Category Archives: COVID – 19 Updates

Oregon Targeted to receive $4.2B in Federal Stimulus – Impact to State Legislation

stimulus check 5948809 1280

In some good news, with the recent passing of the latest Federal stimulus package Oregon is slated to receive $4.2B.  $2.6B is targeted directly at the state, the remaining $1.6B will be share among cities and counties.

This is good news there are a lot of state legislative bills currently focused on revenue raising/tax increases and this funding will take the pressure off the need to do that. We would hope to see very few bills targeted at raising revenue.  Another thing likely to take the pressure off raising revenue/tax bills is that the latest economic forecast for this biennium shows the kicker tax being triggered.

On a positive note, SB 842 is written to make sure that federal stimulus payments are not taxable.

At the Federal level, America’s Recovery Act doesn’t tax unemployment benefits and there is a drive to connect to that and make sure federal unemployment is not taxed at the state level.  

State Legislative Bills we are tracking include:

Good bills still alive:

  • HB 2343Allows local government to suspend Enterprise Zone requirements
  • SB 330Tax credit for forgiven rents for landlords
  • SB 727May allow Oregon businesses to claim federal ‘State & Local Tax’ (SALT) deduction in excess of $10,000 federal limit
  • SB 780COVID liability protections for health care facilities and providers
  • SB 842Tax exemption for federal stimulus payment to Oregon taxpayers

Good bills dead:

  • HB 2638General COVID liability protections for employers
  • SB 531Right to compensation for businesses closed by Governor’s orders

Challenging bills still alive:

  • HB 2253, HB 2457Levies state tax on PPP loans
  • HB 2474Expansion of Oregon family leave law, applies to all small businesses
  • HB 2489 –  Re-classification of independent contractors as employees
  • HB 2814‘Indirect Source’ requirement for building projects
  • HB 3171Adds insurance in the Unlawful Trade Practices Act
  • HB 3305Prohibits diesel fuel
  • SB 137, HB 2839Disconnects businesses from Federal CARES Act tax benefits
  • SB 139Eliminates Oregon’s ‘Small Business Tax Cut’ law
  • SB 483Retaliation presumption for employment actions taken within 60 days of whistleblower complaint
  • SB 716Requires employer to accommodate employee day care schedule
  • SB 801, SB 802Workers’ comp COVID presumption

 Challenging bills dead:

  • HB 2205Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), authorize private lawsuits for alleged violations of law and rules enforced by agencies
  • HB 2974Prohibits conditioning employment on refraining from drug use
  • SB 477Lower burden of proof for unlawful discrimination claims
  • SB 650“Fair Share” tax on employers that do not provide health insurance benefits

These bills represent the “playing field” for the business community for the next three weeks.

The next major deadline for bills is April 13th.  As such, these next three weeks are sure to be chaotic as committees further refine the list of policies that will be moving forward this session.

If you have interest or concern about these or other bills, please email Debi Mollahan, CEO, Tigard Chamber at Debi@tigardchamber.org

Federal

The American Rescue Plan, the recently federal stimulus signed into law among other things contains two big programs targeted at specific sectors– The Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

SBA will administer both programs.  Applications are expected to open for the shuttered venue program on April 8th and hopefully soon for the Restaurant Revitalization fund as well.

Vaccine Resources – CDC Essential Worker Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Employers

We were just made aware of this resource tool from the CDC for essential worker employers that want to educate and inform their employees about the COVID-19 vaccine.  We are sharing this information broadly to insure we don’t overlook anyone.  If this doesn’t apply directly to your business at this time, please share with someone you know that it does.

The CDC has designed a COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers to help employers build confidence in this important new vaccine. The toolkit will help employers across various industries educate their workforce about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. 
 
The toolkit contains a variety of resources including: 

  • key messages,
  • an educational slide deck
  • FAQs
  • posters/flyers – in English and Spanish
  • newsletter content
  • a plain language vaccine factsheet (available in several different languages)
  • a template letter for employees
  • social media content
  • vaccination sticker templates.

There are about 8-10 posters that are broad industry specific covering food service, first responders, healthcare, day care, construction, farmers, grocery, delivery and more.  Above is a sample of what that looks like.

The CDC will continue to add more materials to this toolkit, so please check back frequently for updates.
 
Please feel free to share this info with colleagues and businesses that you know in essential worker industries.

Urgent Ask – Make Small Business Whole Again from COVID-19- Pass Needed Funding & Protections

Legislative funding ask
Legislative funding ask

The Senate and House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici:

At a time when many small businesses are still struggling to regroup from measures taken during the COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions, several provisions of the CARES Act are coming to an end with no additional funding in sight.

