Friday Five | August 21, 2020

Each Friday, the Maryland Chamber will bring you the top five news stories from the intersection of business and government. Here are this week’s top five stories.

1. USDOL announces guidance for the Lost Wages Assistance program

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the release of guidance to help states implement the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program on August 12. LWA was authorized by Presidential Memorandum and provides claimants in most Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs up to $400 per week additional benefits, starting with weeks of unemployment ending on or after Aug. 1, 2020, and ending Dec. 27, 2020 at the latest. LWA will be administered by states through a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and with support from the Labor Department.

To qualify for LWA benefits, individuals must provide self-certification they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), and the state must confirm that the individual is receiving at least $100 of underlying unemployment benefits.

LWA is funded by FEMA through a joint federal-state agreement and provides the states with two benefit options. For the $400 per week benefit, states must contribute 25 percent ($100) and the federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost ($300). States are encouraged to satisfy the 25 percent state match requirement and provide the additional $100 in benefits either through allocations of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), provided under the CARES Act, or other state funding. For the $300 per week benefit, FEMA will fund the entire amount and states may choose to simply satisfy the 25 percent state match, without allocating additional state funds, with the state funding used to pay regular state UI unemployment benefits.

Visit the FEMA website for more information.

2. FEMA Approves Maryland’s LWA application

On Wednesday, Governor Hogan announced Maryland submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) grant which would provide an additional $300 of federal unemployment insurance on top of current state benefits (discussed above). If the request is approved, the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division Unemployment Insurance will work in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor to manage and distribute the funds-which should be available starting in late-September and will cover filing periods dating back to the week that ended on August 1. Later in the day Wednesday, FEMA announced that it had approved Maryland’s application to participate in the program and money could begin to be disbursed starting in late September.

Maryland will have to match 25% of the federal funds, or $100, but it is unclear if the state will count current payments as their matching portion, which according to federal guidance would qualify, or if they will add an additional $100. With the state’s current maximum benefit of $430, the additional federal benefit will bring the weekly maximum to $730. The federal LWA program is the result of an executive order signed by President Trump considering Congress was unable to reach a deal on an additional relief package before their August recess. Congress will remain in recess until after Labor Day.

3. U.S. Chamber urges tax relief certainty

Earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with more than 30 trade associations, sent a letter to Congress and the U.S. Department of Treasury urging them to work together on a path forward that provides much-needed tax relief to American families without imposing a large tax bill in the future, which the recent Executive Order (EO) providing a payroll tax deferral would do.

To demonstrate the magnitude of the potential tax bill compared to the immediate benefit of the deferral, the U.S. Chamber created an income impact analysis chart, showing that while employees who make under $104,000 a year will get a relatively small benefit in each paycheck, they will owe a lot in 2021.

The letter states, “Many of our members consider it unfair to employees to make a decision that would force a big tax bill on them next year. It would also be unworkable to implement a system where employees make this decision. Therefore, many of our members will likely decline to implement deferral, choosing instead to continue to withhold and remit to the government the payroll taxes required by law. We hope Congress and the Administration come together on a path that supports workers instead of burdening hardworking Americans with a large tax bill next year.”

The letter can be read in full here.

 4. Maryland Chamber of Commerce and Maryland Chamber Foundation upcoming events

 Webinar | Reducing bias in the workplace through hiring, retention, development, and promotion

On September 2, at 11 a.m., the Maryland Chamber Foundation in partnership with BGE will host the second installment of the series promoting equity and inclusion in the workplace.

In our second webinar, “Reducing bias in the workplace through hiring, retention, development, and promotion,” we will be joined by a panel of Comcast representatives including Mary McLaughlin, regional senior vice president, Comcast Beltway Region; Kelli Hill, regional president customer care, Comcast; and Loren Hudson, regional vice president human resources, Comcast. This 60-minute webinar will consist of a 45-minute panel discussion and a 15-minute Q&A session moderated by Christine Ross, President & CEO, Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Attendees will learn how companies focus on reducing bias in the workplace and create inclusive cultures that support retention and employee engagement. Resource materials will be provided to participants after the program.

Click here to register for the webinar

To view the first installment and to get more information on this series, click here to view the Foundation’s program page.

Thank you to BGE for sponsoring this important series and to Comcast for supporting session number two. 

 2020 Congressional Roundup – virtual             

On September 9th, starting at 10:00 am, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual Congressional Roundup. Do not miss the opportunity to hear directly from policy experts and Maryland’s congressional delegation regarding the current legislative and electoral landscape and how it intersects with the challenges presently being faced by the business community. Through this virtual event, attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions and to convey their concerns directly to lawmakers.

Click here to register for the Congressional Roundup

Current confirmed speakers of Maryland’s congressional delegation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce include:

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD4)

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD1)

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD8)

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD2)

Rep. David Trone (D-MD6)

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy expert, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Thank you to the Maryland Chamber’s Trustee sponsors:

Thank you to our supporting sponsor:

Thank you to our federated partner sponsor:

Click here to register for the Congressional Roundup

*This event is $25 for members, $75 for non-members. You will need your member login to receive the member rate. If you need help accessing your member login please contact Kimberly Reach at or Nicole Seay at

For more information on upcoming webinars and other events, please visit our Events page. If you are unable to participate, please note that we provide links to full recordings of all past webinars here. If you have any questions, or wish to discuss a sponsored webinar, please contact Whitney Harmel at or (410) 269-0642, ext. 1117.

9th Annual Maryland Chamber Cup

#Maskup, get out from behind the screen and join us at stunning Cattail Creek Country Club on Monday, October 26, for a fun and relaxing day on the golf course. Early-bird pricing is extended to the end of September. Round up your colleagues, invite your clients, or come on your own and we’ll team you up. Reserve your spots today!

Maryland business leaders and Maryland Chamber members look forward to this event all year, this year more than ever. We look forward to connecting with you and promise to deliver an experience that’s truly “above par”!

Registration includes:

Your participation in Chamber Cup and other MDCC fundraisers allows us to continually enhance our members’ experience and work toward achieving our shared goal of growing jobs, expanding our economy and supporting our communities, now and into the future.

In response to the covid-19 pandemic, Cattail Creek Country Club has implemented the following measures per CDC guidelines that we ask all attendees to follow:

Click here to register for the Chamber Cup

Thank you to the Maryland Chamber’s Trustee sponsors!

Thank you to our Eagle Sponsors!

Thank you to our Tee Sponsors!

5. Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland: Champions of Maryland Manufacturing

The Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland has launched their Champions of Maryland Manufacturing program and is asking for your help in telling the story of all the great things happening in manufacturing. There are so many valuable, exciting, heart-warming and innovative manufacturing-related efforts taking place statewide they are asking you to submit your story or the story of an individual, company, organization, academic institution or agency who deserves recognition for their exemplary manufacturing-related efforts in any one of these seven key areas:

You can share and read Champions stories at

Click here for more information

Upcoming calendar of legislative briefings and hearings

Monday, August 24, 2020

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Thursday, August 27, 2020

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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