There are multiple qualifying circumstances related to COVID-19 that can make an individual eligible for PUA, including if the individual quits his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19. Quitting to access unemployment benefits is not one of them. Individuals who quit their jobs to access higher benefits, and are untruthful in their UI application about their reason for quitting, will be considered to have committed fraud.If desired, employers can contest unemployment insurance claims through their state unemployment insurance agency’s process identify some other qualifying circumstance outlined in the CARES Act.

 

OSHA Poster - Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus

 

The OSHA poster highlights 10 infection prevention measures employers should implement to protect workers’ safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Safety measures include encouraging sick workers to stay home; establishing flexible worksites and staggered work shifts; discouraging workers from using other workers’ phones, desks and other work equipment; and using Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus.

 

The poster is available in 13 languages and can be found here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/publications/publication.html

 

Some Construction Projects in Washington State Resuming:

 

In Washington state, workers are allowed to return to some construction jobsites today under the state’s reopening plan. Gov. Jay Inslee announced the four-phase plan last week, which includes construction projects that were already underway to re-open as part of phase one. Washington’s “Safe-Start” plan can be viewed here, and businesses are expected to implement any additional requirements developed specifically for their industry, which includes construction-specific requirements.

 

Reminder: Opening America’s Workplaces Again—Submit Your Ideas:

 

DOL is hosting a national online dialogue, Opening America’s Workplaces Again about the challenges that may be faced as businesses reopen and how best to help employers and workers safely reopen America’s workplaces. The opportunity to submit public feedback ends on May 7, 2020, and the public is invited to participate in the dialogue and share ideas on the below topics here:

 

  1. Reopening businesses;
  2. Commuting safely;
  3. Working safely;
  4. Accommodating members of vulnerable populations;
  5. Supporting America’s families; and
  6. Reducing regulatory burdens.

 

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Daily Update: SBA Data on PPP Round 2 and Guidance Issues Continue

PPP Update, Guidance, Safe Harbor Date, and Potential Round 3 Funding:

 

The SBA and Treasury released data on the second round of funding for the popular forgivable loan program. Last week, the second round of funding provided 2.2 million loans for $175 billion with the average loan size dropping to $79,000 from the first round’s $206,000. The program could run out of funding by the end of this week.

 

As mentioned in last week’s updates, the new IFR language and FAQ guidance from SBA and Treasury indicates that the restrictions on PPP loans could apply to not only businesses that have access to the capital markets but also private companies “with adequate sources of liquidity,” which could include private companies with sufficient cash reserves or existing lines of credit. ABC believes that publicly traded companies and their affiliates, as well as private companies “with adequate sources of liquidity,” should consult counsel to consider whether any previously borrowed PPP loan funds should be returned prior to the May 7, 2020, safe harbor date. If the decision is made not to return the funds, ABC members in these positions should fully document the necessity for PPP loan funds based on the particular circumstances faced by their business.

 

ABC is also working to provide additional guidance in an updated FAQ that would state that “adequate sources of liquidity” not apply to private companies that apply for PPP loans of less than $2,000,000 and all not-for-profit companies regardless of size.

A newly released FAQ from SBA also addresses one aspect of loan forgiveness when it comes to laid off workers and rehire offers – see here and below:

40. Question: Will a borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness amount (pursuant to section 1106 of the CARES Act and SBA’s implementing rules and guidance) be reduced if the borrower laid off an employee, offered to rehire the same employee, but the employee declined the offer?

Answer: No. As an exercise of the Administrator’s and the Secretary’s authority under Section 1106(d)(6) of the CARES Act to prescribe regulations granting de minimis exemptions from the Act’s limits on loan forgiveness, SBA and Treasury intend to issue an interim final rule excluding laid-off employees whom the borrower offered to rehire (for the same salary/wages and same number of hours) from the CARES Act’s loan forgiveness reduction calculation. The interim final rule will specify that, to qualify for this exception, the borrower must have made a good faith, written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must be documented by the borrower. Employees and employers should be aware that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.

Lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio who Chairs the Senate Small Business Committee, are pushing for additional, clear guidance on loan forgiveness this week and looking at the potential for another round of funding if funds for the program expire before the end of the week. ABC will continue to provide updates on the PPP and any changes to FAQs and guidance.

 

IRS Ruling on PPP Forgiveness:

 

On Thursday, April 30th, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2020-32 which clarified “that no deduction is allowed under the Internal Revenue Code (Code) for an expense that is otherwise deductible if the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a covered loan pursuant to section 1106(b) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).” It is ABC’s view that this ruling is at odds with the legislative text of the CARES Act, which included Section 1106(i), which says that, with regard to the “taxability” of the loan forgiveness available to PPP recipients, any amounts forgiven by a PPP loan “shall be excluded from gross income.”

 

The IRS’s stance would eliminate some of the critical economic benefits of the PPP program, and both Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) objected that the IRS wasn’t following congressional intent — with Neal going so far as to say he’d seek a legislative fix. ABC is working to address this issue and will provide additional updates.

 

Senate Reconvenes, President Trump Pushes for Payroll Tax Cut in Next Phase of Relief:

 

The Senate returned today, after being forced from the Capitol by the coronavirus outbreak, and is now working towards the next round of emergency relief legislation, which could be weeks away as Democrats, Republicans and the White House are pushing conflicting priorities for the next bill.

 

Redlines for Republicans include liability protections for businesses, while Democrats have focused on aid to individuals, and additional state and local government a social safety net expansion, including unemployment benefits and nutritional assistance; expanded workplace safety protections for front-line workers; a “Heroes Fund” to provide hazard pay to front-line workers; additional health care funds; and additional direct payments to individuals.

 

However, President Donald Trump wants to “pause” more legislation for now, but won’t consider anything that doesn’t include a payroll tax cut. “We’re not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut,” Trump said Sunday night during a Fox News town hall.

 

Construction Resumes in Bay Area Counties Today

 

A new shelter-in-place order announced last week allows construction work in six Bay Area counties to resume today. Under the new order, which went into effect at midnight last night, all construction is allowed to resume as long as workers use social distancing practices and wear protective gear, among other restrictions. The counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara released strict safety protocols that all jobsites will be required to follow and contractors should consult with each jurisdiction in the area to follow the proper guidance.

 

Reminder: Opening America’s Workplaces Again—Submit Your Ideas:

 

DOL is hosting a national online dialogue, Opening America’s Workplaces Again about the challenges that may be faced as businesses reopen and how best to help employers and workers safely reopen America’s workplaces. The opportunity to submit public feedback ends on May 7, 2020, and the public is invited to participate in the dialogue and share ideas on the below topics here:

 

  1. Reopening businesses;
  2. Commuting safely;
  3. Working safely;
  4. Accommodating members of vulnerable populations;
  5. Supporting America’s families; and
  6. Reducing regulatory burdens.

 

ABC Comments on U.S. Senate Draft Water Infrastructure Legislation:

 

On May 1, ABC sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, commenting on the  draft legislation that is being considered by the committee, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 and the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020.

 

In the letter, ABC advocated for several improvements to the draft legislation. While the draft legislation represents a path forward on this vital issue, ABC believes that the committee should consider allowing the funds of this legislation are awarded through a fair and competitive bidding process and support and defend an “all- of-the-above” strategy for skill development where workers and employers have the freedom to choose the best way to educate construction employees that maximizes innovation to achieve world-class safety and productivity.

 

ABC also called on Congress for an additional investment in residential, commercial,

and transportation infrastructure to further accelerate the recovery of the U.S. economy to recover from the COVID-19-induced downturn of the U.S. economy.

 

These pieces of draft legislation are expected to be included with the S. 2302, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019, which passed the Committee unanimously last year for a larger infrastructure package in the U.S. Senate. ABC is still reviewing the draft legislation and will continue to advocate for ABC member’s priorities in upcoming negotiations. 

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COVID-19 Daily Update: PPP Guidance, Red Line on Liability, and DOL Solicits Public for Reopening Economy

Helpful Tip of the Day – PPP Guidance and Safe Harbor Date:

 

As mentioned in yesterday’s update, the new IFR language and FAQ guidance from SBA and Treasury indicates that the restrictions on PPP loans could apply to not only businesses that have access to the capital markets but also private companies “with adequate sources of liquidity,” which could include private companies with sufficient cash reserves or existing lines of credit. ABC believes that publicly traded companies and their affiliates, as well as private companies “with adequate sources of liquidity,” should consult counsel to consider whether any previously borrowed PPP loan funds should be returned prior to the May 7, 2020, safe harbor date. If the decision is made not to return the funds, ABC members in these positions should fully document the necessity for PPP loan funds based on the particular circumstances faced by their business.

 

McConnell and McCarthy Draw Red Line on Addressing Employer Liability in Next Relief Bill:

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled on Friday that they will not support a fifth coronavirus bill unless it provides liability protections for employers.

 

“As the nation continues fighting this pandemic and parts of our economy begin to emerge from shutdown, Senate and House Republicans are united in our demand that health care workers, small businesses, and other Americans on the front lines of this fight must receive strong protections from frivolous lawsuits," McConnell and McCarthy said in a joint statement, adding "Senate and House Republicans agree these protections will be absolutely essential to future discussions surrounding recovery legislation."

 

Talks surrounding the next relief package will continue this month as the Senate is set to return to D.C. on Monday, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House plans to come back the week of May 11, though that could change depending upon the recommendation from the Capitol physician.

 

Opening America’s Workplaces Again—Submit Your Ideas:

DOL is hosting a national online dialogue, Opening America’s Workplaces Again about the challenges that may be faced as businesses reopen and how best to help employers and workers safely reopen America’s workplaces. The opportunity to submit public feedback ends on May 7, 2020, and the public is invited to participate in the dialogue and share ideas on the below topics here:

  1. Reopening businesses;
  2. Commuting safely;
  3. Working safely;
  4. Accommodating members of vulnerable populations;
  5. Supporting America’s families; and
  6. Reducing regulatory burdens.

 

States Transitioning to Modified Stay at Home Orders:

 

Yesterday, statewide stay at home and shelters in place orders expired in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi and West Virginia. States are now transitioning to modified extended orders that allow additional sectors, in addition to those that were already operating under the original stay at home orders, to open for business with added safety precautions for each industry. ABC continues to monitor and update the effect of these orders on the construction industry here.

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ABC-VA Members Participate in ISC Food Drive

One of the indirect impacts of the Coronavirus crisis is that many people in local communities now face food uncertainty. To serve those in need, Integrated Scaffolding Concepts, in conjunction with the Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), has launched a food drive to resupply area foodbanks. With your generosity, we can fight hunger in our community.

ISC has set up three collection points throughout the Greater Richmond area. Outside each collection point, you will find a weatherproof bin for depositing donations seven days a week.

 

ISC/ABC Food Drive Collection Points

Integrated Scaffolding Concepts

11924 Old Stage Road

Chester, Virginia 23836

 

Old Dominion Insulation

12764 Oak Lake Court

Midlothian, VA 23112

 

Associated Builders & Contractors
1600 E Parham Road
Richmond, VA 23228

 

Each Friday a member of the ISC team will collect the donated food and deliver it to an area foodbank.

 

ABC-VA would like to thank Ryan Davoud and Jorge Zegarra at ISC and Darlene Hart in our Richmond office for initiating and coordinating this effort.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: ABC Addresses New SBA and Treasury Guidance on PPP for Publicly Traded Companies

Helpful Tip of the Day – Employee Retention Tax Credit Guidance:

 

The IRS recently released additional guidance for the employee retention tax credit authorized under the CARES Act, which can be viewed here. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.NOTE: an Eligible Employer may not receive the Employee Retention Credit if the Eligible Employer receives a PPP loan that is authorized under the CARES Act. 

 

ABC Addresses New SBA and Treasury Guidance on PPP for Publicly Traded Companies:

 

As noted in previous updates, in response to larger public companies gaining access to PPP loans, the SBA and Treasury issues new guidance in a supplemental Interim Final Rule reminding borrowers to “carefully review the required certification on the Paycheck Protection Program Borrower Application . . . stating that ‘[c]urrent economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.’”

 

In a related FAQ document, the SBA stated that borrowers “must make this certification in good faith, taking into account their current business activity and their ability to access other sources of liquidity sufficient to support their ongoing operations in a manner that is not significantly detrimental to the business.” And “that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis for its certification.”

 

Further, Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin stated all loans of more than $2 million in a government relief program for small businesses will be audited to ensure they were justified after large public companies and big chains sparked outrage by taking funds. It is also important to note that the SBA has provided companies concerned about the accuracy of the certification a safe harbor: if they pay the loan back in full by May 7 the certification will be deemed to have been made in good faith.

 

Understandably, this new guidance raised concerns, but ABC believes that this guidance and action are geared towards publicly traded companies with access to capital markets. That being said, companies that received PPP loans should have a basis for their certification and need for the loan. Additional information is below and updates can be viewed at SBA.gov/PaycheckProtection and Treasury.gov/CARES, and ABC will continue to provide updates on any additional guidance.

 

California Counties Construction to Continue:

 

In a joint press release, six counties in the Bay Area of California announced that construction projects would be able to resume on Monday, May 4.The counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara released strict safety protocols that all jobsites will be required to follow. The safety protocols that were released vary from county to county and contractors performing work in the area will need to adhere to each jurisdictions guidelines. The Bay area joins the states of Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and other localities who have announced in recent days the reopening dates for construction.

 

The Federal Reserve Releases New Guidance on Planned Main Street Lending Program:

 

Today, the Federal Reserve Board announced it is expanding the scope and eligibility for the Main Street Lending Program. The changes include:

 

  • Creating a third loan option, with increased risk sharing by lenders for borrowers with greater leverage;
  • Lowering the minimum loan size for certain loans to $500,000; and
  • Expanding the pool of businesses eligible to borrow.

 

The Fed also announced that a start date for the program will be announced soon. Additional PPP and Main Street Lending Program resources can be found on ABC’s new and improved Coronavirus webpage for members and their employees. You can view additional information and guidance on the program below:

 

Term sheet: Main Street New Loan Facility (PDF)

Term sheet: Main Street Priority Loan Facility (PDF)

Term sheet: Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (PDF)

              Main Street Lending Program Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

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COVID-19 Daily Update: NEW PPP Guidance and Reserved Loan Processing for Small Lenders

Helpful Tip of the Day – ABC Sample Resources for States:

SBA and Treasury Release Additional PPP Guidance & Reserved Loan Processing for Smaller Lenders:

 

This afternoon, starting at 4 p.m. today EDT through 11:59 p.m. EDT, the Small Business Administration announced that their systems will only accept loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars. SBA stated that this action is to ensure access to the PPP loan program for the smallest lenders and their small business customers. This reserved processing time applies only today April 29, 2020, but SBA and Treasury stated they will evaluate whether to create a similar reserved time again in the future.

 

Also, last night SBA and Treasury released additional guidance regarding the Paycheck Protection Program:

 

 

For more information and updates, visit SBA.gov/PaycheckProtection and Treasury.gov/CARES.

 

Congress’s Return in Flux as Democrats Postpone Session and Senate Pledges to Return:

 

While both houses of Congress were set to return to D.C. on Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) changed gears Tuesday, indicating that the House would no longer return on May 4 as planned, citing safety concerns on advice of the Attending Physician. Today, though, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday pledged that the Senate will return next week.

 

Some Democrats are accusing McConnell of endangering the health of his fellow senators and Capitol staff; however, McConnell said the Senate will "practice proper safeguards" and "work safely," including the "proper spacing [and] masks where appropriate.” Further stating "We're going to modify routines in ways that are smart and safe, but we're going to honor our constitutional duty to the American people and conduct critical business, and we're going to do it in person."

 

House and Senate Look at Proxy Voting During Crisis:

 

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs will hold an April 30 hearing on whether to allow remote voting in times of emergency. Such a plan has bipartisan backing from Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) who have sponsored a resolution (S. Res. 548) to permit remote voting if Senate leaders agree an emergency exists.

 

House Democratic leaders had planned to vote next week on a remote voting plan, regardless of whether they came to a deal with Republicans. It is not yet clear how the scheduling change will impact these plans.

 

Potential Phase Four Emergency Relief Agenda Items:

 

While Leader McConnell and other Republicans are advocating for a wait-and-see approach, Democrats and some Republicans have already begun discussions of different elements of what could make up the fourth phase of COVID-19 response. Below are some of the priorities that both parties have

floated.

 

  • Liability protection continues to be a significant issue Leader McConnell who has said Congress must pass liability protections for health care workers and businesses more broadly as the country begins to open up parts of the economy.

 

  • Governors are also seeking an additional $500 billion to address budget shortfalls for state and local governments and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) joined with Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to release a proposal that would create a $500 billion stabilization fund to aid state and local governments.

 

  • President Trump has thrown his support behind an increase in infrastructure spending, and some Republicans have echoed this call, notably Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and John Barrasso (R-WY). However, Leader McConnell told Republican lawmakers on a private call that he doesn’t support including an infrastructure package in a coronavirus relief bill, according to people familiar with the call. “We need to keep the White House in the box,” Mr. McConnell said, referring to any infrastructure package. “The Democrats and the White House need to get the message.”

 

  • Despite the recent replenishment of the PPP, the program is set to run dry again soon. In a Phase Four package, Congress may decide to re-supply the popular program, or un-cap it entirely.

 

  • An important Democratic priority is to provide funding to assist states transition to vote-by-mail programs for the November presidential elections. The CARES Act provided $400 million, but Pelosi has said that $4 billion may be needed.

 

Michigan Announces Construction Reopening and Illinois Workers Compensation Committee Repeals Proposal:

 

Yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that construction, which has been widely shut down in the state the last six weeks, would be allowed to resume on May 7. Further details and guidance have yet to be released, but the scheduled restart for construction will occur a week before the statewide stay at home order is set to expire on May 15. The governor hinted on Monday that a restart for the industry could be coming in the next week or two, saying that construction and other outdoor businesses are at a lower risk of spreading the virus.

 

The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission formally repealed a proposal that would have made workers’ compensation benefits available to essential employees, which would have covered the construction industry as well, who contracted COVID-19 without having to prove the illness was contracted at the workplace. Proponents of the rule change, including the AFL-CIO, vowed to push legislatively for the rule change when the state’s legislative session resumes. Reminder, ABC National has developed this resource on changes to the applicability of workers compensation coverage in order to brief chapters on this issue. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, over 50 bills have been introduced around the country in state legislatures that would make changes to the state’s workers compensation system.

 

Mnuchin Floats Additional Aid for Mid-size Businesses:

 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he’s open to adding more money to the Federal Reserve’s lending program for mid-size businesses should it prove popular. Mnuchin made the comments this afternoon on a video conference with reporters.

 

Congress directed the Fed to create the Main Street Lending Program for mid-size businesses as part of a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, signed into law last month. However, the Fed hasn’t yet launched the program.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: Looking Towards Phase 4 Recovery Package

As the interim funding for the Paycheck Protection Program launched yesterday morning, Congress and the White House look towards additional relief efforts for health and economic aid.  

 

Discussions Continue on Phase 4 Recovery Package

 

The U.S. House of Representatives was originally scheduled to return next week, but without a firm deal in place to pass an additional recovery bill House Democrats have delayed their plans to return to D.C. while Congress and the Administration continue discussions surrounding the next package to address the ongoing health and economic crisis.

 

As we noted in yesterday’s update, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators are pushing for the expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program to include 501(c)(6) organizations in the next recovery package. If you’re Senator supported this effort, please take the time to thank them through ABC’s Action Alert here.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and a number of other Republicans have indicated they want to wait and assess the implementation of current programs before proceeding with additional deficit spending. However, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have already begun working on Democrat demands for a Phase Four package that would likely seek to include additional aid to state and local governments, social safety net expansion, including unemployment benefits and nutritional assistance; expanded workplace safety protections for front-line workers; a “Heroes Fund” to provide hazard pay to front-line workers; additional health care funds; and additional direct payments to individuals. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the administration is weighing the idea of more aid to individuals, possibly adding to the first stimulus package’s $1,200 direct payment per qualified person.

 

On Sunday, Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said the Trump administration is considering government loans to help out the oil and gas industry, which has undergone severe economic damage during the pandemic. Congress so far has declined to provide the funding due to opposition from Democrats who oppose aiding the oil industry; however, Treasury still has roughly $250 billion in untapped funds allotted from the CARES Act that can be used in conjunction with the Federal Reserve to provide liquidity with the Secretary’s broad discretion.

 

Majority Leader McConnell Addresses Liability Issue for Employers:

 

While construction and other businesses deemed essential during this crisis are committed to serving the needs of their communities, there are concerns about unfounded lawsuits targeting the businesses that stayed open during COVID-19. While ABC members are taking precautions to protect employees and provide a safe and healthy workplace, they could face exorbitant civil suits.

 

Addressing previous concerns about state and local government budget shortfalls after a bipartisan group of the nation’s governors called for $500 billion from the federal government to help address this crisis, on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s “highly likely” the next coronavirus response bill will aid local governments whose budgets have been decimated by lockdowns and now face spiraling deficits. But to unlock that money, McConnell said he will "insist" Congress limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners and employees from lawsuits as they reopen in the coming weeks and months.

 

New Paycheck Protection Program Guidance Addresses Concerns over Large Companies Benefiting from Loans:

 

Last week, with the enactment of the second round of funding for the program, the U.S. Treasury issued additional guidance on the PPP that provides notable clarifications including:

  • Hedge funds and private equity firms are deemed to be ineligible – this was never in doubt, based on underlying SBA rules, but recent news cycles and negative attention likely precipitated a more explicit clarification.
  • Private equity portfolio companies are to apply SBA affiliation rules “in the same manner as any other business subject to outside ownership or control.”
  • The guidance further states that otherwise-eligible portfolio companies should “carefully review” the required certification related to the necessity of the loan.
  • Companies who are themselves, or whose owners are, debtors in bankruptcy proceedings are ineligible -- “…[P]roviding PPP loans to debtors in bankruptcy would present an unacceptably high risk of an unauthorized use of funds or non-repayment of unforgiven loans.”

 

The guidance also codifies a limited “safe harbor” for companies that return PPP loans by May 7, 2020 -- “Any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to the issuance of this regulation and repays the loan in full by May 7, 2020 will be deemed by SBA to have made the required certification in good faith.”

  • This safe harbor in the interim final rule ups the ante from a related FAQ update (last updated, Sunday, April 26) which addressed whether larger companies were eligible for PPP loans.
  • Notably, the FAQ sent an unmistakable signal to public companies to steer clear: “It is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis for its certification.”
  • The suggestion of potential SBA audit weeks into the program’s launch, with nothing in the statute and little in the way of other guidance, raised significant questions and concerns among larger recipients, and the safe harbor is meant to address these concerns.

 

Construction Reopening in Washington State and Pennsylvania

 

Gov. Jay Inslee in Washington announced on Friday his plans for a phased-in reopening of the economy, and construction has been included in the first phase of that reopen. Construction that is considered “low risk” that can be performed in accordance with proper safety and virus mitigation standards, including distancing and jobsite density requirements, jobsite sanitation techniques and facial coverings is allowed. Similarly, Gov. Tom Wolf has rolled out his plan for a gradual reopening, which includes permission that construction that can be performed in accordance with those same safety and mitigation standards can resume on Friday, May 1.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: Second Round of PPP Funding Launches with New Guidance

This morning the U.S. Small Business Administration resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders.

 

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Urge PPP Expansion for 501(c)(6) Organizations:

 

As ABC continues to advocate for the expansion of PPP to 501(c)(6) organizations such as our state and local chapters, today a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to Senate Leadership and the heads of the Senate Small Business Committee to endorse the expansion of access to the Paycheck Protection Program in forthcoming legislation to 501(c)(6)s. You may view the letter here, and ABC will continue to provide updates on any progress made to expand this critical program to help ABC chapters across the country.

 

Helpful Tips of the Day – ABC’s Coronavirus Update webpage has a new look and Reminder – ABC Daily COVID-19 Blog:

 

Check out the new resources and layout for ABC’s Coronavirus Update webpage here.

 

Also a reminder that ABC National has rolled out a new feature on National Connections, the Daily COVID-19 Update. Each afternoon new articles are posted to keep members aware and up to date on Federal and State matters as they pertain to COVID-19. We encourage chapters to take advantage of this feature which include links to agency updates, webinars, and state and local stay at home orders. The COVID-19 Update can be found here.

 

$310 Billion for Paycheck Protection Program Loans Starts Today:

 

Last week, additional guidance was issued by the SBA and Treasury on the second round of funding for the popular program:

 

 

The Small Business Administration has also limited how much individual banks can lend under the PPP due to the program's high demand among businesses seeking relief from effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Individual banks and lenders will now be limited to 10 percent of the program's overall funding, or $60 billion. The cap is intended is to help all lenders have equal access for their small business clients, the SBA said.

 

For more information and updates, visit Treasury.gov/CARES and SBA.gov/PaycheckProtection.

 

Check out the new Construction Industry Safety Coalition COVID-19 Resource:

 

ABC is on the Steering Committee of CISC, which finalized an update to the COVID-19 Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Plan for Construction.  The updates in Version 2 of the plan include some important changes and additions as more data have become available on the spread of COVID-19, including:

 

  • New guidance on the use of face coverings, including masks and cloth coverings (bandanas, etc.);
  • A new section, Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Employers, based on new CDC guidance;
  • Specific procedures for screening and allowing visitors onto job sites;
  • An appendix on the procedures for monitoring the temperature of workers, including next steps if a high fever is found; and
  • Additional guidance on ride sharing, and the use of common drinking and eating sources.

 

The updated and additional language is shown in RED font. 

 

Version 2 can be found here.

 

Webinar this Wednesday – Engaging with State Administrations on Reopening Construction:

 

States are beginning to engage industries on reopening certain sectors of the economy, and as construction is one of the top industries being considered, many chapters are being consulted by governor’s administrations and other officials. Panelists, including chapter presidents and chapter and national government affairs staff, will share their strategies and best practices for communicating with state decision makers about how to effectively reopen construction and what contractors are doing to mitigate the virus on jobsites. Register for the webinar here.

 

Also, a reminder of this resource distributed last week that is a template for these communications. There will be other examples of similar packages from chapters added to the collection of ABC COVID-19 resources this week.

 

Construction Industry Eyed for Reopening in New York:

 

On Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that construction and manufacturing could be the first industries allowed to resume as part of a phased approach to opening sectors of the state’s economy. The governor said the plan will be implemented in phases and will be based on regional analysis and determinations. The phased reopening could begin as soon as the state’s stay at home order expires on May 15.

 

CDC Drafts Plan for Reopening U.S. Economy:

White House officials and coronavirus task force members received draft guidelines late last week on a phased reopening of schools and camps, child-care programs, some workplaces, houses of worship, restaurants, and mass transit, Washington Post reports, citing unnamed Trump administration officials.

  • The CDC-written guidance, which could still change, is likely to be released within next seven days
  • The 17-page proposal says all decisions should be made locally
  • Contentious issues include guidelines for religious communities and restaurants

President Trump Issues Temporary Immigration Ban:

Last Wednesday, the president signed an executive order restricting certain categories of immigrants from entering the United States for 60 days; however, the measure contains broad exceptions and will not apply to immigrants who already are living and working in the United States and are seeking to become legal permanent residents. Medical professionals, farmworkers and others who enter on temporary “nonimmigrant” visas are also unaffected, and the suspension also exempts the spouses and underage children of U.S. citizens.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: Second Round of PPP Funding Launching Monday

This afternoon, President Trump signed the bipartisan deal into law to extend an additional $310 billion for PPP loans. You can view a statement from ABC’s VP of Legislative & Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen on the bill’s passage here.

 

Helpful Tip of the Day

ABC National has rolled out a new feature on National Connections, the Daily COVID-19 Update. Each afternoon new articles are posted to keep members aware and up to date on Federal and State matters as they pertain to COVID-19. We encourage chapters to take advantage of this feature which include links to agency updates, webinars, and state and local stay at home orders. The COVID-19 Update can be found here.

 

Additional $310 Billion for Paycheck Protection Program Launching Monday:

The second round of funding will be launching on Monday morning, according to a joint SBA and Treasury statement, and will also include funds from some publicly traded companies that were awarded PPP loans in the first round but have since returned or announced that they would be returning their loans to the federal government after new guidance was issued by the SBA. Note that while 501(c)(6) organizations were not included in this extension, ABC continues to advocate for additional aid to address the needs of our state and local chapters affected by this crisis.

 

Companies applying for coronavirus relief funds must certify that the loans are necessary and that they cannot tap other sources of funding, the SBA said. By definition, public companies have access to the capital markets, for instance, Shake Shack returned the $10 million it got through the PPP after it sold $150 million in new shares. The owner of Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain also said Thursday that it would refund the $20 million it received.

 

SBA indicated that large public companies who tapped the PPP before the rule change can avoid scrutiny by returning the relief loans in the next two weeks.

 

Reminder – New State Resources Available:

 

ABC’s state affairs team and chapters have put together a preliminary package or resources to help with your efforts as you begin to provide reopening recommendations to state officials on behalf of your members. This document can be viewed here.  

 

A new workers compensation rule issued in Illinois would have shifted the burden of proof to employers and assumed that any worker who contracted COVID-19 was exposed through the workplace. Multiple business groups filed a lawsuit against the rule and yesterday a judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the rule. On this issue, ABC’s state affairs team released this resource to brief and prepare chapters for similar changes to workers compensation rules in their states.  

 

Stay at Home Orders Updates in Montana and New Mexico:

 

Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced a gradual and phased reopening of the state beginning April 26 for individuals, and extending to non-essential businesses on April 27. The Directive and its Appendix with reopening guidelines are posted online at covid19.mt.gov. Construction was considered “essential infrastructure" in the Governors Stay at Home Directive issued in March.

 

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the state would be extending all public health orders through May 15. Gov. Grisham appointed 15 representatives from various industries, including construction, to the economic recovery council in order to make health-driven decisions about safe reopening procedures.

 

Roundup of Recent OSHA COVID-19 Related Actions:

April 21 - COVID-19 Guidance for the Construction Workforce (Spanish PDF)

April 17 - ABC Asks OSHA for Guidance on Reporting of COVID-19 Cases, Social Distancing and Face Coverings

April 16 - OSHA Offers Relief to Employers for Their Non-Coronavirus-Related Obligations (Littler Mendelson)

April 13 - OSHA Issues Interim Enforcement Response Plan for COVID-19 Outbreak

April 10 - OSHA Guidance on COVID-19 Recording Requirements Provides Clarification for Contractors

April 8 - OSHA Expands Temporary Guidance for Respirator Fit Testing During COVID-19 Outbreak

April 3 - OSHA Issues Enforcement Policies on Respiratory Protection

March 24 - ABC Writes to OSHA Regarding the Recordability of COVID-19 Cases

 

More OSHA information is available at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/

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COVID-19 Daily Update: New SBA Guidance on Second Round of PPP & New Resources Available on Construction Reopening and Workers Comp

Tonight, the House is set to pass the bipartisan agreement that will provide more than $310 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses and the President has stated he will sign the bill into law.

 

PPP Extension Set to Pass in the House as SBA Issues New Guidance on Next Round of Funding:

 

The $484 billion deal includes $321 billion to replenish the small business Paycheck Protection Program, which allocates $11 billion in administrative costs for the program. A view of the bill text can be found here, with section by section of the small business provisions here, and the hospital and testing provisions here.

 

To help ensure these new funds are provided to those small businesses most in need, the Small Business Administration issued new guidance today in its FAQs that makes it “unlikely” that big publicly traded companies can access the next round of funding for the U.S. government’s small business relief program.

 

Companies applying for coronavirus relief funds must certify that the loans are necessary and that they cannot tap other sources of funding, the SBA said. By definition, public companies have access to the capital markets, for instance, Shake Shack returned the $10 million it got through the PPP after it sold $150 million in new shares. SBA also indicated that large public companies who tapped the PPP before the rule change can avoid scrutiny by returning the relief loans in the next two weeks. 

 

New Resources Available on Construction Reopening and Workers Compensation:

 

ABC National’s state affairs team is collecting a list of chapter staff that have been invited to participate in statewide and local task forces/councils on reopening sectors of the economy in their areas. If you or anyone else at your chapter are participating in these conversations, whether formally or informally, please notify Ben, Brandon or Nick to be added to the group and connected with ABC colleagues involved in these efforts.

 

To that end, ABC ‘s state affairs team has also put together a preliminary package to help with your efforts as you begin to provide reopening recommendations to state officials on behalf of your members. This document can be viewed here and is a resource meant to serve as an example of what can be put together, and to be tailored with your specific recommendations based on the realities on the ground in your state(s). It also includes an example of a safety plan put together by ABC of PA’s COVID-19 Construction Safety Task Force. Our team is happy to dig in deeper with you, and we have an arsenal of resources and information at our disposal to help craft the best message to stakeholders and demonstrate what member contractors are doing to safely carry out their essential work on jobsites.

 

Additionally, ABC’s state affairs department is closely monitoring rapid developments in the states related to the expanded requirements for workers compensation coverage. For more background on this trend, and general guidance on how to respond to this potential threat in your state, reach out to Brandon, Nick, or Ben, and view a one pager on this issue which is available here.  

 

Free Webinar: Coping with COVID-19: Financial Tools and Resources to Help Small Businesses and Non-Profits Survive

Join Lender Relations Specialist Rod Johnson of the U.S. Small Business Administration, as he and DC SCORE conduct a follow-up session to last week's webinar on the financial tools and resources being made available to help small businesses and non-profits navigate today's unprecedented economic crisis.

The Washington DC Chapter of SCORE invites you to join them on Friday, April 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for a free webinar with the SBA’s Washington Metropolitan Area District Office. Register here.

 

OSHA Issues New Alert for Construction Workforce:

 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect construction workers from exposure to the coronavirus. ABC will continue to provide updates on critical guidance from our federal agencies to support a safe and health construction workforce.  

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COVID-19 Daily Update: Senate Passes PPP Funding & House Set to Vote Today

The $484 billion deal includes $321 billion to replenish the small business Paycheck Protection Program, which allocates $11 billion in administrative costs for the program. The bill also includes $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, $75 billion for the nation’s hospitals, and $25 billion for testing for COVID-19. Of that testing money, $11 billion will go to states.

 

A view of the bill text can be found here, with section by section of the small business provisions here, and the hospital and testing provisions here.

 

The concern now is how long these new funds will last. With the original $349 billion expended in just 14 days, lawmakers and economic experts believe that these new funds could expire even quicker and could run out by next week due to a more swift approval process since the roll out, more approved lenders, and thousands of applications at the ready. While not all small businesses are in need of assistance at this time, the country has approximately 30 million small businesses. The SBA has approved only 1.6 million PPP loans, and it is unclear how many have applied. 

 

Additional Federal Government Response Remains in Question:

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said several important things following the Senate passage of the interim funding deal, stating that he will not begin considering another phase of coronavirus stimulus until the Senate is back in session, which is scheduled for the May 4th week, and that “We need to see how things are working, see what needs to be corrected, and I do think that the next time we pass a coronavirus rescue bill we need to have everyone here and everyone engaged.” Further, McConnel expressed some concerns with the amount of money Congress is spending, stating “We've allocated a stunning amount of money -- $2.2 trillion -- knowing full well that that probably wouldn't be enough. ... I think it's also time to begin to think about the amount of debt that we're adding to our country and the future impact of that.”

 

Also at issue remains a request from the nation’s governors to provide $500 billion in aid to deal with the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic as tax revenue falls and demands for resources escalate.

 

Reports have indicated that Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin, who has been key to the White House’s and Republican’s negotiations in the previous bipartisan relief packages, believes that any additional relief package bill ‘will most likely’ be all the U.S. needs if economy reopens. Mnuchin listed Infrastructure (roads, bridges broadband), incentives for restaurants, sports, entertainment, payroll tax cut, and money for states among these top priorities.

 

Florida, Tennessee Announce Groups Focused on Re-Opening Economies:

 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the creation of the Re-Open Florida Task Force. In addition, he announced the members of the Re-Open Task Force Industry Working Group on Tourism, Construction, Real Estate, Recreation, Retail and Transportation. The announcement and members participating on the task force can be found here.

 

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has announced the creation of the Economic Recovery Group, a joint effort between state departments, members of the legislature and leaders from the private sector to build guidance to safely reboot Tennessee’s economy. ABC Greater Tennessee Chapter President Clay Crownover was appointed to the group and will serve alongside 14 other industry representatives, state legislators and agency officials to draft recommendations, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

 

CARES Act Tax Provisions for Businesses:

 

We have received some questions on the tax provisions included in the CARES Act so below is a brief overview of these provisions that were included in the bill. You can also learn more about these provisions from the IRS here.

