During this time of uncertainty, The Chamber will continue to provide you with the most up to date state and federal information that you can use for your business and your employees. We know you are being inundated with emails and it becomes quite confusing for us all. Our Public Policy team is focused on providing the most important resources available at this time to you, our members.
All of our Public Policy updates can be found here.
Please contact us with any questions you may have. Our contact information is below.
Families First Coronavirus Response (FFCRA) Act: Emergency relief package providing funding and other changes to law to assist the Nation responding to COVID-19. Key elements of the $100 billion, bi-partisan bill are: paid emergency leave to workers, provisions for free coronavirus testing and bolstered unemployment benefits.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: Congress has approved $350 billion in emergency loans for small businesses to help keep their workers employed. In fact, if small businesses maintain or later restore their payrolls, they may not have to repay some — or possibly any — of the loan.
Here are resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA):
Paycheck Protection Program: Provides loans to small businesses to help them continue to pay employees and cover other business expenses during the COVID-19 crisis. All loans have a 1% fixed interest rate, require no collateral or guarantor (meaning owners don’t need to put anything down to back the loan) and will be due in two years with no prepayment penalties or fees. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months; during that time, interest will accrue. Qualified entities include small businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees.
DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR PPP IS June 30, 2020
The Chamber supports extending the application deadline and are told there is pending legislation to do that. Thank you to U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild and her team for all of your assistance.
The SBA issued a new PPP short loan forgiveness application, Form 3580 EZ, which is designed especially for self-employed and other qualifying borrowers. The latest updates were necessary to comply with the changes implemented by the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020.
NEW: SBA has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants. SBA’s EIDL program offers long-term, low interest assistance for a small business or non-profit. These loans can provide vital economic support to help alleviate temporary loss of revenue. EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses. Additionally, the EIDL Advance will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties, and these emergency grants do not have to be repaid.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are low-interest loans of up to $2 million to be used toward expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, such as payroll and other operating expenses. Eligible businesses must have 500 or fewer employees. The grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private nonprofits harmed by COVID-19. The advance does not need to be repaid and may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments
SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program: Enables small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. The funding may be used as a term loan or to bridge the gap while applying for a direct Economic Injury Disaster Loan
SBA Debt Relief:Provides a financial reprieve to small businesses by automatically paying the principal, interest and fees of some current loans and microloans
Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act: The IRS has posted updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to IRS.gov providing answers regarding the Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act. The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. 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
Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program: provides loans to businesses, with interest rates ranging from 2.5% to 4%. Unlike the PPP, the repayment term for a Main Street loan is four years and the loan can’t be forgiven. There are two loans available through the lending program: the Main Street New Loan Facility for new loans and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility for borrowers who have an existing small business loan from before April 8. Loans vary between $1 million and $25 million. The program is considering applications from businesses that made less than $2.5 billion last year and employs less than 10,000 employees. Businesses that are interested in the program should contact their banker
The Chamber thanks Senator Pat Toomey for supporting business in the constant quest for regulatory relief and calling upon Senate leadership to include it in the next COVID-19 legislation. Other Federal Resources:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released detailed reopening guidance for schools, child care facilities, restaurants and mass transit systems, read it here.
Governor Wolf laid out his plan to reopen Pennsylvania, you can find it here
NEW! The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) announced the new COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program to provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. The program is expected to open Tuesday, June 30. Information about the program and how to apply can be found here.
Under the program, $225 million is available for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for loan payment deferment and portfolio loan loss reserves, main street business revitalization grants, and historically disadvantaged business revitalization grants. Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.
Click hereto view the Governor’s office updated list of life-sustaining and non-life-sustaining businesses (last updated on May 28)
Click hereto view Q&A from the Governor’s office on determining life-sustaining businesses (last updated May 28)
The precautions and requirements that businesses must implement are outlined in the following documents:
If you can’t find what you need there, the department asks that you email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to avoid a long wait on the phone
Employee Refusal of Work:
Unemployment Compensation is temporary income support for those whose jobs are reduced or lost through no fault of their own. To be unemployed, a person must have a loss in bothwork hours and pay or “earnings.”
As an employer, if you are continuing to pay your employees through the COVID-19 social distancing period, either in full or in part, an email can be sent to RefusalofWork@PA.gov to notify the department of such payments.
Spreadsheets can be attached to your email in order to notify the department of all employees that are contining to receive pay during this time. If you create a spreadsheet, it should include the full names of the employees, the last four digits of their social security numbers and details regarding the wages the employee received, as well as the weeks the compensation covered.
If you have employees who have refused to return to work after being recalled, or if you have offered work to an individual who has refused your offer, notifications can be sent to the email address above. In addition, form UC-1921Wis available to report these situations. Reports of refusal of work or recall are not limited to the COVID-19 emergency, and may be submitted at any time.
The federal CARES Act provides expanded unemployment benefits of $600 per week to eligible claimants.
These payments are in addition to regular benefits provided through the unemployment system. The Department of Labor and Industry reports that these payments should arrive by Wednesday, April 15 for eligible claimants who received their regular payments for the week ending April 4. Claimants who have not yet received a payment will receive the extra $600 per week in the days following receipt of their first payment.You can find more information here
Pennsylvanians who have an expired Unemployment Compensation claim or have exhausted their benefits under an existing claim can now receive an additional 13 weeks of payments through the new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensationprogram
The extended benefits will be available through December 26 for claimants who have exhausted regular benefits
If a claimant’s benefits have expired, they must submit an application for the extended benefit online or mail a paper application. If an individual has an open claim and exhausts their benefits, the additional 13 weeks will be automatically added to their existing claim. Applicants will receive the same weekly benefit as their regular rate, including the additional $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Benefits will be available retroactive to the benefit week ending April 4
The federal CARES Act has also authorized Unemployment Compensation payments for people who are self-employed or working as private contractors. The application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) unemployment compensation benefits for self-employed workers, independent contractors and others not typically eligible for benefits is NOW AVAILABLE on the Pennsylvania unemployment compensation system website, here's the link.
For questions about program eligibility and information about the documents you will need to provide when applying, click here.
For questions specific to applying for PUA, please emailUCPUA@pa.gov or call 855-284-8545 if you have issues with your PUA claim - Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Unemployment Compensation (UC) applicants who were denied benefits will have more time to appeal the decision if they believe the denial was incorrect. Under normal circumstances, appeals must be filed within 15 calendar days of the mailing date of the determination of eligibility. However, due to delays created by the COVID-19 pandemic, appeals can be filed indefinitely for determinations issued during the pandemic.
State Legislation on our Watch-List: House Resolution 836: Would terminate the Governor's the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Declaration House Bill 2376: Would place all retail stores that are not already considered a “life-sustaining business” in the “life-sustaining business” category and allow a retail business staffed by one employee to open for business as long as it allowed only one customer into the store at a time. Small retailers would also be able offer curbside pickup service House Bill 2408: Would exempt CARES Act stimulus checks from state and local taxation. Stimulus checks are exempt from federal taxes House Bill 2419: Would ensure intergovernmental cooperation throughout the disaster and recovery period by establishing the COVID-19 inter-branch Cost and Recovery Task Force House Bill 2429: Would allow the reopening of all lawn and garden centers, provided they adhere to establish social distancing practices and other mitigation measures House Bill 2489: Would require PA DCED to immediately issue a waiver to all outdoor and recreational activities that can adhere to the social distancing practices defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention House Bill 2506 & House Bill 2513: (Two Part Package) Would allow establishments, in counties that are in the Yellow or Green Phase, with existing decks, patios, and courtyards to open those outdoor areas and would allow up to 50% of the outdoor maximum seating capacity in order to properly institute the CDC and State mitigation guidelines. For those establishments with parking lots but no existing outdoor seating space, my bill will allow those establishments to design limited seating in a designated part of the parking lot House Bill 2517: Would require a waiver to allow residential cleaning services to resume operations during the COVID-19 emergency, provided the follow social distancing and other health and safety guidelines Senate Bill 1122: Would appropriate $31 million for a one-time grant program for volunteer fire and EMS companies Senate Bill 1154: Would grant an immediate waiver for licensed hair salons, barbers and cosmetologists to reopen for business Senate Bill 1166: Would limit the length of an emergency declaration to 30 days unless approved for a longer duration by the General Assembly House Bill 2412: VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would allow real estate related activities that can adhere to social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control to resume House Bill 2388: VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would require the Department of Community and Economic Development to issue a waiver to the business closure order for the following types of businesses, as long as those businesses comply with health and safety guidelines outlined by the state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: vehicle dealerships, lawn and garden centers, cosmetology salon and barber shops for hair services, messenger services, animal grooming services, and manufacturing operations Senate Bill 327:VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would had given county governments the option to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following CISA guidelines. Under the bill, businesses already identified as essential could continue to operate. This bill would have established the COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force to include all three branches of government in the process of developing a plan to resume mission-critical functions, including the restoration of housing, transportation, education, and other public services, and economic activity to levels equal to or better than their pre-disaster conditions House Bill 327: SIGNED INTO LAW ON MAY 21 - This bill will allow taverns and licensed restaurants to sell mixed spirit drinks to-go Senate Bill 841: SIGNED INTO LAW ON APRIL 20 - This Bill will:
Reauthorize the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council and require it to study the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and health systems
Allow local governments to conduct remote public meetings
Provide property tax relief by allowing taxing districts to waive late fees and penalties for property taxes paid by December 31, 2020
Allow school districts to renegotiate contracts with service providers to ensure payment of personnel and fixed costs during the school closure
Allow online car sales will resume, enabling PA notaries to perform online notarizations
Allow public and private residential and non-residential construction may resume following safety guidance coming soon from the Administration
These postings will be required to be clearly displayed at workplaces, along with publicly posted acknowledgement by the employer that the guidance is being adhered to. Flyers are available in English and Spanish:
The State of New Jersey has entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan.
In Phase 2, outdoor dining is allowed at restaurants and non-essential retail stores can now allow customers inside again at half capacity. Governor Murphy has announced that Casinos in New Jersey as well as indoor dining throughout New Jersey can resume at 25% capacity on July 2. Governor Murphy has not announced when he expects New Jersey to enter Phase 3 of its reopening.
As part of New Jersey's Road Back, Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 142, permitting the resumption of non-essential construction, curbside pickup at non-essential retail businesses, and car gatherings for the purpose of drive-through and drive-in events.
The Order permits non-essential construction projects to resume effective at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18. All construction projects must abide by the social distancing, safety, and sanitization requirements that are described in detail in the Governor's Executive Order. The Order also permits non-essential retail businesses to allow curbside pickup of goods, beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, but businesses must continue to have their in-store operations closed to customers. The Order also states that car gatherings do not violate the Governor's ban on gatherings under Executive Order No. 107. Examples of such car gatherings include but are not limited to drive-in movies, religious services, or drive-through farms or safaris.
The Federal Reserve is pleased to announce the following information session for internal and external legal counsel interested in learning about the Main Street Lending Program:Thursday, June 18, 2020, 3:00 p.m. EDT
The webinar is an opportunity for internal and external legal counsel to learn about the Main Street Lending Program’s legal documentation and to ask questions about the program to attorneys from the Federal Reserve. The session will discuss, among other things, the various legal documents associated with the program, factors relevant to a true sale analysis, and key issues raised by the certifications.
The Main Street Lending Program is designed to support small and medium-sized U.S. businesses and their employees during this period of financial strain by giving these businesses access to additional credit. The program is intended to help businesses that were in sound financial condition prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic maintain operations until conditions normalize. Small and medium-sized businesses are integral to the U.S. economy and create jobs for a large share of the U.S. workforce.
To allow as many representatives the opportunity to participate, we ask each entity to register no more than two representatives for the live session. A recording of the session will be available shortly after the call using the registration links. We strongly encourage participants to use the webinar audio on their computer for the best experience. You can email your questions in advance to email@example.com
Northampton County COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Fund:
Any Northampton County business that has been open for at least one year and has less than 100 employees can apply for a 12 month 0% interest loan ranging from $3,000 to $15,000.
City of Bethlehem Small Business Emergency Relief Fund:
To be eligible, businesses must be located in the City of Bethlehem and comply with CDBG Community Development Block Grant guidelines
Funding will be used to award 150 one-time grant awards of $2,000. Awarded funds can be used for operational costs inclusive of rental assistance, payroll assistance, and utilities to allow businesses to ensure that their limited resources are sufficient to maintain their business and workforce.
Learn more about the Vow of the Valley. The Chamber will use the Vow to help our residents, visitors, and elected officials know the Lehigh Valley is ready to reopen with confidence and safety in mind. Once you agree to Vow, you may download the Vow of the Valley flyer and print for display at your premises.