COVID-19 Federal and State Updates

Last Updated April 3rd9:00am 

Federal 

White House Gives Updates on CARES Act Loans, Applications Start Friday- Provided by US Chamber (April 2)-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza joined President Trump for a press briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to encourage small business owners to apply for loans ahead of applications beginning Friday for the Paycheck Protection Program. For a step-by-step guide on how to apply click here. 

  • The SBA announced streamlined loan verification guidance for banks Thursday evening, and Administrator Carranza said the private and public sector must work together to ensure small businesses are put first.  
  • Secretary Mnuchin announced that interest rates for the new CARES Act loans will increase from 0.5% to 1%. 

Read more in Politico 

Here are some additional announcements: 

  • Trump announced that he is using the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of N95 respirator masks. 
  • Peter Navarro said the U.S. is over-reliant on the global supply chain and the coronavirus crisis highlights the importance of President Trump’s “Buy American” order and focus on secure borders. 
  • The FDA authorized a test that will identify COVID-19 antibodies in people’s immune systems. 

 

Who CARES? Employer’s Action Items for TodayProvided by Graydon (April 1)-The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, impacts employers and employees through changes to unemployment insurance, on the one hand, and several others under the CARES Act financial assistance umbrella, on the other. This article gives details on Unemployment Insurance, Paycheck Protection Program Loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Tax Credits, and Retirement Plans. Click here to read more. 

 Action Items 

  • Employers considering any of the loan programs provided under the CARES Act should talk with their banks or other lender now about their options. 
  • Work with your tax advisor to explore whether your company can take advantage of any of the tax credits/delayed payments referenced above. 
  • Learn more about the relief options for your retirement plans and reach out to your plan’s third-party administrator to determine how to implement any that you choose to take advantage of. 

For more information, please contact a Graydon attorney, who can assist in guiding you in the right direction. 

 

Department of Labor Clarifies Families First Coronavirus Response Act Implementation- Provided by DBL Law (March 30)- The U.S. Department of Labor has issued updated guidance on implementation of the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). All employers subject to the FFCRA are advised to review this important guidance. Some of the key components of the updated guidance include the following: 

  • Explanation of the health care provider and emergency responder exemptions from the FFCRA paid leave requirements. These exemptions make most healthcare providers exempt from the FFCRA’s paid leave requirements, which is a major shift from prior guidance. 
  • Guidance on the exemption available for employers with fewer than 50 employees. 
  • A discussion of the interplay between emergency FMLA leave available under the FFCRA and standard FMLA leave. 

The FFCRA goes into effect on April 1. 

The DOL guidance can be found at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions. 

 

 

State 

Update from The Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2020 

  • After Gov. Beshear’s press conference, the Northern Kentucky Health Dept. announced there are now 87 cases of COVID-19 in Boone, Campbell, Kenton, and Grant countiesRead the release here. 
  • Gov. Beshear also announced the single largest total of deceased victims, with 11 confirmed deaths attributed in part to the novel coronavirus.  
  • Schools in the Commonwealth will remain closed to in-person instruction through Friday, May 1. The Governor did say there is a “very real” possibility that schools will not re-open to in-person instruction for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year. 
  • Citing the need to protect the health of both those imprisoned and the officers that serve, the Governor commuted the sentences of 186 non-violent, non-sexual offenders. Secretary of the Executive Cabinet J. Michael Brown said another 743 individuals may have their sentences commuted pending review of their cases within the next week. 
  • Anyone from out of state staying in Kentucky was asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.   
  • Gov. Beshear announced the establishment of a hotline for the donation of personal protective equipment (PPE). Prospective donors should call the National Guard Hotline at (502) 607-6844 or go to tinyurl.com/KYEMCOVID. 
  • Beginning Friday, April 3, no overnight stays will be permitted in Kentucky state parks. State parks will remain open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 
  • Plans are moving forward to convert the Louisville fairgrounds into a temporary, 2,000-bed hospital to be ready for a potential surge in cases. There has also been preliminary discussion of turning a hotel in Lexington into a field hospital, if necessary. 

  

Team Kentucky hashtags for social media: #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot and #HealthyAtHome. 

For complete coverage of Gov. Beshear’s press conference, click here. For a complete timeline of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, click here. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshear or by clicking here. 

“No Tougher Year.” Legislature passes one-year budget and road plan in a cloud of uncertainty- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (April 1) 

On Wednesday, the General Assembly completed its constitutional directive to pass a balanced budget. In what is an unprecedented but not surprising move, the budget only dictates spending for one fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, instead of two years. In discussing the one-year spending plan, Senators acknowledged the considerable uncertainty they face in revenue projection. 

While describing his yes vote, Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer indicated the budget was “assembled with the best information at this time.” He recognized the need for returning next year to craft the budget for the second year of the biennium and explained this plan sets the legislature up to tackle budgeting for three years in a row. 

Senate President Robert Stivers joined his fellow senators on the floor to further explain how the uncertainty of revenue will leave Governor Andy Beshear with the challenge of executing a budget built on $11.6 billion in revenue, which is likely too high. . .   

The General Assembly also passed the two-year road plan and transportation budget. Senate Transportation Chair Ernie Harris explained that the plan maximized state funds available to match federal dollars and noted the expiration of toll credits this year, which were typically used as a match for federal dollars. He also explained that if the federal government provided increased transportation funds as part of a COVID-19 stimulus, those projects receiving federal and state dollars could utilize new federal transportation dollars, which would free up state dollars. The plan is over-programmed by 119 percent, meaning more projects are authorized than funds are available. . .  

Click here to read more.  

--------------------------

Last Updated 4/1/20 

Federal 

U.S. Treasury Department Releases New Guidelines on Paycheck Protection Program 

The Paycheck Protection Program, a collaboration of the U.S. Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA), provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds may be forgivable and can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. 

For a one-page overview of Paycheck Protection Program, click here. 

  • US Treasury Dept. and Small Business Administration (SBA) working together with community banks to get Paycheck Protection Program up and running as soon as April 3rd  
  • PPP Loan program will help small businesses keep up with payroll and other business operating expenses (i.e. health insurance, interest payments on loans, rent or lease payments, utilities, etc). 
  • Once running, businesses can go to a participating SBA 7(a) lender, bank, or credit union, apply for a loan, and be approved on the same day. Call your local bank to see if they are participating. 
  • Local and swift- application, loan processing, and disbursement of funds will all happen at community level in as little as one day—and applications can begin as early as next week, when lenders have processing systems in place 
  • Will be available retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020 
  • No collateral requirements, personal guarantees, or SBA fees—100% guaranteed by SBA 
  • Loan matures after 2 years, first payment deferred 6 months 
  • PPP Loans used 75% toward payroll for 8-week duration will be eligible for 100% forgiveness, a process beginning after July 1, 2020 
  • When: 
  • April 3 for small business and sole proprietors 
  • April 10 for independent contractors and self-employed individuals  

  

More Resources: 

  • Comparison of various loans available through CARES ACT HERE 
  • SBA’s Coronavirus Resources HERE 
  • For lenders, more information can be found HERE 
  • For borrowers, more information can be found HERE 
  • For tentative application for borrowers to prepare can be found HERE 

 

State 

Update from The Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear as of Tuesday, March 31, 2020 

  • Gov. Beshear announced the state’s biggest one day increase in COVID-19 with total of 114 new confirmed cases. Additionally, seven new deaths attributed in part or full to COVID-19 were announced, one of which was a Campbell Co. resident in their 80s.  
  • After Gov. Beshear’s press conference, the Northern Kentucky Health Dept. announced there are now 41 total cases of COVID-19 in Boone (9), Campbell (9), Kenton (22), and Grant (1) counties. Read the release here. 
  • Child care services that have been extended to first responders have now been expanded to include grocery store workers.  
  • The state is working on establishing drive-thru testing in Franklin Co. with priority being reserved for first responders. The University of Louisville is assisting in the effort as they have “significantly” increased their testing capacity. He attributed the delay in mobile testing is due to not having the amount of tests, personal protection equipment (PPE) and a lab to turnaround tests in a fashion that can be done within 48 hours. 
  • An order was issued allowing critical workforce sectors to rehire previously retired workers to fill key roles. The order, which last the duration of the state of emergency, applies to law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical service personnel, park rangers and corrections officers. You can read the order, here. 
  • The Governor signed an executive order Monday telling Kentuckians they cannot travel outside the state, with very few exceptions such as traveling for work, or to tend to a family member. This order does not apply to NKY workers that are working in Ohio in Essential services roles. You can read the order, here. 
  • Regarding the cancellation of the 2019-20 school year, Gov. Beshear said the state is following President Donald J. Trump’s recommendation schools remain closed to in person instruction through May 1.  
  • Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack advised anyone feeling sick and showing symptoms to self-isolate for at least two weeks (14 days).  

  

Team Kentucky hashtags for social media: #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot and new Saturday #HealthyAtHome. 

For complete coverage of Gov. Beshear’s press conference, click here. For a complete timeline of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, click here. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshear or by clicking here. 

 

Last Updated March 31, 10:00 AM

Federal 

Senator McConnel Unveils Coronavirus Response Portal to Assist Kentuckians (March 30)- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today he created a Coronavirus Response Portal on his website to help Kentuckians who may have questions related to how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will help their families, organizations, small businesses, and communities take advantage of the provisions in the legislation. 

The portal can be accessed by Kentucky families and small businesses owners who may have questions related to unemployment insurance, low-interest federal loans, federal taxes and relief checks, federal grants, and assistance for Kentuckians traveling or living abroad. 

“At my direction, the Senate stepped up to face this challenge presented by COVID-19. We passed a bold plan called the CARES Act to assist families, workers, small businesses and medical professionals. I hope the following resources will be helpful as your family, organization, small business or community takes advantage of the federal funding I helped make available,” Senator McConnell said. “We’ll win this fight against the Coronavirus because Americans continue finding creative ways to stand united—even if we have to stand six feet apart.” 

The Coronavirus Response Portal link: https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?p=coronavirus-updates 

This portal includes guidance on a variety of topics including: Kentucky workers needing to file for unemployment insurance, resources to small businesses, federal taxes, rebate checks, Kentucky education, those living/traveling abroad, and ways to volunteer.  

 

State 

Update from The Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear as of Monday, March 30 

  • The state now has a total of 480 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including three new cases in Northern Kentucky. Additionally, two more deaths attributed to COVID-19 were announced today: (1) A 88 year-old female resident of Kenton Co. and (2) a 90 year-old female resident of Simpson Co. 
  • Locally, two positive tests were determined at a nursing home in Campbell Co. with four more people at the facility awaiting results. The governor said the positive tests were attributed to one staff member and one resident at the nursing home, the latter of which is now hospitalized.  
  • After Gov. Beshear’s press conference, the Northern Kentucky Health Dept. announced there are now 37 total cases of COVID-19 in Boone (8), Campbell (8), Kenton (20), and Grant (1) counties. Read the release here. 
  • Gov. Beshear enacted an executive order restricting travel for Kentuckians to other states. Exceptions include traveling for work, tending to a family member unable to leave their home and/or being ordered to do so by a court. Residents living near the borders of other states will also be allowed to get groceries.  
  • The governor implored residents that if they are at an essential goods store that is crowded to be wise and simply come back at a later time when a large crowd is not present.  
  • The governor also reviewed 10 steps previously announced that residents can take to fight COVID-19, the details of which can be found at kycovid19.ky.gov 

  

Team Kentucky hashtags for social media: #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot and new Saturday #HealthyAtHome. 

For complete coverage of Gov. Beshear’s press conference, click here. For a complete timeline of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, click here. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshear or by clicking here. 

 

Kentucky Receives Federal Disaster Declaration- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (March 30)- Over the weekend, President Donald Trump approved Kentucky’s request for a federal disaster declaration. According to a statement from the White House, this declaration will make federal funding available to the Commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance. 

press release from Governor Andy Beshear’s office highlighted the significance of the designation. “Kentucky has received federal disaster designation that will provide additional funding for the commonwealth’s response to the pandemic. The Major Disaster Declaration issued by President Donald Trump broadens access to the Public Assistance Program statewide to pay for emergency protective services not covered by other federal statutes. The declaration also allows state and local agencies to recover expenses related to the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some examples of services covered include emergency medical care, medical sheltering, personal protective gear, law enforcement and communications, as well as the purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine and other consumable supplies.” 

All eight members of Kentucky’s federal delegation to Congress voiced support for Governor Beshear’s request in a letter to President Trump. Read more here. 

 

Last Updated March 29th, 10:00 AM

Federal  

Trump Extends Coronavirus Social Distancing Guidelines- Provided by US Chamber (March 29)- At a press briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Sunday evening President Trump announced that the country’s social distancing guidelines are now in place until April 30. 

Here are some additional announcements: 

  • Humana and Cigna will be waiving copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for patients with coronavirus. 
  • The Trump administration will be looking into restoring the deductibility of meals and entertainment costs for corporations to help keep restaurants and bars afloat. 
  • Today was the first delivery from China for “Operation Airbridge,” a public-private partnership to bring critical supplies to the U.S. using cargo planes. 
  • On Friday the FDA authorized a new test made by Abbott that produces results in five minutes.  
  • The FDA is close to approving a method for sterilizing masks made by an Ohio company. 

When asked about the possibility of another stimulus bill, Trump said, “I'm prepared to do whatever is necessary to save lives and bring our economy back to where it was before.” Vice President Mike Pence ended the briefing by specifically thanking American businesses for stepping up “with a spirit we haven’t seen for awhile in this country.” 

 

Trump Invokes Defense Production Act to Increase Supply of Ventilators- Provided by US Chamber (March 27)On Friday President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to prioritize making ventilators and said later at a press briefing that within 100 days, the U.S. will have three times as many ventilators. The president said his administration will continue to work in partnership with the private sector to get needed supplies. New announcements include: 

  • Boeing will start producing thousands of face shields a week to donate to healthcare workers on the front lines, and will offer a cargo plane to the government to deliver supplies. 
  • Apple created a COVID-19 app to give health recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services. Read full remarks here. 

Friday night the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration is preparing to suspend collection of import tariffs for three months to give U.S. companies financial relief amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump could still overrule the plans. 

 

 

State 

Update from The Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear as of Sunday, March 29, 2020 

  • There are now at least 439 cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky, with 45 of those being newly confirmed. 
  • After Gov. Beshear’s press conference, the Northern Kentucky Health Dept. announced there are now 29 total cases of COVID-19 in Boone (5), Campbell (5), Kenton (18), and Grant (1) counties. Read the release here. 
  • Mayors and county judge-executives were asked to monitor people gathering in public places such as parks, golf courses and other recreational facilities and stop them if people are not practicing social distancing and risking the spread of COVID-19. 
  • The 92 new positive COVID-19 cases announced Saturday marked the largest one-day rise of confirmed cases in the commonwealth.  
  • On Saturday, Gov. Beshear shared good news of federal aid flowing to help the commonwealth’s coronavirus response and recovery efforts. The Major Disaster Declaration issued by President Donald Trump broadens access to the Public Assistance Program statewide to pay for emergency protective services not covered by other federal statutes. 
  • Gov. Beshear asked Kentuckians to avoid unnecessary travel to Tennessee, which has failed to enact strict social distancing guidelines. 
  • The federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was just signed into law, provides wide-ranging benefits to all Kentuckians. The Governor signed an agreement with the Department of Labor that will raise the maximum weekly benefit by $600, increase benefits weeks by 13 additional weeks, fund unemployment insurance for individuals not typically eligible and finally allows states to expand workshare programs. 

For complete coverage of Gov. Beshear’s press conference, click here. For a timeline of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, click here. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshear or by clicking here. 

Team Kentucky hashtags for social media: #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot, #HealthyAtHome 

 

Guide to Unemployment Insurance during COVID-19- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (March 27)- Many employers and employees who have never had to deal directly with unemployment insurance are now finding it necessary to learn as much as possible in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.To help businesses navigate the world of unemployment insurance, here is a sampling of a guide answering some of the most common questions and providing as many resources as possible. You can view the full guide here 

WHERE CAN YOU FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS? 

Click here for Kentucky but be aware that the state has adopted procedures to accommodate the influx of claims. Read about those procedures here 

WHAT CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE TO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE RULES IN KENTUCKY IN RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC? 

There have been several but here are three of the most important. 

  • Individuals typically not covered by unemployment insurance can now file (aka self-employed, independent contractors, freelance workers, substitute teachers, and more). 
  • Waived 7 day waiting period to file for benefits 
  • Waived requirement for actively seeking employment 

I HEARD THAT EMPLOYERS WITH 50 OR EMPLOYEES WHO ARE LAYING OFF 15 EMPLOYEES OR MORE ARE ENCOURAGED TO USE KENTUCKY’S MASS E-FILE. IS THAT TRUE? 

This is true and it will help expedite the processing of claims. Learn more about Mass E-File here and hereEmaiUIeclaims@ky.gov to initiate this process. 

IF I DO NOT WANT TO LAYOFF STAFF BUT INSTEAD REDUCE THEIR HOURS, WILL THEY BE ELIGIBLE FOR UI BENEFITS? 

Kentucky offers a work-share program in which unemployment benefits could be available for workers with reduced hours. In a work-share program, employers compensate employees for the reduced hours they work, while the state provides supplemental benefits. For employers with 50 employees or more reducing hours for at least 15 employees, email: UIeclaims@ky.govfor small employers, email: workforce@ky.gov.   

 

 

KY General Assembly Passes COVID-19 Response Bill- Provided by KY Chamber (March 26)- The General Assembly completed one of their last days in session by passing Senate Bill 150 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill initially addressed surprise billing for health care services. The legislature amended it late last week to include temporary changes in statutes in response to the disease and its impact on Kentuckians. 

The bill codifies many of the actions taken by the governor through executive orders, including waiving some of the requirements for unemployment insurance eligibility, such as the 7-day waiting period and work search. It also requires the state to adhere to the same tax filing extensions set by Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury. 

Today, legislators added provisions to the bill, including immunity for health care workers responding to the pandemic and for manufacturers that are switching to producing personal protective equipment to protect those workers and first responders. The legislation also expands telehealth, allows government entities to utilize online meetings without violating open meeting requirements, and extends unemployment to the self-employed. 

SB 150 also requires that the Governor, in writing, declare the end of the state of emergency.  Should he fail to do so, the General Assembly, under this legislation, would be able to do so, at the start of their next session... The legislature will convene on April 1 to pass a budget and again on April 15 to consider veto overrides. 

 

 

Last Updated March 27th, 11:00am 

Federal 

CARES Act Explained- Provided by the Tax Foundation (March 24)- On Wednesday evening, the Senate passed an updated version of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill builds upon earlier versions of the CARES Act and is intended to be a third round of federal government support in the wake of the coronavirus public health crisis and associated economic fallout, succeeding the $8.3 billion in public health support passed two weeks ago and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It is the product of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans for a bipartisan response to the crisis. 

The bill includes:

  • Expanded unemployment insurance (UI) for workers, including a $600 per week increase in benefits for up to four months and federal funding of UI benefits provided to those not usually eligible for UI, such as the self-employed, independent contractors, and those with limited work history. The federal government is incentivizing states to repeal any “waiting week” provisions that prevent unemployed workers from getting benefits as soon as they are laid off by fully funding the first week of UI for states that suspend such waiting periods. Additionally, the federal government will fund an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 after workers have run out of state unemployment benefits. 
  • $350 billion allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program, which is meant to help small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn to make payroll and cover other expenses from February 15 to June 30. Notably, small businesses may take out loans up to $10 million—limited to a formula tied to payroll costs—and can cover employees making up to $100,000 per year. Loans may be forgiven if a firm uses the loan for payroll, interest payments on mortgages, rent, and utilities and would be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year and a 25 percent or greater reduction in employee compensation. 
  • Recovery Rebate for individual taxpayers. The bill would provide a $1,200 refundable tax credit for individuals ($2,400 for joint taxpayers). Additionally, taxpayers with children will receive a flat $500 for each child. The rebates would not be counted as taxable income for recipients, as the rebate is a credit against tax liability and is refundable for taxpayers with no tax liability to offset. The rebate phases out at $75,000 for singles, $112,500 for heads of household, and $150,000 for joint taxpayers at 5 percent per dollar of qualified income, or $50 per $1,000 earned. It phases out entirely at $99,000 for single taxpayers with no children and $198,000 for joint taxpayers with no children (see Chart 1). 2019 or 2018 tax returns will be used to calculate the rebate advanced to taxpayers, but taxpayers eligible for a larger rebate based on 2020 income will receive it in the 2020 tax season.  

Taxpayers with higher incomes in 2020 will see the overpayment associated with their rebate forgiven. For example, a single taxpayer with $100,000 in 2019 income would not receive an advance rebate but would receive the $1,200 credit on their 2020 return if their income for the year fell below the phaseout. On the other hand, a single taxpayer with $35,000 in income receives a $1,200 advance rebate but would not have to pay the rebate back on the 2020 return if they make $100,000 this year. This is structurally similar to the 2008 rebate design. We estimate the rebate will decrease federal revenue by about $301 billion in 2020, according to the Tax Foundation General Equilibrium Model. This credit is one-time, but policymakers may consider additional rebates if the downturn is prolonged.  

The rebate is structured progressively but is not available to those who have not filed taxes. These non-filers tend to have lower incomes. Additionally, Social Security Administration benefit information may be used for low-income taxpayers solely relying on Social Security benefits. The Tax Foundation estimates that nearly all filers below the 80th percentile will receive a rebate, but only 0.1 percent of filers above the 99th percentile will receive a rebate due to the rebate phaseouts. The average rebate will be about $1,523, ranging from $1,436 for the 0 to 20th percentiles to $45 for the 95th to 99th percentiles. 

  • Creates a $300 partial above-the-line charitable contribution for filers taking the standard deduction and expands the limit on charitable contributions for itemizers. 
  • Waives the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty on retirement account distributions for taxpayers facing virus-related challenges. Withdrawn amounts are taxable over three years, but taxpayers can recontribute the withdrawn funds into their retirement accounts for three years without affecting retirement account caps. Eligible retirement accounts include individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401Ks and other qualified trusts, certain deferred compensation plans, and qualified annuities. The bill also waives required minimum distribution rules for certain retirement plans in calendar year 2020. 
  • Certain employer payments of student loans on behalf of employees are excluded from taxable income. Employers may contribute up to $5,250 annually toward student loans, and the payments would be excluded from an employee’s income. 
  • A variety of business tax provisions: 
  • Employers are eligible for a 50 percent refundable payroll tax credit on wages paid up to $10,000 during the crisis. It would be available to employers whose businesses were disrupted due to virus-related shutdowns and firms experiencing a decrease in gross receipts of 50 percent or more when compared to the same quarter last year. The credit is available for employees retained but not currently working due to the crisis for firms with more than 100 employees, and for all employee wages for firms with 100 or fewer employees. 
  • Employer-side Social Security payroll tax payments may be delayed until January 1, 2021, with 50 percent owed on December 31, 2021 and the other half owed on December 31, 2022. The Social Security Trust Fund will be backfilled by general revenue in the interim period. 
  • Firms may take net operating losses (NOLs) earned in 2018, 2019, or 2020 and carry back those losses five years. The NOL limit of 80 percent of taxable income is also suspended, so firms may use NOLs they have to fully offset their taxable income. The bill also modifies loss limitations for non-corporate taxpayers, including rules governing excess farm losses, and makes a technical correction to the treatment of NOLs for the 2017 and 2018 tax years. 
  • Firms with tax credit carryforwards and previous alternative minimum tax (AMT) liability can claim larger refundable tax credits than they otherwise could.  
  • The net interest deduction limitation, which currently limits businesses’ ability to deduct interest paid on their tax returns to 30 percent of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), has been expanded to 50 percent of EBITDA for 2019 and 2020. This will help businesses increase liquidity if they have debt or must take on more debt during the crisis. 
  • Technical corrections to the depreciation treatment of qualified improvement property (QIP). 
  • The excise tax applied on alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer is temporarily suspended for tax year 2020. 
  • Aviation excise taxes are suspended until January 1, 2021. We estimate this will reduce federal revenue by about $8 billion in 2020. 
  • $454 billion in emergency lending to businesses, states, and cities through the U.S. Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund. Additionally, this includes $25 billion in lending for airlines, $4 billion in lending for air cargo firms, and $17 billion in lending for firms deemed critical to U.S. national security. Firms taking loans must not engage in stock buybacks for the duration of the loan plus one year and must retain at least 90 percent of its employment level as of March 24, 2020. Loans also come with terms limiting employee compensation and severance pay for firms taking loans. Emergency lending will be overseen by a Congressional Oversight Commission and a Special Inspector General. 
  • Health provisions to address the coronavirus crisis, including provisions addressing supply shortages, coverage of diagnostic testing for the virus, support for health-care providers, improving telehealth service access and flexibility, encouragement for the creation of drugs to treat the virus, strengthening related Medicare and Medicaid provisions, and providing support for educational institutions. 
  • $150 billion in a Coronavirus Relief Fund for state and city government expenditures incurred due to dealing with the coronavirus public health emergency. The fund would be allocated by population proportions, with a minimum of $1.25 billion for each state. 

The CARES Act is a positive step forward to provide economic relief to individuals and businesses facing hardship or economic ruin due to this crisis. To read more of the Tax Foundation’s analysis and ideas for improvement, click here 

More CARES Act Resources 

 

 

COVID-19 Implications for EPA Enforcement - Provided by Frost Brown Todd (March 26)- On March 26, 2020, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a guidance document (copy attached) in response to implications COVID-19 has on enforcement and compliance with the numerous environmental regulatory programs. EPA recognizes that limitations on travel and social distancing may impact a regulated entity’s ability to perform routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification.  

If compliance is not reasonably practicable, the guidance requires that the regulated entity: act responsibly under the circumstances in order to minimize the effects and duration of any noncompliance; identify the specific nature and dates of the noncompliance; identify and document how COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance, including actions and decisions, including best efforts to comply and steps taken to come into compliance at the earliest opportunity; return to compliance as soon as possible; and document the information, action of condition specified above.  

Contact Phil Schworerpschworer@fbtlaw.com or (513) 484-5160 for additional information. 

 

New Answers from the IRS on July 15 Tax Deadline- Provided by the Wall Street Journal (March 24)The Internal Revenue Service has issued guidance filling in many details of the historic delay in this year’s tax-filing and payment deadlines, which have been extended to July 15 from April 15 for many taxpayers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, the agency has clarified that the deadline for making Individual Retirement Account and Roth IRA contributions is now July 15; that returns with automatic filing extensions are still due Oct. 15; and that there are ways for filers to delay automatic tax payments they previously scheduled for April 15. 

 

Do I have to be sick from the coronavirus or quarantined to use the new deadlines? 

No. 

Do I have to file a special form to use the July 15 deadline? 

No. If you file a return or an automatic extension request and pay your tax due by July 15, no interest or penalties will be due. 

I already filed my 2019 return and scheduled an automatic withdrawal of my tax payment for April 15. Will the IRS automatically delay this payment until July 15? 

No, but taxpayers can take action to change the payment date. 

Many filers authorize an electronic funds withdrawal as part of filing their tax returns. The IRS says these taxpayers can cancel their payment by contacting the U.S. Treasury Financial Agent at 888-353-4537. But payment cancellation requests must be made no later than 11:59 p.m. ET two business days before the scheduled payment date. Then reschedule the automatic payment or mail a check to the IRS. 

Fewer taxpayers use IRS Direct Pay or the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Both have directions for canceling payments, which must be done two days before the payment date. For IRS Direct Pay, use the Look Up a Payment Feature. For EFTPS, log in and click on Cancel a Tax Payment. 

Taxpayers who scheduled an automatic payment by credit or debit card should contact the card company to change the date. 

What if I need more time to complete tax paperwork and file my 2019 return? 

Individuals can ask for an automatic extension of the time to file (but not pay) by filing Form 4868 by July 15. The deadline to file returns remains Oct. 15, 2020—as it would have been without the three-month filing and payment delay. 

Is my deadline to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account, Roth IRA, Health Savings Account or Archer MSA also extended? 

Yes, these deadlines are delayed to July 15 from April 15. 

I owe a 10% penalty on a withdrawal I took from a retirement account last year. Is the deadline to pay it now July 15 instead of April 15? 

Yes, this deadline is postponed as well. 

I see that my first-quarter estimated tax payment due on April 15 is now due on July 15. What about the second-quarter payment, due June 15? 

As of now, the second-quarter payment is still due on June 15. This could change, so watch for further announcements. 

I haven’t yet claimed my 2016 refund, and the deadline to file for it is April 15, 2020. Will that now be delayed to July 15? 

No. The extension is only for 2019 taxes, according to the IRS. 

What doesn’t qualify for the IRS’s three-month delay? 

Among other things: estate and gift taxes, excise taxes, information returns such as 1099 forms, and payroll taxes—although Congress is considering a payroll-tax deferral. In addition, tax items that don’t have April 15 deadlines, such as the March 16 due date for partnership returns, don’t qualify for the extension. 

For more information on this or other questions, check the IRS’s FAQs and its page devoted to coronavirus issues. 

