As the COVID-19 public health crisis evolves, your Chamber advocacy team is working to share legislative updates and continue to advocate for your business in Washington, D.C., Harrisburg, and Philadelphia. We’ve created a round-up of recent activity including Key Takeaways for Your Business and a Detailed Legislative Update. This represents our best knowledge of the situation as of 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

Chamber members are invited to join weekly legislative update calls hosted by our Advocacy team to hear the latest on COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts at the federal, state, and local level as well as other legislative matters concerning our community.

We also have a COVID-19 Information Hub with up-to-date resources to support your business.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Federal

  • The third wave of federal COVID-19 stimulus, the CARES Act was signed by the President last week.
  • The $2.2 trillion CARES Act includes expanded Unemployment Benefits, small business assistance, and $500 billion of assistance to distressed sectors.
  • The Moving Forward infrastructure framework has been proposed in the House to provide the foundation for the next package of economic stimulus measures.
  • The Chamber is actively assembling infrastructure investment areas of importance in addition to other stimulus measures. We encourage members to help us identify areas that should be included in our advocacy.

State

  • Pennsylvania has received over 30,000 requests for waivers from businesses who shut down due to the government order that non-life-sustaining businesses close to slow the spread of COVID-19, the waiver application process will end COB Friday, April 3, 2020.
  • Legislation is expected to be introduced in the PA House to allow the construction industry to open for business.
  • The PA Senate is privately discussing the possibility of waiving the physical damage requirement where business interruption insurance polices require physical damage for a claim to be valid.
  • Several bills are currently being considered to support small and micro businesses.
  • Governor Wolf announced the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA) to help support small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Local

  • Philadelphia’s City Council approved $85.4 million in funding to help combat the COVID-19 emergency.
  • The Chamber hosted Councilmember Derek Green for a virtual gathering with Chamber members and will host Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier (April 8) and Maria Quinones Sanchez (April 10) next week.
  • The City and PIDC have announced changes to the Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund for March 30, closing applications for Small Business loans and grants. Applications for Microenterprise grants will be reviewed as new funds become available.
  • The City continues to provide resources for residents and businesses to stay informed during the COVID-19 crisis.

DETAILED LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Federal: Updates from Washington D.C.

CARES Act Signed Into Law

Last week, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law, the third phase of economic stimulus and financial assistance that provides $2.2 trillion to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • Direct payments to most adults
  • Expanded Unemployment Benefits
  • Small business assistance, including a $350 billion “paycheck protection program
  • $500 billion of assistance to distressed sectors

The CARES Act is the third congressional response to the pandemic to date. Prior to passage of the bill, Congress had passed a bill with $8.3 billion in emergency funding as well as the Families First Coronavirus Act, which among other things, required certain employers to provide employees with paid sick leave or extended leave. Efforts are now underway to advance a fourth bill.

Infrastructure Framework Introduced in the House

Yesterday, House Democrats proposed the Moving Forward infrastructure framework – which was their infrastructure spending bill that was released in January 2020 – as their foundation for the next package of economic stimulus measures. The framework is a $760 billion spending package which would invest in highway and bridge refurbishment, transit, drinking water and wastewater projects, renewable energy investments, brownfield restoration, and the expansion of broadband service to rural and other underserved communities. House leaders are laying out additions to the original framework to include investment in community health centers, affordable housing, education, and medical needs such as personal protective equipment. The President has given his support for an infrastructure proposal.

The House is expected to return the week of April 20 and intends to release and quickly move the legislation. Nevertheless, development of the bill is happening now. The Chamber is actively assembling infrastructure investment areas of importance in addition to other stimulus measures critical for our members that were unaddressed, underfunded, or omitted in the three previous stimulus measures.  We will advocate for these priorities with our regional congressional delegation throughout the next several weeks. Chamber members are encouraged to highlight any of these areas that should be included in our advocacy by emailing Anselm Sauter (asauter@chamberphl.com).

Question? Contact Anselm Sauter (asauter@chamberphl.com) for more information about federal legislative affairs.

