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.
On July 31, the Maryland Department of Labor (DOL) announced that state unemployment benefits will be extended for an additional 13 weeks. The extended benefits will be available for claimants who have exhausted both their 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits and their 13 weeks of the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) assistance.
Maryland is able to offer the additional 13 weeks through the Federal Extended Benefits program because it met the federally mandated requirement that Maryland’s insured unemployment rate (IUR) exceed 5.0 percent and be at least 120 percent of the corresponding average rate in the prior two years.
For more information, visit MDunemployment.com.
2. Franchot wants Rainy Day Fund to help small businesses
Comptroller Franchot continued to urge the governor and members of the general assembly this week to boost aid to Maryland’s small businesses struggling in the wake of the pandemic. He is calling for businesses to be given grants of $10,000 each from the state’s Rainy-Day Fund.
Although the state set aside $175 million in grants and loans to help small businesses, the comptroller believes more needs to be spent. At a roundtable on Wednesday organized by the Maryland Retailers Association, Franchot signaled he would support additional measures to help small businesses like tax credits or an extended tax-free shopping week.
As of Monday, the Maryland Department of Commerce said it had nearly completed doling out $48.6 million of the round of grants announced in March, with $50 million dedicated. The money was issued in the form of 4,944 different grants.
3. USDA provides more than $13 billion for broadband expansion in Maryland
On July 31, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is investing more than $13 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Maryland. This investment is part of the $100 million in grant funding made available for the ReConnect Pilot Program through the CARES Act.
USDA awarded Easton Utilities Commission the $13.1 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network to connect 8,607 people, 144 farms, 183 businesses, eight educational facilities and one nursing home to high-speed broadband internet in Talbot County. Easton Utilities was selected from among the 11 eligible Round Two Reconnect Program applications.
In Round One of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $744 million to bring high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to approximately 162,000 households, 22,000 rural small businesses and farms, and more than 500 health care centers, educational facilities and critical community facilities located in 34 states. Read the full USDA Broadband ReConnect Program report here.
4. Maryland Chamber of Commerce upcoming events
Webinar | Maryland’s Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance Work Sharing Program: A Guide for Employers
Join us for a webinar on Thursday, August 13th from 10-11am to learn more about the Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance Program. Established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1984, this critical program is designed to avoid layoffs by preserving jobs for current employees and to assist businesses that have already undertaken layoffs to reopen and resume operations gradually.
We will be joined by representatives from the Maryland Department of Labor, Governor’s Workforce Development Board and employers utilizing the program who will provide an overview on both employer and employee benefits, requirements, and how to participate.
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.
Current confirmed members of Maryland’s congressional delegation include:
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD4)
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD8)
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD2)
Rep. David Trone (D-MD6)
All other members of Maryland’s delegation have been invited.
Thank you to our supporting sponsor:
Thank you to our federated partner sponsor:
If you have any questions, including sponsorship opportunities, please contact Whitney Harmel at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 269-0642, ext. 1117. For more information on upcoming webinars and other events, please visit our events page.
5. Census update
In a July update from Maryland Planning Secretary Robert McCord to the business community, he announced that a new 2020 Census completion date of September 30, 2020 has been instituted. He is asking the business community to help spread the word asking their employees and customers to fill out the census. He also noted that census data is important beyond simply determining congressional lines and that it may play a factor in federal COVID-19 vaccine distribution to states when one is developed. Make sure you’re doing your part by filling out the census and encouraging others to do so as well.
You can find more information at www.census.maryland.gov.
Mexico – Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement Effective July 1, 2020
The USMCA went into effect at the beginning of this month replacing the 25-year-old NAFTA. This new trade agreement includes major changes on policies on labor and environmental standards, intellectual property protections, and some digital trade provisions as well as others. A highlight of some of the new provisions include:
If you’re interested in learning how the new trade agreement could benefit your business, visit the U.S. Commercial Service Office website to learn more about the new USMCA provisions.
Upcoming Calendar of Legislative Briefings and Hearings
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.