 

 

State 

Self-employed and Contract Workers Eligible for UI- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (March 26)Kentucky is opening unemployment insurance benefits to many across the state that were previously ineligible. Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday evening that business owners, those who are self-employed, independent contract workers, substitute teachers, and many others will now be able to receive unemployment insurance benefits. He stated anyone who has already applied for the benefits and been denied because they fall in this category will not have to apply again and their claim will be addressed. If an individual has not yet filed, they will need to do so based on the schedule the state has put out for filing on a certain date based on your last name. 

More Kentucky Businesses to Close in Response to Pandemic- Provided by Frost Brown Todd (March 25)- Governor Andy Beshear has issued a new executive order significantly expanding the types of businesses which must cease operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The new order which went into effect yesterday, allows only those businesses which are “life-sustaining” to remain open. 

Affected businesses will still be permitted to conduct “minimum basic operations,” which are limited to certain functions necessary to preserve the business, such as processing payroll and benefits, ensuring security, maintaining the value of inventory, preserving equipment and the physical plant, facilitating telecommuting, and other related functions. Also, telework (working from home) is not prohibited under the new order.  But all other operations of a non-life-sustaining business must cease.  

Life-sustaining businesses which are permitted to remain open must continue to adhere to mandatory social distancing and hygiene requirements, including maintaining physical separation of six feet when possible, regular handwashing or sanitizing, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces, permitting employees to work from home, and identifying sick employees and asking them to leave the premises.  The order specifies that any life-sustaining business that violates any of these hygiene requirements will be subject to closure and other penalties. 

The order does not have an expiration date, and will continue to remain in effect until further notice. Click here for the detailed list of businesses.  

 

Update from The Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear as of Thursday, March 26 

  • The state has a total of 248 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 50 of those being newly confirmed 
  • After Gov. Beshear’s press conference, the Northern Kentucky Health Dept. announced there are now 19 total cases of COVID-19 in Boone (4), Campbell (3), and Kenton (12) counties. Read the release here. 
  • The governor is asking mayors and county judge-executives to monitor people gathering in public places such as parks and stop them if they are not practicing proper social distancing. 
  • The state has spent in excess of $8 million in an attempt to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) in regards to COVID-19 prevention/infection treatment.  
  • When drive-thru testing becomes available it will be for those who need it the most, such as first responders. He did note that 10,000-plus PPE items were recently delivered to the Dept. of Health in Frankfort and other agencies, including more than 9,000 critically needed N95 respirator masks. 
  • new website portal has been set up for companies interested in donating materials, labor or other assistance for Kentuckians in need. 

For complete coverage of Gov. Beshear’s press conference, click here. For a timeline of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, click here. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshear or by clicking here. 

Team Kentucky hashtags for social media: #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot, #HealthyAtHome 

 

Last Updated March 25, 10:00am 

Federal 

What’s in the Revised Congressional COVID-19 Relief Bill?- Provided by Greater Louisville Inc. (March 25)- Late last night, Congress and the White House announced that a deal had been struck to pass a $2 trillion relief package for Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Details about the final package are still forthcoming, but the bill is known to include massive amounts of federal funding assistance as well as major (temporary) changes to the federal tax code that will affect the whole Kentucky business community. 

Current as-of 10:32am, 3/25/20 

FINANCIAL AID AND RELIEF FOR INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES, AND BUSINESSES 

  • The extension of unemployment insurance by 13 weeks, including a four-month enhancement of $600 in benefits on top of state benefits 
  • An unemployment benefit structure is established for individuals who would not ordinarily qualify (e.g., self-employed) 
  • $1,200 in one-time payments direct to individuals ($2,400 for couples) + $500 per child applied equally to workers with incomes up to $75,000/$150,000, phasing out at $99,000/$198,000 
  • Allows for the temporary suspension of payments on federal student loan debt and a freeze on interest accrual 
  • $100 billion in aid for hospitals 
  • $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds 
  • $350 billion for small business loan programs (at least portions of these loans will be forgivable) 
  • $500 billion fund for broad groups of distressed companies 

TAX CHANGES 

  • A $300 charitable deduction is created for individuals who take the standard deduction  
  • Penalties for early withdrawal of retirement accounts are waived if the withdrawal is related to COVID-19 
  • Employer payroll tax deposits will be delayed until 2021 and 2022  
  • Establishment of an employee tax credit program for employers whose businesses was impacted by governmental actions (e.g. executive orders) during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • An exclusion from taxable income for payments made by an employer to an employee or lender for student loan payments 
  • An exemption from alcohol excise taxes for alcohol used in the manufacturing of hand sanitizer 
  • A five-year carryback for net operating losses will be allowed  
  • Changes are made to net operating losses for pass-through businesses 
  • The 30 percent cap on the business interest expense deduction imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is raised to 50 percent  
  • Qualified improvement property will be included as qualified property for bonus depreciation 

 

State 

REAL I.D. Deadline Extended (March 24)- The deadline for Kentuckians to acquire Real I.D.s has been extended beyond the Oct.1st date in light in the current COVID-19 health crisis.  

 

Governor’s address-  

 

______________________Updated 3/24__________________________ 

Federal 

Agreement Reached, Relief Package Awaits Vote (March 25)-  

From Politico: In the very early hours of Wednesday the 25ththe Trump administration and Senate leadership finally reached an accord on a $2 trillion relief package, the most ambitious of its kind in U.S. history. It’s expected that the bill will receive strong bipartisan support in the Senate later today and hopefully pass through the House and off the President’s desk by the end of the week.  

From The Washington Post: “The legislation, unprecedented in its size and scope, would send $1,200 checks to many Americans, create a $367 billion loan program for small businesses, and establish a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states. 

The legislation ensures that these taxpayer-backed loans cannot go to firms owned by President Trump, other White House officials or members of Congress. This would suggest that Trump-owned properties, including hotels that have been impacted, cannot seek taxpayer assistance. Other provisions include $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion for hospitals. 

It would significantly boost unemployment insurance benefits, expanding eligibility and offering workers an additional $600 a week for four months, on top of what state unemployment programs pay. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past few weeks, flooding a system that isn’t designed to cope with a sudden wave of applicants.” 

 

State 

Governor Beshear address-  

 

Overview of Recent Unemployment Changes- Provided by Greater Louisville Inc. (March 24)- As more and more Kentuckians are losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rules for unemployment insurance and Medicaid are changing rapidly in Kentucky. GLI has compiled a list of key changes, other important policies, and resources that employers need to know about as they work with their employees during this difficult time. 

This list is current as of March 24, 2020.  

  • New procedures for filing for benefits have been implemented. Individuals are asked to call on specific days of the week based on the first letter of their last name. Read more about those procedures here. 
  • The requirement that an individual must wait seven days after losing their job to file for benefits has been waived. Read more here. 
  • The requirement that an individual must be actively seeking employment has been waived. 
  • Read more here. 
  • Employers with 50 employees or more should use the Mass E-Claim IF they are laying off 15 employees or more. Read more here. 
  • Individuals who have lost their job due to COVID-19 should apply for Medicaid benefits by calling the Kentucky Healthcare customer service line at 855-459-6328 or contact an application assister through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange website. Read more here. 

Last Updated March 23, 10:00am 

Federal 

US Chamber Raises Concerns on Efficacy of DPA (March 23)Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley issued the following statement Monday concerning the Defense Production Act: 

"The Defense Protection Act isn’t a magic wand to immediately solving medical supply shortages. It can’t produce highly specialized manufacturing equipment overnight. It can’t convert a refrigerator factory into a ventilator factory. 

