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PO Box 440, St. Albans Bay, VT  05481

Phone: 802.876.6200

Email: info@homebuildersvt.com

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Legislative Update April 1, 2020

04/02/2020 5:35 PM | Denis Bourbeau (Administrator)

During Governor Scott’s press conference today, Vermont’s Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mark Levine, gave the latest COVID-19 patient data: As of March 31 there were 28 new positive cases, for a total of 321. There is a total of 15 deaths. Dr. Levine also reported on the growing evidence that the COVID-19 virus can be present for 48 hours before symptoms can appear. Anyone concerned about contact risk should work back over a 48 hour period to determine exposure. Levine also reported that 12% of tested cases were coming back positive.

 Governor Scott asked for Vermonters with medical experience - nurses, pharmacists, EMSs, physician assistants, veterinarians, mental health workers, etc. - to register at Vermont.gov/volunteer. This is so the state can be ready if and when critical needs arise. People with experience in the fields of childcare, grocery worker, public works professional, drivers, etc., can register to volunteer as well.

Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Lindsay Kurrle, encouraged businesses to apply for both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and the Payroll Protection Program offered under the CARES Act.

·        The EIDL is a low interest loan Administered by the SBA. Applicants can also request a $10,000 advance that does not have to be repaid, even if the loan application is denied.

·        The PPP is a loan administered by local lending institutions and backed by the SBA. Employers are eligible to receive 250% of average monthly payroll costs for up to eight weeks. The loan can be forgiven if the employer uses the funds to keep paying wages and salaries of employees. In addition to wages the funds can be used for other operational expenses such as rent and utilities. Additional details and guidance are still forthcoming.

Kurrle also revealed an updated COVID-19 resource center at ACCD.VT.Gov., divided into sections with for business, individuals and communities.

Acting Commissioner of Taxes, Michael Harrington, said that the department had received over 30,000 claims so far – more than in a typical year – and expected new reports tomorrow to push that number over 40,000. He acknowledged the frustration of many people trying to get through on the phone and asked for patience. With regards to the supplemental $600 federal unemployment benefit, Harrington reminded listeners that if you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019 there was nothing further you needed to do other file weekly claims as usual. Funds will be deposited automatically into your bank account or a check will be mailed.

Notes:

 Dr. Levine, Commissioner of Health - I have five bullet points:

  • Latest data, as of March 31 - 28 new cases. Up to a total of 321. 
    • [Holding chart]  Ignore the last three days. Grey and magenta are the negative results. Blue equals positive results. 
    • The yellow/green trend is the important part - A distinct upward direction of all tests done that are positive. Now in the 12% range.
  • Total as of yesterday is 15 deaths. Two involved elderly in group living situations. The other two were in the hospitals.
  • What happens when there's an outbreak in a facility?
    • We separate people who are cases from those who aren’t. Appropriate isolation and contact work.
    • Our response teams have reported to eight total facilities. We’re behind many states in terms of the number of facilities that have had a case.
  • I want to let the public and colleagues know that we do want testing in a much more expansive way.
    • We want to be able to provide surveillance of the entire population. 
    • People with symptoms will still be prioritized
  • CDC info on exposure risk.
    • One can transmit in the asymptomatic, or pre-symptomatic state. There’s growing evidence that there's about a 48 hour period before symptoms appear during which time you could transit.
    • If you're concerned about contact with someone who’s sick, work back 48 hours to determine your exposure.
    • Keep practicing social distancing.
    • The point is there are people out there who aren't trying to harm you but might be transmitting without knowing it.
    • Don’t go out and buy masks, but stay vigilant.

 Gov. Scott - 

  • Thanks to Vermonters for the way they’re dealing with this crisis to slow the spread.
  • The simple act of staying home is making a huge difference.
  • With all that you are doing, it’s difficult to ask for more, but that's what we need to do:
    • We need volunteers for a medical work reserve corp.  Please go to Vermont.gov/volunteer and register if you have medically related experience so we can begin a list of resources.
  • What’s available for economic relief:
    • Expanded UI
    • Help for those who might not otherwise qualify for UI
    • Cash for those who need it most for food and other essentials
    • Help for small businesses.
  • Thanks to Welch and Sanders, but especially Leahy as vice chair of Appropriations.
  • We’ll continue to flatten the curve while building.

 Lindsay Kurrle, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development -

  • This is a day to day, hour to hour situation for our business community.
  • We continue to answer questions while developing business support tools.
  • Our hardest days may lie ahead.
  • We’ve rolled out an updated resource center at ACCD.VT.Gov
  • Direct one-time payments of $1200 to individuals who earn up to $75,000.
    • Plus $500 for each dependent. 
    • Will be deposited automatically per last tax filing information, or mailed.
  • We’re encouraging every business to apply for EIDL. Apply and then request an advance of $10k. Reach out directly to the SBA. Or to your RDC.
  • Also take advantage of PPP
    • Up to $10mm
    • SBA will forgive the first 8 weeks of expenses.
  • Get in touch with mortgage lenders now if you're experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19
  • Also, a small business task force.
    • Charged with creating economic tools
  • We know we’ll need to do more.

 Michael Harrington, Acting Commissioner of Labor

  • We recognize there’s a massive number of individuals doing all they can to contact us. 
  • As we know, UI is not the easiest to understand, so a general overview. Please be as patient as possible. Continue to be resilient in trying to get through.
  • Perspective
    • In the past two weeks we’ve processed more clams than we do in a year
    • At least 30k, possible 40k.
    • Updated info tomorrow.
    • Our old system is pushed to the max. Not meant for this level.
    • We’ve tripled our staff on the phone lines.
    • Added as many electronic forms online as we can.
    • We’ve expanded benefits to people impacted directly or indirectly.
    • From federal perspective:
      • Lots of questions about the additional $600. There’s nothing further you need to do other file weekly claims as usual. 
      • Once the initial claim is done, you will file each week for the week prior.
      • The Maximum benefit of 26 weeks has been expanded by an additional 13 weeks.
    • We’re standing up a totally separate UI system for the self-employed.
  • I want to ensure that just because there’s a delay, it will not impact your eligibility or benefits.

 Rep. Peter Welch -

  • We’re doing what we have to to be safe. 
  • The consequence of that is that we turned off the economy.
  • Today is April 1: rent is due, bills are due.
  • The role of Government is to help citizens comply with social distancing and recognize the financial hardship. It's the role of the federal government now to be that backstop. It’s the only entity too capable of handling this,
    • $1200 check for income of $75,000 or less. If you filed taxes last year you’ll get an automatic deposit into your account.
    • Thousands of people have been laid off. $600 of supplemental unemployment on top of VT UI. For up to 4 months.
    • Small business - 
      • Can apply for a $10k EIDL grant. 
      • PPP allows a business to seek up to 250% of monthly payroll, if they use it to keep employees paid, then they don’t have to pay it back.
  • We’ll get through this by working together.

 Andrew Brewer | Government Relations Specialist
Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC | Business Sense · Legal Ingenuity
52 State Street | Montpelier, VT 05602-3176
Cell: 802-279-0838 | Direct: 802-225-5514

abrewer@drm.com | www.drm.com

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