State: Updates from Harrisburg

Helping Businesses Do Business

Ensuring the health and safety of our citizens, employees, and customers is the number one priority of our business community. Your Chamber is working with other chambers statewide and the Wolf Administration on efforts to allow more businesses to use common sense and CISA guidelines to operate – a standard being used by many states. The Commonwealth Department of Community and Economic Development has received over 30,000 requests for waivers from businesses who shut down due to the government order that non-life-sustaining businesses close to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Chamber is seeking to ensure those critical supply chain industries continue to be viable at this extraordinary time. The Wolf Administration announced today that the waiver application process will end COB tomorrow.

In Harrisburg, legislation to allow the construction industry to open for business is likely to be moved by PA House Speaker Mike Turzai next week. The Administration and legislative leaders failed to come to an agreement last week about how construction companies could safely operate.

Insurance Policy Discussion Underway

The Pennsylvania Senate is privately discussing how to help businesses whose operations have been shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis. Companies are learning that their business interruption insurance polices only allow for physical damage in order for the claim to be valid. The discussion is centered around waiving the physical damage requirement, but experts warn legislation can’t change a current contract between a provider and a company. New Jersey is seriously considering passing such a measure despite future legal ramifications.

Legislation to Help Small Businesses and Micro Businesses

The following measures are being considered in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to help small businesses in response to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Pennsylvania Representatives Jared Solomon (D-Phila) and Valarie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) introduced a small business emergency assistance bill
  • State Senator Tom Killion (R-Delaware/Chester) introduced a bill to provide state zero interest loans to small businesses.
  • State Representatives Joe Ciresi (D-Montgomery) and Pam Snyder (D-Fayette) announced they will sponsor a bill to offer grants to ultra-small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The measure creates a $50 million grant program for businesses making no more than $3 million per year or employing up to 30 full-time employees.

PIDA Small Business First Fund Available

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that funding is available to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19, through a new program under the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s (PIDA) Small Business First Fund, the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA).

The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) recently authorized the transfer of $40 million to the Small Business First Fund for CWCA. PIDA authorized making $60 million available to provide loans of $100,000 or less to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees.

All loan applications must be submitted through a Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO). Businesses seeking guidance from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow updates at www.governor.pa.gov and www.doh.pa.gov.

Question? Contact Liz Ferry (lferry@chamberphl.com) for more information about state legislative affairs.

Local: Updates from Philadelphia’s City Hall

Updates from City Council

City Council held its first ever virtual session earlier today and voted to approve $85.4 million in funding to help combat the COVID-19 emergency. Of the funding, $85 million will go to the Managing Director’s office to provide spending flexibility and $400,000 will be used by Council to help inform the public regarding safety measures.

The Chamber continues to host virtual gatherings with members of Council. Earlier today, the Chamber held a virtual Council Connector Gathering with Councilmember Derek Green. Attendees were able to learn more about how Council is responding to COVID-19 and resources currently available, get a synopsis of how the hospitality industry is faring, and have a robust conversation about what economic recovery will look like for Philadelphia. There are two Council Connector gatherings scheduled for next week, contact Darrell Davis (ddavis@chamberphl.com) for more information:

  • April 8, 1:00 p.m. – Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District)
  • April 10, 10:00 a.m. – Councilmember Maria Quinones Sanchez (7th District)

Changes to the Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund

Earlier this week, Mayor Kenney announced the City and PIDC have announced the following changes to the Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund. All Microenterprise Grant, Small Business Grant, and Small Business Zero Interest Loan applications received after 5 p.m. on Monday, March 30, will only be accepted and reviewed from businesses applying for Microenterprise Grants of $5,000. Applications for Small Business Grants and Zero-Interest Loans will no longer be accepted. Any Microenterprise Grant applications received after March 30 at 5 p.m. will be reviewed as new funds become available. Businesses are encouraged to apply for the state and federal support outlined above.

COVID-19 Resources offered by the City of Philadelphia

The City of Philadelphia has organized a robust collection of resources for residents and business owners:

Question? Contact William Carter (wcarter@chamberphl.com) or Darrell Davis (ddavis@chamberphl.com) for more information about local legislative affairs. 

WE’RE HERE FOR YOU, YOUR TEAM, AND YOUR BUSINESS

The constantly changing nature of this public health crisis requires continued engagement with public policy developments. We invite you to reach out to our advocacy team directly with your questions: 

Chamber members are invited to join weekly legislative update calls hosted by our Advocacy team to hear the latest on COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts at the federal, state, and local level as well as other legislative matters concerning our community.

We also have a COVID-19 Information Hub with up-to-date resources to support your business.