Kinney outlines bipartisan legislation passed in COVID-19 response

Mar 18, 2020

The Maine Legislature Tuesday night passed a series of bipartisan bills to address the COVID-19 pandemic. In a newsletter to constituents today, Rep. MaryAnne Kinney, R-Knox, said the measures ranged from additional monies for dealing with the virus to legislation to help combat it.

The various programs were established "to help whether you are self-employed, a small business, or an employee facing layoffs," Kinney wrote.

"I know as Mainers we will get through this current situation as we always do, by helping one another and relying on those traits that make us Mainers — neighborliness and self-reliance," she said in the newsletter.

Kinney described the measures as follows:

• LD 2163, “An Act to Address Funding Needs Related to COVID19,”authorizes transfers of up to $11 million to the COVID19 Response Fund established by the state controller to fund needs associated with COVID19.

• LD 2167, “An Act To Implement Provisions Necessary to the Health, Welfare and Safety of the Citizens of Maine in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” a multifaceted bill that includes the following:

o Part A increases discretion for the Maine Department of Education to waive certain school day attendance requirements and provide nutritional services due to school closures resulting from COVID19. More information can be found at the MDOE website.

o Part B relates to unemployment compensation. This section specifies that benefits paid to an individuals under this section may not be charged against the employer and must be charged to the general fund. It makes eligible individuals who are under temporary medical quarantine or isolation to ensure they are not infected during the health emergency, and employees temporarily laid off because of partial or full closure of a place of employment, and waives the waiting period for benefits. It also allows for those who voluntarily leave work with good cause for reasonable fear of infection or exposure or to care for affected family members as long as the individual remains available and maintains contact with the employer to receive benefits. Additional information is provided online at Unemployment Insurance FAQs Regarding COVID-19.

o Part F allows municipalities to extend registrations and licenses that would expire during the emergency for 30 days following termination of the public health emergency and provides for online registration for renewal of registrations regardless of whether the municipality participates in the online system.

o Part I establishes a loan guarantee program to guarantee the repayment of loans made by eligible institutions to employees affected by the emergency. Employees must provide the financial institution proof of reduction of income and state residency. Creditworthiness may not be a factor in determining eligibility. Additional loans may be applied for each 30-day period that the employee remains eligible. More information can be found at the Finance Authority of Maine website.

o Part J delays from April 22, 2020, to Jan. 15, 2021, the requirement that a retail establishment charge a fee of at least 5 cents per recycled paper or reusable plastic bag used at the point of sale.

Kinney also reminded constituents of the Small Business Administration's Economic Impact Disaster Loans, announced earlier this week; for more information, visit sba.gov/disaster. An SBA toll-free line has been established to answer questions at 1-800-659-2955.

The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, SBA, SCORE and Women Business Centers will be providing workshops to answer questions and to help small businesses with the loan application process. Small business owners can find additional guidance on the U.S. CDC Site.

"We encourage everyone that is financially able to continue to patronize local businesses in accordance with best practices and following the advice from the CDC," Kinney said in the newsletter. "This includes ordering takeout from your favorite local restaurants as they adapt to now offer that service. Buy gift cards which provide cash immediately without impacting supplies. Order locally online when you can. These store owners and employees are our friends and neighbors and their businesses are essential to our local economies."

 

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