While many state and localities have put into place Emergency Orders to close non-essential businesses, the New Jersey Governor went a step further and issued Executive Order 109 requiring businesses to inventory their personal protective equipment (PPE) by 5:00pm ET today, Friday, March 27. The specific order states:
“that any business, non-hospital health care facility of institution of higher learning in possession of PPE, ventilator, respirators, or anesthesia machines not required for the provision of critical health care services shall undertake an inventory of these supplies.”
The Order does not state that the state will take the needed supplies at this point in time - that determination will be made at a later time if needed. Those businesses not in compliance are subject to imprisonment and/or a fine. If a business has PPE it can also sign up to donate that equipment through the same website.
The link is: https://covid19.nj.gov/ppereport
ARA will track these and similar developments that might crop up in hot spot areas and please watch for similar Orders in your state.
The 3rd coronavirus economic relief plan that passed the U.S. Senate is being held up in the House of Representatives by one Congressman who might not agree to a voice vote. As mentioned yesterday, the plan was to bring the $2 trillion bi-partisan package to the House floor under Unanimous Consent (UC) which allows for a voice vote if no one objects. Otherwise a quorum has to be established and a roll call vote taken. Currently the House is calling back Members of Congress to be prepared to vote in person on the measure because Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) has discussed opposition and may hold up the UC option. Plans are being finalized for Capitol building social distancing protocols if this action is needed. A final resolution is sure to happen on such an important piece of economic relief and ARA will provide more details on provisions once analyzed and finalized.
A state-by-state chart of state actions, provided by the National Governors Association, was updated yesterday and it notes Emergency Declarations, Major Disaster Declarations, Statewide Limits on Gatherings, Statewide Closures of Non-Essential Businesses, Statewide Curfews and other actions. The link is HERE.
STAY SAFE! Stay Healthy! Please do not hesitate to contact ARA Staff with any questions or concerns. You can reach us at 571-208-0428 extension 2 or 3 or Sandy directly at 505-228-0401.
The Senate passed the $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus package by a vote of 96 – 0 with the absentee Senators in quarantine. The bill now goes to the House today for an expected voice vote, but a few Congressmen have issues and could potentially hold up passage.
The 880-page bill prescribes direct financial payments to certain income level Americans, aid to hospitals and other financial assistance to help prop up the economy during the pandemic. Of special interest is a business tax credit aimed at helping companies retain workers on their payrolls. While the details are still emerging, the fully refundable tax credit would cover furloughed employee wages or a reduced workforce and would be applied against the employer’s portion of payroll taxes which would be suspended. Eligible businesses could claim a 50% tax credit per employee on wages up to $10,000 per employee. Some small businesses (under 100 employees) could get a 50% credit on all paid wages regardless of if the employees were furloughed. To qualify the business must have a 50% gross receipts loss as compared to the same quarter last year.
Other business provisions include easing limits on businesses that use previous years losses to get rebates and increasing the deduction for business interest expense amounts. ARA will provide more detailed information as it comes out.
As reported last week, paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave changes were enacted to accommodate the employment impact from the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday the Department of Labor (DOL) released guidance for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This guidance is the “first round of information and compliance assistance” and a workplace poster will be released later this week along with other detailed information. The new provisions go into effect on April 1, 2020. ARA will analyze and provide to its membership the specific details as they unfold. Click here for the preliminary guidance.
ARA sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) volunteering recycled original equipment parts for the potential repurposing to medical equipment especially the much-needed ventilators. While several automakers are retooling their facilities to make simple ventilators there has been some discussion that there may be auto parts that are viable for these production purposes as well. ARA will keep its members further informed on this issue and any possible participation. Click here to view the letter.
ARA’s letter that was sent last week to President Trump was also sent to the U.S. governors and the National Governors Association sent a reply providing multiple charts and tracking of state activities. As previously reported, states and in some instances, localities have police powers and can determine their own Emergency Orders. While ARA and many in the business community have advocated for a central, federal framework, the country is seeing a patchwork of orders and mandates. To help examine what is going on around the country regarding what it considered an “essential service” by states that have implemented Emergency Orders available to view here.
Also view this link for explanatory notes.
Check out the Updated COVID-19 Resource page on this website.
Finally, at 1:37am ET Monday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced an agreement has been reached on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. Full details are being worked out by Congressional staff but the measure will assist large and small businesses, unemployment insurance, hospitals and private citizens. After five days of negotiations, the package needs to be approved by both the full Senate, which is expected, and the House of Representatives. Under an Unanimous Consent (UC) House rule, the House can pass “non-controversial” legislation without a roll call vote. While this package is not assured that status, it is hoped that the House will not have to call its Members back to Washington, D.C. to vote in person. Once again stay tuned for the latest and the details of the plan which will impact many business and employee provisions.
Automotive parts might be useful in production of much needed medical equipment. ARA has been in touch with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and will follow-up in writing to learn how recyclers can be of assistance for the production of hospital ICU ventilators. Canadian recyclers have entered a “Manufacturing ICU Ventilators Challenge” that will evaluate “standard industrial components” that might quicken production of medical equipment.
Ford, 3M and GE Healthcare have partnered together to begin the manufacturing of 100,000 plastic face shields in Ford’s Michigan plants. In addition, Ford will also produce powered air-purifying respirators that assist medical workers breathing as well as simplified ventilators for patients
Canada’s two largest provinces – Ontario and Quebec – have included automotive repair as an essential service during the provinces’ recently announced mandatory business closures.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announce that those truck drivers with expiring or soon to expire licenses or medical cards will have until at least June to renew and deadlines will be reviewed as the pandemic unfolds. In addition, the AAMVA website, https://www.aamva.org/ details state by state “Motor Vehicle Industry Response on COVID-19 Pandemic” when you scroll down the main page. NMVTIS is still working since so much of its activities are on-line.
Please note that at least one if not more employees of Amazon have tested positive for COVID-19 and the media is recommending continued caution when handling packages.
In order to comply with the Virginia Governor's Directive to close all non-essential businesses, we will close the ARA Office as of mid-afternoon Monday, March 25th, and work remote from home. You will still be able to reach us at 571-208-0428, Ext. 2 or 3. However, if an immediate response is needed, please call ARA Executive Director, Sandy Blalock, at 505-228-0401.
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For all updates, go to ARA's COVID-19 Page
For all resources, go to ARA's COVID-19 Resource Page
Many ARA members have asked if there are “transit” letters for employees going to and from their “essential” businesses in the case of a state or locality stay-at-home or other business shutdown mandate. ARA was on a call yesterday with a representative of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) discussing the “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.” While automotive recyclers fit within their definitions of essential workforce under the terms “automotive repair and maintenance facilities” and “employees who repair and maintain vehicles”, the document is only a guidance. States and in some instances, localities determine which businesses are essential and can remain open. But please remember that things are changing on an hourly basis and we are tracking as fast as we can all changes.
On the questions of a transit letter, during yesterday’s call with CISA, a question was asked about documentation for workers going to and from essential businesses. The CISA staff said that they were “working through that as we speak”. He suggested that they might provide a templet for a letter but there are so many issues that they are working out and promised “more to come” on that issue. There is confusion over this especially because a “federal” letter wouldn’t replace a state letter. Many business groups are exploring how to make this work and have asked states to provide more clarity. Please find a draft template for your employees to carry with them to and from work if you are in a state or locality that has a work stoppage order or “stay at home” order in place. They should also carry business cards if they have them or another form of identification. The letter should be put on your letterhead and you can enter your specific business and employee information in the yellow highlighted parts. Employees have been stopped going to and from their jobs across the country. Click for sample letter.
There is still no deal in the U.S. Senate on a third coronavirus relief bill amongst much partisan rancor. Senate Democrats have held up passage with demands for less “slush funding” and have also tied issues to their demands that are not directly related to the current pandemic. A successful vote is still expected today, being brokered by the Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Stay tuned.
For small businesses that might need credit during this turbulent health and financial crisis, the Small Business Administration (SBA) “is looking at every option and taking every action to cut red tape to make it easier for small business to stay in business.” The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) can give a business up to $2 million. According to EIDL, “These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. ... The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses.” SBA also allows small businesses to spread out the loan over as long as 30 years dependent on a case-by-case basis. To apply: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
In addition, the Federal Reserve announced that they are establishing programs using the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) possibly allowing small and large businesses “to tap new credit.”
