Legislative Report April 2020
Federal Legislative Summary
Congress enacted three major pieces of legislation in March, culminating in the “CARES Act,” which appropriated over $2 trillion in aid to businesses and Americans. A centerpiece of this bill was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was aimed at helping smaller companies with partially forgivable loans to cover payroll, rent and utilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Funding was also provided for businesses through the Small Business Administration (SBA) economic injury disaster loans (EIDL), which included funds for $10,000 grants to small businesses.
This turned out to be a small fraction of the funding needed. An average of 1 million workers were added to the unemployment rolls every weekday over the last six weeks. PPP and EIDL loan funds were quickly drained. Congress responded with an additional stimulus bill for PPP providing over $300 billion in additional funds. The “Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act,” HR 266, was passed and signed by President Trump on April 24, 2020.
Few believe this will be enough for growing demand. Hopefully the relaxation of shelter-in-place orders that more states are enacting will start the process for a recovery spurred by the marketplace.
State Legislative Summary
With the continuing catastrophic pandemic, it is no surprise that over 71% of the legislation filed or moving in the last month addressed COVID-19. What we are beginning to see, however, is some push back by some legislatures at the scope and length of Governor’s executive orders.
In Pennsylvania, the Governor vetoed SB 613 on April 20th, which would have allowed more businesses to open than his current order allowed. This bill would have forced the Governor to follow the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidelines for critical infrastructure workforce. These are the guidelines cited by over half of all other Governors executive orders and endorsed by ESA and other related industry associations. Several other bills in Pennsylvania, if passed, would likely meet the same fate.
We also saw several bills that would require “business interruption” provisions in insurance policies to include the current coronavirus pandemic. You will find these bills in Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, New York and New Jersey. Other states with similar bills not included in this report include Ohio and Louisiana.
The most significant legislation that was not related to COVID-19 came out of Virginia, where several bills related to public works contracts, independent contractors and labor unions were enacted.