"The proponents of invoking the Defense Protection Act have not identified what problem exists that this law can solve. What is it that businesses are not already doing that the Defense Protection Act would compel them to do?  The fact is American companies are working around the clock to support our country’s response to the pandemic. Companies that have the necessary expertise and infrastructure are working closely with all levels of government to get the products to those who need them most. A variety of manufacturers have risen to the task and suggested that their equipment can be reconfigured to produce medical equipment. The real challenge is that we need to produce sophisticated products that can’t easily be made without the right specialty equipment, which may not be readily available.” 

 

Fed Announces Emergency Measures to Boost Economy- Provided by  US Chamber (March 23)The Federal Reserve on Monday announced aggressive emergency measures to ensure businesses, individuals, and local governments can get loans to hold them over until the economy bounces back. 

“It has become clear that our economy will face severe disruption,” Fed leaders wrote in a statement. “The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support households, businesses, and the U.S. economy overall in this challenging time." 

The Fed committed to the following actions: 

  • Buying as many U.S. government bonds and mortgage-backed securities as needed to support smooth market functioning 
  • Supporting the flow of credit to employers, consumers, and businesses by establishing up to $300 billion in new financing 
  • Establishing two facilities to support credit to large employers 
  • Establishing a third facility to support the flow of credit to consumers and businesses 

The Fed also said it expects to announce a Main Street Business Lending Program to support lending to eligible small-and-medium sized businesses, complementing efforts by the SBA. Read the full statement here. 

 

State 

Update from The Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear  
(as of Monday, March 23 5 p.m. press conference) 

  • On Monday, March 23, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state now had a total of 124 cases of residents confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 as well as the fourth death in the case of an 82-year-old woman. Gov. Beshear said that the woman had underlying health conditions that also attributed to her death. For the latest figures and information, please visit the official Kentucky COVID-19 web site. 
  • After Gov. Beshear’s press conference, the Northern Kentucky Health Dept. announced the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in Boone Co. and Campbell Co., respectively. According to a NKY Health Dept. press release, Kenton Co. has eight confirmed cases with one each in Boone and Campbell Co. Read the release here. 
  • Gov. Beshear encouraged all Kentuckians to donate to the newly established Team Kentucky Fund. The fund will help Kentuckians severely financially impacted by the COVID-19 emergency and will be handled by the Commonwealth’s Public Protection Cabinet. Click here to donate. 
  • A new hotline has been established for people who need to report dangerous situations and/or businesses operating that are not compiling with the outlined social distance standards. The hotline number is 1 (833) KYSAFER (597-2337).   
  • Gov. Beshear address auto dealers in saying dealerships will be able to remain open for parts and services; any sales must be conducted via the Internet or phone and cannot take place inside traditional salesfloors, lobbies and/or offices. 
  • Gov. Beshear said area hospitals can look to have support from local and state law enforcement in the coming days to ensure safety at all facilities; he reiterated, however, none of the actions are being taken for any reason other than to ensure the safety of health professionals and the clients they serve. 
  • Gov. Beshear asked local radio and TV stations to start or continue to make public service announcements (PSAs) regarding the need for proper social distancing as the World Health Organization and the United States Surgeon General have both stated this will be a “critical” week in regards to flattening the curve of COVID-19 as the pandemic may otherwise escalate.  
  • Gov. Beshear ended his remarks stating the state will continue to push for more testing and personal protection equipment (PPE) while reminding Kentuckians social distancing isn’t social isolation. He also recommended parents continue to keep their children on a schedule while re-affirming all Kentuckians’ need to make time for their own mental and physical health. 

  

Team Kentucky hashtags for social media: #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot and new Saturday #HealthyAtHome. 

For complete coverage of Gov. Beshear’s press conference, click here. For a complete timeline of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, click here. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshear or by clicking here. 

Last Updated March 23, 9:00am 

Federal 

US Chamber Provides Summary & Feedback on Proposed CARES Act (March 20)- The US Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to members of Congress last week regarding the proposed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act highlighting the fact that no family or business should go bankrupt because of a temporary COVID-19 disruption, the need for the creation of “bridge loans” for larger employers, and much more. For a helpful summary of the CARES Act, click here 

The US Chamber has additionally assembled a list of generally agreed upon comments stemming from conversations with its membership that it plans to share out. They include the following 

  • Section 2201. Delay of estimated tax payments for corporations: Clarify that §965(h) installment payments, excise taxes, and other corporate taxes are also extended. 
  • Section 2203. Modifications for net operating losses (NOLs): Modify “before January 1, 2020—” on page 68, row 16 to read “before January 1, 2021—” not 2020. This comports legislative language with:  
  • the section by section summary which provides that the new 5-year NOL carryback rule applies to NOLs generated in tax years 2018, 2019 or 2020; and  
  • the headings and other aspects of the legislative text of the new NOL carryback rule which apply to NOLs generated in 2018, 2019 or 2020. 
  • Section 2206. Modification of limitation on business interest: Make §163(j) elective to prevent unintended interactions with other code sections that would hamper the impact of this change on liquidity   
  • Section 2209. Restoration of limitation on downward attribution of stock ownership in applying constructive ownership rules: Allow taxpayers to affirmatively elect to rely on the repeal of §958(b)(4) for the 2018 through 2020 tax years. For the past 3 years, taxpayers and the Department of Treasury have relied upon the repeal of this provision and should be given be punished for that. 

 

Q&A of Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical LeaveExplained by Graydon (March 19th)- Graydon has provided a very help guide answering the common questions regarding the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act, including what it is, available tax credits it allows for, and qualifying conditions. 

 

“Essential Infrastructure” Workers Defined- Sent by US Chamber of Commerce (March 19)- Earlier this afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released official guidance from the President regarding the Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19. This guidance states that: 

“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”  

The “essential infrastructure” categories listed with greater detail include: water, communications, chemical, critical manufacturing, dams, defense industrial base, commercial facilities, emergency services, energy, financial, food & ag, government facilities, healthcare & public health, information technology, nuclear reactors/materials/waste, and transportation system. 

As noted yesterday, the U.S. Chamber had sent a letter to President Trump recommending that the administration offer additional guidance on recent quarantine orders and mandatory business closures to clarify “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses and services.”  

For more information on the Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19, please click here. 

 

 

 

State 

Update from The Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (as of Sunday, March 22nd’s 5 p.m. press conference 

