Almost Daily Briefing, March 27, 2020
The Almost Daily Briefing
Published news articles from local, regional, and national media on topics of interest to the #LoveLafayette Community
Publication Note: We want to welcome all of our new subscribers to the Almost Daily Briefing. We had an overwhelming response to our sign up request with over 600 clicks on our special link (https://bit.ly/LafayetteNotifications). Generally, the Almost Daily Briefing is published Monday-Thursday (its sister publication, the Weekly Roundup, comes out on Fridays). However, today we are publishing a special abbreviated edition to provide the community with the latest Covid-19 news and information. If you have any questions about the Almost Daily Briefing, please email the City’s Communications Analyst, Jeff Heyman, at email@example.com.
This update was provided to the City of Lafayette by Townsend Public Affairs. Read the latest coronavirus information and find resources for Lafayette residents and businesses on the City’s COVID-19 Webpage: http://bit.ly/LafayetteCoronavirusInfo.
- The Senate passed the “CARES Act” (S. 3548) with a vote of 96-0, meaning every senator not currently in self-quarantine voted in favor of the package. At a cost of over $2 trillion, the bill is the largest stimulus package ever considered in Congress.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020 to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency.
- Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations – provides payment to states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies, and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay unemployment benefits.
- Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits – provides an additional $600 per week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months.
- Temporary Full Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States with No Waiting Week – provides funding to pay the cost of the first week of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 for states that choose to pay recipients as soon as they become unemployed instead of waiting one week before the individual is eligible to receive benefits.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after weeks of state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
- Temporary Financing of Short-Time Compensation Payments in States with Programs in Law – provides funding to support “short-time compensation” programs, where employers reduce employee hours instead of laying off workers and the employees with reduced hours receive a pro-rated unemployment benefit. This provision would pay 100 percent of the costs they incur in providing this short-time compensation through December 31, 2020.
- Temporary Financing of Short-Time Compensation Agreements – provides funding to support states which begin “short-time compensation” programs. This provision would pay 50 percent of the costs that a state incurs in providing short-time compensation through December 31, 2020.
- Grants for Short-Time Compensation Programs – provides $100 million in grants to states that enact “short-time compensation” programs to help them implement and administer these programs. Department of Labor will disseminate model legislative language for states, provide technical assistance, and establish reporting requirements related to “short time compensation” programs.
REBATES AND RETIREMENT
- 2020 recovery rebates for individuals - All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for joint-filers), who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work eligible social security number, are eligible for the full $1,200 ($2,400 joint-filers) rebate.
- In addition, they are eligible for an additional $500 per dependent.
- This is true even for those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI benefits.
- For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check as IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the alternative their 2018 return.
- This includes many low-income individuals who file a tax return in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
- The rebate amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 that a taxpayer’s income exceeds the phase-out threshold. The amount is completely phased-out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $146,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
- The bill does not specify which immigrants would be eligible for benefits under the stimulus, if any – this may require departmental guidance and clarification.
- Special rules for use of retirement funds - Consistent with previous disaster-related relief, the provision waives the 10-percent early withdrawal penalty for distributions up to $100,000 from qualified retirement accounts for coronavirus-related purposes made on or after January 1, 2020.
- Other provisions:
- Temporary waiver of required minimum distribution rules for certain retirement plans and accounts
- Allowance of partial above the line deduction for charitable contributions
- Modification of limitations on charitable contributions during 2020
- Exclusion for certain employer payments of student loans
- Employee retention credit for employers subject to closure due to COVID-19 – The provision provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
- The credit is available to employers whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shutdown order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year.
- Delay of payment of employer payroll taxes – allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees.
- Modifications for net operating losses – relaxes the limitations on a company’s use of losses.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
- Additional information on new SBA loans:The bill would provide $350 billion to support loans through a new Paycheck Protection Program for: Small employers with 500 employees or fewer, as well as those that meet the current Small Business Administration size standards; Self-employed individuals and “gig economy” individuals; and Certain nonprofits, including 501(c)(3) organizations and 501(c)(19) veteran organizations, and tribal business concerns with under 500 employees.
