Welcome to the week of June 15. Today we have a list of news covering one of our most talked about topics. Additionally, more updates are below on signed bills and covid related reports. We hope you have a great week.
Additional Small Business Aid Needed
On Friday, the Federal Reserve reported that more government support may be needed for still struggling small businesses. The statement comes even after two rounds of funding over $500 billion for emergency loans. Surveys are still suggesting that pessimism about business viability is prevalent. Half of companies nationally are still looking at not returning to normal operations over the next six months, therefore seeing continued revenue loss. Unemployment numbers are also reflecting deeper declines with small business as compared to larger employers. In addition, the Central Bank said last week in order to support the economy, they would look to keep interest rates near zero all the way through the end of 2021.
PPP Change Challenge
Labor groups are warning that newly enacted changes to the PPP lending program will be more to protect businesses themselves rather than protecting workers and their paychecks as originally planned. As we have talked about numerous times, the PPP changes now call for 60% of the funds to be used on payroll vs. the original 75% and the remaining funds on utilities, rent, and mortgage. Also, the new bill elongates the time to spend the funds from eight weeks to 24 weeks.
Some economists are suggesting that the surprising May job growth might be a direct effect of the PPP funds going to bringing back employees and that this change will now discourage the re-hiring of workers and draw out the time period for bringing them back. Locally, this does not seem to be the case with our members. Many were struggling to keep the doors open because they could not spend enough of the funds on the non-payroll, thereby risking the possibility that there would be jobs to come back to. A good portion of businesses were also in the position of not even being open or open at a limited capacity. Once they were able to open the reports grew of workers not wanting to come back due to generous unemployment benefits.
PPP List to be Published?
Members of Congress have been demanding that information be released regarding those that have received PPP funds. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is now saying that he will be open to talking with Congressional members to see what details can be worked out. He recently had said that this information was confidential and proprietary as it would release data and salaries of millions of small businesses, sole proprietors, and independent contractors.
PPP Loan Forgiveness Application Webinar
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will be hosting a webinar along with the SBA on Thursday, June 18 at 10:00 am. This will focus on PPP loan forgiveness application assistance. You can register for the webinar here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ppp-update-covid-19-resources-for-small-businesses-tickets-109052924232
Coronavirus Related Charities Donation
The IRS recently ruled that vacation pay and other workplace benefits will not be treated as income as long as the employee make them a voluntary donation to a coronavirus related charity through their employer. Usually, these types of actions are taxed as if it was a benefit cash out. They can then be taken as a charitable contribution tax deduction. However, recent disaster situations have allowed a similar change.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has announced a $253 million fund for counties and has launched contact tracing pilot programs in Lake and St. Clair counties. As of June 11, however, IDPH has not yet distributed any funds, counties are still completing grant applications and the pilot programs are just getting underway.
Government Remote Meetings Bill Signed
At the end of last week, Governor Pritzker signed SB 2135, which created the Governmental Administration Act. This bill lays out updated requirements for the Open Meetings Act during a period of declared emergency. Here are some of the highlights of the bill when it comes to holding remote meetings during emergencies or disasters:
- Quorum does not need to physically be at the meeting location
- Meeting Notice must be placed on the public body’s website – this is an additional requirement
- Remote members must be verified and must be able to hear one another and hear all discussion and testimony
- Members of the public present at the meeting location can hear all discussion and testimony and all votes of the members of the public body
- Remote members of the public must be able to contemporaneously hear all discussion, testimony, and roll call votes (ie: via telephone call of web-based link)
- At least one member of the body, chief legal counsel, or chief administrative officer is physically at the meeting location unless unfeasible due to the nature of the emergency
- All votes must be roll call votes
- All remote meetings must be audio or video recorded and made available to the public and are subject to the FOIA
- The public body shall bear all costs associated with compliance with this section
*Note that nothing in this bill changed anything related to Public Comment during public meetings.
Ready for Retail Rush?
Over the last three months, Americans have cut spending are saving more and more. Economists are predicting that as the economy continues to open more then customers will be ready to spend at a remarkably high rate. This would usually be a good thing on all fronts, but one worry that has popped up is whether or not the inventory supply is available to meet the demand. Issues with vendors running out of product or facing shortages have surfaced. Shipping delays due to increased demand has also been a recent concern. Sounds like now is the time, if you haven’t already, to make sure your supply chain is solid and ready as well as keeping customers happy with access to needs and wants.
Finally, don’t forget that this Thursday is our next Virtual Conference. Join us at 1:00 as we present Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace…in the World with Troy Cicero of MultiultuReal Communications. The session will focus on:
- Understanding Diversity and Inclusion and the urgency of now
- Prepare for paradigm shifts
- Gain broad perspective for greater workplace effectiveness
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
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