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.
Click hereto view the Paycheck Protection Program Q&A for employers
Click here for the list of SBA-Approved Chamber Members participating in Paycheck Protection Program
Economic Injury Disaster Loans/Emergency Economic Injury Grants: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 within three days of applying for an EIDL. 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.
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
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 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:O
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.
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.