 

To prevent double dipping into these relief efforts, businesses that receive an SBA loan through the Paycheck Protection Program cannot also benefit from the bill’s tax provisions including the retention tax credit and deferment of payroll taxes. 

 

  • Employers are eligible for a 50 percent refundable payroll tax credit on wages paid up to $10,000 during the crisis. It would be available to employers whose businesses were disrupted due to virus-related shutdowns and firms experiencing a decrease in gross receipts of 50 percent or more when compared to the same quarter last year. The credit is available for employees retained but not currently working due to the crisis for firms with more than 100 employees, and for all employee wages for firms with 100 or fewer employees. FAQs on this credit can be found here.

 

  • Employer-side Social Security payroll tax payments may be delayed until January 1, 2021, with 50 percent owed on December 31, 2021 and the other half owed on December 31, 2022. The Social Security Trust Fund will be backfilled by general revenue in the interim period.

 

  • Firms may take net operating losses (NOLs) earned in 2018, 2019, or 2020 and carry back those losses five years. The NOL limit of 80 percent of taxable income is also suspended, so firms may use NOLs they have to fully offset their taxable income. The bill also modifies loss limitations for non-corporate taxpayers, including rules governing excess farm losses, and makes a technical correction to the treatment of NOLs for the 2017 and 2018 tax years.

 

  • Firms with tax credit carryforwards and previous alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability can claim larger refundable tax credits than they otherwise could. 

 

  • The net interest deduction limitation, which currently limits businesses’ ability to deduct interest paid on their tax returns to 30 percent of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), has been expanded to 50 percent of EBITDA for 2019 and 2020. This will help businesses increase liquidity if they have debt or must take on more debt during the crisis.

 

  • Amends the Internal Revenue code to make qualified improvement property (QIP) eligible for bonus depreciation by granting it a recovery period of a 15-years (fixing the “retail glitch”)

 

Reminder – ABC Hosts COVID-19 Job Site Safety Stand Down on April 23:

 

ABC is encouraging individual employers to talk directly to workers about coronavirus safe work practices and protocols on construction jobsites by hosting COVID-19 Safety Stand-downs on Thursday, April 23. Hosting a stand-down is a vital opportunity for employers and workers in construction to ensure their behavior keeps them safe and slows the spread of the virus, especially since many jurisdictions are allowing construction work to continue. Learn more here.

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COVID-19 Daily Update: Paycheck Protection Program Deal Emerging

A deal is emerging to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to continue the forgivable loan program for the nation’s small businesses.

 

PPP Deal Emerging in Congress:

After negotiations continued through the weekend, it appears that a deal is close to being finalized to provide an additional $300 billion to replenish the small business Paycheck Protection Program, which is nearly $50 billion more than the initial proposal that Senate Republicans tried to pass last week. While the deal will hopefully be approved by mid-week any single member can slow down efforts to fast-track a vote. It is likely that the Senate moves first with passage hopefully set for today and the House has already notified members that votes could be held as early as Wednesday.

The deal is also reported to include $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, that has also lapsed in appropriations and been under scrutiny over the past weeks for its performance. $75 billion for hospitals is also expected to be included in the interim package along with $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. While the deal is not yet finalized it appears that additional money for states and local governments, which governors have requested will not be included, though the President stated “that will be in our next negotiation.” ABC has also urged Congress to include 501(c)(6) organizations in the next phase of COVID-19 relief.

 

CISA Issues New Guidance for Essential Services, Benefitting Construction:

On 4/17, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released version 3.0 of its guidance. Overall, it appears version 3.0 is good news for the construction industry, especially for members operating in states that follow CISA guidance in their essential worker policies, as it lends additional support for arguments that construction is essential.

 

  • In the Public Works and Infrastructure Support Services portion of the guidance (p. 13), two new bullets were added and listed first, giving construction services related to critical infrastructure a broad green light:
    • Workers who support the construction, maintenance, or rehabilitation of critical infrastructure.
    • Workers supporting construction materials production, testing laboratories, material delivery services, and construction inspection.

 

  • In the Commercial Services bucket (p. 18), this bullet was added, which is of interest to ABC member contractors performing maintenance and construction of commercial buildings:
    • Workers supporting the operations of commercial buildings that are critical to safety, security, and the continuance of essential activities, such as on-site property managers, building engineers, security staff, fire safety directors, janitorial personnel, and service technicians (e.g., mechanical, HVAC, plumbers, electricians, and elevator).

  

  • In the Residential/Shelter Facilities and Services bucket (p. 19), guidance was edited to clarify role of housing and commercial construction related activities:

 

 

  • In the Energy bucket (p. 9), construction was highlighted as essential broadly (see below), as well as specifically mentioned in the electricity (p. 9), petroleum (p. 10) and natural gas (p. 11) sections of the energy bucket:

 

 

Also of note, in the Considerations for Government and Business section (p. 3) there is significant new language an discussion about OSHA and CDC.

 

President Issues Guidelines to Ramp Up Federal Government Operations:

 

While last week the Trump administration released its "Opening Up America Again" guidelines to reopen the U.S. economy, today the White House released guidelines to the heads of executive agencies on preparing to “ramp back up” government operations to the maximum extent possible, and ordered federal agencies to begin preparing to return workers to offices, telling them to align their reopening plans with those of the states and municipalities where they’re located. The guidance for the federal agencies can be viewed here.

 

Indiana Extends Stay at Home Order; Boston Develops New Construction Safety Protocols:

 

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has extended the state’s Stay at Home order, which was originally set to expire on April 20, through May 1. A list of essential business and operations allowed to continue in the state can be found here.

 

The City of Boston has developed new draft safety protocols for construction sites allowed that were allowed to remain open while the city has paused non-essential construction. Mayor Marty Walsh noted that the protocols will be expanded to all construction projects when all construction is reopened in the city. The draft policy, which is set to go into effect April 27, can be viewed here. Please consult this sheet and local officials for further guidance on the operating status of construction in each jurisdiction.

                                                                                            

Reminder – ABC Hosts COVID-19 Job Site Safety Stand Down on April 23:

 

ABC is encouraging individual employers to talk directly to workers about coronavirus safe work practices and protocols on construction jobsites by hosting COVID-19 Safety Stand-downs on Thursday, April 23. Hosting a stand-down is a vital opportunity for employers and workers in construction to ensure their behavior keeps them safe and slows the spread of the virus, especially since many jurisdictions are allowing construction work to continue. Learn more here.

 

Reminder – Weekly government affairs webinar for ABC chapter presidents and government affairs directors scheduled for Tuesday, 4/21 at 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. EDT:

 

Join members of ABC National’s government affairs team to discuss the latest on COVID-19 policies, FAQs and advocacy best practices and strategies as we continue our weekly series of interactive updates for ABC chapter presidents and government affairs staff: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8156046819245045006

 

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COVID-19 Daily Update: President Announces Guidance on Reopening U.S. Economy

As ABC works with the White House and other industry groups to safely reopen the economy, ABC is also working to ensure that our construction companies are able to remain in business and receive critical assistance through this health crisis.

 

Helpful Hint of the Day – New ABC members-only webinar, ABC National Government Affairs Team Insights on COVID-19, announced for Monday, 4/20, 3 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. EDT:

Join a panel of ABC National’s general counsel and government affairs team as they discuss the latest government responses and policies related to COVID-19. Learn how ABC is fighting for ABC members and construction industry interests before federal, state and local lawmakers as the panel addresses FAQs, new policies, safety measures, loan programs and public policy debates in the COVID-19 era. Click here to register.

 

President Announces Guidance on Reopening U.S. Economy:

Last night, the Trump administration released its "Opening Up America Again" guidelines. The guidance says that before states and employers move to phases of reopening, they first need to see evidence of a downward trajectory of documented cases and influenza-like illnesses within a 14-day period. It also says they need to see a robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, and the ability to treat all patients without crisis care. The document adds the recommendations are "implementable on statewide or county-by-county basis at governors' discretion." 

 

The document also says the three-phase approach is "based on up-to-date data and readiness, mitigates risk of resurgence, and protects the most vulnerable."
 

In a call with the Nation’s governors yesterday, President Trump added that the work of the federal and state governments helped curb the potential death toll, which he said was at 2.2 million in the initial estimates. "Nobody has to hang their head, because you've all worked really hard and we have made the best out of a horrible situation and I'm very proud to have worked with you and we're going to continue to work together.”

 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said his state will reopen "in phases," starting May 1. "I am an optimist and am confident that Ohioans will also live up to the challenge of doing things differently as we open back up beginning on May 1st," DeWine Tweeted

 

Action Alert Calling on Congress to Provide Additional Funds to the Paycheck Protection Program:

 

As of 12pm EDT, 1089 ABC members have sent 3300+ messages to 94 Senators and 286 Representatives. With the SBA no longer accepting applications and PPP funding exhausted, ABC urges members to contact their U.S. lawmakers in support of a clean funding bill to authorize an additional $251 billion. Please click here to take action and urge Congress to support additional small businesses relief. ABC encourages its members to share the alert with fellow employees.

 

PPP Expires, Interim Funding Stuck in Limbo:

 

At this time, the Paycheck Protection Program is no longer accepting applications due to lack of funds. ABC National is urging Congress to support a clean funding interim bill to extend an additional $251 billion to PPP, and to further ensure that our ABC members have the resources they need to remain in business through this crisis. You can view the latest update on PPP loans disbursed here.

 

Additionally, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) has created an online portal for small businesses to share their story if they are unable to apply for a PPP loan now that the program has run out of funds. The portal can be accessed here. If a member company has expressed difficulty obtaining a PPP loan, please don’t hesitate to let us know at ABC National.

 

Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) are the only two to side with Republicans so far in moving forward with a clean funding bill. At the end of the day Thursday, President Trump said his administration was negotiating with Democrats and that he expected “something’s going to be happening."

 

While the bipartisan program is expected to be extended, it is a matter of timing and concerns remain about small businesses ability to make it another two or three weeks without renewed funding to the program. The Senate and the House, outside of an emergency need, are not scheduled to be back in DC until May 4th. ABC has stressed to lawmakers that PPP is a vital lifeline to our members and that additional PPP funding is needed immediately to effectively keep small businesses intact and employees on payroll.

 

ABC has also urged Congress to include 501(c)(6) organizations in the next phase of COVID-19 relief.

 

Main Street Lending Program:

 

The comment period for the Fed program, which is geared toward small and midsize businesses, ended April 16. The Main Street Lending Program will function more like a traditional loan, and the central bank estimates that the program, which is open to companies with as many as 10,000 employees and will be run directly through lenders, will support up to $600 billion in new loans. 

 

ABC is also waiting for additional guidance to be issued on the program, but hopefully lending will be available by next week and the term sheet can be viewed here. The Fed has also said that firms that have taken advantage of the PPP may also take out Main Street Lending loans. However, there are some key differences between the programs:

 

  • The interest rates borrowers can expect to pay on Main Street loans are variable and right now range from 2.5 percent to 4 percent. The PPP loans offer a 1 percent fixed interest rate.
  • The repayment term for Main Street loans is four years. PPP loans have two-year terms.
  • The smallest loan amount for Main Street loans is $1 million. There's no minimum loan amount for PPP loans. There are upward limitations on both programs, however. For PPP loans, the maximum loan amount is $10 million. Main Street loan sizes vary on the basis of which Main Street Lending facility for which you apply. There are two: one for new loans and one for borrowers who have an existing loan through a given lender.
  • While PPP loans may be fully or partially forgiven if companies apportion at least 75 percent of their loan proceeds to pay employees' salary, rent, and some utilities, Main Street loans may not be forgiven.

 

Since there's no minimum company size requirement for eligibility for Main Street loans, sole proprietors, self-employed business owners, and companies with fewer than 500 employees may apply. Businesses that are concerned with the ability to repay these loans should stay apprised of the status of the forgivable loan PPP and other small business provisions included in the CARES Act.

 

Another Multi-state, Regional Coalition Formed & Stay at Home Orders Extended in Three States:

 

Yesterday, seven states across the Midwest formed a third multi-state coalition comprised of governors from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The announcement from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the group of governors will evaluate reopening the economy based on four factors: sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations, enhanced ability to test and trace, sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence and best practices for social distancing in the workplace. With this formation of the Midwest coalition, there are officially 17 states taking steps to formally reopen the economy through a regional approach.

 

Statewide “Stay at Home” orders were also extended in Mississippi through April 27, Missouri through May 3 and Wisconsin through May 24. Please consult this sheet and local officials for further guidance on the operating status of construction in each jurisdiction.

                                                                                            

Reminder – ABC Hosts COVID-19 Job Site Safety Stand Down on April 23:

ABC is encouraging individual employers to talk directly to workers about coronavirus safe work practices and protocols on construction jobsites by hosting COVID-19 Safety Stand-downs on Thursday, April 23. Hosting a stand-down is a vital opportunity for employers and workers in construction to ensure their behavior keeps them safe and slows the spread of the virus, especially since many jurisdictions are allowing construction work to continue. Learn more here.

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Virginia Governor Recommends Delaying Legislation Requiring PLAs and Prevailing Wage on Public Works

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 2:04 PM -    -   ABC News -  

This weekend, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed into law and issued amendment recommendations for legislation impacting Virginia’s construction industry, including two bills permitting prevailing wage and project labor agreement requirements on taxpayer-funded public works projects.

ABC Virginia has led a coalition of construction industry associations and business organizations against the prevailing wage and PLA mandate bills, which were two of many measures opposed by the business community the General Assembly passed after Democrats won the majority for the first time since 1993.

As part of ABC’s campaign in opposition to these measures and in support of Virginia’s existing fair and open competition statute, last week, The Washington Post published an op-ed by ABC Virginia member Amber Peebles of Athena Construction, a small, women-, minority- and veteran-owned business. In addition, The Richmond Times-Dispatch published a letter to the editor by ABC Virginia Chapter President Pat Dean, and WRVA interviewed ABC’s Ben Brubeck.

The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene on April 22 for the purpose of considering bills that have been returned by the governor with a veto or recommendations for their amendment where lawmakers will determine if these bills will take effect July 1, 2020, or May 1, 2021, as recommended by Gov. Northam.

“The prevailing wage and PLA bills were passed by the General Assembly prior to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is in part why Gov. Northam recommended a delay,” said Brubeck. “While a delay is a modest victory for Virginia’s construction industry and small businesses already struggling to stay in business in the uncertain COVID-19 economy, taxpayers will end up paying an estimated 12% to 20% more for construction of Commonwealth schools, roads, bridges and affordable housing whenever these laws take effect.

“As always, ABC stands ready to oppose anti-competitive and costly prevailing wage and PLA requirements on future local and state public works projects,” said Brubeck. “When Virginia’s construction industry loses public works contracting opportunities to expensive out-of-state contractors and labor, voters must remember these fiscally irresponsible laws slowed the Commonwealth’s eventual economic recovery and needlessly increased costs to taxpayers.”

Prevailing Wage and Project Labor Agreement Legislation Of Concern
Introduced by Sen. Dick Saslaw (SB 182) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (HB 358), legislation that eliminates Virginia’s Fair and Open Competition statute restricting government-mandated project labor agreements will allow state and local governments to mandate PLAs on public works construction projects. Other bills already signed into law that were introduced by Sen. Scott Surovell (SB 995) and Del. Lopez (HB 1635) eliminate fair and open competition protections on Metrorail construction projects procured by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which would permit future PLA mandates on metro construction projects, similar to the controversial failed attempt to mandate a PLA on Phase 2 of the Silver Line.

When mandated by governments, PLAs discourage nonunion contractors and subcontractors—which employ 97.8% of Virginia's construction workforce—from competing to build and work on projects funded by taxpayer dollars. As a result, taxpayers can expect to pay 12% to 20% more on all government-mandated PLA projects.

In addition, legislation introduced by Sen. Saslaw (SB 8) and Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (HB 833) would result in prevailing wage requirements on construction projects at non-market rates set by the U.S. Department of Labor, via the archaic 1931 Davis-Bacon Act. These bills require government-determined prevailing wages to be paid to construction workers on all state construction projects exceeding $250,000 and allow localities to pass an ordinance requiring prevailing wages on specific or multiple locally procured public works construction projects.

Research suggests prevailing wage regulations increase compliance and regulatory burdens on small businesses and raise construction costs from 10% to 25%.

Because of the anti-competitive and inflationary impact of prevailing wage requirements, 23 states—including neighboring West Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina—have no prevailing wage laws, and a total of nine states have repealed or significantly reformed their laws since 2015, resulting in savings, increased contractor competition and additional investment in infrastructure. In fact, the last state to implement a new prevailing wage law was 47 years ago when Minnesota passed a prevailing wage law in 1973.

“The net impact of the prevailing wage and PLA mandate bills is that it is a lose-lose for Virginia’s economy,” said Brubeck “It will lead to tax hikes and/or fewer public works construction projects procured by the Commonwealth’s state and local governments, and it will needlessly increase construction costs and steer contracts to out-of-state businesses and workers at the expense of Virginia’s construction industry and small, women- and minority-owned businesses.”

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ABC COVID-19 Daily Update: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

ABC continues to advocate for additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, as the loan program is set to expend the original $349 billion appropriation by week’s end and Congress remains divided on an interim bill.

 

Mike Bellaman Named to President’s Great American Economic Revival Initiative:

 

On April 14, President Donald Trump announced that ABC President and CEO Mike Bellaman was named to one of the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, which will work together with the White House towards the stated goal of “charting the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity.” 

 

President Trump enlisted advisers from 17 sectors of the U.S. economy to help shape the decision-making process concerning the reopening of the U.S. economy from its COVID-19-induced shutdown. Bellaman will serve as one of 12 members of the  Construction/Labor/Workforce Group. The industry groups will also consult with the president and administration leaders to “produce a more independent, self-sufficient and resilient nation.”

 

Earlier, Bellaman sent a letter to the president providing background on the insights that ABC can provide to such an effort, including critical guidance that ABC has gathered from industry leaders, strategic partners and supply chain members during this difficult time for our nation.

 

ABC Action Alert:

 

With critical funding needed to continue the Paycheck Protection Program, ABC urges members to contact their U.S. lawmakers in support of a clean funding bill to extend an additional $251 billion to PPP. The Senate is scheduled to be in a pro forma session tomorrow, so please click here to take action and urge Congress to support additional small businesses relief.

 

Update on PPP:

 

New reports are indicating that the SBA’s $349 billion PPP could run out of funds later today with no signs of progress being made on an interim proposal to provide additional funds for small businesses to continue to have access to these job saving loans. The Senate and the House, outside of an emergency need, are not scheduled to be back in DC until May 4th.

 

In many instances, ABC members have been successful when seeking PPP loans. In fact, according to an SBA report on the Paycheck Protection Program, the construction industry accounts for the highest percentage of approved loans and approved dollars relative to the other NAICS codes listed. Through April 13, 2020, the SBA has guaranteed 1,035,086 loans worth over $247 billion under the PPP, with nearly 115,000 loans worth close to $34 billion coming from the construction industry alone.

 

The construction industry’s participation in the PPP program can be attributed to several factors, including the relatively high percentage of construction firms that are designated as eligible for PPP loans. The PPP’s exclusive focus on small businesses who employ less than 500 employees provides a potential source of aid to the 99.8% of construction firms who meet that criteria, according to the SBA.

 

ABC believes that additional PPP funding is needed immediately to effectively keep small businesses intact and employees on payroll. ABC also urges Congress to consider several suggested improvements to the PPP in any subsequent COVID-19-related legislative packages, as its inclusion will ensure that more Americans remain employed during the national health crisis and small businesses have the resources to lead the economic comeback once the crisis is over. 

 

Recorded Webinars:

 

ABC Government Affairs yesterday held a webinar for Chapter Presidents and Government Affairs that you can view here: Government Affairs COVID-19 Update (PDF) and Recording. 

 

The archived webinar recording for COVID-19 and OSHA Compliance is also now available on ABC’s Academy for Construction Ethics, Compliance and Best Practices site, which is restricted to ABC Members in management positions and Chapter Staff.

 

State and Local Updates:

 

In Idaho, Governor Brad Little has extended the state’s “Stay at Home” order through the end of April. The order was originally set to expire on April 15. Contractors in Idaho or contractors from neighboring states performing work in Idaho may consult this list of “Essential Services” outlining the types of construction that may continue in the state, which broadly includes public works construction, commercial construction and housing construction.

 

ABC continues to update this resource tracking state and local COVID-19 policies impacting the construction industry. If a new or amended state or local policy is issued in your chapter territory, please alert Brandon, Nick and/or Ben on our State Affairs team at [email protected].

Read the rest of entry »

Host a COVID-19 Safety Stand-down During the Month of April

As a member of of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, ABC has been working diligently to provide coalition members with jobsite safety information on COVID-19, which includes the development of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan for Construction.

As a group, CISC member organizations decided on Friday that our next step is to come together for COVID-19 Safety Stand-down events nationwide, with events held by individual employers to talk directly to workers about coronavirus safe work practices and protocols on construction jobsites.

ABC Virginia is asking our members to hold a COVID-19 Safety Stand-down any time during the month of April.

ABC has decided to host COVID-19 Safety Stand-downs next Thursday, April 23.

We believe having a stand-down is a vital opportunity to persuade employers and workers in construction to ensure their behavior keeps them safe and slows the spread of the virus, especially since many jurisdictions are allowing construction work to continue. 

Click here for toolbox talks and suggestions for hosting and promoting a COVID-19 Safety Stand-down, or you can use other resources that your company may have developed. In addition, everyone should emphasize that the stand-down can be held digitally simply by distributing the materials via text or email message. If they are held in person, social distancing guidance should be strictly followed (i.e., avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people; participants must remain at least six feet apart). 


Finally, we would like to encourage everyone to use the same hashtag, #COVID19SafetyStandDown, for sharing stories and photos on social media, as it will be beneficial for the entire construction industry to spread awareness of our stand-down efforts on social media. 

Read the rest of entry »

ABC COVID-19 Daily Update: Tuesday, April 14, 2020

ABC continues to advocate for additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, as the loan program is set to expend the original $349 billion appropriation by week’s end and Congress remains divided on an interim bill.

 

ABC Action Alert:

 

With critical funding needed to continue the Paycheck Protection Program, ABC urges members to contact their U.S. lawmakers in support of a clean funding bill to extend an additional $251 billion to PPP. Please click here to take action and urge Congress to support additional small businesses relief.

 

Update on PPP:

 

Earlier today, the U.S. Treasury released guidance on how lenders can process 1099/independent contractors/gig economy workers for PPP loans.

 

As of this morning, approximately 1.01 million loans have been approved under the PPP by more than 4,000 lenders, totaling $242 billion. However, there is little progress being made on an agreement to provide additional funds to the program before money runs out at some point this week.

 

The Senate and the House, outside of an emergency need, are not scheduled to be back in DC until May 4th. Complicating issues more, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, who forced members back into town to pass the CARES Act, has again pledged to call for a floor vote and force members back to town if another package is agreed on by Congressional leadership. Members would have to be given 24 hours’ notice before having to return to town as well.

 

Associations and organizations representing small businesses, including ABC, are also advocating for further expansion of the PPP program to include 501(c)(6) non-profits, expand past the 8-week payroll coverage, and further assist small businesses.

 

State and Local Updates:

 

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has extended the state’s “Stay at Home” order through April 30, a two week plus extension over the original April 14th timeline established by the state. All other state laws, rules and provisions related to the original order are also extended, according to the governor’s executive order. Other metropolitan areas in the state had existing orders that already extended beyond the state’s April 14th date, including “Safer at Home” directives in Nashville through April 24 and Memphis through April 21. Contractors working in Tennessee can find more information on essential businesses and services that may continue to operate under the executive order here.

 

Mid-Atlantic and West Coast states are also now exploring multi-state efforts to respond to COVID-related developments, and further state cooperation is expected in coming weeks.

 

ABC continues to update this resource tracking state and local COVID-19 policies impacting the construction industry. If a new or amended state or local policy is issued in your chapter territory, please alert Brandon, Nick and/or Ben on our State Affairs team at [email protected].

Read the rest of entry »

COVID-19 Daily Update: PPP Talks Stall

Last week administration officials continued to iron out issues with the PPP’s rollout, and now major banks are operating online portals for applications and the SBA continues to approve new lenders for the program daily. Additionally, the U.S. Treasury authorized digital payment platforms to give PPP loans, and PayPal became the first non-bank institution authorized to distribute loans.