The Tigard Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Save Small Business Coalition and we are supporting their fight to keep small businesses alive. We ask that Congress: 

Provide Business Liability Protection:

  • Protect business owners who follow applicable federal, state, or local government guidelines from COVID-19 related exposure liability.
  • Protect businesses from liability claims arising from COVID-19 medical care for healthcare workers and facilities.

Include Workforce Development:

  • Provide $1.3 billion to assist job seekers in accessing employment, education, training, and support services through a combination of new and existing programs.

 Assist with State and Local Aid:

  • Assist state and local governments experiencing one-time COVID-related expenses and revenue shortfalls based on a fixed share of actual costs and revenue shortfalls within an overall funding cap.

Extend and Enhance the Paycheck Protection Program:

  • Broaden the definition of forgivable expenses to include costs associated with protecting employees and customers and expand the period during which expenses qualify for loan forgiveness.
  • Simplify good-faith certification for the forgiveness of loans under $150,000.
  • Expand eligible borrowers to include all non-profits, including 501(c)(6) organizations with no more than 300 employees, as long as PPP funds are not used for lobbying.
  • Authorize a second round of loans for small businesses experiencing revenue reductions of 35% or higher.

The Tigard Chamber and our business community is counting on you to make small businesses whole again.

Sincerely,

Debi Mollahan

CEO, Tigard Chamber

Governor Brown Approved $20 Million more to Oregon’s Emergency Business Assistance Grant Fund

Funding

The Oregon legislature and Governor Brown approved $20 million more to Business Oregon’s Emergency Business Assistance Grant Fund. The application for this new round of funds will be available beginning this Thursday on Business Oregon’s website. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come first-served basis.
 
The grants are available to small businesses that have seen lost revenue due to the pandemic, and that meet a minimal set of requirements.
 
Businesses are eligible to receive up to $200,000 in grant funding as detailed in the grant application. To be eligible, a business must show it was prohibited from operations by the Governor’s Executive Order 20-12, or demonstrate a 25% reduction in sales over a 30-day period in 2020 compared to a comparable period in 2019.
 
This Thursday, the application form and additional details will be found on Business Oregon’s website in multiple languages. Grants will be reviewed on a first-come first-served basis, and will be allocated so that there is an equitable geographic distribution of funds as dictated by the Oregon Legislature. 
Visit Business Oregon’s website here for more information.

Governor Brown also announced that the state will commit $55 million in financial assistance to support Oregon businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. These funds will be allocated to counties to distribute to businesses who have been financially impacted, with a priority for the hospitality industry, businesses impacted by the freeze, small businesses, and women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Tribal-owned businesses.
 
The $55 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds will be allocated to counties, with each county receiving a base of $500,000 plus a per capita allocation of the remainder of the funds. The counties will be responsible for deciding how businesses apply to receive funds and communicating the application process to businesses.
 
The Governor’s Office anticipates that funds will be distributed to counties within the next several weeks. Businesses who are interested in applying should contact their county for more information. 
 
Read full press release here.

Business Alert – Governor Brown Orders 2 Week Freeze for Oregon Starting Nov 18th.

 12:04 PM PST November 13, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. — Gov. Kate Brown announced on Friday a two-week “freeze” for the entire state of Oregon that’ll begin on Nov. 18. The purpose of the new restrictions is to limit group activities that are contributing to the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the state.

Restaurants and bars will be limited to take-out only, and recreational facilities and venues that host indoor or outdoor events will be closed.

The freeze will last through Dec. 2. Here is the list of new restrictions the governor’s office released:

  • Limiting social get-togethers (indoors and outdoors) to no more than six people, total, from no more than two households.
  • Limiting faith based organizations to a maximum of 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.
  • Limiting restaurants and bars to take-out only.
  • Closing gyms and fitness organizations.
  • Closing indoor recreational facilities, museums, indoor entertainment activities, and indoor pools and sports courts.
  • Closing outdoor recreational facilities, zoos, gardens, aquariums, outdoor entertainment activities, and outdoor pools.
  • Limiting grocery stores and pharmacies to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
  • Limiting retail stores and retail malls (indoor and outdoor) to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
  • Closing venues (that host or facilitate indoor or outdoor events).
  • Requiring all businesses to mandate work-from-home to the greatest extent possible and closing offices to the public.
  • Prohibiting indoor visiting in long-term care facilities.

Your can listen to the complete video broadcast from Governor Brown and public health officials at this link, Governor’s 2 Week Freeze Announcement