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Senate Hopes ‘Skinny’ Relief Plan Spurs Action on Broader Package

The Senate GOP introduced a new pared-down relief package on Tuesday, as lawmakers prepare to force a vote on the legislation as soon as this week. The so-called S. 178 “skinny” bill,  “Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act”, has been pared down further from previous proposals.

Senators hope the targeted aid package spurs negotiations resulting in a broader bill.

No CERTS or RESTART…Yet

From the perspective of the motorcoach industry, which the school bus industry aligns with, neither the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) nor Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Acts are included. However, the bill would allow small businesses that meet the Small Business Administration’s revenue size standard, have 300 or fewer employees; and demonstrate at least a 35 percent reduction in gross revenue in a 2020 quarter relative to the same 2019 quarter to receive a second Paycheck Protection Program loan.

Paycheck Protection Program

The second PPP loans will be equal to 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs, with a maximum loan value of $2 million. The uses of these loans will be subject to existing regulations implemented by the SBA and Treasury, with eligible uses expanded to cover certain worker protective, supplier and operational expenses.

Businesses that have not received a Paycheck Protection Program loan may still be eligible under the “Continued Access to the Paycheck Protection Program” proposed in the bill.

For previous PPP loans, the proposed language simplifies the forgiveness application process for current and future PPP borrowers receiving loans of under $150,000 or less and provisional forgiveness for loans under $2 million.

Senate Republicans continued their long-held position to not provide specific legislation bailing out anyone single industry. Along with the motorcoach, passenger vessel and school bus industries, airline employees, airport concessions, restaurants, travel industry, manufacturing, retail, and entertainment venues did not see specific legislation targeting their industry.


Related: Update: PPP Flexibility Act Extends Protections for Small Businesses
Related: Update: President Trump Signs Latest $484B COVID-19 Aid Package
Related: Bus Associations Call for CERTS Act in Next Economic Relief Package
Related: Senate Introduces ‘Skinny’ Coronavirus Relief Bill


Liability Protection

Of particular interest to every business is coronavirus liability relief that includes liability limitations for COVID-related personal injury claims against businesses and protections from liability under labor and employment laws for businesses that help fight COVID-19.

The proposed legislation would create federal causes of action for personal injury and preempts conflicting state laws, promoting uniformity and precludes trial lawyers from gaming the system.

The protections of the proposed bill will apply to hospitals healthcare workers, small and large businesses, schools, colleges and universities, religious, philanthropic, and other nonprofit institutions, and local government agencies.

Unemployment Supplement

Also included is a provision that gives states the option to continue providing an additional $300 in weekly federally funded unemployment benefits to those who qualified under the CARES Act through Dec. 27.

Summary

Should the bill pass the Senate, it seems unlikely it will be taken up in the House but hopefully spur continue negotiations between the White House and Democrat leadership.

The “full-court press” remains critical to any hopes of inclusion of the CERTS Act in a negotiated relief bill.

Editor’s Note: Reprinted with permission from Bus & Motorcoach News and edited for style. Read the original post.

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