  • On Sunday, March 22, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state now had a total of 103 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with five confirmed cases in Northern Kentucky. The Northern Kentucky cases are all in Kenton Co.: (1) A 66 year-old female, (2) a 96 year-old male; (3) a 21 year-old female; (4) a 32 year-old male and (5) a 33 year-old female. (The official Kentucky COVID-19 web site updated this number to 104 confirmed as of 9 a.m. Monday, March 23 with a total of 1,866 residents tested for the virus.) 
  • According to Gov. Beshear, the average age of someone who has become infected by COVID-19 is 53.3 with an intensive care rate of about 6 percent. The complete list of updated COVID-19 cases in the state can be found here. 
  • Gov. Beshear also announced on Sunday, March 22 that all nonessential retailers are being ordered to close by Monday, March 23 at 8 p.m. This does not include grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, gas stations and other businesses that provide staple goods. Nonessential retail businesses will still be allowed to fill phone and online orders through curbside services or delivery. A list of life-sustaining retail businesses can be found here. 
  • Gov. Beshear announced the state has qualified for U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance. Visit www.sba.gov/disaster.   
  • Beginning Monday, all elective medical procedures are to cease. The governor had previously recommended they stop but said the mandate was necessary since some groups has failed to follow that order. 
  • Sunday also Gov. Beshear announce he has extended an executive order originally signed on March 7 to prohibit price gouging for an additional 15 days. Anyone with information on possible price gouging is asked to contact to Attorney General Daniel Cameron via the Consumer Protection hotline at (888) 432-9257 or fill out the online complaint form, which can be found here. 
  • The state has confirmed the third death related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), a 67 year-old male from Anderson County. Gov. Beshear said the Governor’s Mansion would be lit green in honor of every Kentuckian who passes related to the virus. Gov. Beshear also mentioned both children diagnosed with COVID-19 are both recovering at home. 
  • On Friday, Gov. Beshear extended the tax filing deadline to mirror the federal government by delaying the tax filing deadline by three months from April 15 to July 15.  
  • The Governor also announced the suspension of in-person classes for schools will remain in effect until at least April 20. 
  • Bourbon distillers in the state are working to make hand sanitizer available throughout the commonwealth. No timetable for its availability, pricing or names of the distillers was mentioned.  
  • Gov. Beshear again mentioned that all worship services needed to cease in the state in accordance with the temporary ban on public gatherings. He also addressed the need for funeral homes and mourners to keep memorial services to just the most immediate family members. 
  • The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC) is implementing new unemployment insurance (UI) filing procedures and starting new local office phone lines for customers. For a list of filing dates, click here. For the Kentucky Career Centers (KCC) by location and the new phone numbers, click here. Claimants can also call the UI Help Line at 502-564-2900 if they have questions. 

  

Team Kentucky hashtags for social media: #TeamKentucky, #TogetherKY, #Patriot and new Saturday #HealthyAtHome. 

For complete coverage of Gov. Beshear’s press conference, click here. For a complete timeline of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, click here. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov. You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshear or by clicking here. 

 

 

New Procedure for Unemployment Filings in Kentucky (March 22nd)- (GROW already have language??) 

 

Deadline for filing and paying state tax pushed back to July 15On Friday, March 20th, Governor Beshear announced that the Commonwealth would match the extended July 15th Federal tax filing and payment deadline. More details on the Kentucky Department of Revenue’s website 

 

From Kentucky Attorney General-  

Suspected Price Gouging Scheme (March 19)- After a suspected case of price gauging of medical supplies, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that the items would be distributed to local first responders fighting the pandemic. He also noted that his office is working in conjunction with the Attorney General of Tennessee to protect consumers against the price gauging being perpetrated by the two Tennessee brothers in this case.  

 

Internet Safety Tips during COVID-19 Social Distancing (March 19)- With children home from school and spending more time online, Kentucky ACameron and his Cyber Crimes Unit have released a set of online safety recommendations to help parents and caregivers keep kids safe. Tips include setting limits on screen time and knowing your child’s passwords to online accounts and social media. Click here for full list of tips. If you child is approached by an online predator, save all messages and content and contact local law enforcement immediately. Click here for more information about cyber safety. 

 

_________________ Updated 3/20/20___________________ 

Federal 

IRS Moving Tax Filing and Payment Deadline to July 15 (March 20th)- At the direction of President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that Americans would be given more time to both pay and file their taxes. Refer to the IRS’s website for more information as it becomes available. 

 

President Trump Invokes Defense Production Act (DPA) (March 19th)- First invoked in 1960 to help in the Korean war, this national defense measure is now being used so the Administration can call upon US industries to switch production to the manufacture much needed medical supplies. These supplies, many of which had previously been sourced from China, are in astronomically higher demand as the US starts its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic. This act gives special preference to selecting small businesses when issuing contracts under the DPA. Click here for a summary of the Act’s measures. 

 

CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act Proposed in Senate (March 19th)- Senate Republicans introduced this Act which addresses the current emergency with four primary channels. View full release and details hereBelow are some highlights from the proposed resolution:  

  • Direct assistance to American families- extend filing deadline from 4/15 to 7/15, waives penalties of early withdrawal from retirement accounts 
  • Bolster healthcare response to COVID-19ensures COVID-19 testing is free, permits patients to use health savings accounts to cover telehealth services 
  • Rapid relief for small businesses and their employees- federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency, more accessible UI 
  • Stabilize economyloans not bailouts, provides tax relief to businesses affected by the coronavirus emergency 

 

“Essential Infrastructure” Workers DefinedSent by US Chamber of Commerce (March 19)- Earlier this afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released official guidance from the President regarding the Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19. This guidance states that: 

“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”  

As noted yesterday, the U.S. Chamber had sent a letter to President Trump recommending that the administration offer additional guidance on recent quarantine orders and mandatory business closures to clarify “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses and services.”  

For more information on the Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19, please click here. 

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act- Explained by Frost Brown Todd (March 19th)- Passed by Congress and signed by President Trump Wednesday evening, March 18th, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) this legislation is comprised of two parts: Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. While one ca view the full text of the Act here, Frost Brown Todd has released a helpful summary of the legislation’s finer details and applications.  

Below are just a few of the points:  

  • Employer obligations begin April 2, 2020 and expire Dec. 31, 2020 
  • Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion 
  • Employees who take FMLA leave unrelated to COVID-19 do not qualify for the expanded protections 
  • The Act expands the FMLA by providing job-protected paid leave to employees of public agencies of any size and employers with fewer than 500 employees to care for children forced to stay home due to COVID-19. 
  • The first 10 days of this expanded FMLA leave may be unpaid. However, employees are permitted to use accrued personal or sick leave during the first 10 days. 
  • For employers employing 25 or more employees, the employer must make reasonable efforts to restore the employee to an equivalent position following the employee’s leave.  
  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave 
  • Public agencies with more than one employee and employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide full-time employees 80 hours of paid sick leave for specific COVID-19-related issues.  
  • Part-time employees are entitled to the number of hours of paid sick time equal to the number of hours they work, on average, over a two-week period. 
  • The Act applies to employees regardless of how long they have been employed. 
  •  An employee may, but is not required to, first use any existing paid time off. 

 

State 

Kentucky Senate Passes Budget, Adjourns until March 26 

On Thursday, March 19th, Kentucky’s Senate and House leadership announced that the Kentucky General Assembly (GA) would next convene a week later, on Thursday, March 26th. Presently, the intention is for them to meet again on April 1st to pass final version of the budget.  

Before the GA adjourned for a week, the Senate passed an amended version of the state’s two-year budget, HB 352. It featured a number of sections of note, including directing $1.13 billion toward the actuarial recommended contribution (ARC) payments for the Kentucky Teacher’s Retirement System (KTRS), giving state employees a 1% raise and social workers a 2% raise, and more into the state’s “rainy day” reserve fund in anticipation of using to combat the economic effects of coronavirus.  

 

From Kentucky Attorney General- 

On Open Meetings Act during COVID-19 

Daniel Cameron, Kentucky Attorney General, gave guidelines for agencies navigating the Open Meetings Act during this time, as KRS 61.840 mandates they provide a primary physical location for video teleconference meetings. He advised that this is no longer a requirement while a state of emergency is in effect but that agencies do need to identify other public channels (i.e website, television, etc.) for viewing the meeting.  

