Federal Relief – The U.S. House began debating a $1.9 trillion stimulus package. When approved (as expected), it will send the package to the Senate for consideration. Highlights of the package include: a $400/wk unemployment insurance supplement; an extension of programs that expand jobless benefits through Aug. 29; $1,400 direct payments to most Americans and the same sum for dependents; $20 billion for a national COVID-19 vaccination program and $50 billion for testing; $350 billion for state, local and tribal government relief, and; payments to families of up to $3,600 per child over a year. More details.
State Relief – California and New Mexico are the latest states to unveil relief programs. California is considering a $7.6 billion legislative relief package that includes $2 billion in grants (up to $25,000) for small businesses. Restaurants may be eligible for those grants, as well as additional relief related to licensing fees – specifically, two years of license fee relief for 59,000 California restaurants and bars that currently have liquor licenses. The package also calls for direct stimulus checks to those receiving the state’s EITC and significant child care subsidies, among other items. More details. The New Mexico legislature has approved a bill that is headed to the governor’s desk that would provide minimal-interest loans to businesses that lost income in 2020. It would authorize loans of up to $150,000 to small businesses at sub-prime rates of less than 2% annual interest with a payback term of up to 10 years. More details.
Paycheck Protection Program – The Biden Administration has announced significant changes to the PPP program including an extension of program deadlines until March 31. Of particular interest to small businesses is a provision creating a two-week window at the front end – starting February 24 – exclusively for businesses and non-profit organizations with fewer than 20 employees to apply for PPP loans. Additionally, other barriers around student loan defaults, criminal backgrounds and immigration status were removed. More details. In related news, the Wisconsin governor signed legislation to exempt PPP and CARES Act funds from state income taxes. More details.
Vaccinations – Legislation was forwarded by a Tennessee house committee that would prohibit state and local authorities from forcing, requiring, or coercing a person to receive an immunization or vaccination for COVID-19 against the person’s will. The bill has additional committee stops in both the house and senate. More details. Similarly, a Kansas senate committee heard a bill prohibiting an employer from taking any adverse employment action against an employee because of the employee’s vaccination status. No votes were taken. More details.
McDonald’s – A franchisee was fined by the California Labor Commissioner who found that the employer illegally fired four workers who reported they could be exposed to the coronavirus because of unsafe work conditions.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Liability – The South Carolina Senate and the Florida House became the latest chambers to advance COVID-19 liability protections for businesses this week.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Santa Clara County, CA – As expected, the county board of supervisors approved a hazard pay mandate calling for an extra $5/hr in wages for grocery workers for at least 180 days.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Costco – The company’s CEO, in testimony before the Senate Budget Committee regarding minimum wage, announced that as of next week, the starting wage at the company would be $16/hr.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Federal – A paid leave mandate is unlikely to be included in the first relief package; however, tax credits for some employers are currently included and are designed to incentivize employers to offer paid leave.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Maryland – A house committee heard legislation to expand the state’s existing paid leave provisions, as well as extending protections for workers against retaliation from employers regarding vaccination status.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Arkansas – Legislation passed out of the house prohibiting a food delivery service from arranging for the delivery of a food order without first entering into an agreement with the food facility expressly authorizing the food delivery platform to take food orders and deliver food orders prepared by the food facility to consumers.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Virginia – Legislation passed the senate prohibiting a food delivery platform from submitting orders on behalf of a consumer or arranging for the delivery of an order from a restaurant without first obtaining an agreement with the restaurant expressly authorizing the food delivery platform to take orders and deliver food prepared by the restaurant.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Albany, NY – The city council passed a temporary ordinance that caps third-party delivery fees at 15 percent with other fees capped at 10 percent per the order.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Indianapolis, IN – The city council heard a new proposal to limit third-party delivery fees to 15 percent or less of the total of the purchase and would prohibit delivery services from charging restaurants more than 5 percent for any fees other than the delivery fee.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Kentucky – The senate overwhelmingly passed legislation permanently allowing cocktails to-go and home delivery of alcohol in sealed containers as part of meal purchases.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
New Mexico – The house passed legislation allowing home delivery of alcoholic beverages and creating a new category of restaurant liquor licenses that modifies beer and wine licenses to include spirits.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe
Lafayette, LA – Both the city and parish councils unanimously approved ordinances Tuesday that would codify the permitting process for companies to deliver alcohol in the city and parish.To Access Align's Analysis: Log In or Subscribe