Find More Resources at https://www.a-r-a.org/covid-19-resources
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On the critical issue of what is considered an “essential” business, ARA wants to be sure that automotive recyclers understand the evolving state-by-state nature of this determination. As earlier reported, states and in some instance’s localities, are designating which businesses can stay open in case of a “stay at home” or business shutdown mandate.
AT THIS POINT IN TIME, the following states have provided specific exemptions for our industry:
Further, the also previously reported Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) “Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response” lists GUIDANCE FOR STATES to make that determination. While “automaker repair and maintenance facilities” and “employees who repair and maintain vehicles” are covered, they are only included in a “recommended set” for states to consider.
Please continue to check your local print, social and broadcast media to keep track of your state and local closures and exemptions. If you have any concerns or questions please do not hesitate to reach out to ARA.
A third economic stimulus and relief package in response to COVID-19 has stalled in the U.S. Senate. On Sunday night Democrats pushed back against a multi-layered $1.6 trillion bill that includes financial assistance for corporations as well as enhancements to employment insurance and worker protection provisions. Senate Democrats say that it does not offer enough worker assistance and has too much corporate aide. House Speaker Pelosi weighed in against the Republican and Administration’s plan and is putting together an alternative. Timing is critical and negotiations continue around the clock. ARA is researching the details and once this package is finalized, ARA will update if there are any changes to key provisions such as family and medical leave and other employee measures.
Some automakers are closer to manufacturing medical equipment. General Motors entered into a partnership with Ventec Life Systems to begin making ventilators. According to President Trump, Ford and Tesla have been "given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST!"
The question about the availability of OEM parts during the shutdown of automakers’ manufacturing facilities is still up in the air and could change rapidly as the pandemic further unfolds. Multiple OEM statements have stated that parts distribution has continued but few details have emerged at this point in time.
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ARA sent a letter to President Trump urging consideration of automotive recyclers as essential businesses. Specifically, ARA stated “We urge you to include automotive recycling facilities in any national initiatives, Executive Orders or other legislative/regulatory vehicles that deem certain industries and businesses as “essential." Automotive recyclers are primarily small businesses and important to their communities. While we wish to keep them safe throughout this process, they stand ready to manipulate their employee schedules, exposure and facilities to accommodate this basic function of providing Americans with safe and reliable transportation.”
The letter was also copied to Vice President Pence, 5 Cabinet Secretaries, House and Senate leadership and all 50 Governors. ARA has already heard from the Department of Transportation that this will be brought to Secretary Chao’s attention and provided ARA with the most recent document from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding what is considered critical infrastructure. The sectors are only broadly-based and do not go to the level of automotive manufacturing, parts supply and repair in this federally based, evolving document.
A similar joint letter was sent by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Click here to see full ARA letter.
California’s 40 million residents have been ordered by the Governor to “stay at home.” The Executive Order N-33-20 exempts a broad range of services such as food, medical care, police and law enforcement, gas stations, pharmacies and banks. The Executive Order refers to the above-mentioned DHS guidelines and more details about specific business exemptions has only been addressed on the state and local level at this point in time.
Another example of local, versus federal, activity is in Bergen County, New Jersey where the County Executive revoked a previous order closing business including body shops. A new order is being developed after push back by the industry.
The U.S. Congress is trying to quickly craft a third economic stimulus package with the hopes of finishing this work by the beginning of next week. The most recent proposed trillion package by Senate Republicans includes a direct payment of $1,200 for those who make $99,000 or less. Married couples could get $2,400. Families with children could get $500 per child. Small business would be eligible for $300 billion in federally guaranteed loans and pushes the tax filing deadline to July 15 (approved this morning) amongst other financial support provisions. Senate Democrats have a $750 billion plan that expands paid sick and family leave as well as unemployment insurance. Their plan also includes as much as $2,000 per month for adults and further relief for small businesses. More details about ongoing negotiation are forthcoming.
Automakers continue to shutter production facilities around the globe. While they are investigating turning these manufacturing plants into production of ventilators and other medical equipment, the task is complex and lengthy. Canadian auto parts manufacturers are likewise running exercises to examine how medical device production might be accomplished.
This week the President invoked the Defense Production Act in case it is needed. The 1950 law allows the federal government “to compel the private sector to accelerate the development of critical medical equipment.”