 

As of this morning, 834,404 loans have been approved under the PPP, totaling $206 billion.

 

Last week also saw a failed attempt by Senate Republicans to authorize an additional $251 billion for the program, which is set to run out of funds this week, after Democrats blocked the proposal while pushing for additional funding for hospitals, states and local communities. The White House has stated its opposition to the Democrats proposal and Republican Leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy issued a joint statement on the need for additional PPP funds over the weekend, rejecting Democrats requests, while Democratic Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a new statement this morning highlighting their concerns and sticking to their demands.

 

The Senate and House remain out of town for at least another week until April 20, and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, who forced members back into town to pass the CARES Act, has again pledged to call for a floor vote and force members back to town if another package is agreed on by Congressional leadership.

 

Associations and organizations representing small businesses, including ABC, are also advocating for further expansion of the PPP program to include 501(c)(6) non-profits, expand past the 8-week payroll coverage, and further assist small businesses. We will continue to provide critical updates on any progress made on these priorities.

 

In the midst of the PPP dilemma, the National Governors Association, led by Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan, outlined the need for $500 billion from the federal government to states to meet budgetary shortfalls caused by the health crisis.

 

OSHA Issues New Guidance on the Recordability of COVID-19 Cases:

On April 10, OSHA clarified its position regarding the recordability of COVID-19 cases under its recordkeeping rules. According to the OSHA press release, “In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where: (1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and (2) The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR Part 1904.” Read ABC’s statement on the new guidance as well as ABC general counsel, Littler Mendelson’s analysis.

 

 

State and Local Updates:

 

Vermont Governor Phil Scott has extended the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Order, which was originally set to expire on April 15, through May 15. The order also extends the expiration date of all other corresponding orders, including Addendum 6 which outlines that the only construction permitted to continue in the state is ” construction necessary to support the COVID-19 response and maintain critical infrastructure.” More information on the announcement can be found here.

 

ABC continues to update this resource tracking state and local COVID-19 policies impacting the construction industry. If a new or amended state or local policy is issued in your chapter territory, please alert Brandon, Nick and/or Ben on our State Affairs team at [email protected].

Read the rest of entry »

COVID-19 Daily Update: PPP Expansion & Main Street Lending

Helpful Tip of the Day

ABC Virginia would like to remind members to register for today's webinar at 3PM EDT hosted by Maury Baskin, Littler Mendelson P.C., on paid federal leave, the CARES Act, and the impact of the COVID-19 virus impact on construction. Registration for the webinar can be found here. Also, continue to view our COVID-19 Updates page for more information on the virus and ABC action.

 

You can also view ABC National's coronavirus page here: https://abc.org/coronavirus 

 

Update on PPP:  

As of last night, nearly $100 billion in PPP Loans has already been committed, and in anticipation that the $349 billion authorized under the CARES Act will be fully utilized, the Administration has been working with Congress to ensure that additional funds are allocated to the program as soon as possible.

 

ABC Action on PPP:  

ABC sent the attached letter to Congressional leadership including requests that the program expands to 501(c)(6) organizations, like our local chapters, and extend the eight-week payroll coverage for PPP loans and modify the formula for non-payroll expenses so that more construction businesses have the full resources needed during this national health crisis.  

 

What Federal Officials’ Are Saying about Additional funding for PPP:

In a letter to Vice President Pence, the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget requested $251 billion in additional funding for PPP Loans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also issued a statement here in support of the additional funding and also pushed for the Senate to approve funding as early as Thursday by unanimous consent or voice vote when the upper chamber is in a pro forma session.

House Republican Leader McCarthy also issued a statement of support for the action here, while Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer’s submitted a counteroffer is here calling for:

            

  • $125 billion of the $251 for PPP loans channeled through community-based financial institutions that serve farmers, family, women, minority and veteran-owned small businesses and nonprofits in rural, tribal, suburban and urban communities across our country;
  • $100 billion for hospitals, community health centers and health systems, including production and distribution of national rapid testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
  • $150 billion for state and local governments; and
  • 15 percent increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit.

 

Main Street Lending Program Update:

On CNBC today, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the Treasury and the Federal Reserve hope to provide more details this week on an emergency lending facility directed toward medium-sized businesses, which have not yet benefited from the $2 trillion economic rescue package signed into law last month. Fed Chair Jerome Powell is set to speak Thursday at a virtual event hosted by the Brookings Institution, where he could provide more information on the Main Street facility.

In the CARES Act, Congress directed the Fed to create the “Main Street lending program” for companies with more than 500 employees that are disqualified from small business loans and too small for federal loans reserved for larger companies. ABC will continue to monitor any guidance and progress made on this program to inform members.

 

PPP and Paid Leave FAQs:

A reminder that the SBA and Treasury released new FAQs and guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program and also view the attached guidance from ABC on Coronavirus-related paid leave programs.

Read the rest of entry »

PPP Eligibility and FAQs

PPP FAQs

 

Late last night, the SBA and Treasury confirmed ABC’s interpretation of the IFR and addressed this issue in a release of FAQs for lenders and borrowers. The FAQs further state that borrowers and lenders may rely on the guidance provided in this document as SBA’s interpretation of the CARES Act and of the Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rule. The U.S. government will not challenge lender PPP actions that conform to this guidance,1 and to the PPP Interim Final Rule and any subsequent rulemaking in effect at the time.

 

Importantly in this document, it clarifies that businesses do not have to qualify as both a small business concern AND have 500 or fewer employees. Please see the FAQ that specifically addresses this issue below. ABC continues to urge eligible members in need to apply for PPP loans.

 

Question: Does my business have to qualify as a small business concern (as defined in section 3 of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632) in order to participate in the PPP?

 

Answer: No. In addition to small business concerns, a business is eligible for a PPP loan if the business has 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, or the business meets the SBA employee-based size standards for the industry in which it operates (if applicable). Similarly, PPP loans are also available for qualifying tax-exempt nonprofit organizations described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), tax-exempt veterans organization described in section 501(c)(19) of the IRC, and Tribal business concerns described in section 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act that have 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States, or meet the SBA employee-based size standards for the industry in which they operate.

 

PPP Progress:

 

While information on the PPP loans made has come out piecemeal,  yesterday morning U.S. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow stated that there are commitments for $38 billion worth of loans— 130,000 loans themselves from 2,400 lenders.

 

Bank of America confirmed yesterday that it had received applications from 177,000 small businesses for a total of $32.6 billion in financing. The current Bank of America numbers are its applications and do not represent the sums the Small Business Administration has approved.

 

As mentioned in yesterday Federal Update, the next legislative package is likely to replenish funding for PPP loans. Beyond administrative hiccups in the programs rollout, the biggest concern has been that the PPP program might prove too popular and small business owners are concerned that if they aren’t among the first in line, they might be left behind.

 

The Trump administration and the program’s congressional champions have moved quickly to tamp down such concerns:

  • President Trump tweeted on Saturday that he will “immediately ask Congress for more money” should the program’s $349 billion allocation run out.”
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he will go to Congress to ask for more small business loan funding if the current $350 billion pool goes quickly.
  • Senate Small Business Committee Chairman and PPP chief author Marco Rubio (R-FL) estimated in a lengthy thread that the initial tranche of funds could run out as soon as June 6th.
    • Rubio also pledged to work his congressional colleagues to secure additional funding for PPP in a general update on the state of the program.

Read the rest of entry »

PPP Eligibility Clarification

PPP Eligibility Clarification:

 

Over the weekend, ABC-VA became aware of an issue within the interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program. This issue was also raised in a letter from the Associated General Contractors; however, it is ABC’s view at this time that while AGC’s interpretation raises an alarm for welcome clarification in the guidance, the language included in the IFR does not impact the eligibility of ABC-VA members with fewer than 500 employees applying for PPP loans.

 

The IFR language (attached and below: page 5, f IFR Section 2.a) is admittedly poorly written and ABC-VA believes that clarification would be helpful for businesses that are applying for these loans.

 

2. What Do Borrowers Need to Know and Do?

a. Am I eligible?

You are eligible for a PPP loan if you have 500 or fewer employees whose

principal place of residence is in the United States, or are a business that operates

in a certain industry and meet the applicable SBA employee-based size standards

for that industry, and:

i. You are:

A. A small business concern as defined in section 3 of the

Small Business Act (15 USC 632), and subject to SBA’s affiliation

rules under 13 CFR 121.301(f) unless specifically waived in the

Act;

B. A tax-exempt nonprofit organization described in section

501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), a tax-exempt

veterans organization described in section 501(c)(19) of the IRC,

Tribal business concern described in section 31(b)(2)(C) of the

Small Business Act, or any other business; and

ii. You were in operation on February 15, 2020 and either had employees for

whom you paid salaries and payroll taxes or paid independent contractors,

as reported on a Form 1099-MISC.

 

The size standards are for the most part expressed in either millions of dollars (those preceded by “$”) or number of employees (those without the “$”). A size standard is the largest that a concern can be and still qualify as a small business for Federal Government programs. For the most part, size standards are the average annual receipts or the average employment of a firm. This table lists small business size standards matched to industries described in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

 

From legal guidance ABC-VA has received, the interim final rule’s use of the term “employee-based” when describing the size standards means that the receipts portion of the chart is not applicable. This is also consistent with the guidance SBA issued, which makes no mention of needing to satisfy any other requirement. However, some construction organizations have argued that the IFR language would require construction companies meet the 500 or fewer size threshold AND then subject these businesses to also meeting the requirement of meeting the average annual receipts size standard, which could impact construction businesses eligibility for the program.

 

Further, Section 1102 of the CARES Act added 636(a)(36), which creates PPP, including criteria for loan in 636(a)(36)(D).  The administrator does not have the power to alter this section, which locks in employee number standards (see below):

(D) INCREASED ELIGIBILITY FOR CERTAIN SMALL BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS.—

“(i) IN GENERAL.—During the covered period, in addition to small business concerns, any business concern, nonprofit organization, veterans organization, or Tribal business concern described in section 31(b)(2)(C) shall be eligible to receive a covered loan if the business concern, nonprofit organization, veterans organization, or Tribal business concern employs not more than the greater of—

“(I) 500 employees; or

“(II) if applicable, the size standard in number of employees established by the Administration for the industry in which the business concern, nonprofit organization, veterans organization, or Tribal business concern operates.

ABC believes that further clarification on this would be helpful, but that our members don’t seem to be at risk of being disqualified from these loans at this time. ABC is looking to join other organizations in a sign-on letter to provide clarity and ensure that this will not be detrimental to the eligibility ABC members and small businesses for PPP loans. We will also be submitting comments to the SBA asking for further clarification of this issue.

 

We will be sure to provide additional updates on this issue, but it would be good to know if you are hearing from any members who are having trouble getting a loan because of this issue.

 

Main Street Lending Program:

 

It appears that the Federal Reserve is making progress on establishing the Main Street Lending Program, authorized under the CARES Act, to support lending to small and mid-size businesses with more than 500 employees. The Federal Reserve Main Street Business Lending Program would not be required to impose the same conditions as the Assistance for Mid-Sized Businesses in Section 4003(c)(3)(D)(i) of the CARES Act, which would require union neutrality, and thus the Main Street Lending Program could be a more flexible program and more appealing to some of ABC’s larger member companies.

 

While full guidance on this program is probably a couple weeks away, they could issue an announcement in the next few days to give some indication of the direction this assistance will take.

 

DOL Issues More Guidance on FFCRA:

 

  • Additional Q&As issued, read here.
  • Additional resources here.

Please note this week’s webinar on paid leave and guidance on small business provisions in the CARES Act. And view the attached small business guide to DOL guidance on Coronavirus-related paid leave.

 

OSHA Issues Enforcement Policies on Respiratory Protection:

 

Over the last few days, OSHA has released guidance to employers regarding enforcement of its Respiratory Protection standard, given the shortage of N95 respirators. OSHA released two separate memoranda that need to be read together to fully understand the Agency’s position. 

 

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance for Respiratory Protection During N95 Shortage Due To Covid-19 Pandemic:

 

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Guidance For Respirators Certified Under Other Countries’ Standards During Covid-19 Pandemic:

 

ABC general counsel, Littler Mendelson P.C., has prepared an analysis of the enforcement policies, read it here.

