We had a highly informative virtual conference today with representatives from Amita Saint Joseph Medical Center (Lynn Watson and Dr. Adnan Hussain) and Silver Cross Hospital (Ruth Colby and Dr. Chris Udovich). They were able to cover topics such as current coronavirus patient number, staff morale, ER traffic, telemed, safety measures, PPE, testing, and so much more. For those that were not able to join us, here is the link to view the recording: https://transcripts.gotomeeting.com/#/s/0e9d57c6bbd8927dd19d060289b7ac3beb6ccf9bf2c623d323ac1baa83f18ad9
Today, let’s focus mainly on some follow-up items from the two major announcements from yesterday on the federal and state levels.
PPP proposals in what is now being called the HEROES Act
It is encouraging to see these items listed, especially moving the June 30 deadline to rehire and the possible elimination of the 75/25% rule on use of funds regarding payroll. This is what our members have been talking to us about and in turn what we have shared with our representatives in Washington D.C.
- Extension of the program from June 30 to December 31 with Dec. 31st as the new deadline for rehiring for forgiveness purposes.
- Improves loan terms from current 2 years to new 5-year floor to amortize loans over a longer period, which lowers monthly payments
- A carve out of 25% of the existing funds on the date of enactment to be used specifically for small businesses with 10 or fewer employees to guarantee they are fully able to access PPP assistance
- Extends the covered loan period from 8 weeks to 24 weeks
- Creates a safe harbor for borrowers who cannot rehire due to the inability to rehire in the prescribed timeframe
- Eliminates the 75/25% rule on use of loan proceeds for non-payroll expenses
Additional HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Info
- The new bill includes language to establish so-called strike teams that could extinguish coronavirus outbreaks in senior facilities before they take off. A provision in the House bill would set aside $150 million for the Department of Health and Human Services to create groups that would be deployed to help nursing facilities contain and manage outbreaks.
- Under the legislation, states and utility companies receiving federal help would be required to maintain water and electricity services through the duration of the pandemic, even for those unable to pay their bills. Separately, the package allocates up to $3 billion to help low-income families pay their power and water bills.
- Amends the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act to extend the leave benefits from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021
- Clarifies that EFMLA does not count towards an employee’s 12 weeks of regular (nonemergency) unpaid FMLA leave.
- Extends the refundable payroll tax credits through the end of 2021; and increases the limit to allow employers to claim up to up to $12,000 in refundable payroll tax credits, rather than $10,000 under FFCRA.
- Amends the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSL) to extend EPSL from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2021.
- Eliminates the “Safe Harbor” provision available to employers with fewer than 50 employees, by removing the Secretary of Labor’s regulatory authority to issue the exemption; and allows for a private right of action against employers with fewer than 50 employees.
- Removes the Secretary’s regulatory authority to exempt health care providers and emergency responders from the paid leave requirements; and eliminates provisions that allow employers of health care providers and emergency responders the ability to exclude their employees from EPSL.
- Provides $3.1B to support workforce training and development related to COVID-19 job displacement.
- Provides $5 billion for CDBG coronavirus response to mitigate the impacts in communities to be distributed by formula to current grantees.
- Employers could claim up to 80% of $15,000 for up to three quarters, rather than the current 50% of $10,000. This raises the Employee Retention Tax Credit amount from $5,000 to a maximum credit of $36,000.
- Businesses with less than 1,500 full-time equivalent employees can access a 50% refundable payroll tax credit for rent, mortgage, and utility payments paid or accrued from March 12, 2020 until December 31, 2020.
- The limitation on the deduction of state and local taxes would be eliminated beginning January 1, 2020 and on or before December 31, 2021.
HEROES Act Response
Senate Republicans say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new relief package is dead on arrival. Republican lawmakers say they do not see any legislation moving until June at the earliest. However, they say it is important to start putting together a list of priorities. Those priorities include the often-mentioned liability protections and a proposal under which workers would be allowed to keep a portion of their unemployment insurance if they go back to work.
Lawmakers Head Back to Springfield
The General Assembly is scheduled to meet under special health precautions for just a few days beginning next week likely on Wednesday. It sounds like they will be addressing the budget, COVID-19 related issues, and maybe a few others. The Senate is to meet in its usual chambers, but the House will reportedly meet in the more spacious Bank of Springfield convention center.
Governor Responds to Communities Looking to Reopen on Own
To communities downstate that are opening on their own, the Governor warns of regulatory action or losing out on federal recovery funds. Pritzker warned that Federal Emergency Management Agency funds may be at risk for those communities that open earlier than guidelines suggest and incur additional costs for a potential response to a spike in cases. He also said state regulators were ready to step in with sanctions.
What is Going on in other Areas of Illinois
The Village of Algonquin, with a 30,000 population, is struggling with the cost of personal protective equipment and a 26 percent reduction in sales tax revenue. The village of Glen Ellyn has hiring freezes and furloughs in place, and across-the-board layoffs are planned for next year. Arlington Heights says sales income and tax revenues are down $8.3 million, Champaign expects $11 million in revenue losses, and the state capitol of Springfield has a $16 million shortfall.
Property Tax Update
Cook County will waive late fees on property tax payments due in August and extend the deadline to pay the second installment of taxes to October 1. The full county board will vote on an ordinance authorizing the plan May 21. Under the ordinance, interest penalties for late payments of the second installment of property taxes, which are normally due Aug. 3, will now be postponed until Oct. 1. Any payments made on or before Oct. 1 will be considered filed and paid on time
We will wrap things up with another invite to an upcoming Virtual Conference. On Friday, we welcome State Representative Mark Batinick to talk about reopening efforts and more. Here is the full information and link to register. Please join us at 11 AM.
Virtual Conference Series: Re-Opening Illinois Update
Please join the Joliet Chamber & Representative Mark Batinick for an update as we move toward reopening the State of Illinois.
Topics to be covered:
- Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan
- Current Virus Numbers and Impact on Nursing Facilities
- A Return to Springfield – Unemployment, Liability, and Property Tax Discussions.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry