COVID-19 Federal and State Updates

Last Updated July 27th, 10:00am 

Federal 

Considerations for Employers Implementing Face Mask Policies- Provided by Frost Brown Todd (July 27)- Many states and localities across the country are now issuing orders mandating face masks. For example, effective July 27, Indiana will require everyone ages eight or above to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces as well as outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible. There are exceptions to the mandate for medical reasons, strenuous physical activity, and eating and drinking. Ohio and Kentucky, along with other states, already instituted similar requirements. 

Due to these changes, employers should consider implementing workplace policies regarding the use of face masks. When drafting such policies, employers should consider the following: 

  • Guidelines for wearing a face mask; 
  • Exceptions to face mask policy (working conditions make wearing a mask unsafe; medical condition; religious objection, etc.); 
  • Consequences for violating the face mask policy; 
  • Local laws and orders related to the wearing of face masks; 
  • Types of face masks that are required and whether the company will provide the masks; and 
  • Instructions for proper wearing of masks and how to launder or dispose of a used mask (as necessary). 

When communicating the policy to employees, employers should provide a written copy of the policy to employees and request that they sign a copy recognizing their obligations. Employers should also detail the need for the policy and explain the benefits. 

Since employers can require wearing a face mask as a condition of employment, they should also determine whether there will be any consequences to not adhering to the face mask policy and enforce the consequences uniformly, unless an employee has an approved reason for not wearing a mask. 

Though making sense of the patchwork of laws may be difficult for employers, by instituting a policy regarding the use of face masks, employers can lessen the confusion and set clear expectations for employees. 

 

 

State 

Kentucky unemployment insurance fund has a balance of $0- Provided by KY Chamber (July 23)-  

After months of unprecedented unemployment insurance benefits claims amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, Kentucky’s fund for those claims is at $0 and the state is having to borrow money from the federal government—which will translate to a hit for employers. 

In a meeting of the Program Review and Investigations Committee, state officials discussed the status of claims that have been distributed, claims still under review, as well as the status of the Kentucky Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund. 

Kentucky Department of Education and Workforce Cabinet Deputy Secretary Josh Benton said to date, the state has paid out $3,227,068,980 in unemployment insurance benefits. 

Benton noted Kentucky’s UI Trust Fund was being rebuilt following the recession and had a balance of around $618 million in 2019 before the pandemic hit. 

The fund now has a balance of $0. 

While the state has been using federal CARES Act funding to establish new funds and pay claims to many during the pandemic, Benton said the influx of claims has obviously depleted the state UI Trust Fund. 

Kentucky’s federally-funded UI Trust Fund was established in April, and as of July 20, the account had a balance of about $102 million. The drawdown for Kentucky’s federal UI Trust Fund is projected to reach $425 million by the end of September and $650 million by year’s end, according to officials. 

Kentucky also took out a federal loan this year totaling $825 million in June to deal with some of the issues with the UI Trust Fund. 

In 2009, Kentucky owed nearly one billion to the federal government for unemployment insurance because benefits had been increased and funding was insufficient for those benefit levels. Employers had to pay more in federal UI taxes because of this debt on the state. In 2016, the state finally paid off that debt and achieved a positive balance in the UI Trust Fund. 

A similar fate is facing the state’s employers as the mechanisms currently in statute to help replenish the fund and pay back any federal loans are solely “on the back of employers,” cabinet officials said. 

When asked if there were any discussions on how to fix the problems with the fund and pay back the loans without putting the full burden on Kentucky companies, officials stated while there could be an ask for some federal relief, there have not been any conversations for other options that they were aware of up until this point. 

 

 

Last Updated July 15th, 10:00am 

Federal 

Federal unemployment benefits to end a week sooner than expected- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (July 13)- Kentuckians out of work amid the COVID-19 pandemic expecting to receive the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefit through the end of July may be surprised to learn that the benefit actually will end a week earlier than expected. 

While the federal government benefit is officially set to end July 31, states will pay it only through the week ending July 25 or July 26, which could result in a significant blow to unemployed workers counting on that money to enhance state benefits that average around $370 a week nationally. 

“The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) $600 can be paid for weeks ending no later than the week ending prior to Friday, July 31, 2020,” according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Labor. “For all states except (New York), that is Saturday, July 25th. New York’s end date is Sunday, July 26th.” 

The last week Kentuckians can earn the $600 is the week of July 19-25. The CARES Act authorizes FPUC through Friday July 31 or the final benefit week determined by each state. Kentucky’s benefit weeks run Sunday through Saturday. The last full benefit week prior to Friday July 31 is July 19-25. 

“With these benefits ending, it is imperative that Kentucky continues its progress reopening our economy and getting our people back to work,” Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts said. “The only way we can achieve this is by practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and continuing to do our part to limit the spread of this disease. The Kentucky Chamber is committed to helping our business community stay safe and stay open.” 

 

State 

Kentucky Chamber files amicus brief in defense of workers’ compensation law- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (July 14)-On July 9, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce joined the Kentucky Association of Counties, Kentucky League of Cities, and the Kentucky Coal Association in filing a friend of the court brief with the Kentucky Supreme Court in defense of the state’s reformed workers’ compensation law. 

At issue is the termination of wage benefits at age 70 or four years after the injury, whichever occurs later. The termination of wage benefits has been questioned multiple times through litigation and was revised by the General Assembly in 2018 in response to a court ruling. The Chamber played a key role in passing reforms in 2018. 

The Chamber worked with partners to develop the current language when the court initially deemed a previous version of the wage provision unlawful stating it treated different types of workers differently. 

“The Chamber will continue to defend Kentucky’s workers’ compensation laws. The 2018 reforms have saved businesses more than 25 percent on premiums and have created a more efficient system,” stated Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts. “As we continue to recover from our current crisis, we will need to be sure Kentucky remains competitive with other states and an affordable, efficient workers’ compensation system is an important piece of our competitiveness.” 

 

Last Updated July 10th, 10:00am 

Federal 

 

State 

KY GOVERNOR BESHEAR ISSUES MANDATORY MASKING EXECUTIVE ORDER- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (July 9)- Kentuckians will now be required to wear masks in most public situations under a new Executive Order issued by Governor Andy Beshear this afternoon. The Executive Order can be read here. 

  • The order goes into effect on July 10 at 5:00pm and will be in effect for at least 30 days. It is subject to renewal. 
  • Masking is broadly defined as a “face covering” that “covers the nose and mouth and is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears.” 
  • Masking will be required in generally all indoor public settings, including retail businesses, grocery stores, pharmacies, hair salons, child care facilities, restaurants, bars, health care settings, public transportation, taxis, ride-sharing services and in outdoor spaces where social distancing can not be maintained. Preexisting sector specific requirements mandating face coverings remain in effect. 
  • Exemptions: 
  • Children age five or younger 
  • Individuals with disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a mask 
  • Individuals who are hearing impaired or who is communicating with an individual who is hearing impaired 
  • An individual engaged in work that a state or federal regulator determines would make masking a risk to their health or safety 
  • A person who is seated and actively consuming food or a beverage at a restaurant or bar 
  • An individual giving a speech, provided that they are able to maintain social distances from individuals outside of their household 
  • An individual in a swimming pool, lake, or other body of water 
  • An individual exercising indoors at a gym or other facility so that long as they maintain social distancing 
  • An individual participating in athletic practice that is permitted under separate Healthy at Work requirements 
  • Masking will be enforced by local public health department and other entities. 
  • Businesses and individuals that fail to comply with the order could be subject to penalties. 
  • 22 other states have issued some form of mandatory masking. 

 

Business community urges legislature to consider COVID-19 lawsuit protections as Kentucky reopens- Provided by KY Chamber (July 9)- In an effort to protect Kentucky’s business community as the state reopens amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Kentucky Chamber testified before the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary on Thursday to discuss the need for lawsuit protections for business during this uncertain time. 

Kentucky Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs Kate Shanks, McBrayer Law Firm member Cindy Effinger, and Frost Brown Todd member Robert Hudson advocated on behalf of employers across the Commonwealth that have stayed open to provide essential services, halted normal operations to produce PPE, closed their doors, and reimagined their business during the pandemic. 

Before the 2020 legislative session concluded in April, the Kentucky legislature passed initial protections for companies manufacturing PPE. Since then, 13 other state legislatures have adopted legislation to shield employers, not just ones producing PPE, from liability. 

As most businesses have reopened, experts urge the need for increased protection as they predict an overwhelming number of lawsuits related to the pandemic. In Kentucky, 50 lawsuits have already been filed, and across the U.S., over 3,000 have been filed. 

Though businesses already have heavy operational incentives to maintain healthy, safe workplaces, employers are having to adapt to meet constantly-changing state and federal guidelines in response to the coronavirus, Hudson said, which has led to the most challenging environment for workplace legal compliance in Kentucky’s history. 

“Recovering from this pandemic isn’t only about our response to stopping the spread of the illness, it’s also about restoring our economy, and lawsuits filed against employers that have done their part to keep Kentuckians safe will delay our recovery,” Shanks said. 

 

Last Updated July 6th, 10:00am 

Federal 

Senate Agrees to Extend Application Window for Paycheck Protection Program- Provided by US Chamber (July 1)- In a surprising move late Tuesday evening, the Senate passed legislation that would keep the government's massive small business rescue program alive just as it was set to close down within hours with $130 billion left unspent. The bill would give the Small Business Administration authority to continue approving Paycheck Protection Program loans until Aug. 8. 

The House would still need to pass the legislation and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature to keep the loans flowing. Read more in Politico 

GOP lawmakers said Tuesday they are starting to draft what may be included the next coronavirus relief package, although Republicans aren't expected to begin formally negotiating the fifth bill until they return from a two-week break on July 20. The House passed a nearly $3 trillion package in mid-May but that bill has been declared “dead on arrival” in the GOP-controlled Senate.  Read more in The Hill. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the bill's focus will be on child care, education, and health care, and will inlcude liability protections for businesses. 

 

State 

Businesses challenge Beshear administration’s reopening requirements in court- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (July 2)- Businesses have recently been suing Gov. Andy Beshear over the reopening requirements put out by his administration. 

On Monday, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles filed a lawsuit alongside an agritourism business declaring several of the governor’s executive orders to be violations of the state constitution and Kentucky’s Administrative Practices Act. 

“Every Kentuckian wants to do the right thing to flatten the curve and save lives, but these orders have significantly burdened small businesses – especially through their haphazard and selective enforcement. In this case, the agencies responsible for communicating and implementing have been slow to provide guidance to this business,” Commissioner Quarles said. “For agritourism businesses across the state, peak season is approaching in September and October. Our farm families need answers now.” 

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture argues the business has been working to comply with orders for public-facing business and outdoor attractions but was told by a public health official they could not allow more than 10 individuals into their 96,000 square foot space. The department says the business has experienced significant financial loss as a result of the guidelines. 

Also this week, a ruling in northern Kentucky was issued to allow the Florence Speedway to open at 50 percent capacity after being shut down since the beginning of the pandemic. Boone County Circuit Court Judge Rick Brueggemann said Wednesday he would also take similar action for a local daycare to lift restrictions put in place by the Beshear administration. 

The office of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has filed on behalf of the plaintiffs, said Wednesday that Beshear’s restrictions were too broad and violated the state’s constitution. 

 

State will spend $7.4 million in July for help of private firm to deal with unemployment insurance claims- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 30)- As Kentucky continues to struggle with unmet needs of those who have filed for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday a $7.4 million contract with a private firm to add 300 individuals to help the state process claims. 

The contract with Ernst & Young will begin on July 1 and add 200 employees starting Monday to process unemployment insurance claims. An additional 100 individuals will begin work in the coming weeks. The four-week contract will be paid for with CARES Act funding. Read more here 

 

Last Updated June 29, 10:00am 

Federal 

WHAT BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT- PROVIDED BY GREATER LOUISVILLE, INC. (JUNE 25)- With businesses reopening and employees returning to work, employers may find a need to re-familiarize themselves with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Congress passed this legislation in March, near the onset of the pandemic in the United States. FFCRA establishes new paid sick leave and paid leave provisions for employers, paid for through the creation of a new federal tax credit program that offers businesses a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement. 

This page provides Kentucky employers with a range of resources to help navigate this new law. 

 

State 

Kentucky officials detail guidance for reopening schools including requiring masks and unlimited days for at-home learning- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 24)- Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and members of his administration released a document Thursday that will serve as a guide for local school districts as they develop plans to reopen schools in the fall. 

As school’s reopen, the local districts will develop their own plans for what the next school year will look like for their students and families. However, the Beshear administration has developed a “flagship document” that identifies safety expectations and best practices to be used by the districts. 

At a press briefing Wednesday, Acting Education Commissioner Kevin Brown said the items in the plan are things that Kentucky has been discussing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the best practices are areas state officials would love to see implemented but there will be some flexibility. 

Guidance in the document includes: 

  • Social distancing 
  • 6 feet social distancing requirements in classrooms but there will be some flexibility if districts are unable to meet this requirement. If a school is unable to put desks 6 feet apart, students will be able to sit closer together but masks will be required. 
  • Brown noted this requirement will result in things like recommended smaller class sizes and tape in hallways to keep people further apart 
  • Masks and PPE 
  • Brown said the need for masks could be one of the most controversial items but “if a student is moving” or less than 6 feet away from other students on a bus or in the classroom then they need to have a mask on. 
  • As for buses, the state is allowing buses to be fully loaded as long as the district meets conditions including masks or temperature checks getting on the bus or parental assurance nothing over 100.4. but when they get to school all students will need to have temperature check done 
  • Health screenings 
  • All students will have to have a temperature check when they arrive at the school. 
  • Cough, high temperature, and other indicators will result in a student being sent home. 
  • Sanitation/environmental factors 
  • Contact tracing 
  • Local health departments will be working with schools to figure out where a child was sitting on the bus or in the classroom to see who could have been exposed. 

Jacqueline Coleman, Kentucky’s lt. governor and Kentucky Education and Workforce Cabinet secretary, said the items laid out in the document focus on ensuring the safety of not only students but also those who work in the schools and families in Kentucky communities and noted the importance of flexibility for local districts to innovate. 

A memorandum was approved Wednesday, Coleman said, that temporarily suspends statutes like the 10 day limit on NTI days to grant an unlimited number of those days to districts in the event they have to close schools because of a spike as well as suspends the average daily attendance model that deals with school funding, so it doesn’t adversely impact their funding if students have to learn from home as a result of the pandemic. 

Additionally, Coleman stated she is writing a letter to the other education secretaries across the country to sign on to ask the federal government for additional CARES funding as well as changes to the way education funding is done at the federal level. 

More guidance for school reopening will be coming from the state level in coming weeks. 

_______________________Updated 6/24________________________ 

Federal 

Order Extends, Expands Ban On Entry To U.S. For Some Workers- Provided by DBL Law (June 23)- On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued his administration’s latest action to curb immigration into the United States, restricting entry by several different classes of immigrants and nonimmigrant workers.  President Trump issued a Presidential proclamation suspending the entry of individuals into the U.S. on select nonimmigrant visas, including H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 visa holders, as well as their dependents.  The order does not impact foreign nationals currently in the U.S., who may continue to seek extensions and changes to visa status, as well as pursue permanent residency.  However, impacted workers with approved petitions who are located outside the country likely can no longer seek a visa stamp at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. 

This order is an expansion of President Trump’s April 22, 2020, executive order, which put a hold on green cards for certain family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who reside overseas; immigrants who come to the U.S. as part of the annual diversity lottery; and a limited number of workers sponsored by employers while still living abroad.  That order did not affect nonimmigrant visas, which are used for temporary visits, study, or work in the U.S.  However, the latest order brings nonimmigrant visas into the mix, suspending entry generally for H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 visa holders who are outside of the country as of June 24, 2020, and do not have an official travel document.  The order makes exceptions for children and spouses of U.S. citizens, green card holders, foreign nationals seeking to enter the U.S. to provide temporary labor or services essential to the U.S. food supply chain, and foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest. 

Read more here 

 

State 

JUNE 29TH MARKS NEXT PHASE OF KY HEALTHY AT WORK- PROVIDED BY GREATER LOUISVILLE, INC. (JUNE 23)- June 29 marks the next phase of Kentucky’s Healthy at Work initiative. All businesses should take note of the basic minimum reopening requirements for all businesses. Changes on June 29 pertain to: 

In commenting on the next phase of Health at Work, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear stated, “Next Monday, just about everything in the commonwealth will be open, from bars, wedding venues, public pools and even Kentucky Kingdom. It has been a long road dealing with this virus. But by following medical guidelines we have gone from a time when our cases were doubling every week, to a point where we are safely beginning to reopen businesses and our economy.” 

To access minimum reopening requirements and guidelines for all businesses in Kentucky, visit the Healthy at Work website. 

Last Updated June 22, 10:00am 

Federal 

SBA Issues New Forgiveness Applications (and You Don’t Need to Wait Until After December 31 to Apply)- Provided by Frost Brown Todd (June 18)- On June 16, 2020, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) issued a revised Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) Loan Forgiveness Application and a new Loan Forgiveness Application Form EZ (“Form EZ”).  Both application forms incorporate the changes to the PPP resulting from the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (“Flexibility Act”) that became effective on June 5, 2020. Pursuant to the Flexibility Act, the forgiveness covered period was extended to 24 weeks from the date the loan proceeds were disbursed unless a borrower with an existing PPP loan elects to use the 8-week period that part of the original PPP design. 

Form EZ is an option for borrowers who fall into any of the following three categories: 

  • The borrower is a self-employed individual, independent contractor, or sole proprietorship who had no employees at the time of applying for the PPP loan and did not include any employee salaries in the payroll calculation to determine the loan amount in their application; OR 
  • The borrower did not reduce salaries or hourly wages of any employee by more than 25% during the forgiveness covered period and did not reduce the number of employees or average paid hours of employees during the forgiveness covered period; OR 
  • The borrower did not reduce salaries or hourly wages of any employee by more than 25% during the forgiveness covered period and was unable to operate during the covered period at the same business level as they were prior to February 15 due to compliance with requirements or guidance from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

Continue reading here. 

 

State 

Head of Kentucky pension system says “train is on the track” for retirement plans despite COVID-19 uncertainty- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 22)-  

Kentucky’s pension systems are ranked as the worst-funded in the nation. Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) Executive Director David Eager sat down with The Bottom Line to discuss the current funding level of the system, the impact of an economic downturn and market turbulence, and more. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country and state are facing economic downturns and the stock market is experiencing many changes. For many years, lawmakers have expressed concerns about what would happen to KRS, which is only 14% funded, in the event of another deep recession or harmful economic event. 

Eager noted the system is currently cash flow positive, meaning they are bringing in more money than they are paying out. He stated he does not expect the system to experience huge issues as a result of the pandemic. 

In terms of whether or not the state is seeing a spike in people retiring due to uncertainty, Eager said the system is actually experiencing a decline in retirements and credited that to fewer people now being in the system and the likelihood many individuals likely want to keep the stability of their employment in such turbulent times. 

The pension system lowered many assumptions in recent years including assumed rates of return on investments, payroll growth, and life expectancy of their members. Eager noted the system’s investment returns have been better than expected and despite the turbulence in the market, he expects each of the plans within the retirement system to end the year with slightly positive, stating the plans are in “excellent shape, relatively speaking.” 

The Kentucky General Assembly ended up passing a one-year budget and cut in many areas during the 2020 session due to the uncertainty and lost revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. When asked if KRS got what it needed in the budget, Eager said the legislature did fund the retirement systems at the required levels and while they would have loved additional revenue to help with the unfunded liability, the system is currently in a good position and the funded status will likely remain stable. 

As for problems that could be facing the pension system in the near future, Eager discussed what’s referred to as the “death spiral” where the employer contribution rate continues to rise (currently at 84% of pay for many employers) and many choose to move to use independent contractors rather than hiring new people into the system, further exacerbating the funding issues facing the system. 

Eager said there was a bill proposed in the 2020 session that would have helped with this issue in some way but it did not see the finish line. When asked if he would like to see the bill come back up in 2021, Eager stated he doesn’t believe there will be the political appetite to pass such a bill through the legislature. 

 

Last Updated June 19th, 10:00am 

Federal 

Updated: U.S. Chamber Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness 

Last evening, the U.S. Chamber published an updated version of the previously shared Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness. The updates were made to reflect the changes made to the PPP following the passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act—which eases rules around how small businesses can use their loan funds—earlier this month. Click here to view the U.S. Chamber's updated Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness. 

 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are responsible for updating the application form and instructions for loan forgiveness. You can find the most up-to-date information here. 

 

Click Here to View the Updated Guide 

 

 

SBA, Department of Treasury announce new forgiveness applications for the Paycheck Protection Program- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 17)- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of the Treasury announced a revised, borrower-friendly Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness application Wednesday. The posting comes after the implementation of the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020, signed into law on June 5, 2020.  Along with revisions to the full forgiveness application, SBA also published a new EZ version of the forgiveness application that applies to borrowers that: 

  • Are self-employed and have no employees 
  • Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees 
  • Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25% 

The EZ application requires fewer calculations and less documentation for eligible borrowers. Both applications give borrowers the option of using the original eight-week covered period (if their loan was made before June 5, 2020) or an extended 24-week covered period.  These changes will result in a more efficient process and make it easier for businesses to realize full forgiveness of their PPP loan. 

To help businesses better understand the loan forgiveness process, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has provided a Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness. 

Click here to view the EZ Forgiveness Application. 

Click here to view the Full Forgiveness Application. 

 

State 

State leaders in health, education, and business advocate for expanded research into the impacts of the coronavirus- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 19)- On Thursday, a letter was sent to the Beshear administration advocating for research into the coronavirus and its impacts on Kentucky’s health, economy, and overall well-being in order to be more prepared and informed for a possible resurgence. 

The letter was sent by the University of Louisville President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, University of Kentucky President Dr. Eli Capilouto, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President and CEO Ben Chandler, and Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts. 

While the letter applauds the state’s appropriate response to the coronavirus, the group says additional research would allow policy and health leaders to make fact-based decisions on how to protect the health and wellbeing of Kentuckians. 

“As the state and nation have turned to science for factual information about the coronavirus and its health effects, we have an opportunity to use scientific and medical research to gauge the anticipated health, social, and economic impact of a resurgence. This research will prove invaluable to informing decisions about areas of work, shop, play, care, and learning where individuals are the most vulnerable to contracting the virus. It will also give us more specific information about those at high risk of serious illness if exposed, which leads logically to more targeted public health policies,” the letter said. 

Research is already underway in Jefferson County with the Co-Immunity Project, which is combining health and economic research to provide policy recommendations to better protect and prepare Kentucky against the coronavirus. The letter suggests the Co-Immunity Project be expanded statewide to allow Kentucky to better protect its vulnerable citizens in a less costly manner. 

Read more of the recommendations laid out in the letter here. 

Last Updated June 17th, 2:00pm 

Federal 

Updated: U.S. Chamber Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness 

Last evening, the U.S. Chamber published an updated version of the previously shared Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness. The updates were made to reflect the changes made to the PPP following the passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act—which eases rules around how small businesses can use their loan funds—earlier this month. Click here to view the U.S. Chamber's updated Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness. 

 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are responsible for updating the application form and instructions for loan forgiveness. You can find the most up-to-date information here. 

 

Click Here to View the Updated Guide 

 

SBA, Department of Treasury announce new forgiveness applications for the Paycheck Protection Program- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 17)- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Department of the Treasury announced a revised, borrower-friendly Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness application Wednesday. The posting comes after the implementation of the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020, signed into law on June 5, 2020.  Along with revisions to the full forgiveness application, SBA also published a new EZ version of the forgiveness application that applies to borrowers that: 

  • Are self-employed and have no employees 
  • Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees 
  • Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25% 

The EZ application requires fewer calculations and less documentation for eligible borrowers. Both applications give borrowers the option of using the original eight-week covered period (if their loan was made before June 5, 2020) or an extended 24-week covered period.  These changes will result in a more efficient process and make it easier for businesses to realize full forgiveness of their PPP loan. 

To help businesses better understand the loan forgiveness process, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has provided a Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness. 

Click here to view the EZ Forgiveness Application. 

Click here to view the Full Forgiveness Application. 

 

State 

 

____________________________Updated 6/17_____________________________ 
Federal 

SBA RE-OPENS APPLICATIONS FOR ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOANS AND ADVANCE PROGRAM Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (June 16)- The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) has re-opened applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance Program. SBA stopped taking applications on April 15 due to demand. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Click here to apply and read more below.  

  • The SBA is offering low interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses and non-profit organizations that are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19 in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories. 
  • These loans may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. 
  • To keep payments affordable for small businesses, SBA offers loans with long repayment terms, up to a maximum of 30 years. Plus, the first payment is deferred for one year. 
  • In addition, small businesses and non-profits may request, as part of their loan application, an EIDL Advance of up to $10,000. The EIDL Advance is designed to provide emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This advance will not have to be repaid, and small businesses may receive an advance even if they are not approved for a loan. 
  • SBA’s EIDL and EIDL Advance are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response. 
  • The SBA is also assisting small businesses and non-profits with access to the federal forgivable loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, which is currently accepting applications until June 30, 2020. 

 

State 

Group working on a plan for Kentucky schools to reopen in the fall, Beshear administration announces- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 15)- A plan for Kentucky schools to reopen in the fall is being formed and will focus on the use of masks, social distancing, sanitation, temperature checks, and contact tracing. 

Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman said Monday a group of education leaders from across the state – including superintendents, principals, teachers, school board members, officials from Health and Family Services, Department of Public Health, officials from the governor’s office, and others – are working together on a task force to develop recommendations for reopening schools. Coleman also noted a group of bipartisan legislators, including Sen. Reggie Thomas (D), Sen. Max Wise (R), Rep. Tina Bojanowski (D), and Rep. Regina Huff (R), are joining the task force. 

Coleman said they are working on a culture of support for schools to help implement best practices including masks, temperature checks, social distancing, and more at the local level, which she noted will look different in different areas across the state. 

Gov. Andy Beshear said as Kentucky works on students going back to school, the state needs to be thinking about the kids coming home from school including limiting the exposure of students to vulnerable populations. 

There will be some things that are mandatory and some things that are strongly recommended, the governor said. 

Beshear added his administration knows Kentucky students have to get back to school, but it will be a struggle to do it completely safety and any plans will focus on balancing the health and well-being of students and all other Kentuckians with the need to get them back in the classroom. 

Also, on Monday, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) directed school districts Monday to prepare for short, medium and long-term COVID-19 closures next school year. According to WDRB, KDE stated as districts prepare to reopen for the 2020-21 school year, they should be ready to close from anywhere between one to more than 11 days. 

Beshear said at his press conference it is common to see viruses and other illnesses spread rapidly within a school and the state will be focused on recommendations for superintendents for schools and school districts to be able to close in a “targeted and surgical” way depending on the size of an outbreak. 

 

Large coalition urges governor to protect Kentucky’s reopening through liability measures- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 16)- In a letter to Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, key groups from across the state pointed to the critical need for protections for employers in the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employers stepped up to provide emergency personal protective equipment to first responders and all employers now face significant new requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The Kentucky Chamber sent the letter from a coalition of groups including Greater Louisville Inc., Commerce Lexington, Northern Kentucky Camber, Kentucky League of Cities, Kentucky Restaurant Association, Kentucky Distillers Association, Kentucky Retail Federation, and many others. 

The group asked the governor to work with the legislature to protect Kentucky’s recovery by enacting protections for businesses and organizations acting in good faith to implement Healthy at Work, CDC, and local health department requirements and recommendations dealing with the pandemic. 

“As we Restart Kentucky, uncertainty remains, and businesses and organizations must follow new requirements never before implemented,” the letter states. “This reopening of our economy is critical to avoid lasting economic and health declines. Still, some businesses remain fearful that despite their compliance with new rules, they could face predatory claims that threaten their recovery. By no means are we asking for blanket immunity… During these times of uncertainty, we ask you to find ways to create some sense of certainty, allowing our businesses to operate with some assurances in place.” 

The letter was also sent to legislative leaders of both parties. 

“Kentucky businesses are doing everything in their power to ensure the safety of their employees, patrons, and all Kentuckians.  Job creators should have the confidence that when they follow the CDC and Healthy at Work requirements they will be protected by predatory claims,” Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts said. 

Read the full letter here. 

___________________________Updated 6/15______________________________ 

Federal 

Unemployment Claims Climb By 1.5 Million, Despite Jobs Gains in May - Provided by US Chamber (June 11)- Americans filed 1.5 million unemployment claims last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, driving total jobless claims over the past 12 weeks to more than 43 million amid the coronavirus pandemic and corresponding economic fallout. 

Requests are coming in despite Americans going back to work. The Labor Department reported last week that 2.5 million jobs were added to the economy in May. Read more in Politico 

The Chamber’s interactive unemployment claims map is tracking which states have been the most severely impacted. Georgia is the first state to see its ratio of unemployment claims to its February workforce eclipse 50%. 

 

State 

Kentucky’s tourism industry looks to rebuild and reopen with a focus on safety and outdoor attractions- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 12)- While Kentucky is recovering, reopening, and rebuilding in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are looking for ways to reopen their doors and adapt to ensure safety is at the forefront for Kentuckians and its visitors. 

The hospitality industry, one of Kentucky’s key economic drivers, was the first impacted and has been one of the hardest hit by this pandemic, VisitLEX President Mary Quinn Ramer told The Bottom Line in a recent interview. At the beginning of March, there were 15 million people employed in the hospitality industry in the United States, and that number was almost cut in half by the end of May. In Kentucky, almost three-fourths of the hospitality industry have been laid off or furloughed Ramer said. 

As many of Kentucky’s tourism attractions are already open or are set to reopen in July, Ramer said safety and cleanliness are the top priorities for their employees and visitors. In terms of social distancing, Kentucky has a unique advantage with its many outdoor attractions. 

“I think we’re really going to play to the fact that we have wide-open spaces, we have a state that is just abundant with natural resources, natural beauty, tons of outdoor adventure…And so, I think we’ve got a lot that we can leverage in the first wave of this recovery.” 

Watch the full interview with VisitLEX President Mary Quinn Ramer here. 

 

GUIDE TO THE MAIN STREET LENDING PROGRAM- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (June 12)- The Main Street Lending Program is a federal business financing program administered by the Federal Reserve to support small and medium-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19. Authorized by Congress through the CARES Act, the program has a funding level of $600 billion. The Federal Reserve has not yet announced an official start date, but interested businesses are encouraged to begin preparing to apply and check their eligibility. 

ELIGIBILITY 

Eligible businesses must meet the following requirements: 

  • Be primarily based in the United States 
  • Read more about eligibility requirements here and here. 
  • Note: Paycheck Protection Program recipients are eligible. 

LOAN OPTIONS 

The program features three different loan programs. See the chart below provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

 

EBITDA: Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (more information) 
LIBOR: London Interbank Offer Rate, a common benchmark interest rate index (more information) 

HOW TO APPLY 

Any U.S. federally-insured depository institutions (including banks, savings associations, and credit unions) as well as any U.S. branch or affiliate of a foreign bank are eligible lenders. Interested businesses should contact lenders to see if they intend to participate in the program. Additional application instructions are expected. 

Additional Resources 

 

 

Last Updated June 12th, 10:00am 

Federal 

SBA Issues New Interim Rule on Changes in the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act- Provided by Frost Brown Todd (June 11)- The Small Business Administration (“SBA”) has issued an Interim Final Rule that amends the first Interim Final Rule released April 2, 2020 (the “First IFR”) to incorporate several changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) made by the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act that became effective on June 5, 2020. 

Revisions Affecting all Existing and New PPP Loans 

  • Covered Period – The covered period for the loan program is extended from June 30, 2020 until December 31, 2020 (revising Part III.2.g.iii. of the First IFR). Borrowers will be able to use PPP loan proceeds through the end of the year. New PPP loans will still only be issued through June 30, 2020. 
  • Payment Deferral (revising Part III.2.n. of the First IFR): 
  • If a borrower submits their loan forgiveness application within 10 months of the end of their loan forgiveness covered period, loan payments are deferred until after the SBA makes its determination on the forgiveness of the loan and pays funds to the lender (revising Part III.2.n. of the First IFR). The loan forgiveness period will be 24 weeks from the date the loan proceeds were disbursed (unless a borrower with a loan made before June 5, 2020 elects to use the original 8-week forgiveness period). 
  • Borrowers who do not apply for forgiveness within 10 months from the end of the borrower’s forgiveness covered period must begin making payments on the date that is 10 months from the last day of their forgiveness covered period. 
  • Note: Borrowers may want to take advantage of the potential control this amendment gives to them in setting when they must begin payments based on when they file their forgiveness application. 
  • Payroll Cost Percentage Required for Forgiveness – The percentage of PPP funds that is required to be applied towards payroll costs in determining the forgiveness amount has been reduced from 75% to 60% (revising Part III.2.o., and Part III.2.r., and Parts III.2.t.iii-v. of the First IFR). The amendments make clear that this percentage is not a threshold that must be met to receive any forgiveness. Borrowers using less than 60% of their loan proceeds on payroll will be eligible for partial forgiveness. 

Revisions For New PPP Loans Made on or After June 5, 2020 

The minimum maturity date for the remaining balance on PPP loans after forgiveness is five years, instead of two years (revising Part III.2.j. of the First IFR). A loan is considered “made” on the date the SBA assigns a loan number. 

Additional rules and guidance, including a new form of the forgiveness application, are expected to be issued soon by the SBA. Please see our article, “Congress Revises Paycheck Protection Program” for information concerning these and additional changes to the PPP included in the Flexibility Act. 

 

State 

Businesses will be able to increase capacity to 50% in coming weeks, Kentucky State Fair will take place in August- Provided by KY Chamber (June 9)- As Kentucky continues to see steady case numbers of COVID-19, Gov. Andy Beshear says businesses can start to increase their capacity and the state will plan to move forward with the Kentucky State Fair in August with restrictions. 

At his press conference on Tuesday, the governor said Kentucky businesses that have been at lower capacity as they reopened will be able to increase that capacity to 50% one month after their original reopen date. 

Businesses that have been at lower capacity include restaurants, retail, barber shops and hair salons, massage therapy, nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys, and many others. 

For example, restaurant capacity, which has been at 33%, will be increased to 50% on June 22, one month after they were able to reopen. 

The restrictions and guidelines that have been put in place will remain under this new expansion of capacity. 

Beshear also said the Kentucky State Fair will be able to take place in August with some restrictions. There will be fewer vendors, concerts will look different, and other changes will need to be made. The governor stated the state will be putting together a comprehensive plan to ensure a safe way to hold the event. 

 

Childcare providers express frustrations ahead of reopening on Monday with restrictions- Provided by KY Chamber (June 11)- Childcare providers testified in front of the Program Review and Investigations Committee on Thursday about the struggles they have experienced throughout the pandemic as they had to fully shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some of the childcare providers noted many surrounding states kept their child care facilities open in some capacity while Kentucky completely shut down childcare facilities besides some catering to front line workers responding to the pandemic. They also stated the restrictions put in place by the administration for reopening starting next week will cause childcare facilities to lose spots and bring in less revenue and continue to struggle financially. 

Enrollment is typically high in July and many childcare center owners expressed frustrations that places like Walmart and amusement parks are allowed to operate while their facilities are losing money having to keep kids in groups of 10 or less. 

They also noted that staffing will have to be increased to deal with the new restrictions and regulations put in place for reopening while they serve less children in their communities. 

Childcare providers said to deal with the financial losses they continue to face, they would like to see some help come from the state as many who have received federal loans are seeing those funds run out and the restrictions will result in more lost revenue. 

As for reopening, some of the providers said they called the families that attend their facilities to see who wanted to come back and once those spots filled up (10 children for one staff member) then they had to put everyone else on a waitlist and those families are now in limbo. 

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ashli Watts testified in front of the committee and stated childcare has consistently been a major barrier for qualified workers in Kentucky that has now become even more complicated as a result of the pandemic. 

Watts discussed the importance of early childhood education for all aspects of Kentucky’s economy as well as ensuring Kentucky’s working parents are able to get back to work in light of the pandemic. 

Recent surveys show 89% of childcare centers are expected to permanently close nationally and 42% of Kentucky centers expect to have to close their doors which would leave 56,000 children without quality childcare, Watts said. 

To help with this, Watts stated the business community would like to see aid provided to childcare providers to ensure investment in the workforce of today and of tomorrow. 

Last Updated June 8th, 10:30am 

Federal 

Chamber Applauds Senate Passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act- Provided by US Chamber (June 4)- The Chamber's Vice President of Small Business Policy Tom Sullivan released the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act: 

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds this evening’s Senate passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act that will help Main Street’s efforts to re-open, providing flexibility for almost 4.5 million small businesses that have received PPP loans administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). 

“New data from the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Coronavirus Poll show that while 8 of 10 small businesses are in the process of re-opening, there is an increasing percentage (55%) who believe it will take more than 6-months to be fully operational.  That is up from 50% in April and 46% in March.  Congress deserves credit for removing barriers that could slow recovery further.  We urge the President to sign the legislation quickly and for SBA and Treasury to immediately provide guidance to small businesses on how they qualify for loan forgiveness under the new law.” 

Read more about the new changes in in Roll Call. 

 

CONGRESS UPDATES KEY PORTIONS OF PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM- PROVIDED BY GREATER LOUISVILLE, INC. (JUNE 3)- Congress has sent an important piece of legislation to President Trump’s desk that includes key changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to grant more flexibility for businesses to meet the program’s repayment requirements. Key changes include: 

  • the 8-week period that businesses have to restore staffing levels to pre-pandemic levels is expanded to the earlier of 24 weeks or December 31, 2020; 
  • the rule that businesses must spend 75 percent of their loan on payroll has been changed to 60 percent. The remaining 40 percent can be spent on other forgivable expenses without reducing the forgivable amount of the loan; 
  • loan terms extended from two years to five years; 
  • program availability is extended from June 30, 2020, to December 30, 2020; 
  • clarifies the ability of PPP recipients to take advantage of employer-side payroll tax deferrals established in the CARES Act. 

Read more about PPP repayment requirements here. 

Improving the repayment requirements of PPP has been a key priority for GLI. Earlier this week, GLI President & CEO Sarah Davasher-Wisdom wrote to members of the greater Louisville congressional delegation, urging Congress to make changes to the program. 

“Due to causes outside of their control, many PPP recipients in our region have expressed grave uncertainty about whether they will meet the program’s strict and often complex forgiveness requirements. GLI urges Congress to ease forgiveness requirements for PPP recipients and create more flexibility in how businesses can have their loans forgiven. This will help prevent future business closings and future economic damage.” – GLI President & CEO Sarah Davasher-Wisdom. 

 

State 

Lawmakers hear discussions on courts handling of COVID-19, gubernatorial powers, and protests- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (June 4)-  

With all areas of business, government, and life in general impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton presented to the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary Thursday on how the courts have managed cases across the state over the past three months. 

“We have been thoughtful and methodical with any decision to reopen our in-person hearings and services,” Minton said. “We have an extra burden to make courts as safe as possible because, unlike most businesses, people don’t have a choice to be at our courts.” 

Minton also said that statewide departments within the Judicial Branch have continued operating with success. Pretrial populations have decreased. Judges have worked with jailers to responsibly release as many inmates as possible as quickly as possible. 

Minton also cited several cost-saving measures, including virtual hearings for civil dockets, as positive takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As one of my colleagues in Michigan has said, ‘COVID-19 was not the crisis courts wanted but may be the crisis courts needed,’” Minton added. “Reconsidering way we do business in the midst of this will ultimately increase efficiency in the future.” 

Also presenting at Thursday’s committee meeting was Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who discussed the Governor’s power during the state of emergency, specifically in Chapter 39 A of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. 

“Governor Beshear’s declaration of state of emergency was unprecedented because it applied to the entire state for an undefined period of time,” Cameron said, further arguing that the Legislature should have more oversight in the emergency process. 

Cameron went on to argue that there is no mechanism outside of the courts to providing checks and balances on the administration during an emergency, suggesting a “comment and appeal” process where executive orders made by the Governor could be changed, potentially allowing the legislature to have input as to when the state of emergency would end. 

Finally, with ongoing protests in Louisville over police brutality, the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary also welcomed Louisville Metro Councilman David James and ACLU field organizer Keturah Herron to testify on issues of racial injustice at the committee’s first meeting of the interim session. 

Councilman James, a former police officer in Louisville went through the events that led to the death of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee, both African-American Louisville residents who were shot in the past three months by Louisville police. 

“We know the majority of police are good people that serve and protect all people equally,” James said. “But just like any profession, there are bad actors. We need the Legislature’s help in giving us the authority to deal with those bad actors and provide justice for the victims’ families.” 

Herron, who is also a member of the Black Lives Matter movement, said that legislation should require more race and gender data to be collected in the policies passed by the General Assembly. 

Last Updated June 1st, 10:30am 

Federal 

U.S. House Passes Bill to Revise Paycheck Protection Program- Provided by Frost Brown Todd (May 29)- The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday, May 28 to pass a bill aimed at making it easier for small businesses to utilize funds received under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The stimulus was established as part of the CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 crisis. To date, more than 4.4 million PPP loans have been distributed by Small Business Administration-affiliated lenders, at a value of more than $500 billion. The bill, titled the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, would revise a number of provisions of the PPP that have been cited as burdensome by business owners and organizations, including the period for forgiveness of PPP loans and the portion of PPP loans that must be applied to payroll expenses. Though it passed the House 417 to 1, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. 

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act addresses some key points of the CARES Act’s PPP loan program that have been criticized the most by businesses. Some of the key provisions of the bill are: 

  • The bill extends the maturity date for PPP loans from 2 years to 5 years. 
  • The end of the covered period for the loan program is extended from June 30, 2020 until December 31, 2020, which would allow PPP loans to be received and proceeds under the loans to be used by businesses through the end of the year. 
  • The period for forgiveness of a PPP loan is extended from 8 weeks from the funding of the applicable loan to the earlier of (a) 24 weeks from the funding of the loan, or (b) December 31, 2020, giving borrowers more time to gain forgiveness of their PPP loans. However, borrowers would still be able to elect for the covered period for the purpose of forgiveness to be limited to the initial 8-week period. 
  • The period under which businesses are required to use proceeds of a PPP loan is extended from 8 weeks to 24 weeks. 
  • The bill expands on the rules established in the SBA and Department of the Treasury’s interim rules on the PPP that a business’s amount of loan forgiveness under its PPP loan will not be affected if the business is able to document, in good faith, an inability to rehire individuals who were employees of the business on February 15, 2020, and an inability to hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions on or before December 31, 2020. Businesses will also not be penalized for reducing the number of full-time equivalent employees if, in good faith, a business is able to document an inability to return to the same level of business activity it was operating at before February 15, 2020, due to requirements established by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), relating to maintaining standards for sanitation, social distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID-19. The deadline for a business to rehire employees let go due to the COVID crisis to fall under the safe harbor for loan forgiveness is extended from June 30, 2020 until December 31, 2020. 
  • The bill reduces the percentage of PPP funds that are required to be applied towards payroll costs for the loan to be forgivable from 75% to 60%. While this change could allow larger portions of the PPP loans forgivable, it should be noted that the bill does not address the interim rule requirement that 75% of loan proceeds must be applied to payroll costs. It is not clear whether this bill would change that requirement. 

Though it passed through the House with bipartisan support, it is not clear if the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act will make it President Trump’s desk. The Senate has been working on its own bill to revise PPP requirements, and senators, including Marco Rubio, who chairs the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, have pushed back on the House’s bill. As of May 29, the Senate had not voted to approve either the House bill or the proposed Senate bill. 

As the initial PPP deadline date of June 30 approaches, businesses could find comfort from the relaxed restrictions and increased certainty under the proposed Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. Many businesses are seeing that the COVID-19 crisis will have expansive long-term effects, and the House’s bill could help businesses recover from the crisis over the remainder of the year. Until a revised PPP bill is officially passed into law, however, businesses are left to wait to see if the House, Senate and President Trump can come to an agreement on changes to the program. 

 

State 

 

Last Updated May 29th, 10:30am 

Federal 

Chamber Calls for Liability Protection for Businesses as Fear of Lawsuits Continue to Grow- Provided by US Chamber (May 27)- The Chamber on Wednesday joined over 200 diverse trade associations and other groups calling for Congress to provide temporary and targeted liability relief legislation. This comes after the Chamber was also part of a broad group of over 50 state and local chambers who sent a letter last week on this important issue. There is broad public support as well as strong support across the political spectrum for liability protections. 

American businesses are working hard to take measures to protect their employees and customers amid the COVID-19 crisis, however the risk of opportunistic lawsuits poses a significant barrier in their ability to bounce back from the economic crisis. As businesses start to reopen, employers simply want to know that if they take reasonable steps to follow public health guidelines, they will be protected against needless lawsuits. 

“During times of past crises, Congress has passed liability protections on a bipartisan basis, and must do so again,” said Harold Kim, President, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. “The U.S. Chamber and the Institute for Legal Reform are leading this coalition to urge lawmakers to protect businesses against the acute economic threat of lawsuits.” 

Click here to read the full release. 

 

State 

New Employer Guidance: Reporting Employee Return to Work Dates: Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (MAY 28)- The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet has released new guidance for employers bringing employees back to work. Employers can now use the KEWES website to report employee return to work dates without Cabinet staff assistance. The Cabinet says this is the most efficient method of notifying state officials that a furloughed employee has been offered work and asked to return to their place of employment. 

The Cabinet expects to release additional guidelines for employers as federal agencies release more guidance for state administrators. 

Access the Cabinet’s guide for reporting return to work dates here. 

Any questions should be sent to UIAssistance@ky.gov with Return to Work in the subject line. 

 

 

Last Updated May 27th, 10:30am 

Federal 

FAQs in Preparation for SBA Audit-Provided by Frost Brown Todd (May 26)- The SBA published the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and instructions on May 15, 2020 and related Interim Final Rules on May 22, 2020.  As with other SBA guidance the detail provided in the application, the instructions, and the Interim Final Rules do not necessarily give way to an easy-to-follow forgiveness calculation.  Do not fear.  We are answering some of the most common questions on the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application section-by-section.  

Introductory Questions (page 3 of the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application) 

  1. Why are they asking for the number of employees at the time of the loan application and at the time of the forgiveness application? 

The PPP Loan Forgiveness Application says to insert the total number of employees at the time of the borrower’s PPP loan application and at the time the borrower is applying for loan forgiveness.  The number of employees does not seem relevant to loan forgiveness since the reduction in loan forgiveness is based on the number of full-time equivalent employees during the 8-week covered period compared to some other time period (February 15, 2019 – June 30, 2019 or January 1 – February 29, 2020 (or for seasonal employers either of the preceding periods or a consecutive twelve-week period between May 1, 2019 and September 15, 2019)).  When borrowers submitted their PPP loan applications there was also some confusion as to whether borrowers should list the average number of employees used to determine eligibility, the number of full-time-equivalent employees, or the number of employees employed by the applicant at the time of the application.  Borrowers will want to be consistent here and follow the calculation method they used when answering the question at the time of the PPP loan application. 

  1. Why are they asking for the EIDL advance amount and the EIDL application number? 

The SBA will reduce the amount of your PPP loan forgiveness by the amount of any EIDL grant (limited to $10,000) received.  The SBA will deduct EIDL advance amounts from the forgiveness amount remitted to your lender.  Additionally, the CARES Act requires any PPP borrower with an EIDL loan originated between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020, that was used to pay payroll costs, to refinance that EIDL loan with the PPP loan.  Providing the EIDL application number enables the SBA to verify that any applicants receiving an EIDL grant or loan have fully complied with requirements of the PPP and CARES Act.  You should remember that the SBA already has a record of businesses receiving EIDL grants so being accurate here is important to avoid jeopardizing your PPP loan forgiveness. 

Read the rest of the 27 FAQs here 

 

 

State 

Op-Ed: Businesses Supported Us, Now Let’s Support Them- Provided by Kentucky Chamber, President and CEO Ashli Watts (May 21)- As many businesses are reopening here in the Commonwealth, the question has been asked: are we ready? 

And this is a valid question. For almost two months, we have seen the majority of Kentucky businesses close their doors, school taught remotely, churches not holding worship services and almost 35 percent of our population is now unemployed. The pandemic is unlike anything we have ever seen, and its impact will be felt for years to come. 

Through all of this, Kentucky businesses have been resilient and entrepreneurial in doing their part to ensure the safety of their employees and patrons. Through no fault of their own, business owners were required to close their doors, many losing their livelihood and dreams due to a virus over which they had no control. And yet, over the last two months, there have been virtually no bad actors. Businesses did as they were told, following safety protocol and protecting their employees to every extent possible. The question I continue to hear from businesses is simply, “how can we help?” From donating masks and gloves, to distilleries making hand sanitizer and many companies lighting their facilities green to show compassion, Kentucky businesses have proven to be nothing but responsible-potentially risking everything they have for the safety of others. 

Witnessing how employers have stepped up and answered the call for the greater good should make us feel comfortable as business starts to reopen in a safe, methodical manner-because Kentucky businesses have done their part to keep us safe, flatten the curve and save lives. This same mentality is being carried over as we reopen. Kentucky signature companies like Brown-Forman, Toyota, Ford, Churchill Downs and UPS have set the example of how we can reopen the economy and ensure everyone’s safety. In addition to daily health screenings and providing masks for all employers, some are going well beyond the requirements. My favorite example is Brown Forman providing shirts for employees that read “Stay 6 Ft Away!” 

The Kentucky Chamber recently conducted a poll of Kentuckians asking, “Once government provides information that the spread of the virus is declining and it’s time for the economy to re-open and people to come out of their homes, how likely are you to feel safe enough to do so?” Eighty percent answered “totally likely” with only 17 percent answering “unlikely.”  Even I was surprised with the overwhelming positive response of Kentuckians ready to go back to work, patron business, and start our new “normal” way of life. 

I would guess the answer to this question would look much different in other states. Kentuckians have done everything in their power to keep everyone safe and because of these responsible efforts, there is comfort in knowing now that we are reopening, we are doing so in the safest way possible. 

Now that restaurants, retail, tourism attractions and others are starting to reopen, let’s give back to the businesses who did their part to keep us all safe. As we start to ease into our new “normal” let’s support the businesses who supported us during the most trying time we as Kentuckians have had to face. 

We will again be able to enjoy each other’s company by watching a horse race and sipping a Kentucky bourbon soon, but until that time, let’s do everything possible to support our local businesses who have supported us. 

Last Updated May 22nd, 09:30am 

Federal 

Preparing for an SBA PPP Audit: What are the Risks? - Provided by Frost Brown Todd (May 20)Borrowers who received Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans of less than $2 million are deemed to have made the necessity certification in good faith. However, those who made misrepresentations in the loan application process from criminal charges. The early criminal cases arising out of the PPP loans offer examples of borrowers allegedly using the PPP money to enrich themselves. For example, the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently charged a reality TV personality with bank fraud for using more than $1.5 million of PPP loan proceeds to buy a Rolex watch, a diamond bracelet, and a 5.73 carat diamond ring for himself, and to pay $40,000 in child support. We can expect criminal investigations involving PPP loans of less than $2 million to continue. The Small Business Administration (“SBA”) Office of Inspector General, the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, and federal law enforcement partners like the FBI will conduct criminal investigations of frauds involving PPP funds. 

Attorney General Andy Barr directed U.S. attorneys across the country to prioritize the detection, investigation, and prosecution of fraud offenses related to the COVID-19 health crisis. The DOJ’s Criminal Division is assisting in the investigation and prosecution of those offenses. Federal prosecutors will continue to use traditional fraud statutes in their criminal enforcement efforts. . .  

Every U.S. Attorney district in the nation and include federal, state, and local law enforcement entities have formed COVID-19 Task Forces have. Each U.S. attorney district also has a COVID-19 Coordinator who is responsible for overseeing the enforcement response to fraud cases. Criminal and civil enforcement efforts are bolstered by hotlines and reporting portals where members of the public can make complaints. The DOJ will also use data analytic tools to identify potential fraud issues involving PPP loans.  

Click here to read the full article.  

 

State 

Requirements released for reopening of childcare on June 8 and June 15- Provided Kentucky Chamber (May 22)- As many Kentucky businesses reopen, requirements for the reopening of childcare facilities to ensure working parents have proper care for their children were released by the Beshear administration on Thursday. 

Small in-home childcare programs with less than 10 children will be allowed to reopen on June 8 with new regulatory requirements including social distancing, health screenings, personal protective equipment, training and more. Find all the new requirements for these childcare programs here. 

Larger center-based providers can reopen on June 15 with new guidelines including having childcare programs stagger playground time by groups, children should be split into groups of a maximum of 10 and those groups and the staff member assigned should stay together all day, all adults need to wear masks in the childcare facilities and children over five can/should wear masks if applicable, centralized drop off and pick up locations, and other new measures to ensure safety. Find the full list of requirements for these centers here. 

 

CARES Act Funds Coming to Local Governments for COVID-19- Provided by Spectrum News (May 20)- FRANKFORT, Ky. – City and county governments will share in a $300 million award as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help deal with expenses brought on by the coronavirus  

Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced the award Wednesday. The money will be administered by the Department for Local Government (DLG) and can be used for reimbursements of expenses necessary to meet public health guidelines.  

Eligible local governments with COVID-19-related expenses from March 1, 2020, to Dec. 30, 2020, must complete an application with expense documentation; the application will be available on DLG’s website tomorrow at 8 a.m. (EDT). 

The money will be given to city and county governments based on approximate population size as recorded in the most recent census data. 

“Local governments have been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19 and are a lifeline in our local communities,” said Beshear. “During this fight, they have sacrificed so much to protect others by supplying PPE, enforcing guidelines, keeping the public informed and looking out for our most vulnerable. This funding will help them better protect all Kentuckians.” 

DLG Commissioner Dennis Keene noted city and county governments have stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our local governments are on the front lines of this pandemic, sacrificing to keep Kentuckians safe. This funding is critical in the continued fight against COVID-19,” said Commissioner Keene. 

The U.S. Department of Treasury has outlined specific guidelines and examples of eligible reimbursements for funding through CARES, which was enacted by the U.S. Congress to stimulate the economy and provide financial relief for those addressing the public health emergency. 

Guidelines include that expenses: 

  • Are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID–19 
  • Were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 
  • Were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on Dec. 30, 2020 

Eligible reimbursements may include but are not limited to: the purchase of personal protective equipment for health and safety employees; expenses for communication and enforcement by governments for COVID-19-related public health orders; expenses for food delivery to nursing homes and vulnerable populations; improvements necessary for public employees to telework to comply with public health precautions; expenses for disinfection of public spaces and facilities; and payroll expenses for public safety, public health, health care, human services and similar employees who dedicated substantial time to mitigating or responding to the public health emergency. 

 

Last Updated May 20th, 3:00pm 

Federal 

US Chamber Releases Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness (May 20)- Under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created by the CARES Act, loans may be forgiven if borrowers use the proceeds to maintain their payrolls and pay other specified expenses. 

The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration recently released the application form and instructions for loan forgiveness. The forgiveness forms, instructions, and worksheets can be downloaded here. 

PPP borrowers must apply for loan forgiveness with the lender that processed the loan. 

This guide is designed to help borrowers understand the process by which their loan forgiveness amount will be calculated and the overall approach of the loan forgiveness process. 

 

State 

Kentucky’s Primary Election Preview- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (May 19)- Legislative elections take place this year for Kentucky’s General Assembly, with all 100 House seats and half (19) of Senate seats up for election in November. The COVID-19 pandemic has required many changes, including how and when Kentuckians will cast their vote in the primary election. Originally scheduled for May 19, the primary election will now be held on June 23. While GLI does not endorse candidates for political office or get directly involved in elections, we strongly encourage members of the business community to vote and engage in the electoral process. With primary day just a month away, get caught up on what you need to know about Kentucky’s upcoming election.  

The Impact of COVID-19 

Due to COVID-19, Governor Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams by executive order have approved and are encouraging the use of mail-in ballots through an expanded absentee program. The State Board of Elections will mail a postcard to every voter informing them of their options. Voters will have to request an actual mail-in ballot. Counties will not staff normal polling precincts but will offer the option for in-person ballots both before and on Election Day at a smaller number of locations.  

Note that the registration deadline for the June 23 primary election is May 26. The registration deadline for the November 3 general election is October 5.  

  • Read more about voting in Kentucky’s upcoming election and make sure you are registered here.  

It’s not clear what impact all of these changes will have on voter turnout although when implemented in other states, there is some evidence of an increase in first-time voters and voters who do not usually participate in primary elections. The pandemic may have a significant impact on the primary election due to the lack of in-person fundraisers and the change in voting procedures. 

 

State launching online tracking system for COVID-19 contact tracing- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (May 18)- Kentucky’s state government will be hiring 700 individuals to do COVID-19 contact tracing. After someone tests positive, one of these contact tracers will talk with the individual to get basic information about them and get a list of people they have recently been in contact with. Following that, the people on the list will continue to be contacted over a 14-day period and may be asked to self-isolate in order to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Gov. Andy Beshear says the system will take privacy very seriously and will take steps to protect the personal information of all individuals. 

Beshear told Kentuckians they need to answer the call from these contact tracers because the system will not work if people do not participate. 

A video shown at the Monday press conference stated once someone tests positive, they will be contacted to gather background information on that individual and a list of their close contacts over a certain time frame. Those individuals will then be contacted but it will not be disclosed who they were in contact with that tested positive. The person will need to provide “basic health information” and depending on the proximity, length of time, and various other factors, the person who had been in contact with the positive patient will be asked to either self-isolate or monitor their symptoms over the next 14 days. Following that time period, the individual will get an automatic return to work email clearing them from that contact. 

Multiple contracts have already been awarded for companies to help run the new tracking system and the 700 new contact tracers will be trained over the next two weeks, Beshear said. The program is funded through federal funding through the CARES Act and the governor said he expects it to cost more that $100 million. 

Beshear has appointed Mark Carter to the program, which is currently slated to run for seven months.  Carter is the former CEO of Passport Health who was partner for 20 years with Ernst & Young, a founding partner of accounting firm BKD’s Louisville office, and a director with Dean Dorton. 

Both Beshear and Carter stressed the importance of the public’s health in making this system work and asked Kentuckians to “answer the call” when contacted about potential exposure to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

 

 

Last Updated May 18th, 11:00am 

Federal 

Chamber’s Bradley Outlines Likely Changes to PPP Funding Rules- Provided by US Chamber (May 15)- During Friday’s episode of the weekly Inc. Magazine and the U.S. Chamber National Small Business Town Hall, the Chamber’s Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley reviewed proposed changes to the Paycheck Protection Program outlined in the House bill introduced this week by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 

“There’s a good chance at least some of the parameters around loan forgiveness will be changed. One of the one’s that almost certain to be changed is the requirement that 75% of your expenses going toward loan forgiveness be tied to payroll," Bradley said. “There’s bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill that that rule imposed by the Treasury is a bad rule and that’s likely to get repealed.” 

Bradley added: “The Senate is very focused on a safe harbor for employers against litigation... if you are tring to follow the public health guidelines, you have a safe harbor against being sued." 

For more key takeaways and a video of the event click here. 

 

State 

Tri-State Reopening Plan Comparison- NKY Chamber- We have heard that the Governors of our three states have been working together in their phased re-opening strategies but as plans have been released, each one looks a little different. Click here to view a table breaking down the industries re-opening each day in the three states. 

 

Kentucky restaurants will be able to open May 22 at limited capacity with restrictions- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (May 15)- Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has released new requirements for Kentucky restaurants ahead of the May 22 reopening date. 

Restaurants can only allow 33-percent capacity in their dining rooms but will be allowed to extend any outdoor seating they may have on their properties. 

The requirements released by the administration contain many new guidelines restaurants will have to follow including maintaining at least six feet between customers, limits on party size, masks in common areas, persons not living within the same household should not be permitted to sit at the same table, and more. 

Some other restaurant requirements include: 

  • Masks or face coverings for employees 
  • Use of disposable menus, napkins, table cloths, utensils and condiments 
  • Encourage use of electronic menus 
  • Conduct daily employee temperature/health checks 
  • Modify traffic flow to minimize contacts between employees and customers 
  • Provide hand sanitizer, hand washing facilities and paper towels in convenient locations 
  • Establish procedures for disinfecting table tops, seating and dining ware (plates, bowls, utensils) 

Find a full list of the new requirements here. 

 

 

Last Updated May 15, 11:00am 

Federal 

 

State 

Tri-State Reopening Plan Comparison- NKY Chamber- We have heard that the Governors of our three states have been working together in their phased re-opening strategies but as plans have been released, each one looks a little different. Click here to view a table breaking down the industries re-opening each day in the three states. 

 

Kentucky Attorney General Cameron joins 20 other states to advocate for legal liability protection for employers- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (May 13)- Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is one of 21 attorneys general across the country calling on Congress to pass federal legislation that would protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits as they return to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A letter was sent by the group to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senators Lindsey Graham and Diane Feinstein, who both serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for legislation that provides a stable, predictable legal environment as the pandemic could create a surge in civil litigation targeting businesses working to comply with new requirements. The coalition members said a common-sense framework is needed to provide liability protections for much-needed goods and services while still ensuring victims are able to seek legal redress and compensation where appropriate. 

Our economy will only recover if customers, employees and businesses alike have confidence to return to the marketplace,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. 

The letter was signed by attorneys general from the following states: Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. 

Find more information and the full letter sent Tuesday here. 

 

Kentucky Secretary of State Adams says changes to voting for primary elections will keep people safe and make needed improvements to system- Kentucky Chamber (May 12)- Kentucky’s top election official says moving the state’s primary elections and giving people new options for voting will not only help keep people safe but also presents an opportunity to clean up the voter rolls and ensure secure voting procedures moving forward. 

In an interview with The Bottom Line, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams said voters across the state will soon receive a postcard in the mail informing them of their ability to do absentee mail-in voting and directing them to an online portal where they will verify their identity and request a mail-in ballot. 

This, however, does not mean that people will not be able to vote in person for the primary elections, which have been moved from May 19 to June 23, 2020 following an executive order by the governor in March. 

Adams said there will be increased early voting for those who would like to vote in person and measures taken to ensure the safety of both voters and poll workers during that process. He noted there will have to be some consolidation of polling locations due to the fact that some of them are nursing homes, schools, and other locations that should not be utilized for voting during this time. 

These changes being made, Adams said, gives the state a rare opportunity to clean up its voter rolls by contacting voters directly and being able to remove names of those who have passed away, moved out of the state, etc. through this process to have a more accurate system. He also said using paper and scanners in this election (to avoid people continuously touching the same screen to vote electronically) will help the state cut down on concerns about hacking and security. 

Secretary of State Adams also discussed the impact these changes could have on voter turnout, what is being done in other states, addresses criticisms to the plan, and more. Watch the full interview here. 

Last Updated May 12, 2:00pm 

Federal 

Comparing Paycheck Protection Program and Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan Options -Provided by Frost Brown Todd (May 11)-  

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has authorized significant funds under the SBA’s 7(a) loan program through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. As many small businesses develop their plans to address the impacts of COVID-19, we are supplying a comparison of these two programs. 

On April 23, 2020, Congress approved additional funding to the Paycheck Protection Program following the exhaustion the program’s original $349 billion in funding on April 16.  This second funding round totals $310 billion.  This $310 billion includes $60 billion that is separately designated for distribution by smaller depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions.  The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program received additional funds totaling $60 billion, including $10 billion for purposes of the EIDL grants.  As of May 10, 2020, approximately $189 billion of the second round has been committed. 

The SBA continues to issue Interim Final Rules and guidance concerning the Paycheck Protection Program and is doing so at a very frequent pace.  Borrower should understand that the SBA’s Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) clarify that the program’s rules concerning eligibility and the application that were in place at the time the borrower applied will govern the borrower’s application.  As of May 11, 2020, additional guidance concerning forgiveness and the “necessity” certification made at the time of applying for a loan remain outstanding.  For updates on the additional guidance please see our articles in our Preparing for an SBA PPP Audit Series. 

Click here to view our PPP/EIDL Comparison Chart. 

  

 

New Comprehensive Executive Order- Provided by MML&K Government Solutions (May 12)- The Governor’s Office issued a new, comprehensive Executive Order that was made available today that encompasses all the Health at Work requirements as well as a few new items. 

 

E.O. 2020-323: Healthy at Work Reopening 

 

The new areas pertain to utility disconnections during the State of Emergency (item #6) and some direct compliance and penalty language relating to any operating businesses that violate the order.  

  

  • “5. Failure to follow the requirements provided in this Order and any other Executive Order and any Cabinet Order, including but not limited to the Orders of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services implementing this Executive Order, is a violation of the Orders issued under KRS Chapter 39A, and could subject said business to closure or additional penalties as authorized bylaw.”  

  

  • “9. Prior Orders Remain In Effect. All prior Executive Orders, and Orders issued by Cabinets pursuant to Executive Order 2020-215, remain in full force and effect, except to the extent they conflict with this Order. Non-life sustaining retail operations may continue to provide local delivery and curbside service of online or telephone orders, consistent with Executive Order 2020-246. Violations of these and other Orders issued pursuant to Executive Order 2020-215 are punishable as provided in KRS Chapter 39A."  

 

KRS Chapter 39A 

The rest of the Executive Order mostly restates other orders issued by the Governor over the last two months, such as in the areas of evictions and firearms. Please note the order is dated May 8, although it was just posted to the Governor’s Covid-19 website recently. 

 

 

State 

Tri-State Reopening Plan Comparison- NKY Chamber- We have heard that the Governors of our three states have been working together in their phased re-opening strategies but as plans have been released, each one looks a little different. Click here to view a table breaking down the industries re-opening each day in the three states.  

 

 

Healthy at Work- Kentucky's Re-opening Phases- From Graydon (May 11)-  

Today, the following industries are permitted to reopen in Kentucky: 

  • Construction 
  • Horse Racing (no fans) 
  • Manufacturing & Distribution 
  • Office-Based Businesses (50% or less of office only) 
  • Pet Grooming / Boarding 
  • Photography 
  • Vehicle or Vessel Dealerships 

Businesses that are reopening also must comply with Minimum Requirements for All Entities as well as industry-specific requirements. These requirements were made mandatory pursuant to an Order dated May 11, 2020 issued by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of the Secretary. Effective May 11, these requirements also apply to businesses that remained open because they were deemed life-sustaining (i.e., essential). 

The new requirements cover a range of precautions and social distancing requirements. They also include new guidelines and requirements related to employee temperature taking and health screening. They must be reviewed carefully as they include both non-mandatory and mandatory guidelines. 

Minimum Requirements for All Entities  

  • Continue telework where possible: “employees who are able to perform their job duties via telework must continue to telework.” 
  • Phased return to work: businesses are “encouraged” to phase employees back to work which include “generous telework, sick leave, and family leave policies.” 
  • Enforce social distancing: businesses “must ensure, to the greatest extent practicable” that employees remain a minimum of six (6) feet away from co-workers and visitors “unless closer interaction is absolutely required to perform their job duties (e.g., health care examinations). 
  • Limit face-to-face meetings: businesses “must ensure” employees “minimize face-to-face contact” with co-workers and customers “to the greatest extent practicable.” 
  • Universal masks and other necessary PPE: 
  • Employees: businesses must “ensure, the greatest extent practicable” that employees, volunteers, and contractors, wear a cloth mask unless one of the following exceptions is apply. 
  • doing so would create a “serious health or safety hazard”; 
  • that person is working “alone in an enclosed space”; or 
  • working “alone in an area with more than six (6) feet social distancing 
  • Customers/Visitors: businesses “should encourage” customers to wear masks. The Order specifically allows businesses to refuse to serve any customer that refuses to wear a mask. 
  • Gloves: businesses “must ensure” that employees that have job duties that require touching high-touch surfaces “wear gloves that are regularly replaced.” 
  • Hand Sanitizer and Hand Washing: businesses “must supply adequate hand sanitizer (60% alcohol content or higher)” for both employees and customers and make sure it is placed in high-traffic and high-touch areas. Businesses must also “encourage” handwashing. 
  • Restrict Common Areas: businesses “must, to the greatest extent practicable,” restrict all common areas to discourage congregating and promote social distancing. Common areas include lobbies, waiting rooms, break rooms, smoking areas, lunch rooms, and concession area. 
  • Proper Sanitation: businesses must “sanitize frequently touched surfaces and areas in accordance with CDC guidelines.” 
  • If an employee has COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19: 
  • “immediately restrict access to contaminated areas” 
  • post signage 
  • “adequately clean impacted areas” 
  • “any contaminated area should be off-limits to all but essential personnel for a minimum of 24 hours.” 
  • businesses “must ensure” that an employee with a fever and/or COVID-19 symptoms is tested within 36 hours. 
  • “should be directed” to a doctor to be tested and “instructed to quarantine at home as soon as any illness is detected.” 
  • must assist public health officials if an employee tests positive or “becomes exposed to COVID-19.” The order also includes specific information a business must be prepared to provide: 
  • Onsite temperature/health checks: employers must require employees to undergo daily temperature and health checks. The health checks may be self-administered or performed at work. If self-administered they must be reported to the employer on a daily basis. The order also requires a specific set of questions. The Order also includes additional guidance for administering on-site temperature screening and requirements as to how businesses must respond when an employee answers “yes” to health and temperature screenings. 
  • Testing Plan: businesses must have a plan for handling an employee that reports COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive. This plan must include: 
  • ensuring that the employee is tested within 36 hours 
  • employees must be trained in isolating individuals with symptoms or confirmed at work 
  • how to report a suspected case; and 
  • if an employee tests positive that business must notify the local health department. 
  • Special Accommodations: businesses “must, to the greatest extent practicable”, make special accommodations for high risk employees. 
  • Healthy At Work Officer: businesses must designate a Healthy at Work Officer that is responsible for compliance. Businesses must also provide a method for employees to communicate to concerns or suggestions to management or the Healthy at Work Officer. 
  • Education and Training: businesses must provide training regarding the guidelines.  

The industry specific requirements can be found here. 

 

_____________________________Updated 5/11_____________________________ 

Federal 

Chamber’s Bradley Explains Recent Changes to Small Business Loan Programs (May 8)- During Friday’s episode of the weekly Inc. Magazine and the U.S. Chamber National Small Business Town Hall, the Chamber’s Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley distilled what’s happening with a variety of rule changes for small business lending programs. 

Here are some key takeaways: 

  • Paycheck Protection loan forgiveness: The Small Business Administation (SBA) said this week if a business laid off an employee and issues a written invitation to invite that employee back, and the employee declines the offer, the business won’t be penalized in their loan forgiveness calculation. 
  • Don’t count on a deadline extension on the PPP: Changing that rule would take an act of Congress, and although there’s interest, it’s not overwhelming interest yet. 
  • More likely: A change to the rule that 75% of the loan needs to be used on payroll. The Treasury or Congress could change that guideline more easily. 
  • SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program: It has stopped taking applications (except for agricultural entities) to work through a backlog, and the loan cap is now $150,000, not $2 million. 
  • Main Street Lending Program: It doesn’t have a start date yet, but loans made after April 24 that meet the criteria of the statute are eligible. Businesses could start the process today, Bradley said. 

For more key takeaways and a video of the event click here. 

 

State 

Gov. Andy Beshear and his team have made several clarifications to the minimum “Healthy at Work” requirements in an ever-evolving process. While these are not additions to the previous 10 point plan provided by the Governor, the new information could prompt additional questions as you operate in the coming days. The guidance applies to both essential businesses that have been operating for the last nine weeks, as well the select non-essential businesses which are being allowed to reopen May 11th.  

 

 

 

  

 

 

  

 

 

  

Over the last week, business groups and associations provided comments and recommended changes to the guidance documents specific to each business sector. Some of the smaller changes include tweaks to original guidance related to the use of common areas, masks, cleaning procedures, etc. 

  

Further clarifications, prompted by the business community, can be found on the last three pages of the “Minimum Requirements for all Entities” document.   

 

  

As previously released guidance suggested, beginning May 11, there are daily requirements for all employees relating to health screening, temperature checks, and contact tracing.  

  

The Governor’s most recent clarification includes guidance about health checks that may be performed either by the employee at home or on site. As before these follow CDC recommendations: 

  

  • Employees should answer “Yes” or “No” to a series of health screening questions before each shift do they have a fever (100.4 or higher), new cough, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms, chills or repeated shaking with chills, or a new loss of taste or smell? Also, answer whether anyone in their household is ill or has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or been in contact with anyone who is ill or had COVID-19. 

  

  • If an employee answers yes to any one of those symptoms, they should stay or return home and self quarantine 

  

  • Daily health screenings and temperature checks are required either through self administration or on site before every shift and at a minimum every 24 hours, if employees self-administer the health screenings. 

  

  • Additional procedures are given around daily temperature checks if administered by the employer. 

  

  • Additional details regarding contact tracing procedures which include businesses keeping documentation of work shifts, work locations, meetings, and in-person clients or visitor contacts of their employees.  It further instructs businesses to be prepared to provide the health department answers to a specific list of questions about the employee who tested positive. 

  

Based on the additional guidance, businesses should give particular consideration for plans to provide guidance and training to employees and for recordkeeping and other measures to comply. Those could include changes to employee handbooks and training, and may include a way to track, record and store the daily employee health screens, whether performed on site or if they are self-administered. 

  

In addition, the contact tracing efforts will require businesses to be aware of employees with whom an infected person may have come into contact. Accordingly, daily schedules, sign-in sheets or logs may be necessary or helpful in being able to recreate and trace an infected employee’s contacts over the prior few days. In the event that a governmental agency or a health department investigates a business for compliance, or conducts contact tracing, businesses should have a plan of action and be able to produce the information outlined in these guidelines. 

  

We understand this is a trying time for each of you, your businesses, and your families. However, we are excited as you about the prospect of business and the economy moving ahead. As always, we strive to be your eyes and ears in Frankfort and throughout the state and will continue to send updates as they become available.  

  

 

 

__________________________Updated 5/8_________________________________ 

Federal 

Americans File 3.2 Million New Unemployment Claims- Provided by US Chamber (May 7)- The Department of Labor reported Thursday that Americans filed 3.2 million new jobless claims last week, bringing the seven-week total to more than 33.5 million. Read more in Politico. 

Use the Chamber’s interactive map to see just how quickly unemployment claims have risen in each state during the coronavirus pandemic. 

On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release its estimate of the total unemployment in April as part of it’s monthly jobs report. Yesterday payroll company ADP released a report finding that private-sector employment decreased by 20.2 million from March to April. 

 

State 

More Business Reopening Plans Announced- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (May 8)- This evening, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced more reopening plans for businesses in the Commonealth as part of Kentucky’s Healthy at Work initiative. The Governor had previously announced that a number of different industries would be opening on May 11 provided that they are able to meet rigorous public health and safety guidelines. Today’s announcement adds to this timeline and includes reopenings that span the rest of May and into June. 

All businesses will need to adhere to a set of minimum health and safety requirements as well as industry-specific guidelines – not all of which are currently available. 

A full-time of announced reopenings and industry-specific guidelines are provided below, as of May 7. 

  • May 11: 
  • May 22 – Restaurants, with limited 33% capacity and outdoor seating 
  • June 1 – Movie theaters, fitness centers 
  • June 11 – Campgrounds, public and private 
  • June 15 – Child care, with reduced capacity; and potentially low-touch and outdoor youth sports 

Governor Beshear stated that bars and gatherings of up to 50 people could potentially be authorized for July. 

Read more about Kentucky’s Healthy at Work initiative. 

 

______________________Update 5/6__________________________ 

Federal 

Small Businesses Are Ramping up Actions to Survive Pandemic New U.S. Chamber and MetLife Poll Shows (May 5)- new poll released today by the U.S. Chamber and MetLife found that small businesses are transitioning to virtual ways of working and seeking more flexibility and financial resources to survive the coronavirus pandemic. 

Here are some key findings: 

  • Small business owners report an increase in teleworking (20%, up from 12% last month), and asking for rent flexibility (17%, up from 9%). 
  • One in three (29%) said they had shuttered their businesses temporarily in the last two weeks. 
  • More than one in five small businesses (22%) say they are two months or less from closing permanently.  
  • The biggest concerns for small businesses are a lack of profitability due to the decreased number of customers (54%) and protecting the health of their employees (36%). 
  • On a positive note, 79% anticipate increasing or retaining the same size staff in the next year. 
  • Nearly half (47%) of small businesses report that SBA's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding is critical in keeping their business open. 

“With the latest round of PPP funds nearly exhausted, it is essential that we identify ways to step up for Main Street and find a solution for additional funding measures,” said Tom Sullivan, the Chamber’s Vice President of Small Business Policy. 

Click here to read the full release.  

 
Chamber Poll: Clear Majority of Americans Support Protecting Employers from Coronavirus Lawsuits- Provided by US Chamber (May 5)The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform released a poll Tuesday showing that Americans across the political spectrum believe that employers must have protections from COVID-related lawsuits as they make decisions about how to safely and sustainably reopen their businesses. 

More than six in ten Americans say that Congress should extend liability protections to employers. Specific protections show even higher support:     

  • 84% of Americans agree that businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies, which have been allowed to stay open as essential businesses, should be protected from lawsuits related to the coronavirus. 
  • 82% agree that aside from cases of gross negligence, employers who follow public health guidelines to protect their onsite customers should be shielded from exposure lawsuits. 

“The global pandemic has caused tremendous economic harm to our nation. As employers plan to reopen safely and sustainably, the last thing they need is to face a financially crippling lawsuit despite their best effort to comply with public health guidelines,” said Harold Kim, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. 

Read the full release here. 

 

 

State 

Beshear releases detailed business reopening requirements, talks partnership with Kentucky Chamber to supply necessities- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (May 4)- The Beshear administration has released the guidelines for each sector that has been named in the May 11 date for Phase 1 of reopening including non-essential manufacturing, construction, dealerships, office-based businesses at 50 percent capacity, pet grooming and boarding, photography and horse racing without spectators. 

These include specific requirements on social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, personal protective equipment (PPE), and training and safety. Each sector has different requirements. You can find the requirements for each specific sector on the Healthy at Work site here. 

Beshear Chief of Staff La Tasha Buckner said any business that is set to reopen but cannot meet these requirements will not be able to reopen on May 11. 

The governor also announced partnerships with the Kentucky Chamber and Kentucky Distillers Association to supply PPE and sanitizers to businesses across the state. Beshear said his administration has been working closely with the business community to ensure businesses have the supplies they need to reopen. 

The Kentucky Chamber has been accepting orders from many Kentucky businesses and will be starting to send out shipments of three-ply masks starting on Tuesday. 

Businesses can order masks here. 

Hand sanitizer can be ordered here. 

Beshear administration officials noted Wednesday also marks Phase 2 of reopening for healthcare which will include some outpatient procedures. 

 

Experts discuss legal challenges businesses could face in returning to work- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (May 6)Potential lawsuits from employees or customers, complications with unemployment benefits, and new government requirements are all new challenges Kentucky employers will face as they look to reopen their businesses. Legal liability experts, including McBrayer Member Cindy Effinger, Jackson Kelly PLLC Member Jay Ingle, Dressman Benzinger LaVelle Partner Kelly Schoening Holden, and U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform VP of Legislative Affairs Nathan Morris discussed these issues Tuesday as part of the Kentucky Chamber’s “Restart Kentucky” initiative. 

Moderated by John Crockett, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary at LG&E and KU,  the panel said the governor’s 10-point plan for reopening is a good starting place, but suggested each company should have their own individual plan and employers should be prepared to clearly communicate that pl to their employees. 

The top potential concerns for companies in the coming months include potential lawsuits dealing with safe work environments, discrimination, and other issues as employees return to work and employers seek to accommodate the new requirements, according to the panel. 

To cut down on any confusion and/or liability, the panel encouraged companies have an individual designated to handle any questions and logistics surrounding any new requirements and address concerns from employees. 

As masks and health checks will now be required of all employees starting May 11, Effinger stated it is important to have a plan in place for individuals’ temperatures recorded each day that is safe and anonymous. Ways to achieve this could be having a system to check “normal” or “not normal” instead of recording the exact temperature, assigning only one or two people to be in charge of this task, ensuring those individuals know the importance of anonymity of the checks, and implementing a way to keep the records separate from other personnel records. 

Employers could also face hurdles with reopening and calling employees back to work who will have issues with childcare, as the government is keeping childcare facilities closed for the foreseeable future. Having a standard form that states there is no other adult in the home and other qualifications was suggested to ensure proper procedures with Family and Medical Leave Act pay or other accommodations that will need to be made. 

Some individuals will be scared about safety and health in returning to work. The panel noted that if an employee has been asked to come back to work and all steps have been taken to ensure a safe and clean work environment, it is likely disciplinary action will have to be taken (including potential firing) if the individual chooses to stay home. Those who are in a vulnerable population or have legitimate health reasons should provide a doctor note in order to ensure proper procedures take place with certain types of pay or unemployment benefits. 

Some states have already started taking steps to clear up unemployment insurance benefit eligibility. In Ohio, if an individual chooses to not return to work when asked by the employer, they are no longer “actively looking for work” and will not qualify for unemployment benefits. Kentucky has not yet taken this action, but the panel said these types of discussions will likely start to take place in the coming weeks. 

Watch the full discussion on legal liability in the video here. 

 

________________________Updated 5/4________________________ 

Federal 

SBA Releases New Guidance on PPP Certifications, Announces Safe Harbor for Borrowers that Repay Their Loans- Provided by Littler (April 30)- Ahead of a second round of lending, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced on Tuesday that businesses applying for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) must consider other sources of liquidity before certifying that they need a PPP loan. The agency also announced a new “safe harbor” for businesses that received a loan before it released its new guidance. Businesses wanting to take advantage of the safe harbor must repay their loans by May 7, 2020. 

Ahead of this second round, the SBA issued new guidance on Wednesday about which businesses are eligible for a PPP loan, including a new FAQs document. The FAQs responded to recent controversies over large businesses that received loans in the initial round of lending. The FAQs state that before applying for a loan, all businesses must certify that a PPP loan is “necessary.” 

_____________________Updated 4/30____________________ 

Federal 

Industry Executives Join President Trump for a Roundtable on Reopening- Provided by US Chamber (April 29)- Business executives joined President Trump on Wednesday to discuss their strategies for reopening. At the event, President Trump praised the 35 states who have released reopening plans, and Vice President Mike Pence said by next week the U.S. will be able to conduct two million tests a week, a major step toward the next stage in the administration's guidelines. 

Here’s what the companies shared: 

  • Waffle House opened some restaurants in Georgia and Tennessee this week with health and safety measures to protect workers and customers. 
  • Wynn Resorts partnered with University Medical Center in Las Vegas for employees to get tested. 
  • Hilton partnered with Lysol and Mayo Clinic to develop protocols to ensure hotel guests feel safe. 
  • When Toyota production facilities head back to work on May 11 in staggered shifts, the company will hand out PPE, conduct daily temperature screenings, and have an app to test employee’s current state. 
  • Business Roundtable said reopening will require safety first, clear guidelines, and ample testing. 

Chamber’s Bradley: 'Businesses Want to Do This Right'- Provided by US Chamber (April 28)- On a call with reporters on Tuesday Neil Bradley, Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, and Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, discussed why policymakers should not convert health and safety guidance into regulations and, to the extent possible, ensure guidance is consistent across federal, state, and local governments. 

“Guidelines will help businesses tailor to the unique circumstances they’re in,” Bradley said. “Businesses want to do this right and bring customers and employees back safely.” 

Wilson added: “We want a consistent set of guidelines where businesses can use innovations and common sense rather than strict regulations.” 

Earlier on Tuesday the Chamber sent a letter urging President Trump, governors, mayors, and county officials across the country to work together on consistent rules for a staged reopening of the American economy following the outbreak of the coronavirus.   

Click the links below to read coverage from today’s call: 

 

 

State 

KENTUCKY ANNOUNCES BUSINESS REOPENINGS IN MAY- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (April 29)- This week, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced a timeline for business reopenings in Kentucky as well as important guidelines for businesses to follow. 

The guidelines, outlined below, include continuing teleworking when possible, face masks, onsite temperate checks, and more. See below for additional details. 

 

Governor Beshear also announced the following timeline for business reopenings in May: 

  • May 11 – Manufacturing, construction, vehicle and vessel dealerships, professional services (at 50% of pre-outbreak capacity), horse racing (without spectators), pet grooming and boarding 
  • May 20 – Retail, houses of worship 
  • May 25 – Social gatherings of no more than 10 people, barbers, salons, cosmetology businesses and similar services 

Throughout Kentucky’s reopening process, formally known as Health at Work, businesses and industry groups are encouraged to submit reopening proposals and strategies to the Office of the Governor and the Department for Public Health. Businesses and associations, however, are NOT required to submit proposals to reopen. Instead, proposals are intended to aid the Governor and Department for Public Health in making decisions on when and how to reopen different sectors of the economy. 

Healthy at Work is a phased-in approach to reopening. In the first phase, the Kentucky Department of Public Health will evaluate whether Kentucky has met public health benchmarks based on guidelines provided by the White House. In the second phase, the Department for Public Health will evaluate the ability of different industries and sectors to safely reopen, using input provided through online questionnaires. Reminder: no business, association, or trade group is required to submit a proposal. Once determined that it can be done safely, businesses will be reopened regardless of if they submitted a proposal, provided that they implement all the necessary health and safety measures recommended. 

Read more about Healthy at Work here. 

____________________Updated 4/28______________________________ 

Federal 

NEXT STEPS FROM CONGRESS ON COVID-19-Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (April 28)- What can we expect next from Congress as the country continues grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Congress so far has already passed four major legislative packages in response to the crisis. 

  • March 4: Congress passed an $8 billion emergency spending package focused on coronavirus prevention, preparation, and response efforts. 
  • March 19: Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Actwhich focused on paid leave, sick leave, testing, and unemployment benefits. 
  • March 27: Congress passed the CARES Actan unprecedented $2 trillion bill that, among other things, created major new loan programs for small businesses, provided businesses with tax relief, issued cash-payments to individuals, funds for state and local governments, and more 
  • April 24: Congress passed the CARES Act 2.0, which authorized more funds for small business loan and grant programs and allocated funds for health care systems. 

Each of these bills could be considered historic on their own, but at least one more major piece of federal legislation is expected in the coming weeks. When it will happen and what it will include are the two major questions. 

GLI will continually update this page as more information becomes known about the next congressional response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

WHAT WILL BE IN THE NEXT COVID-19 BILL FROM CONGRESS? 

Numerous ideas have been floated, but discussions are still very fluid at this moment. Here are some basic concepts that have been discussed so far: 

  • Additional resources for small business loans and grants as well as the creation of new loan programs or changes to current programs 
  • Funding to address shortfalls in state and local government budgets 
  • Legal liability protections for employers and businesses as they adapt to new laws and public health standards 
  • Infrastructure funding 
  • Additional economic impact payments for individuals 
  • Loan programs for large employers affected by the pandemic 
  • Funds to support the development of a vaccine and treatment strategies for COVID-19 
  • Hazard pay for front-line workers 
  • Funding to support states and local governments preparing to hold elections 
  • Increases in spending on social safety net programs like SNAP 
  • Support for the oil and gas industry 

What would you like to see in the next COVID-19 bill from Congress? Email GLI’s Advocacy team and let us know. 

WHEN WILL THE NEXT BILL GET PASSED? 

The short answer is May or June. While there is tremendous urgency behind passing another coronavirus bill, negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, between the House and Senate, and between Congress and the White House will take time. Moreover, if new programs are involved or if already-existing programs are modified, policymakers will need to spend time thinking through the nuances of these proposals in order to avoid unintended consequences. 

On April 27, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Senators would return to Washington on May 4. House members were originally expected to return on May 4 as well, but, on April 28, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced members would not return on that date due to concerns over safety and the virus. COVID-19 legislation could still be passed in the near future, however; but legislative action would require some procedural maneuvering without members present. 

 

State 

All businesses and individuals should be prepared with masks for start of reopening May 11- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (April 28)- As the first phase of reopening many healthcare entities began on Monday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he expects to see some broader reopening in other industries beginning May 11. This will, however, require every Kentuckian to wear a mask outside their home and in their place of work. 

At Beshear’s daily press conference on Monday, Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said all phases of reopening healthcare facilities will look different, and it is important to start in this area to ensure the system can handle increased traffic. He noted that Kentuckians will all be increasing their contacts as reopening occurs in all sectors, and emphasized it is crucial to start that process in a safe and controlled environment. 

Phase one for healthcare facilities includes fever and COVID-19 screenings before entering, new check-in procedures (including call ahead registration, waiting in the car rather than a waiting room, and physical barriers in the offices), enhanced sanitizing of facilities, and an expectation that all people are masked to prevent any spread. View details of all phases of healthcare reopening with dates here. 

Stack noted that all phases are subject to roll back or delay should the state sees a new surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Beshear said the plan to begin reopening other industries beginning on May 11 will be contingent upon the results of this first test of reopening. 

The governor stated at that time the state will be asking that every person in every business wear a mask. This includes businesses that begin to reopen in May and any essential business that has remained open over the last six weeks. He noted work environments can’t be the same when the state sees a return to work and encouraged businesses to take steps like spreading out employees and the continued use of telework as much as possible. 

Beshear also said the state continues to work to increase testing capacity and hopes to have enough that if a temperature check shows an employee has a fever, a test can be made available immediately and the process can begin with contact tracing and other necessities if the individual does test positive. 

Along with all individuals wearing a mask in their workplace, Beshear said starting May 11 all Kentuckians should expect to need to wear a mask anywhere outside their home. He stated he knows it is a big change and will look and feel strange for many but it is what’s needed to prevent the spread of this virus. 

Last Updated April 27, 11:00am 

Federal 

Joint Statement by SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin on the Resumption of the Paycheck Protection Program- Provided by Small Business Administration (April 24)-  Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Jovita Carranza and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin issued the following statement today on the resumption of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP): 

“We are pleased that President Trump has signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provides critical additional funding for American workers and small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.  We want to thank Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy for working with us on a bipartisan basis to ensure that the Paycheck Protection Program is funded so that small businesses can keep hardworking Americans on the payroll. 

“The Small Business Administration will resume accepting PPP loan applications on Monday, April 27 at 10:30AM EDT from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower.  This will ensure that SBA has properly coded the system to account for changes made by the legislation. 

“The PPP has supported more than 1.66 million small businesses and protected over 30 million jobs for hardworking Americans.  With the additional funds appropriated by Congress, tens of millions of additional workers will benefit from this critical relief. 

“We encourage all approved lenders to process loan applications previously submitted by eligible borrowers and disburse funds expeditiously.  All eligible borrowers who need these funds should work with an approved lender to apply.  Borrowers should carefully review PPP regulations and guidance and the certifications required to obtain a loan. 

“The Trump Administration is fully committed to ensuring that America’s workers and small businesses continue to get the resources they need to get through this challenging time.” 

  

For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program, visit: sba.gov/paycheckprotection. 

 

State 

Gov. Beshear and Secretary of State Adams agree to change voting procedures for primary elections- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (April 24)- Kentucky’s primary elections will see new voting procedures after Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams reached an agreement to ensure the safety of Kentuckians when voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The primary elections have been moved from May 19 to June 23, 2020 following an executive order by the governor in March. Now, after recommendations from Secretary of State Adams, Beshear issued a new executive order on Friday to change the way votes will be cast on the new date. 

The executive order states all Kentuckians will be able to utilize absentee voting by mail if they are able to do so. To accomplish this, the State Board of Elections will create an online portal that will allow voters to request the absentee ballot be mailed to them and will also be sending out a postcard to every registered voter in Kentucky informing them of this new ability and the process. 

As for in-person voting, the order states in-person absentee voting will begin on June 8 and clerks will be encouraged to prioritize such voters by appointment. Clerks and poll workers will be provided with personal protective equipment and proper sanitization and work will be done to ensure minimal contact between individuals during the voting process which could include drive through voting. 

“Today’s Executive Order and regulations that will be created by the Kentucky State Board of Elections will allow all Kentuckians who are registered to vote for the upcoming primary to vote by mail through an absentee ballot,” said Governor Beshear. “While there will be significant education and work required, we are committed to making sure this election will be held in a safe manner while we are in this worldwide health pandemic.” 

“Voters across the political spectrum will be pleased with this plan to protect both democracy and public health,” said Secretary Adams. “I’m grateful to Governor Beshear for his leadership, and his working in good faith with me toward ensuring a successful and safe election.” 

 

 

_________________________Updated 4/24______________________ 

Federal 

Congress Approves Expanded CARES Act Funding- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc. (April 23)- Federal legislation to appropriate more COVID-19 funding for small businesses and to support health care systems and public health has been sent to the President for signature. The bill includes more money for programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans as well as appropriations for hospitals, health care providers, and COVID-19 testing. 

Importantly, the bill includes key provisions to ensure that more relief funds will make their way to small businesses in underserved communities and to minority-owned businesses. GLI recently urged Congress to prioritize funding for these employers. 

We are calling this bill the CARES Act 2.0 because it effectively reauthorizes programs in the CARES Act that Congress passed in March 2020Funds for the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster programs were exhausted earlier in April. 

This legislation passed the Senate on April 21. It passed the House on April 23. The President must sign it before it becomes law. 

Here is what’s in the bill. 

SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT 

  • Adds an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) 
  • $60 billion of the new $310 billion for PPP is reserved to support businesses in underserved areas and minority-owned businesses, a proposal that GLI advocated for to members of Congress: 
  • $30 billion for loans made by Insured Depository Institutions and Credit Unions that have assets between $10 billion and $50 billion 
  • $30 billion for loans made by Community Financial Institutions, Small Insured Depository Institutions, and Credit Unions with assets less than $10 billion (Community Financial Institutions as minority depository institutions, certified development companies, microloan intermediaries, and State or Federal Credit Unions) 
  • Adds an additional $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL) with $10 billion set aside for small business grants. 

PUBLIC HEALTH SUPPORT 

  • $75 billion for reimbursement to hospitals and healthcare providers to support the need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue. 
  • $25 billion for necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests. 

 

State 

Restart Kentucky FAQs- Provided by Greater Louisville, Inc.(April 23)-  

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced a new process to help guide business reopening efforts in the Commonwealth. Under the “Healthy at Work” initiative, industry groups, trade associations, and individuals businesses “that are closed due to COVID-19” may submit reopening proposals and strategies to the Office of the Governor and the Department for Public Health. Businesses and associations, however, are NOT required to submit proposals to reopen. Instead, proposals are intended to aid the Governor and Department for Public Health in making decisions on when and how to reopen different sectors of the economy.  

Read more about Healthy at Work here. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

Q: CAN I BEGIN REOPENING MY BUSINESS TODAY IF IT HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY CLOSED? 

A: Unfortunately, not at this time. The current pandemic still represents an ongoing health emergency – the Commonwealth must meet the benchmarks put forward by the Governor before it will be safe to begin reopening those businesses that are closed. However, to ensure that businesses will be able to start up as soon as it is safe, Healthy at Work is beginning to evaluate at what points businesses could safely reopen once those benchmarks are met. 

Q: DO I HAVE TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL TO THIS WEBSITE IN ORDER TO REOPEN? 

A: No. You are not required to submit a proposal. The Governor will be making decisions on which sectors to reopen regardless of whether or not a business or business association submits a proposal. However, he encourages the input of all our businesses and business associations through this website and will rely on the proposals and information they provide in making his decisions. 

Q: MY BUSINESS WAS NEVER CLOSED BECAUSE IT WAS DEEMED LIFE-SUSTAINING – DO I HAVE TO RESUBMIT A PROPOSAL? 

A: No. You are not required to submit a proposal, including those who remain operating during the pandemic. However, be aware your business may need to adopt additional health and safety measures once the benchmarks are met and it is safe to begin reopening sectors of the economy. 

Q: I AM A MEMBER OF A BUSINESS OR TRADE ASSOCIATION AND MY ASSOCIATION IS SUBMITTING A REOPEN PROPOSAL ON MY BEHALF – SHOULD I ALSO SUBMIT MY OWN INDIVIDUAL BUSINESS REOPEN PROPOSAL? 

A: No. If your business or trade association is already submitting a reopen proposal for your kind of business, you should provide all input to that association as they craft their proposal. 

Q: DO YOU HAVE SPECIFIC GUIDANCE ABOUT WHAT WILL BE REQUIRED FOR MY KIND OF BUSINESS? 

A: We anticipate that all businesses will need to have models that permit compliance with CDC guidelines on how best to stop the spread of COVID-19. This will include ensuring proper social distancing and access to personal protective equipment and disinfectant. However, more industry-specific guidance will be crafted as Kentucky gets closer to reaching the benchmarks and as input comes in from businesses via their proposals. 

Q: IF THE BUSINESS I WORK FOR REOPENS, HOW WILL YOU MAKE SURE IT IS SAFE? 

A: When it is safe to begin reopening closed businesses, each industry sector will have a list of requirements that they must meet in order to safely reopen. If a business fails to comply with those requirements, it will not be able to reopen. Any violations of those requirements can be reported to the KYSAFER hotline at 833-KYSAFER or kysafer.ky.gov. 

If you have additional questions please email them to HealthyAtWork@ky.gov. 

 

________________________Updated 4/23________________________ 

Federal 

U.S. Senate passes new relief bill for small businesses- Provided by KY Chamber (April 22)- The U.S. Senate passed a bill providing nearly $500 billion in aid for small businesses and hospitals overwhelmed with seriously ill patients on Tuesday after an agreement was reached by Congress and the White House. 

According to The Hillthe deal totals more than $480 billion and appropriates $320 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion of which is set aside for small lenders and community financial institutions. It also includes $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program; $25 billion for testing; and $75 billion for hospitals. 

The bill comes after the Paycheck Protection Program, which helps small businesses keep workers on payroll and prevent the businesses from going under, ran out of money provided through the CARES Act last week. 

After passage in the Senate on Tuesday, the bill now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives and could be voted on as soon as Thursday. 

 

Another 4.4 Million Americans File For Unemployment- Provided by US Chamber (April 23)- The Labor Department on Thursday reported that Americans filed 4.4 million jobless claims last week, continuing a five-week wave of massive layoffs. Jobless claims reached 5.2 million last week, and since the pandemic led to widespread shutdowns in mid-March, workers have filed more than 26 million unemployment insurance claims. Read more in Politico. 

The Chamber has created an interactive map to illustrate just how quickly unemployment claims have risen in each state over the past six weeks. Forty states have seen more than 10% of their workforce file unemployment claims since the start of March. 

 

Additional Funding Coming to the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL Program -Provided by Frost Brown Todd (April 22)- U.S. Congressional leaders agreed upon additional funds to aid small businesses and healthcare providers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, known as the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The U.S. Senate approved the Act on April 21, 2020. The legislation will now go to the U.S. House of Representatives which is expected to approve the Act on Thursday, April 23, 2020. 

The relief package provides for another round of funding to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and emergency EIDL grants under the CARES Act. It also provides for increased spending for healthcare and coronavirus testing. Below is a summary of the key features of the new legislation affecting the PPP and EIDL program. 

PPP Additional Funding: 

  • The amount authorized for commitments under the PPP will be increased by $310 billion. 
  • Certain PPP funds will be set aside for smaller lending institutions which is expected to help smaller businesses, many of whom bank with smaller lending institutions, have improved access to PPP funding: 
  • $30 billion for PPP loans made by insured depository institutions and credit unions with consolidated assets of at least $10 billion and less than $50 billion. 
  • $30 billion for loans made by community financial institutions[1]insured depository institutions with consolidated assets of less than $10 billion, and credit unions with consolidated assets of less than $10 billion. 

To determine if your financial institution fits within the asset sizes above, please click here to visit the FDIC’s Institution Directory. 

EIDL Program Additional Funding: 

  • An additional $50 billion will be allocated to the EIDL program. 
  • The amount appropriated for EIDL grants will be increased by $10 billion. 

 

Last Updated April 22, 10:00am 

Federal 

Senate Passes $484 Billion Relief Package, Sends to House for VoteWall Street Journal (April 21)- Being called an interim emergency bill, this Phase IV bill provides funding for the PPP, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for COVID-19 testing. The Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of funding last week and directly benefits small businesses, is allocated a $320 billion cash injection in the plan. The bill would expand Economic Injury Disaster Loan eligibility to farmers. President Trump has voiced his support for a future relief package which will specifically help state and local government budgetsRead more here 

 

U.S. Chamber Calls for Swift Enactment of New Small Business Relief- Provided by US Chamber (April 21)- The U.S. Chamber welcomed news today that the administration and Congress reached a deal to increase funding for small business owners under the CARES Act and called for swift enactment. 

“We applaud congressional leaders and the administration for reaching a deal to increase desperately needed funding to support America’s small businesses during this difficult time,” said Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

“We urge Congress and the administration to closely monitor the funds available and act swiftly to add additional resources before the funds reach their statutory limit,” Bradley added. “Congress must next turn to making the necessary technical corrections to programs created in the CARES Act to ensure that all employers — especially all small employers — have access to critical support during this time.” 

Read the full release here. 

 

State 

Governor Beshear Seeks Business Input on Re-Opening KY- Provided by KY Chamber (April 21)- Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced on Tuesday his administration is planning to open the state’s economy in phases and asked the business community for their input.  He encouraged businesses and associations to communicate with his administration on how they plan to re-open and maintain the safety of their employees and customers. Businesses who have ways to re-open can submit their plans to healthyatwork@ky.gov. 

Read more here 

 

Governor Closes Classrooms for the Year, KHSAA Cancels Spring Sports – Provided by Cincinnati.com (April 21)- With Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's recommendation April 20 to close of all K-12 schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control voted unanimously to not resume 2020 state basketball tournaments. 

After the KHSAA announcement Tuesday, Beshear said in his daily press conference it's possible competitive high school sports could resume in the fall without fans. 

The board also approved the cancellation of all regular-season practices and contests as well as all postseason tournament championship events for all spring sports and sport-activities for the 2019-20 school year. 

Last Updated April 21, 10:00am 

Federal 

U.S. Chamber and State Chamber Leaders Launch Task Force on Reopening Economy (April 17)- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Council of State Chambers (COSC) on Monday announced the creation of a joint task force to support and coordinate the federal and state approaches to reopening the national economy. 

“Unprecedented coordination between business and government is needed to map how we can begin a gradual reopening of American businesses,” Chamber President Suzanne Clark said. “It is critical that states, local governments, and business sectors learn from one another on the best ways to prudently reopen the economy — and this new task force is key to achieving that goal.” 

The task force will include representatives from all 50 states, mirroring the coordination between the governors and the federal government. 

Read the full release here. 

 

Last Updated April 20, 10:00am 

Federal 

Federal Reserve Announces New Credit Facility to Help State and Local Governments During COVID-19 Pandemic- Provided by Frost Brown Todd (April 17)- In an effort to support the flow of credit and liquidity to state and local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve recently announced a new initiative to facilitate the purchase of up to $500 billion of eligible notes directly from eligible U.S. states, cities and counties. 

Under the Municipal Liquidity Facility, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will commit to lend to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the purpose of purchasing the eligible notes. The Department of the Treasury will make an initial equity investment of $35 billion of appropriated CARES Act funds in the SPV to provide credit protection for the facility. 

At this time, only U.S. states, cities with populations of at least one-million residents, and counties with populations of at least two-million residents are eligible to benefit directly from this facility. 

However, smaller U.S. cities and counties could have the opportunity to benefit indirectly through notes issued by their respective states. Additionally, the Federal Reserve has indicated that it is open to considering alternative approaches to help local governments who do not meet the population thresholds to access this facility. 

Please find below a summary of the terms and conditions of the Municipal Liquidity Facility. The facility is not expected to be operational for another four to six weeks. The terms and conditions remain subject to change, and more operational details are expected in the coming weeks. Frost Brown Todd is continually monitoring the Federal Reserve’s actions and will provide additional information as it becomes available. In the meantime, it would be prudent for local governments of all sizes to begin trying to document, calculate and understand their potential losses and/or increased expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Click here to read more 

 

State 

Last Updated April 17th, 10:00am 

Federal 

White House Releases Reopening Guidelines for State and Local Leaders- Provided by US Chamber (April 16)- At a press briefing with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Thursday President Trump announced new guidelines on reopening the country 

There is no timeline for relaxing social distancing restrictions but instead a set of criteria for local leaders to use in making decisions, including the ability to set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites and having a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment.  

The plan also lays out three phases to loosen restrictions on businesses and individuals once states meet certain checks like having a downward trajectory of documented cases or a downward trajectory of positive tests. 

Trump announced that he believes some states will be able to reopen their economies before May. 

 

Chamber Releases Guide to Help Independent Contractors Secure CARES Act Funding- Provided by US Chamber (April 16)- The Chamber today released a new guide to help independent contractors and self-employed individuals secure funding under the CARES Act.  

The Independent Contractor’s Guide to CARES Act Relief was prepared after the Small Business Administration provided new guidance on Tuesday and is intended to assist millions of independent contractors including accountants, construction workers, musicians, real-estate agents, freelance writers, and gig workers. 

According to IRS data from 2016, nearly 23 million Americans earn wages as independent contractors working either part or full-time. 

This interactive map illustrates the depth and breadth of the nation’s independent workforce, showing both the number of independent contractors in each state and the number of independent contractors in each state that work through online or app-enabled platforms. 

Read the full release here. 

 

SBA Guidance Appears To Answer The PPP Partnership Question- Provided by Graydon (April 15)On April 14, 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued new guidance aimed at clarifying the eligibility of certain self-employed individuals for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). . .  

Tuesday’s guidance came in a new Interim Final Rule, which supplements the SBA’s earlier guidance.  It clarifies that individuals with income from self-employment that is reported on Form 1040 Schedule C – sole proprietors – are eligible for PPP loans and further that their owner compensation should be included in the same loan application as the business they run.  In other words, sole proprietors should not file one application for the business that covers the payroll of their employees and a separate application for themselves, as owners of the business. 

