Senate HEALS Act Contains NDA-Supported Priorities
On: July 31, 2020 | By:
Senate Republicans recently released a package of bills that will serve as their “Phase 4” COVID-relief legislation and used as a starting point in their negotiations with the House on a final bill. Known as the “HEALS Act”, the bill includes several NDA-backed priorities that were lobbied for over the last several months including employer liability protections, additional small business loan funding, 501(c)(6) PPP eligibility, reduced unemployment benefits, and business tax credits for personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 testing and other employee protections.
Staff is still reviewing the details of the proposals, but below is an overview of the key provisions already identified:
Employer Liability Protections: The “SAFE TO WORK Act” creates temporary rules for COVID-specific claims which will help businesses and protect employers from liability under federal labor and employment laws for actions they take to follow COVID-related regulations and agency guidance.
The bill would:
- Help those essential businesses that have remained open to stay open, and help other businesses to reopen safely and without fear so that American workers can earn paychecks;
- Encourage and protect workers who return to their jobs by rewarding compliance with coronavirus-related public health guidelines;
- Provide uniformity and predictability for good actors; and
- Ensure that bad-faith actors are held accountable for coronavirus-related related injuries.
Unemployment Benefits: NDA lobbied Capitol Hill for a reduction of the additional $600 per week benefit to provide a better balance for employers and recipients. The HEALS Act reduces that payment to $200 per week through September. Starting in October, this payment would be replaced with a payment (up to $500) that, when combined with the state UI payment, would replace 70 percent of lost wages—either via a formula specified in the bill or by a state proposing an alternative method and receiving approval from the Secretary of Labor.
Business Tax Credits: The proposal contains the following business tax-related provisions:
- Increases the employee retention credit from 50% to 65% of wages and increases the wage cap to $10,000 per employee each quarter (along with expanded eligibility);
- Creates a temporary new category of Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) of up to $5,000 for employers who hire unemployed workers.
- Creates a new refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of an employer’s qualified employee protection expenses, such as testing for COVID-19, protective personal equipment, cleaning supplies, qualified workplace reconfiguration expenses, including modifications to workspaces for the purpose of protecting employees and customers from the spread of COVID-19.
Paycheck Protection Program
- Provides $190 billion in additional Paycheck Protection Program funding;
- Expands the uses for PPP funds to include covered operations expenditures, covered worker protection expenditures, covered supplier costs, and property damage costs;
- Caps the maximum loan at $2 million per recipient;
- Allows PPP recipients to select a covered 8-week period through December 31, 2020 to use the forgivable loan funds;
- Establishes a simplified forgiveness application process for PPP loans in two categories: under $150,000 and loans between $150,000 and $2 million;
- Clarifies that other employer-provided group insurance benefits are included in payroll costs for calculating forgiveness; and
- Allows struggling small businesses to receive a second PPP loan:
- To qualify, an eligible business must have 300 or fewer employees and demonstrate at least a 50% reduction in gross receipts in the first or second quarter of 2020 relative to the same quarter in 2019.
- In general, borrowers may receive a loan amount of to 2.5 times average total monthly payroll costs in the one year prior to the loan, up to $2 million.
- Borrowers of a Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw would be eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the sum of their payroll costs, covered mortgage, rent, utility payments, covered operations expenditures, covered property damage costs, covered supplier costs, and covered worker protection expenditures incurred before January 1, 2021. The 60/40 cost allocation between payroll and non-payroll costs in order to receive full forgiveness will continue to apply.
In response to the Senate proposal, NDA will be sending another Phase 4 letter to Capitol Hill and updating its grassroots campaign for members to weigh in on NDA-backed priorities. For questions, contact Kevin McKenney at email@example.com.
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