- The size of the loans would equal 250 percent of an employer’s average monthly payroll.
- The maximum loan amount would be $10 million.
- Covered payroll costs include salary, wages, and payment of cash tips (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000); employee group health care benefits, including insurance premiums; retirement contributions; and covered leave.
- The cost of participation in the program would be reduced for both borrowers and lenders by providing fee waivers, an automatic deferment of payments for one year, and no prepayment penalties.
- Loans would be available immediately through more than 800 existing SBA-certified lenders, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions, and SBA would be required to streamline the process to bring additional lenders into the program.
- The Treasury Secretary would be authorized to expedite the addition of new lenders and make further enhancements to quickly expedite delivery of capital to small employers.
- The maximum loan amount for SBA Express loans would be increased from $350,000 to $1 million. Express loans provide borrowers with revolving lines of credit for working capital purposes.
- Additional Information on Entrepreneurial Assistance: The bill would provide $265 million for grants to SBA resource partners, including Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers, to offer counseling, training, and related assistance to small businesses affected by COVID-19. $10 million would be provided for the Minority Business Development Agency to provide these services through Minority Business Centers and Minority Chambers of Commerce.
- Additional Information on Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Grants:The bill would expand eligibility for entities suffering economic harm due to COVID-19 to access SBA’s EIDL grants, while also giving SBA more flexibility to process and disperse small dollar loans. The bill would allow businesses that apply for an EIDL expedited access to capital through an Emergency Grant—an advance of $10,000 within three days to maintain payroll, provide paid sick leave, and to service other debt obligations. $10 billion would be provided to support the expanded EIDL program.
- Additional information on Small Business Debt Relief: The bill would require SBA to pay all principal, interest, and fees on all existing SBA loan products, including 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and Microloan programs, for six months to provide relief to small businesses negatively affected by COVID-19. $17 billion would be provided to implement this section.
- Allows institutions to award additional Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) for emergency aid.
- Allows institutions to issue work-study payments to students who are unable to work due to work-place closures as a lump sum or in payments similar to paychecks.
- Pell Grants and other assistance: For students who dropped out of school as a result of COVID -19, the student is not required to return Pell grants or federal student loans to the Secretary.
- Waives the requirement that institutions calculate the amount of grant or loan assistance that the institution must return to the Secretary in the case of students who dropped out of school as a result of COVID-19.
- For students who dropped out of school as a result of COVID -19, the student’s grades do not affect a student’s federal academic requirements to continue to receive Pell Grants or student loans
- Authorizes the Secretary of Education to waive certain outcome requirements for FY2021 grant programs for Minority Serving Institutions.
- Authorizes the Secretary of Education to waive or modify current allowable uses of funds for institutional grant programs (TRIO/GEARUP/Title III/Title V/and sections of Title VII) so colleges can re-deploy resources and services to COVID-19 efforts.
- Permits institutions to request waivers from the Secretary of Education for financial matching requirements in competitive grant and other MSI grant programs in the Higher Education Act so colleges can devote institutional resources to COVID-19 efforts.
- Corrections Executive Order: To reduce the risks of COVID-19 in correctional settings, yesterday Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order (attached) directing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Secretary to temporarily halt the intake and/or transfer of inmates and youth into the state’s 35 prisons and four youth correctional facilities.
- Inmates and youth that otherwise would have been transferred into the state system will remain in county custody for the next 30 days.
- The Executive Order also directs the Board of Parole Hearings to develop a process to conduct all scheduled parole suitability hearings through videoconferencing starting no later than April 13, 2020, and for the next 60 days.
- The process will facilitate remote participation of those typically in attendance, including staff, parole board members, victims, families and their representatives, inmates, attorneys, and others.