That was the new guidance as to sole proprietorships, which are businesses owned by one individual.  The new Interim Rule then went on to address small businesses with multiple owners. 

Click here to read the full article.  

 

 

Last Updated April 16th, 10:00am 

Federal 

Chamber Launches Nationwide 'Save Small Business' Initiative- Provided by US Chamber (April 15)- The Chamber on Wednesday launched the Save Small Business Initiative, a nationwide program to address small businesses’ immediate needs, mitigate closures and job losses, and mobilize support for long-term recovery. 

“Our nation is facing a crisis that requires an unprecedented level of support and collaboration between government and business,” said Tom Donohue, CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The Save Small Business Initiative is a multifront battle plan to combat the ongoing economic destruction and lay the foundation for recovery.” 

Coupled with the call to action, the four-part campaign includes: 

  • Supplemental Financial Assistance: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Save Small Business Fund will provide $5,000 supplemental grants to small employers in economically vulnerable communities.  
  • Advocacy: The Chamber will continue to fight for legislation, executive actions, and other government efforts to help small businesses devastated by the pandemic and economic downturn. 
  • Resources, Webinars, and Guides: The Chamber is accelerating and expanding its efforts to deliver the guidance and expertise small businesses need to survive the crisis and recover following the pandemic.  
  • Research: The Chamber and its Small Business Index partner MetLife transformed their quarterly survey into a new Small Business Coronavirus Impact PollThe online survey of 500 small business owners provides insights on the pace of recovery, which small businesses need the most support, and what type of relief is needed.  

Click here to read the full release.  

See below for press coverage of the initiative:  

 

State 

Kentucky Expands Workers’ Compensation Benefits for COVID-19- Provided by Graydon (April 15)Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order on April 9th expanding workers’ compensation benefits to workers who, because of their jobs, are at higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19. 

If an employee is removed from work by a doctor due to an “occupational exposure,” the employee will be entitled to temporary total disability payments during the period of removal. In order for the exposure to be “occupational,” there must be a causal connection between the conditions under which the work is performed and COVID-19. 

The order explains that certain workers removed by a doctor’s order, like healthcare workers and first responders, are presumed to have been removed due to occupational exposure. The order goes further to note that, among others, domestic violence shelter workers, child care workers (that are permitted under other special orders to operate), and grocery store workers removed by a doctor’s order are also presumed to have been removed due to occupational exposure. 

In making the announcement, Governor Beshear’s Chief of Staff and General Counsel, La Tasha Buckner, specifically noted that you don’t actually have to be sick—you just have to have been exposed to COVID-19 due to the nature of your job. 

The order applies to both insurance carriers as well as employers that are self-insured. 

Importantly, an employer can still contest an employee’s claim for workers’ compensation due to COVID-19, and the payment of temporary total disability payments pursuant to the executive order does not waive the employer’s right to contest the claim. 

 

 

Last Updated April 14th, 10:00am 

Federal 

US Chamber Launches “Path Forward” Program to Lead Conversation on How America Can Return to Work (April 13)- The Chamber on Monday announced the “Path Forward” program, an initiative to address how Americans and businesses can return to work safely, successfully, and sustainably. 

The program includes a comprehensive framework of considerations, an event series that will feature diverse viewpoints from the public and private sectors, and recommendations on the practices and policies needed to begin a phased process to bring the full American economy back to work. 

“How America reopens will be the result of unprecedented coordination between business and government, and the planning must begin now. We need new processes and rules that reflect the realities of the pandemic,” said Chamber President Suzanne Clark. 

In a letter sent to members, national associations, and state and local chambers across the country on Monday, the Chamber outlined considerations across three different areas: 

The event series launched Monday with Dr. William Hanage, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Future events, which will occur on Mondays and Thursdays at 3:00 p.m. for the next several weeks, will explore potential barriers to reopening, such as childcare and transit; complex questions about immunity and liability; and ways employers can incorporate screening, social-distancing, and other approaches into the workplace. Register here. 

Click here to read the full release. 

 

 

NIOSH releases new CDC guidance for small businesses- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released the following with resources:  

CDC recognizes the importance of small businesses and developed guidance to help businesses limit the economic and community impacts of an outbreak of COVID-19. This new guidance provides steps that are recommended to protect employees and prepare small businesses for disruption. The factsheet also outlines 10 steps small business employers can take now to protect their employees’ health. 

We will continue to share new resources with you as they are released. If you have any COVID-19 worker safety and health related inquiries, please direct them to CDC-INFO by calling 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) or by submitting a webform inquiry at www.cdc.gov/info. 

 

State 

Last Updated April 13th, 11:00am 

Federal 

Chamber’s Bradley Shares Advice for Independent Contractors Applying For PPP Loans- Provided by US Chamber (April 10)- Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley joined Inc. Editor at Large Kimberly Weisul on Friday for the third weekly virtual Small Business Town Hall to outline recent updates and news related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and answer questions. On Friday the PPP application process opened to independent contractors and sole proprietors.   

“There are more than 23 million independent contractors in the U.S., so that’s a tremendous new volume coming into the system,” Bradley said. As of Friday, more than 250,000 small businesses have applied for loans and are in the process of receiving them, totaling $100 billion. 

The Chamber is urging Congress to act on legislation to provide additional an additional $250 billion in funding before the initial $350 billion for the PPP runs out. 

For key takeaways and a video of the full event click here. 

Trump to Appoint Bipartisan Advisory Council for Reopening the Country- Provided by US Chamber (April 10)- At a press briefing Friday with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, President Trump announced that next Tuesday, members of the "Opening Our Country Council,” comprised of business leaders, doctors, and potentially governors, will be revealed. 

Here are some additional announcements: 

  • The Department of Agriculture will be expediting aid to farmers and ranchers, providing $16 billion in relief to keep the supply chain moving and ensure the food supply is stable and safe. 
  • President Trump spoke with the President of Mexico today about the ongoing oil crisis. 
  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the task force is closely monitoring data on African American and other minority communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

Rubio Outlines Paycheck Protection Program Challenges and Solutions- Provided by US Chamber (April 9)- Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, on Thursday released an update on the Paycheck Protection Program outlining the program’s current challenges, and detailing the solutions taking place. 

Click here to read the full statement. 

The SBA and the U.S. Department of the Treasury updated their FAQ document, which can be found on the Treasury Department's website here and SBA's website here. 

State 

Workers’ compensation access expanded under new executive order- Provided by Kentucky Chamber (April 10)- Kentucky is broadening workers’ compensation payments to Kentuckians who, because of the nature of their employment, are at higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday to expand this access to those working on the front lines against COVID-19. 

La Tasha Buckner, Beshear’s general counsel and chief of staff, said the executive order allows for temporary total disability payments for grocery store workers, employees of a healthcare entity, first responders (law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire department), corrections officers, military, activated National Guard, domestic violence shelter workers, child advocacy workers, rape crisis center staff, Department for Community Based Services workers, postal service workers, and child care workers that are still providing care for certain groups allowed by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. 

The benefits would be available to an individual working in one of these positions that has been removed from work by a physician due to occupational exposure to COVD-19. 

“If you’re in these categories and your healthcare professional says you’ve got to be quarantined, you’re not actually sick necessarily but you’ve had exposure, you’re going to get access to these benefits,” Buckner said. 

A percentage of the individual’s normal pay would be awarded to individuals during the mandated quarantine. 

 

 

Last Updated April 9th, 11:00am 

Federal 

CDC Releases New Guidance for Essential Workers (April 8)- Yesterday, the Center for Disease Control announced that, in order for essential operations to continue, it is now advising that essential workers with potential COVID-19 exposure are permitted to continue working- provided they remain asymptomatic and abide by additional precautions including regular temperature tests. This is a departure from earlier guidance mandating a two-week self-quarantine following exposure. For the full release and CDC guidelines, click here 

 

Fed Unveils New Programs to Aid Small Businesses- Provided by US Chamber (April 9)- The Federal Reserve on Thursday unveiled several programs that it said would provide $2.3 trillion in loans, expanding its lending to small businesses, U.S. cities and states, and previously announced corporate lending programs. 

The Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility (PPPLF) will extend credit to eligible banks that originate PPP loans; and to ensure credit flows, the Fed will purchase $600 billion in loans through the Main Street Lending Program. Read more in the Wall Street Journal or at the Federal Reserve’s websiteThe Federal Reserve released short PDFs describing their programs for Main Street New Loan Facility and Main Street Expanded Loan Facility. 

 
New FAQ On Paycheck Protection Program (April 9)- The Department of Treasury has released a new document which addresses many of the recent questions raised lately by small businesses. The FAQ can be found here. 

State 

 

 

Last Updated April 8th, 9:00am 

Federal 

CARES Act- What Restaurant and Hotel Operators Need to Know- Provided by Frost Brown Todd (April 7)- This update highlights the key CARES Act programs and provisions supporting restaurant and hotel operators. 

Paycheck Protection Program 

The CARES Act appropriates almost $350 billion for loans, 100% guaranteed by the government and administered by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”), to help businesses cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The loans will cover essential short-term operating costs and incentivize businesses to retain workers. Loans issued under the Paycheck Protection Program will be issued on a “first-come, first-served” basis. 

Eligibility – Special Rules Benefit Restaurant and Hotel Operators 

Generally, only businesses with fewer than 500 employees (whose principal place of residence is in the United States) that were in operation as of February 15, 2020 are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. However, restaurants and hotels and any other business operating under NAICS codes beginning with 72 (Accommodation and Food Services), are eligible for the program if they have fewer than 500 employees per physical location of the business. The term “employee” includes individuals employed on a “full-time, part-time, or other basis.” 

To read more about the Paycheck Protection Program’s eligibility, certification, loan forgiveness, and tax and employee benefit provisions, click here for the full article.  

 

Chamber Calls for Uniform Approach to Identify Essential Workers and Functions- Provided by US Chamber (April 7)- The Chamber on Tuesday called for renewed focus on a uniform approach to identifying essential workers and functions as a patchwork of guidance has emerged domestically and internationally amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chamber has released two resources to navigate these challenges: 

“A single country acting alone cannot hope to defeat this threat to public health and global economic stability. Governments and companies should acknowledge the inevitable tension between social distancing and the need to allow for essential economic activity to continue,” said John Murphy, the Chamber's Senior Vice President of International Policy. Click here to read the full statement.  

 
Chamber Asks Congress to Ensure No Small Business is Left Behind in CARES Act- Provided by US Chamber (April 7)- Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley today sent a letter to congressional leaders urging quick action for American small businesses should Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding not be enough after surging demand for those programs. 

“We are sure that you agree that no small business, non-profit, self-employed individual, or independent contractor should be left behind simply because others applied and received loans or grants first.  We urge you to reassure small businesses that Congress will quickly increase funding for these programs should they approach their limits,” Bradley said in the letter. 

While the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) just began accepting applications on April 3, loan commitments reportedly already exceed 10% of the total $349 billion available. The upgraded SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program has a $10 billion cap on grants, which will support only 1 million businesses and non-profits. 

Click here to read the full text of the letter. 

 

State 

Update from The Office of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear as of 5 p.m. Tues., April 7, 2020 

  

  • The state now has 1,149 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 147 of which are new. The number is the largest single day announcement of confirmed cases to date, a number Beshear attributed to more health departments reporting from the previous weekend. 65 deaths have been attributed to the virus. 
  • After the press conference, the Northern Kentucky Health Department announced that 155 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Northern Kentucky. There are 75 cases in Kenton County, 37 cases in Campbell County, 34 cases in Boone County and 9 cases in Grant CountyRead the release here. 
  • Responding to a reporter’s question about racial demographics in confirmed COVID-19 cases, Gov. Beshear said that, based on the information currently confirmed (data is still being evaluated), 79.25 percent of Kentucky’s cases are Caucasian, 12 percent are African-American, 2.6 percent are Asian and 2 percent are multi-racial.   
  • Gov. Beshear announced that drive-thru testing on the state is “on hold” for now. 
  • Three “hot spots” of COVID-19 in the state were identified: (1) Long-Term Care Facilities; (2) the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City and (3) the Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville. Long-term care facilities have 55 confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents; Green River has 14 total confirmed cases; and Western State Hospital has 13 total cases. 
  • Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Deputy Secretary Josh Benton gave an update on unemployment insurance filings in the state. Addressing ongoing issues with phone inquiries and claim processing, Deputy Secretary Benton said that the state will have increased to 1,000-1,200 workers, up from 12 three weeks ago.  
  • Deputy Secretary Benton said those who have received denial letters should disregard them as many people who now qualify for benefits received an erroneous denial; those who also faced their benefits running out on July 1 will be able to re-file for an additional 13 weeks of benefits.  
  • Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner for the Department for Public Health, said the effort by the state was ramping up to do 2,000 tests a day. 

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. 

Last Updated Apri6th, 9:00am 

Federal 

US Chamber Releases New Guide to Paid Leave and Family Leave Programs (April 3)- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act created new temporary paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) programs that are 100% reimbursable by the federal government. Our guide provides information on requirements, employee eligibility, paid leave calculations and exemptions. 

Click here to access the guide. 

Click the links below to access more Chamber guides: 

 

Trump Moves to Prohibit Exports of Scarce Supplies- Provided by US Chamber (April 3)- At a press briefing Friday with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force President Trump announced that he is invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) to prohibit companies from exporting scarce supplies to other nations. Read more in The Wall Street Journal. 

 

The Task Force also announced the Centers for Disease Control is recommending all Americans wear face masks if they need to go out in public. 

Here are some additional announcements: 

  • The application window opened today for the Paycheck Protection Program, and $3.5 billion in loans was requested today. 
  • President Trump spoke with energy executives Friday and announced that the government will make space available in strategic petroleum reserves to store oil for a later time. 
  • Providers treating uninsured patients for COVID-19 will be reimbursed using $100 billion in funds from the stimulus packages passed last month.  
  • BlueCross BlueShield announced it will not require any copays from COVID-19 patients for next 60 days, similar to the commitments of Cigna, Humana, and Anthem. 

 

State 

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

  • The state now has 955 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 45 deaths attributed to the virus. The state has tested more than 18,700 people as of 5 p.m. Sunday. At least 306 patients have recovered. 
  • On Sunday, the Northern Kentucky Health Dept. announced there are now 126 cases of COVID-19 in Boone, Campbell, Kenton, and Grant counties. There have been six total deaths in NKY related to COVID-19.  Read the release here. 
  • Gravity Diagnostics in Covington will be providing up to 2,000 tests daily throughout the state with supplies set to be distributed Monday, April 6.   
  • On Sunday the Governor said there will be a need to crack down on those who continue to ignore guidance and gather in public without practicing social distancing if people continue to risk the lives of fellow Kentuckians and spread the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 
  • Following the recommendations of the CDC on Friday evening, the Governor recommended Kentuckians wear cloth face masks in public.  
  • 334 members of the Kentucky National Guard have been activated to help at hospitals and food banks. 
  • On Friday, April 3, the Governor announced with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a request from the state. The approval will recover Medicaid federal match rates and provide federal funds for a payment benefiting over 50 rural hospitals in the Commonwealth. For more on the announcement, click here 
  • There is a new phone number and Web site to make it easier to donate personal protective equipment (PPE). The hotline is (833) GIVE-PPE (448-3773) and the Web site is www.giveppe.ky.gov 

  

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. 

Last Updated April 3rd, 9:00am 

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. 

 

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