Friday Five | October 22, 2021

A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.

1. Biden reviews domestic spending during Baltimore town hall event 

President Joe Biden participated in a CNN town hall event yesterday afternoon where he was asked questions from pre-selected audience members who are Baltimore-area residents about his domestic spending agenda. The event comes after Biden’s infrastructure bill was significantly reduced, from $3.5 trillion to about $1.5 trillion, due to opposition from both parties. During the town hall, Biden gave an update on where he stands on important issues such as offering free community college, increasing corporate taxes and vaccine mandates. He also addressed inflation, stating gas prices are likely to increase for at least the next year but ended on a positive note reassuring Americans that economic conditions will improve.

Read the full story here.

2. Businesses nervously await fine print of federal vax-or-test rule 

The White House is expected to rule any day now on the federal regulation drafted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that details COVID-19 vaccine employer mandates. Although the fine print is still vague, the ruling is expected to apply to approximately 80 million U.S. workers and carry business penalties of about $14,000 per violation. Many groups representing large employers, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are worried that the proposal’s threshold, applying to companies with 100 or more employees, could cause workers to migrate to smaller employers without a vaccine mandate.

“We really stressed the concern about employers losing employees, and what that would mean in the context of current supply-chain challenges and the upcoming holiday season,” said Marc Freedman, vice president for employment policy at the Chamber of Commerce. “You could start to see some very serious disruptions.”

Read the full story here.

3. The economic rebound is still waiting for workers 

With unemployment benefits coming to an end and many schools reopening, many economists and business owners anticipated a flood of workers would follow. Instead, we saw a labor force shortage in September, where fewer than 5 million people were working than before the pandemic began, and even fewer than 3 million were looking for work. The slow return of our workforce is hindering our economic recovery, and many economists worry that this will have long-term consequences for our nation’s economic growth.

Read the full story here.

4. SBA offers assistance to businesses and residents affected by Tropical Storm Ida 

Maryland businesses and residents affected by Tropical Storm Ida are now eligible to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The announcement came from SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman on Tuesday in response to a letter from Governor Larry Hogan, who requested a disaster declaration by the SBA earlier in the month. Loans of up to $2 million are available for businesses and private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace damaged property, with interest rates as low as 2%. For more information on disaster loans and to apply before the Dec. 17, 2021, deadline, click here.

5. Commission appointed by Gov. Hogan proposes new political district maps 

Governor Larry Hogan’s redistricting commission, which has evenly divided membership among Republicans, Democrats and independents, has proposed a new set of legislative and congressional maps for the 2022 elections. He urges Maryland residents to provide feedback and be actively involved in the process to ensure our diverse communities are fairly represented. The General Assembly’s redistricting group, which has the final say over the new district lines, has several more public hearings scheduled through October and November.

Read the full story here.

Request a vaccine mobile unit at your business – The Maryland Dept. of Health will deploy mobile vaccination clinics for businesses interested in providing vaccinations to their employees and the community.



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