Federation Update | April 1, 2020

COVID-19 working group

It’s not too late to join the Maryland Chamber’s COVID-19 Working Group. The goal of the group will be to share updates, questions and challenges as the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve. We will also rely on this group to vet policy solutions and recommendations for the near, mid- and long-term as it relates to economic resilience and recovery, as well as ongoing labor and employment challenges.

Our virtual meetings will be held on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., with our first meeting taking place tomorrow (4/2). Agendas with additional materials and more information will be distributed in advance of each call, as needed.

If you have any questions or would like to join, please contact Ashley Duckman at aduckman@mdchamber.org


 Stay-at-home directive

On Monday morning, Governor Hogan announced that he had signed an executive order directing all Marylanders to stay at home, effective 8 p.m. that evening. No Maryland resident should leave their home except for an urgent reason—to obtain food, medicine or medical attention, or to travel to an essential job.

Only essential businesses are allowed to remain open. Any person who willfully defies the stay-at-home order will be charged with a misdemeanor. “This is a deadly public health crisis,” Hogan said. “We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home — we are directing them to do so.”

As of today, 7 more people in Maryland have died of the virus, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to at least 22 (Baltimore Sun). There are at least 1,660 cases in Maryland at this time.

The governor praised the recently passed CARES Act for providing $2.3 billion in federal assistance directly to the state of Maryland, including much-needed support for small businesses and extended benefits for the unemployed. And about a week ago, the governor announced a $175 million comprehensive business relief program that brought together resources from the MD Department of Commerce and the MD Department of Labor to help small businesses.

A total of $8.8 million has already been provided to over 400 small business across the state, which has helped more than 8,000 employees keep their jobs. For more information on business relief measures, please visit https://businessexpress.maryland.gov/.


 Essential employee designation letter

As a result of Governor Hogan’s stay-at-home directive, many Marylanders have asked the Maryland Department of Commerce about what to do if they are pulled over by a police officer while traveling to an essential job. The Department of Commerce’s response to this question is as follows:

“While Maryland state troopers will help enforce the expanded executive order, law enforcement will not make traffic stops simply to ask drivers where they are going (to determine if their travel is essential or not). If during the course of his/her regular duties, such as a traffic stop or crash investigation, the trooper develops information indicating the individual was engaged in non-essential travel, enforcement action can be taken in consultation with the state’s attorney’s office in that jurisdiction. Currently, there is not a state-issued ‘Letter of Clearance’ or similar document for essential business employees to carry with them. While it is not necessary for drivers in Maryland to have documentation about their purpose of travel, having it may help resolve questions. We strongly recommend that employers draft and print their own letters containing the following items.

It is recommended that employees carry this with them when traveling to and from work during this unprecedented time.”

As a courtesy to our members, the Maryland Chamber has developed a template for an “essential employee designation” letter, available here, for business owners to provide to their employees. Please note that this template is meant to serve only as an example or guide for business owners to use—and should not be viewed as an official document.


 State of Maryland resources page for businesses

If you haven’t already, please be sure to check out the state of Maryland’s “Maryland coronavirus (COVID-19) information for business” webpage. It features information on financial assistance for businesses, assistance for employers and workers, the extension of licensing deadlines, and more. You can also subscribe for updates directly on the webpage. This site will be updated frequently as new information becomes available.


 Join us for two webinars this week

The Maryland Chamber of Commerce remains dedicated to supporting our state’s business community—and maintaining continuity of operations—as we grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

We’d like to invite all members and partners of the Maryland Chamber to join us for a webinar tomorrow and another on Friday. The details and links to register are as follows:

Webinar | COVID-19: “Understanding the CARES Act and partnering with local banks”

Thursday, April 2, 2020 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (EDT)

Click here to register

Presenters: Kathleen Murphy, President and CEO of the Maryland Bankers Association, and Stephen McAllister, Executive Director, Eastern Region, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Kathleen Murphy of the Maryland Bankers Association and Stephen McAllister of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will provide an overview of the CARES Act, review financial options and available resources from the SBA, and discuss how to partner with banks to receive needed funds.

 

Webinar | COVID-19: “Economic resources available from the state of Maryland”

Friday, April 3, 2020 | 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM (EDT)

Click here to register

Presenters: Representatives from the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland Department of Labor

Representatives from both the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland Department of Labor will provide an overview of the state’s COVID-19 business relief programs, information and updates on applying for unemployment insurance, as well as existing programs and resources listed on the “Maryland coronavirus (COVID-19) information for business” webpage.

 

If you have any questions, please contact Marie Rau, director of programming and special events, at mrau@mdchamber.org or 410-269-0642, ext. 1106.


 Resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted a coronavirus call with member chambers and trade associations of the U.S. Chamber last Friday. If you weren’t able to join the conference call, or would like to listen again, the U.S. Chamber has provided this link to access the audio recording.

The U.S. Chamber is now offering you the opportunity to host calls and webinars for your members with their experts on the financial resources and options available for those impacted by COVID-19. To make a speaker request for a call or webinar, please send a message to speakers@uschamber.com. The next call will be held this Friday, April 3, at 4 p.m. ET.

In addition, the U.S. Chamber has released its Coronavirus emergency loans small business guide and checklist. Congress has approved $367 billion in emergency loans for small businesses to help them keep 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. This guide and checklist is designed to help your small business through the process.

Lastly, please be sure to check out the U.S. Chamber’s “combating the coronavirus” resource page for additional resources and important updates.


 Action Alert: a message from our president & CEO

We are pleased that President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act last Friday, so that American families and businesses can stay afloat throughout this unprecedented pandemic and economic shutdown. With direct payments to American families, $367 billion in loans for small businesses, $500 billion for larger industries, and expanded unemployment benefits for our workers, it’s the largest economic rescue package in our nation’s history—and we’re thankful for all that it will do to keep our economy moving.

However, while the new law provides assistance to Section 501(c)3 organizations and certain other nonprofits, it does not assist Section 501(c)6 organizations, including local, county and regional chambers of commerce.

Our state’s chambers play a vital role in working toward the betterment of our small businesses, workforce development programs and Maryland’s economy. And even though the CARES Act omitted 501(c)6 organizations, there is still hope: Congress is considering taking up additional legislation, including a phase 4 (and perhaps even a phase 5) relief package, so it’s not too late to make sure we are accounted for.

Last week, at the Maryland Chamber, we reached out to our U.S. senators in the Maryland congressional delegation. As a result, Senator Cardin scheduled an emergency call of chamber leaders late last week to discuss the implications of the CARES Act. Speaking up makes a difference, whether it’s a letter-writing campaign or calling your senator or representative’s office. No act is too small.

I urge you to continue to call upon our leaders in Congress to include 501(c)6 organizations in any future legislative packages they consider. Thank you for your time and consideration, and for joining with us to protect the livelihoods of local, county and regional chambers of commerce in Maryland.


Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.

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