 

Phase 4 Emergency Relief:

 

While initial discussions surrounding Phase 4 of the response to COVID-19 focused on recovery efforts such as an infrastructure package, it now appears that Phase 4 will focus on additional emergency relief efforts to ensure our hospitals and the economy are able to withstand this ongoing health crisis. Although the President reiterated his support for the possibility of an inclusion of infrastructure, the potential deal was skirted by Congressional Republicans, and even eventually Speaker Pelosi said that it will have to wait for a bill "beyond this." ABC will continue to advocate that any federal investment in infrastructure should include the entire construction industry.

 

Speaker Pelosi has already expressed her support for additional relief funds through an expansion of the CARES Act’s $2 trillion package the president signed into law including more money to aid states, cities and small businesses, and expanding unemployment benefits and another round of direct cash payments for Americans.

 

Republicans are also acknowledging they will need to act again, particularly in terms of extending PPP loans for small businesses to pay employees and cover expenses for beyond eight weeks. ABC is also advocating for expanding PPP loans to 501(c)(6) organizations, which would make our national and state chapters eligible for the loan program, and is working with ASAE and other organizations to support these efforts.  

 

Speaker Pelosi also announced the creation of a bipartisan House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Friday. The committee will primarily serve an oversight role, rather than a policy driver in future phases of COVID-19 emergency relief, but it will have subpoena power.

 

State and Local Tracking:

ABC is also tracking state and local COVID-19-related stay-at-home policies affecting the construction industry. You can view a document of the policies here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1IcXrB7xlX7pBvJHjD5NFg6GD-B_M0D9mXpq8-QgEJaQ/edit#gid=0.

 

Please send any new or updated policies to [email protected] and encourage members to review Project Shutdown/Startup Procedures and Sample Business Continuity Plans through ABC’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Resources: https://abc.org/Safety/Emergency-Preparedness-Recovery-Resources.

 

ABC Votes 2020 is Live:

 

ABC Votes 2020, the one-stop-shop for all voter questions, information, and priority issues surrounding the 2020 election cycle, is now live: https://www.abcvotes.com/.

 

ABC Votes 2020 offers personalized election guides for all fifty states and the District of Columbia.  Personalized election guides provide information about State General Elections including candidates, voting information and important election websites.  Additionally, ABC Votes 2020 highlights important issues pertaining to the construction industry and provides election resources for ABC chapters and member companies. 

 

ABC Votes 2020 is made possible by the Free Enterprise Alliance and is committed to provided up-to-date information and resources now through the 2020 elections.  Individuals are encouraged to check back regularly to learn more about the 2020 election cycle.   

 

Electronic Media for Apprenticeships:

 

DOL issued the attached bulletin to provide guidance on electronic media for apprenticeship classroom, occupational or industry courses during the COVID-19 crisis.

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VIRGINIA - 4/6 Governor Update

UPDATED NUMBERS -

As of this morning there are 2,878 positive cases (241 new cases in the last 24 hours), 54 deaths (3 new deaths in the last 24 hours), 497 hospitalizations, 24,521 people tested.

Virginia doesn’t have the recovery numbers to report as it isn’t collected by the Health Department.  Virginia has many people who have COVID-19 who haven’t been tested that may or may not have symptoms. The hospitalization numbers come from the Virginia Health Information website that tracks hospitals claims.  The hospitals and their association have a more accurate census on patients.

Surge modeling has changed in the last week.  Originally estimated that Virginia’s surge would be late May, some models saying late April.

 

State Lab

Using genetic technology to help health professionals use knowledge from the positive tests to learn more about fighting the virus, how it spreads and changes.

 

Long Term Care Facilities

The VA Dept. of Health has 35 districts with local health departments.  The locals are working very closely with the long term care facilities in their area.  Once a case is found at a facility, the local department works to isolate and protect the rest of the facility from the virus. 

 

Alternative Care Sites -

The three sites are Dulles Expo Center, Hampton Roads Convention Center, and Richmond Convention Center – finalizing those contracts and buildout will begin this week.  Virginia is looking at other areas should more sites be necessary.  Will monitor the data as it comes in.

 

PPEs

The Governor is working every angle to buy more PPE.  Virginia has received a fraction of what was requested of the National Stockpile.  Administration executed a $27m contract with VA based company, Northfield, to get PPEs and a contract with Estes Trucking to get the new PPEs to those who need it.  These are the first of many purchases that will be made to ensure Virginia has the needed amounts of PPE.

 

Testing

Virginia does not have the volume of needed testing materials.  Some hospitals are doing in-house testing to help speed up the process.  The State is working on getting new rapid testing materials so that the testing time is cut down to a 15/20min turnaround.  Private companies and some hospitals are still running at a longer time frame than the state lab.

 

Construction

Road and building construction is allowed to operate as long as they adhere to the rules of gatherings, social distancing, and increased cleaning.  To date, the Governor has not heard of any problems with companies adhering to  the guidelines and his Administration continues to monitor the situation.

 

Dept of Corrections

Outbreak in two facilities, including inmates and staff.  Of the 30,000 people incarcerated, very few are eligible for parole and, of those, most were convicted of violent crimes.  For those that are eligible, the Governor’s office is working through the protocols when it comes to parole for them.  Governor does not plan on signing an EO to allow for broad clemency.  For those that cannot be released, the Dep of Corrections is diligently abiding by CDC guidelines to include face masks, additional soap rations, spacing, and increased cleaning of all surfaces.

 

Stay at Home Order (no changes)

Virginians are heeding the warning.  In the weeks to come Virginians cannot relax their vigilance.  The virus knows no boundaries so all parts of Virginia must abide by social distancing, handwashing, masks, and only leaving the home for essential reasons.  For non-essential businesses that are operating under the current guidelines, no need to close down.  If they cannot abide by the guidelines, they must close.

 

National Public Health Week

COVID-19 has shown Virginia how vital our public health personnel are to all of us, year round.  Health Community is working to care for all Virginians during this trying time.

Read the rest of entry »

VIRGINIA - 4/3 COVID-19 Governor Update


​Yesterday, the Federal Government approved federal major disaster declaration Virginia. This will provide funding for federal equipment and supplies and housing for 1,500 Virginians who are homeless. Virginia will also provide hotel or motel vouchers for the homeless.

FEMA is providing funding for food and cleaning supplies.

FEMA, National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers are working to identify alternative sites for medical facilities. On Wednesday, several options were discussed. The Army Corps of Engineers has approved final recommendations. The Dulles Expo Center is where construction can proceed the fastest. We are focusing on that site. This center could accommodate 315 acute patients and  510 non-acute patients.

In Hampton Roads, the Hampton Roads Convention will be used and can accommodate 360 acute or 580 non-acute patients.

In Richmond, the Richmond Convention Center will be used and can accommodate 432 beds and 758 non acute beds.

The next steps are to complete contracts, move into design and then construction. Teams are moving fast. Expect sites to be ready in about 6 weeks.

These facilities will be to free up capacity in exisitng hospital care systems.

The virus is expected to surge in Virginia this May.

114,104 people have applied for unemployment in Virginia and we can expect that number to grow next week. Virginia DOL has upgraded their website, expanded server capacity and is increasing call center staffing by 20%.

DOL will provide unemployment benefits to people who are self-employed.

More people are now eligible for Medicaid program. Now 400k people.

 

State budget-

Legislature passed 2-year state budget. The legislature ensures vulnerable Virginians are taken care of.
 

We are now facing a recession that will have major impacts on state budget. Current budget and new one that begins on July 1. Less revenue than most pessimistic forecast.

Investments in PPE, hospital space and aid to support Virginians who need it most.

Federal funding and stimulus bills will help but will not fix problem. State agency heads will reduce spending for the rest of this fiscal year. Directing agencies to start budget cuts starting in July. Avoiding new commitments.

Virginia had a strong economy before this pandemic.

We will manage budget responsibly and when pandemic is over, we will be strong again.

Nursing homes and long- term care facilities -

Canterbury Rehabilitation (Richmond) – 16 died, 92 tested positive.

Virginia Dept of Health tested all employees at Canterbury. Of those who tested positive, 53 had no symptoms. Absolutely critical people stay home. People can have the virus without knowing it or feeling sick and spread it to others.

Stay home to protect ourselves and other people.

 

Gatherings –

Governor Northam spoke with the Department of Conservation and Inland Fsheries, together who manage our state parks, preserves and public lands. Some people have been gathering in groups and not practicing social distancing. Tremendous burden on law enforcement. To continue access to lands, and waters, treat natural areas with respects and practice social distancing.

Parties strictly prohibited, littering, vandalism and failing to observe posted use restrictions.

Do not gather in groups. Law enforcement will be watching this weekend.

 

Dr. Norm Oliver, Virginia Department of Health -

 

In the past week the CDC listed Virginia as state that has widespread community transmission of CVOID-19.

Total numbers of confirmed cases: 2,012 since reported on Wed (increase of 500+ new cases).

Total deaths: 46 (last 24 hours, 5 new deaths).

Widest spread: Central Virginia (around Richmond), Tidewater and Peninsula and Northern Virginia (we are planning alternate care facilities to aid hospital systems there).

Next week is National Public Health Service week. Normally there would be a big celebration for public health workers at VA Dept of Health on April 6th – won’t be holding that this year. Frontline workers deserve our gratitude – thank you.

 

Wednesday Issue: Faith Communities

Normally, faith communities would celebrate those normal times together. But, these are not normal times.

Alternative means of worship: Virtual meetings or drive up gatherings.

 

Rent-

Virginia will help up to 1,500 Virginians find shelter. Put word out to private sector.

There are over 500 hotels throughout the Commonwealth that have 37,00 rooms available.

Supreme Court has suspended court proceedings.

Virginia Housing and Development Authority is the financing arm for many throughout Commonwealth prevent people from being evicted during this crisis.

 

Cloth masks-

Unlawful to cover your face in public in Virginia.

Times such as these, people are going to need to protect themselves.

No law enforcement for wearing a face mask during this time.

 

Personal Protective Equipment-  

Still asking volunteers to donate PPE.

Working with vendors not only in Virginia but around the world to provide PPE.

We want to make sure N95s are available for first responders, healthcare workers, nurse case employees.

The virus is transmitted by droplets. Governor says he would not discourage anyone from wearing a mask.  Governor encourages that to happen.

Virginia has ordered 350 ventilators from National stock pile. Has not been able to be filled.

Health systems reaching out to their supply chains.

Hundreds of new ventilators are available in the Commonwealth.

Also looking at better innovative ways like using valves on ventilators to take care of more than one patient at a time.

When we have the surge, we expect to have the bed capacity, ventilators and staffing. All three areas are being worked simultaneously.

 

Modeling-

Not a perfect science, but our best estimate is it will be in the month of May. Not sure if it’s early, mid or late May. Curves are available to the public. Giving information to public every day. Our estimate for Virginia is month of May. Every area around the world geographically is different.

 

Will 1 in 7 people expected to get it?

How many individuals will get it? If you don’t abide by guidelines, if you don’t stay at home, if you don’t wash your hands, if you’re near someone who has it, you are going to get it. Period. Governor has never seen a pathogen like this. There’s a good likelihood that if you’re around someone with the virus, you’re going to get it. Stay at home, flatten the curve.

 

Models from University of Pennsylvania

# of beds, projections around VA

University of Washington (paints a rosier picture)

Carroll College of London produced a model for US


University of VA Data Science Team  Model

Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association & Virginia Dept of Health has produced a model using Virginia Specific data

 

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Update: Should Americans Wear Masks in Public?


​In a blog post earlier this week we raised the question: Should Americans Wear Face Masks in Public? Now, the Trump administration is formalizing new guidance to recommend that many Americans wear face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The President is expected to make an announcement in the coming days.

During yesterday’s briefing, the President said he “did not see a problem if Americans wanted to wear face masks in public, but that they should be using scarves” or a homemade fabric mask as opposed to surgical or medical masks as those are needed by healthcare professionals.

Officials also plan to stress that wearing masks is not a substitute for maintaining social distancing and following other guidelines to curb the virus' spread.

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Update: Paycheck Protection Plan

With the rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program scheduled for today, we wanted to provide our members with some quick information to prepare. Attached is the final interim rule on the PPP that was just released by SBA and made available online here: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/PPP--IFRN%20FINAL.pdf.

Please also view the SBA’s website for PPP loans here and Treasury’s CARES Act website here. Additional ABC-VA Coronavirus resources can also be found here:  http://www.abcva.org/COVID-19

Please also note today's webinar on loan options under the CARES Act. And next week’s webinar on paid leave and guidance on small business provisions in the CARES Act.

