Friday Five | December 18, 2020

COVID-19 cases are surging in Maryland and across the country. The Maryland Department of Health regularly updates its data in order to keep Marylanders informed about trends in cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics. It is abundantly clear that we must remain vigilant in following federal, state, local, and CDC guidance. We must continue to work together to do the things necessary to slow the spread in order to keep Maryland open for business and on the road to recovery.

#MasksOnMaryland


Each Friday, the Maryland Chamber brings you the top five news stories from the intersection of business and government. As we approach the end of the year, this will be our last Friday Five of 2020. Don’t worry, we’ll be back again in 2021. The Maryland Chamber wishes you a happy holiday season. Here are this week’s top five stories:


 1. Governor Hogan Announces New Travel Orders, $180 million in Economic Relief

During his Thursday press conference, Governor Larry Hogan announced a series of new actions being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday season. These actions include a new public health advisory to limit gatherings as well as new testing and quarantine requirements for travel.

The new public health advisory warns Marylanders against all non-essential activities and holiday gatherings, and limits public and private gatherings to no more than 10 people in one location. The governor’s emergency order requires Marylanders to limit travel to essential purposes only. Those who do travel to or from Maryland must either obtain a negative COVID-19 test result or self-quarantine for 10 days. This directive does not apply to our neighboring states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington DC.

The governor also announced an additional $180 million in emergency economic relief including:

  1. $50 million for hotels and hospitality businesses
  2. $30 million in additional relief for bars and restaurants
  3. $15 million in additional relief for entertainment venues
  4. $5 million for rural businesses
  5. $40 million to boost the temporary cash assistance benefit
  6. $40 million for health care providers.

Governor Hogan noted that he will seek a larger stimulus package during the 2021 legislative session.

For more information, click here.


 2. Congress Closing in on COVID Relief Deal

Congressional leaders are coming close to passing a $900 billion economic relief deal that could be voted on by the end of the day Friday. The package includes another round of stimulus checks for Americans ranging from $600 to $700. The bill also includes another round of funding for the PPP program to help struggling small businesses. The two notable provisions missing from this deal are an aid to state and local governments and liability protections for businesses and education institutions looking to reopen.

This relief bill is likely to be coupled with other measures like a funding measure to avoid a federal government shutdown, which will occur midnight Friday unless an agreement is reached.

You can read more about this deal here.


 3. TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Pass Pandemic Relief Now

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging lawmakers to enact critical pandemic relief before the end of the year. Encouraged by the bipartisan progress that has been made, the situation remains fluid and we need to continue the pressure. This past Monday, the U.S. Chamber urged Congress to reach a final agreement on the relief package. If you haven’t yet contacted your member of Congress, please consider taking the following actions to help keep the pressure on Congress:

“Congress: break the current impasse and pass legislation this year. American small businesses and families are counting on you #ReliefNow”

On December 4, the Maryland Chamber sent a letter to Maryland’s congressional delegation urging them to support an additional COVID-19 relief package addressing legal liability protections, funding for state and local governments, unemployment insurance, and support for small businesses and nonprofits. You can view the letter here.


 4. Ernst & Young Report Shows Manufacturers Hurt Most By Disallowed Interest Deductions

A new study prepared for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) by EY found that pre-COVID, manufacturers bore the brunt of disallowed interest deductions, with 61% falling on the industry. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) has offered legislation to extend the CARES Act’s temporary increase in allowable interest deductions for one year and NAM needs your help in asking Senator Cardin to support the yearlong extension of tax relief for manufacturers.

Rather than increasing taxes on businesses struggling with the economic fallout of COVID, Congress should extend the CARES Act’s temporary increase in interest deduction limits. Send a letter to Senator Cardin RIGHT NOW, asking him to stand with Maryland manufacturers and join Senator Blunt to provide tax relief to the industry amid the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.


5. SBA Releases Full PPP & EIDL Loan Data in Early December

As a result of a court order, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released the names, addresses and precise loan amounts for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans on December 1, 2020. The following day, SBA did the same for COVID-19-related Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). This release was the result of a court case filed by multiple news organizations seeking more detailed data than what SBA had previously disclosed. The judge found that the Freedom of Information Act exemptions claimed by SBA do not apply to the PPP or EIDL data, which represents significant tax dollars. SBA did not appeal the court order therefore PPP and EIDL loan data was released. Earlier this year, SBA released less detailed information. For loans totaling $150,000 and higher, SBA released the names and addresses of borrowers but provided a range for loan total amounts; for smaller loans, it released the exact amount and name of the lender but not the identity of the borrower. Banks that issued PPP loans did not play a role in the decision to release this information – or the release of the data itself.

Unfortunately, some third-party businesses are using information from the court-ordered data release to market themselves to PPP customers. If you received a PPP loan, these communications may reference your bank’s name and may even imply that there is some kind of relationship. It is important to note that your bank will communicate directly with you about your PPP loan and the forgiveness process. If you have any doubt, please call your lender directly.

While the PPP program has been, and continues to be, challenging, the overall impact of the program is meaningful. Nationally, the program is credited with supporting over 51 million jobs, representing more than 75% of small business payroll in all 50 states. All of this was achieved in just a few short months.

In Maryland, over 87,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling about $10 billion were made to businesses and nonprofits across Maryland. These loans helped support 950,000 jobs in the State.


Check out our Maryland Chamber Events Page for all of our Upcoming Webinars, Briefings, and Sponsored Events!

 


Wearing a mask in public lets us live life more safely. And it keeps you and everyone around you better protected from coronavirus. The more we mask together, the faster we get back to enjoying life…together. So, just carry on, masks on, Maryland.

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