 

 

From Office of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear  

  

  • On Thursday, March 19, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state now had a total of 47 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state including its second fatality: a 64 year-old male resident of Jefferson Co.  
  • The latest cases included a 27 year-old female resident of Clark Co., a 50 year-old male resident of Harrison Co., and a 45 year-old female and a 46 year-old female, both of Jefferson Co. There were no new cases confirmed in any of the eight counties that constitute Northern Kentucky; no update on the 66 year-old female resident of Kenton Co. was made available. 
  • Governor Beshear also said one Kentucky state employee has tested positive for novel coronavirus. No other details were disclosed. 
  • The new confirmed cases also included a 6 year-old child in Jefferson Co. Gov. Beshear said that both the 6 year-old and the 8 month-old mentioned in yesterday’s updates are both listed in “good” condition with one child in the hospital and one at home. Gov. Beshear offered reassurance to parents saying he believes that as of Thursday no one under the age of 19 has been admitted to an intensive care unit in the United States. 
  • Gov. Beshear also signed into existence new restrictions/gave clarity on two previous announcements regarding both social gatherings and services bars/restaurants are allowed to offer:  
  • First, Gov. Beshear, a deacon at his church, said that all houses of worship throughout the Commonwealth are temporarily barred as part of the effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19. Beshear recommended residents in rural areas tune in to their local radio and/or television stations or use online services to continue exercising their faith.  
  • Second, restaurants and bars that have been operating in compliance with the mandate to only offer service via drive-thru, delivery or limited takeout/curbside pickup will now be allowed to offer alcohol and liquor as well – with limitations. The list of limitations/exceptions is available here. 
  • Interim guidance has been issued for establishing partnerships between approved health care facilities and limited-duration child care programs to support (1) employees of health-care entities; (2) first responders; (3) correction officers and Dept. for Community Based Services (DCBS) workers. The guidance can be found by clicking here. 
  • Gov. Beshear highlighted several examples of Commonwealth residents exhibiting the positive example the state wishes to see from residents online featuring the hashtags #TeamKentucky and #TogetherKy. In asking residents to keep up their positive social media posts, he introduced a new hashtag – #Patriot – calling it everyone’s patriotic duty to join in the effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19. He also said that any rumors that the National Guard is being called in to put the state on any sort of lockdown are false as the state will transparent in all actions and communications. 
  • For a complete list of Kentucky’s response to COVID-19, click here. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov.  You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshearor by clicking here. 

 

 

____________________Updated 3/18/20_______________________ 

Federal 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Passed by Congress and Signed by President Trump (March 18th)- Congress passed this Act which will provide relief not only to employers and employees but also the caregivers of those with COVID-19. This legislation is comprised of two parts: Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and Emergency Paid Sick Leave ActIt includes clauses for expanded coverage and eligibility, paid leave up to 12 weeks, and free COVID-19 testing.  

Since the President signed it on Wednesday evening, the legislation’s provisions are set to go into effect 15 days later, on April 2nd. You can view a summary of the Act here. This measure has been commended by the US Chamber of Commerce, noting that, “No family or business should go bankrupt because of coronavirus.” 

 

White House Stimulus Package (March 18th)- As noted by Greater Louisville, Inc., framework was released for a $1 trillion stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan addresses the economic impact of the pandemic, follows an $8.3 billion stimulus package from earlier in the month 

The framework has four major sections. 

  • Section 1 includes $200 billion in loans to severely distressed industries, including the airline industry. 
  • Section 2 includes steps to stabilize the U.S. money market mutual fund industry. 
  • Section 3 includes half a trillion dollars in direct “economic impact” payments to individual taxpayers to be paid out in two installments. Payment sizes would be based on income and family sizes. 
  • Section 4 includes $300 billion loans for small businesses through the creation of a “small business interruption loan program.” 

Read the full framework proposal here. 

 

Letter Calling for White House ClarificationWhat is included in “essential infrastructure” and “essential businesses and services”? 

US Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue sent a letter to President Trump on behalf of the business community seeking critical clarification on who is considered “essential.” Among those industries he suggests should be classified as “essential infrastructure,” he listed construction for public works and housing, airport operations, energy services, public transportationsolid waste collection and removal, and telecommunications. 

Donohue provided a lengthy list of suggested industries to be included among the “essential businesses and services,” such as: healthcare, grocery stores, delivery services, food cultivation, manufacturing of goods needed for immediate operation of business, professional services, and many more .Click above to see the complete letter and listings of industries.  

 

HUD ReliefSuspending all foreclosures and evictions for next 60 days (March 18th)- The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)in an effort to allow families to cope with the challenges of COVID-19, is immediately implementing a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions for single family homeowners (with FHA-insured mortgages) for the next 60 days- until May 17th.  

It will only apply to those with FHA-insured Title II Single Family forward and Home Equity Conversion (reverse) mortgages, and directs mortgage servicers to: 

  • Halt all new foreclosure actions and suspend all foreclosure actions currently in process; and 
  • Cease all evictions of persons from FHA-insured single-family properties. 

 

Restrictions on US-Canadian Border Crossings (March 18th)- It was announced that the US Government will be restricting “non-essential” traffic through the country’s northern border until further notice, though it has been noted that trade should not be impacted at this 

 

Small Business Disaster Assistance Loans (March 17th)- The U.S. Small Business Association has modified its criteria for states/U.S. territories hoping to access an “economic injury declaration” caused by COVID-19. Changes include expanded access to SBA Disaster Assistance loans for small businesses and a simpler, more expedited process in which a state only has to certify at least five small businesses have suffered significant economic setbacks resulting from the pandemic. SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for each affected small business. 

For more information, including the process on lending, please visit the SBA disaster assistance website at SBA.gov/Disaster. 

 

 

State 

From the Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear  

  

  • On Wednesday, March 18, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the first confirmed Northern Kentucky case in Kenton Co.; according to the River City News, the victim is a 66 year-old woman who has been admitted to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Fort Thomas. Dr. Lynne Sadler, the NKY District Director of Health, says tests have been conducted every day in Northern Kentucky for several weeks with this being the first confirmed positive case. Click here to read more about this case. 
  • Governor Beshear also announced the state had several new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 35. The latest cases included an 88-year-old female in Bourbon Co., a female (age unknown) in Jefferson Co. and an 8-month-old child, also in Jefferson Co. One previously mentioned citizen, a female resident of Jefferson Co., is now in “good” condition after being treated and released to her home. A total of 489 Kentucky residents have been tested as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. 
  • Following recent closure of several types of public facing businesses, Gov. Beshear suspended all charitable gaming licenses throughout the state, effectively closing bingo halls temporarily in accordance with limit potential exposure at large public gathering places.  
  • The Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) will extend certification periods for all recipients of all public assistance programs. These includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (K-TAP) and State Supplementation for 3 months. Job search and work/participation requirements are also temporarily suspended for SNAP able-bodied adults without dependents, the Kentucky Works Program and the Child Care Assistance Program. 
  • Residents with questions regarding public assistance programs access the Benefind website at https://benefind.ky.gov or by calling the DCBS call center at (855) 306-8959. For Medicaid, residents are asked call the Kentucky Healthcare customer service line at (855) 459-6328 or contact an application assister via the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange website at https://healthbenefitexchange.ky.gov. 
  • Gov. Beshear also announced the state is working with federal partners to continue Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) payments on behalf of qualified families during the mandatory closure period. The state will also be covering copayments typically covered by families. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, all government offices closed to in-person services. Visit individual cabinet websites for updates and opportunities for virtual services. 
  • Additionally, Gov. Beshear reassured citizens there is no need to withdraw money from banks, which he says are safe and remain open while encouraging people to maintain social distancing while in their respective lobbies. 

You can watch Gov. Beshear’s press conferences daily at 5 p.m. by visiting www.facebook.com/GovAndyBeshear or by clicking here. 

 

Investors Circle