Attached is a tool that members can use to calculate their maximum allowable loan under the PPP. ABC encourages eligible businesses to submit their application to approved lenders today.

It is our hope that approved lenders will be able to get these loans out quickly to eligible businesses and below is some updated information we previously sent out in federal updates, and please feel free to reach out with any questions.

NOTE: we have received a number of questions about union neutrality for businesses accepting SBA loans. The PPP loan program DOES NOT contain this requirement – please see below for additional information.

 

Paycheck Protection Program and Tax Provisions for Small Businesses – What You Need to Know:

 

Paycheck Protection Program Overview:

 

  • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. The guidance suggests applying quickly as there is a funding cap. The application form for borrowers can be found here.

 

  • Although the program is open until June 30, 2020, the Treasury Department encouraged businesses to apply quickly “because there is a funding cap.” U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has also said that if the initial pool of loans for small business goes quickly, Congress could work to expand funding on a bipartisan basis.

 

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides $2 trillion in federal funding for programs to support our nation’s hospitals and businesses, and the most critical of these programs for ABC and our members (a majority of which are small businesses) is the Paycheck Protection Program that authorizes nearly $350 billion in forgivable loans. PPP loans must be made during the period prior to June 30, 2020 and is retroactive to February 15, 2020.

 

PPP Eligibility:

 

  • The bill defines eligibility for these loans as a small business, 501(c)(3) or 501(a) nonprofit, a 501(c)(19) veteran’s organization, or Tribal business concern described in section 31(b)(2)(C) of the Small Business Act with not more than 500 employees, or the applicable size standard for the industry as provided by SBA, if higher. Note the bill does not include 501(c)(6) nonprofits, which excludes ABC National and many of our state chapters from eligibility.

 

  • Sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals as eligible for loans and allows businesses with more than one physical location that employs no more than 500 employees per physical location in certain industries, mainly franchise and food services, are also eligible.

 

  • The bill requires eligible borrowers to make a good faith certification that the loan is necessary due to the uncertainty of current economic conditions caused by COVID-19, and that they will use the funds to retain workers and maintain payroll, lease, and utility payments.

 

  • Borrowers also must not be receiving duplicative funds for the same uses from another SBA program and participation in a PPP loan excludes businesses from taking advantage of tax programs included in the CARES Act to prevent double dipping into these federal programs.

 

  • SBA-certified lenders are only required to determine whether a business was operational on February 15, 2020, and had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes for eligibility in the PPP. 

 

PPP Loans:

 

  • According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans as soon as they are approved and enrolled in the program.

 

  • PPP loans can be as large as 250% of a business’s average monthly payroll costs over the last 12 months, however, the maximum loan amount under this program is $10 million through December 31, 2020. It also specifies allowable uses of the loan to include payroll support, such as employee salaries, paid sick or medical leave, insurance premiums, and mortgage, rent, and utility payments.

 

  • PPP loans are made by over 800 SBA-certified lenders throughout the country and the CARES Act allows for additional lenders to join the program, as needed. Additional lenders approved by Treasury are only permitted to make Paycheck Protection Program loans, not regular 7(a) loans.

 

  • PPP Loans are subject to a fixed interest rate of 0.50%, and are subject to complete payment deferral (including principal, interest and fees) for at least six months and up to one year, subject to a process to be determined by the SBA, and are not subject to any prepayment penalty.

 

  • Businesses interested in a PPP loan should contact their bank to see if it is an SBA-approved lender.

 

  • PPP Loans are not required to be secured by collateral or personally guaranteed, do not require that the borrower be unable to find credit elsewhere, and are not subject to the SBA’s fees through June 30, 2020. 

 

Loan Forgiveness:

 

  • Principal amounts on PPP loans, for the first 8-week period from when the PPP Loan is made, may be forgiven, if loan funds are used to cover payroll costs, interest payments on mortgages (not including prepayments or principal), rent and utilities.

 

  • The amount of a PPP loan that may be forgiven cannot exceed the principal amount of the loan. The amount forgiven will be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior

year and reduced by the reduction in pay of any employee beyond 25 percent of their prior year compensation. Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

 

  • To encourage employers to rehire any employees who have already been laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis, borrowers that re-hire workers previously laid off will not be penalized for having a reduced payroll at the beginning of the period.

 

  • The Act also directs the SBA to issue guidance and regulations implementing the PPP Loan forgiveness provisions within 30 days.

 

Union Neutrality:

 

  • The union neutrality provision in the bill only applies to a smaller optional program for mid-size businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program for employers with fewer than 500 employees doesn’t set these requirements.. Additional information is below and please reach out with any additional questions.

 

  • The provision is a part of an optional  program that would create additional assistance for mid-Sized Businesses (between 500 and 10,000 employees) for workforce retainment. The bill states, “the Secretary [of the Treasury] shall endeavor to seek the implementation of a program or facility … that provides financing to banks and other lenders that make direct loans to eligible businesses… with between 500 and 10,000 employees….”  Eligible borrower must make a good-faith certification - “(X) that the recipient will remain neutral in any union organizing effort for the term of the loan.”

 

  • It is also important to note that the Federal Reserve also has the discretion to establish a Main Street Lending Program or other similar program or facility that supports lending to small and mid-size businesses, on such terms and conditions as the Board may set consistent with section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act. The Federal Reserve Main Street Business Lending Program would not be required to impose the same conditions as the Assistance for Mid-Sized Businesses in Section 4003(c)(3)(D)(i), and thus may be a more flexible program. Similarly, Treasury may provide a loan, loan guarantee or other investment for such a Federal Reserve program or facility.

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President Trump Approves Virginia Disaster Declaration

Today, President Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Virginia and ordered Federal assistance to supplement Commonwealth, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Federal funding is available to Commonwealth, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia impacted by COVID-19.

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State Officials Consider National Conference Center in Leesburg as Alternate Hospital Site

With the virus expected to peak in May, Virginia state officials are now considering The National Conference Center in Lansdowne as a site to help treat the influx of patients needing care due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there are now 1,706 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the state, 246 hospitalizations and 41 deaths.

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Free Cash Flow Tool for Construction

 

 

 

 

The impacts of the virus haven’t affected all industries equally to this point. Think about it - the slowdown of projects for contractors may not occur in the next week or even month, but undoubtedly there will be some backlash. Company cash flow may be in a healthy position currently, but new projects may be delayed, materials may not be available and collections will certainly be extended. How can you extend your cash to last? We are recommending two immediate actions:

          •  Talk to your trusted advisors about new legislation that could provide cash flow in the form of tax credits or                  loans and 
        •  Project your worst, best and most likely cash flow scenarios over the next 3 months.

Meadows Urquhart Acree & Cook, LLP has developed a free cash flow tool that could help you in this process. We’re all in this together; in times like this relying on trusted advisors is one way to alleviate some of the stress.

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Scientific COVID-19 Pandemic Models for Virginia

 

Several scientific models have been released which predict the future number of deaths from COVID-19 in Virginia. Many models predict the virus will peak in late May.

As long as we continue to practice social distancing, the smaller the number of those who will get sick and die.

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VIRGINIA - 4/1 Governor COVID-19 Update

Fundamental message – STAY HOME.  What does it mean? Only leave your home when you need to, not when you want to.  Virginia is at the beginning of this virus.  If we stay at home, we don’t give the virus a chance to infect others. Local law enforcement will enforce the 10 or fewer rules.

 

UPDATED NUMBERS

1484 total cases (234 new cases since yesterday).  34 total deaths (7 more since yesterday). 305 hospitalizations (145 in ICU and of those individuals, 108 are on ventilators).

Cluster of cases in NOVA (Arlington Fairfax, Loudoun, PW), Central VA, Peninsula area.

VA is working on modeling to determine peak and plan for the stress to hospital resources.  Current expected peak in May.

 

Alternative Care Sites

In preparation for the surge of patients, Virginia National Guard has identified several sites across the Commonwealth for temporary/field hospitals should the need arise.  To date, they have narrowed locations to the Exxon Mobile facility in Fairfax, Hampton Convention Center in Hampton Roads, and a Richmond area site.  This is in addition to hospitals expanding their own surge capacity, onsite or near site. As for military and VA Hospitals, these providers are preparing to provide any services possible in addition to caring for active duty and veteran population.

 

PPEs and Testing

Virginia received our third shipment of PPEs from the national stockpile and continue to work all available options to get more PPEs. The needs are great and Virginia is competing against 49 other states and the federal government to find enough resources.  Virginia has more tests, increased testing capacity, and has broadened the testing criteria but there are still constraints.  Cannot due broad based testing so the focus is still on high risk populations.  With the elderly populations, most risk is in assisted living, nursing homes, and hospitals.

 

Census

April 1 is Census Day in USA.  Since Census workers will not be going door-to-door to help complete the count, it is critical for all Virginians to participate via mail or online.  The count helps determine how federal funding is distributed to states, helps communities plan public safety plans, and determines the number of members in Virginia’s congressional delegation.

 

Upcoming Elections

May and June elections are essential and, at this point, will not be moved.  While the Governor’s team determines how to handle voting in-person, they implore Virginians to vote absentee for both the local (May) and federal (June) elections.  Virginia will update people on how in-person voting will be allowed.  Candidates will have to find new ways to connect with voters and must abide by the rules about gatherings and social distancing.

 

Rent/Mortgage Payments

Encourage anyone who has lost their job to apply for unemployment.  Deferring loan payments for those with federal loans.  Suspending evictions for anyone in public housing.  Courts have suspended evictions proceedings through April 26th.

 

Religious Events

On Friday, faith leaders will have announcements as to how people can participate in upcoming holidays and celebrations.

 

Homeless Population

Working to secure financing to pay for housing for homeless population across the Commonwealth. 

 

Local Government Budget Issues

There are a number of bills the Gov is looking at in light of the current business environment.  Working with business community, unions, workers, and bill patrons to make a decision that is in the best interest of Virginia.  As for local budgets, every action taken will be in support first responders, hospitals, etc while trying to balance economic needs.  Health crisis must be dealt with first.  Virginia must keep a balanced budget and we have to meet our revenue projections, otherwise cuts to services will occur. 

 

Dept of Corrections

Inmates and staff have tested positive at two facilities in Virginia.  DOC is following CDC guidelines to limit the spread.  VA Parole Board working overtime and, to date, have released 96 individuals on parole. 

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Paycheck Protection Program Guidance and Application

Paycheck Protection Program

The U.S. Treasury Department recently sent out this press release with additional guidance for small businesses applying for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The new loan program will be available retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020.


Loan Terms & Conditions

•  Eligible businesses: All businesses, including non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors, with 500 or fewer employees, or no greater than the number of employees set by the SBA as the size standard for certain industries

•  Maximum loan amount up to $10 million

•  Loan forgiveness if proceeds used for payroll costs and other designated business operating expenses in the 8 weeks following the date of loan origination (due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs)

•  All loans under this program will have the following identical features:

•  Interest rate of 0.5%

•  Maturity of 2 years

•  First payment deferred for six months

•  100% guarantee by SBA

•  No collateral

•  No personal guarantees

•  No borrower or lender fees payable to SBA

 

Visit treasury.gov/cares for more information on SBA’s assistance to small businesses.

 

Application

The application for borrowers can be found here.

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Updated: Tuesday COVID-19 Update

Testing

The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency approval to a two-minute test for coronavirus. The approval could help increase testing capability in the United States.
 

Deaths in the United States

The United States now has the most known cases of the virus in the world, at more than 160,000. 

The nation also has 3,415 deaths from the virus, surpassing China’s figure of 3,309.


Coronavirus Task Force Briefing Tonight

The Coronavirus task force will hold a press briefing tonight at the White House beginning at 5 P.M.

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COVID-19 Cases Surge, President Calls for $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

Virginia saw an increase of 230 cases of COVID-19 cases overnight bringing the Commonwealth’s total number of confirmed cases to 1,250.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, there are now 165 Hospitals and 27 Deaths.

Under Governor Northam’s Stay-at-Home executive order, residents can leave their homes for essential reasons only.
 

President Calls for $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill as Phase 4 of Coronavirus Response

This morning, President Donald Trump called for a $2 Trillion infrastructure bill as Phase 4 of the Coronavirus response tweeting, “With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4”

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