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A COVID-19, aka Coronavirus, relief bill passed in the U.S. Senate. This bill is the second relief bill passed by Congress and reported here earlier this week after passage by the U.S. House. According to CNN the revised and somewhat scaled back legislation:
Major American automakers are halting production at their factories through the end of March. The United Auto Workers are working on plans that would provide social distancing protocols along with staggered shifts for when the facilities reopen. GM, and possibly others, may switch some of their production lines to manufacture ventilators and medical equipment. Tesla’s Fremont California plant will remain open but with limited production in spite of a county ruling that initially said that they are a non-essential business. Negotiations are ongoing.
The U.S.-Canada border is closed but the two countries are working out the details about what is considered “essential” for continued trade. According to the Canadian Prime Minister that “deliveries of food, fuel and medicines would continue under the agreement."
For updates, visit ARA's website: www.a-r-a.org/covid-19 Click HERE to become an ARA Member!
Facing pressure from lawmakers and the tax community, the IRS finally made its first move relating to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 17: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced that the agency is giving taxpayers an additional 90 days to pay for those owing up to $1 million in taxes. Although it isn’t official yet, the IRS is expected to formally move the April 15 filing deadline to July 15. At this time, you must still file your taxes by April 15th but will have an additional 90 days to pay without penalty or interest. We will update if this changes.
State and local authorities are prescribing which businesses will be considered “essential services” industries and allowed to stay open in the event of mandatory business closures from Covid-19. For instance, in hard hit San Francisco the list of businesses that can still operate and remain open to the public includes obvious medical, food and financial services but also “Gas stations and auto-supply, auto-repair, and related facilities”. Likewise, Pennsylvania included “auto repair” within its list of “essential services and sectors."
Please check with your state and local print, social and broadcast media in the event of mandatory business closures or curfews.
Some policies that small businesses are incorporating while still operational include staggering employee work schedules, only allowing 5 or fewer retail customers indoors at the same time and implementing a special morning “seniors-only” shopping hour.
State legislative sessions are being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) directive of no gatherings of 10 people or more for 15 days. States that have postponed, suspended or adjourned until a future date include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri Senate, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio House, Rhode Island and Vermont. Other states are trying to finish their must-do work quickly so as to adjourn completely. ARA is tracking the status of state legislative sessions on a daily basis.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) also has some resources and information for businesses. Click on this LINK for resources and information >>>>
For updates, visit ARA's website: www.a-r-a.org/covid-19
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Here is the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic. Stay Calm and Remember ... this too shall pass!
An economic stimulus package, possibly topping $1 trillion is currently being negotiated by White House and Congress. Many options for assistance for small and medium businesses as well as direct “stimulus” payments to citizens are being seriously finalized. As much as $250 million may be set aside for small business assistance and a temporary cut or suspension of the payroll tax cut through the end of the year may be instituted. Details still unfolding.
Here are some of the major provisions in the House Passed Measure: (With Excerpts From New York Times and Washington Post)
1) Paid leave for workers
Some workers will receive two weeks of paid sick leave at 100 percent of normal salary, up to $511 per day and up to three months of paid family and medical leave, equal to no less than two-thirds of their pay, up to $200 per day. It also applies to workers who have worked at the company for at least a month. These benefits only apply to “employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees, or the government, who are infected by the virus, quarantined, have a sick family member or are affected by school closings”. Companies with under 50 workers can apply for a waiver from the paid family leave. The “Labor Department will have the option of exempting workers at any company with fewer than 50 employees, if it determines that providing paid leave 'would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.'"
“Companies covered by the policy will not foot the bill for paid leave. The government is providing new tax credits to both help offset the costs of accommodating the new mandate and the economic impact of the outbreak” according the NY Times article. “The credit is applied to the tax the company normally pays for each employee’s Social Security. (This is the 6.2 percent tax employers pay on each employee’s salary.) If sick leave or family and medical leave ends up costing more than the Social Security bill, the U.S. government will send the employer a check to cover the remaining costs. How this will be determined is up to the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.” – Washington Post
2) Free coronavirus testing for all, including the uninsured.
3) Increased funding for food assistance programs.
4) Strengthened unemployment insurance benefits:
The Trump administration will ask for an $850 billion package to counter economic fallout.
The Trump administration is preparing to ask for about $850 billion in additional stimulus to support the economy, which is facing a deep downturn as businesses close as coronavirus spreads.
A centerpiece of the proposal is the payroll tax cut that President Trump has been calling for.
Click to read full article HERE.