Congress COVID-19 Relief Bill
The US House of Representatives is expected to vote on their $3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Friday evening. While there is some opposition to the bill amongst liberal and moderate Democrats, the bill is expected to pass. Despite likely passing in the House, the bill will only serve as an initial negotiating position for Democrats. Republicans have expressed strong opposition to the House’s proposed bill with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell having described the bill as a “totally unserious effort.” The White House has also expressed opposition to the House bill calling it “more concerned with delivering on longstanding partisan and ideological wishlists than with enhancing the ability of our Nation to deal with the public health and economic challenges.” Despite only being the first step in negotiations between the House and Senate, this next relief bill should provide more clarity on issues such as the Paycheck Protection Program and business liability.
After the next COVID-19 relief bill passes there should be a clearer picture as to what kind of liability businesses are subjecting themselves to on the issue of employees and COVID-19. Businesses should receive a better idea as to what to expect once the Republicans put forth their relief proposal. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has stressed for weeks that liability protection for business must be included within the next relief bill. Senator McConnell stated about liability protection, “Our legislation is going to create a legal safe harbor for businesses, nonprofits, governments and workers and schools who are following public health guidelines to the best of their ability.”
COVID-19 Relief Programs
On Wednesday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) FAQ, which declared that borrowers who received less than $2 million will be presumed to have applied for the loan in good faith. When an individual or business applies for a PPP loan, the applicant must certify that they are applying for the loan because the funds are necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant. This ruling should provide comfort to businesses that are still trying to figure out how to ensure that their PPP loan is forgiven.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Governor Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order. In a 4-3 decision, the Court found the stay-at-home order to be “unlawful” and “unenforceable.” It will be interesting to see whether other state stay-at-home orders will survive similar legal challenges.
ARA in the News
This week, ARA issued a press release opposing modifications to workers’ compensation laws by states such as California. California recently issued an executive order that creates a presumption that an employee working for an essential business who contracts COVID-19 contracted the virus at their place of work. Industry news site CollisionWeek published an article yesterday about ARA’s position on this issue.