- Mortgage Payment Waiver: Today Governor Newsom indicated that four of the nation’s largest banks have agreed to grant California homeowners affected by COVID-19 with a 90-day mortgage payment waiver.
- The Governor indicated that Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi, and JP Morgan Chase have agreed to the 90-day waiver of payments for those impacted by COVID-19. Bank of America was not part of today’s announcement, but they are offering their customers with a 30-day payment waiver if they have been impacted by COVID-19. The Governor indicated that there is no income requirement for the waiver, but each homeowner must provide documentation that they have been affected by COVID-19.
Coronavirus Cases Climb To 131 In Contra Costa County -The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Contra Costa County reached 131 on Thursday, up from 108 on Wednesday, Contra Costa Health Services reported in its daily briefing. There were no new deaths attributed to COVID-19. The death toll stands at one. (Patch)
Coronavirus: Fate of Lafayette’s big housing plan postponed -The fate of a controversial, 315-unit housing plan known as the Terraces of Lafayette has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. (East Bay Times)
California surges past 4,000 cases of COVID-19, 1,400 in Bay Area - For the second consecutive day, the state crossed a thousand-case marker, a 34% increase in COVID-19 cases. (East Bay Times)
Bay Area coronavirus cases climb as testing grows: 26% test positive at Hayward site -Hayward is offering free testing, but there’s a limited number that has led to long lines and some people turned away. (SF Chronicle)
Bay Area coronavirus tests: Where can I get one? -John Muir Health is doing testing at four urgent care centers in the Bay Area: Berkeley, Brentwood, Pleasanton and Walnut Creek. Patients must have an order from a John Muir Health-affiliated doctor. (SF Chronicle)
List: Bay Area Schools Close Over Coronavirus Concerns -Schools in the Bay Area have announced campus closures, class cancellations and limited activities due to coronavirus concerns. (NBC Bay Area)
BART ridership dips 92% due to coronavirus, agency considers more service cuts –With BART ridership plunging 92% as Bay Area residents hunker down at home, the agency is considering more drastic service cuts. (SF Chroncile)
More Bay Area parks, beaches closing before weekend – After thousands of Bay Area residents mobbed some of the region’s parks and beaches last weekend, the state is pushing back to discourage people from venturing too far from their homes during shelter in place. (SF Chronicle)
DMV closing all field offices to public, official memo reveals- Faced with concerns among workers about the spread of COVID-19, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced in a memo to employees Thursday that it is closing all of its more than 170 field offices to the public starting Friday. (LA Times)
Here are the 36 California state parks that have closed their parking lots -California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday he would close parking lots. (SFGate)
Contra Costa Health Department Covid-19 Website. Covid-19 Call Center: (844) 729-8410.
Lafayette Planning & Building Department’s Virtual Planning Counter (1:00-3:00 p.m., Monday-Friday)
THAT OTHER LAFAYETTE
Lafayette Parish salons, tattoo parlors close doors after new restrictions enforced -Nail salons and tattoo parlors across Lafayette Parish are closing their doors after new restrictions effective Friday at midnight.
Chefs are giving cooking lessons on Instagram Live. With their establishments closed, restaurateurs are connecting with their customers online.
The Almost Daily Briefing (ADB) is an aggregation of links to news articles from local and regional newspapers, magazines, websites, and other news sources. Its purpose is to alert readers to current issues and affairs that may impact Lafayette. The ADB does not promote, favor, disfavor, support, reject, or endorse any position, candidate, campaign, or proposition, and nothing about the ADB, including the selection, presentation, arrangement, or content of the links presented should be construed as an advocacy position. Please note: At times, the ADB features articles from sites that limit access for nonsubscribers. If you have questions about the ADB, please contact the City of Lafayette's Communications Analyst, Jeff Heyman, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can subscribe to the ADB and learn more about Lafayette’s publications and social media sites here.