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Kansas restaurants and small businesses to see PPP modifications in new COVID-19 relief package

(Source: CDC via CNN)
Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 1:03 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - As vaccines begin being distributed to healthcare workers and long-term care residents, the federal government is in the midst of passing new COVID-19 relief legislation.

COVID-19 vaccines have begun being distributed in Kansas, with the first shipment of Pfizer vaccines arriving in the state on Dec. 14, federal lawmakers have finally settled on a second COVID-19 relief package that is currently awaiting the signature of President Donald Trump.

“Last week marked the beginning of our return to normal with the distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccines in Kansas and across the country. This was a historic moment as we work to end this pandemic, and we are providing additional targeted relief to support front-line workers, schools and hospitals. This targeted relief package also includes additional funding for the successful Paycheck Protection Program, which will help keep small businesses open and employees on the payroll, and a second round of aid to families during the holiday season,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). “This targeted relief package should have been completed months ago, but ultimately I’m pleased that many of my priorities were included and that it provides necessary resources to continue manufacturing and distributing the vaccines to our communities.”

According to Sen. Moran, his priorities that were included in the relief package are as follows:

  • Increase in flexibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
  • Simplify and improve PPP loan forgiveness, including a solution to the conflicting treatment of EIDL advanced payments and the unnecessary subtraction from PPP forgiveness.
  • Ensure qualified business expenses paid for by PPP loans are tax-deductible.
  • Provide direct, set-aside support for live event venues.
  • Extend the deadline for expenditures from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, allowing states and local governments to strategically target areas of need over a longer period of time.
  • Create additional flexibilities for rural hospitals, including removing restrictions on mental health visits provided via telehealth.
  • Provide additional funding for testing, contact tracing and development and supplies resources for the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) to monitor the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Provide relief for farmers and ranchers, including cattle producers affected by CFAP sales date.
  • Establish a grant program for small packers to upgrade facilities to become federally inspected and be able to sell across state lines.
  • Allow state departments of agriculture to supplement ongoing farm stress initiatives.
  • Include funding for commodity purchases for food banks.
  • Provide support for Amtrak and other critical transportation industries hit particularly hard during this pandemic.
  • Provide support to federal broadband deployment efforts, including dedicated funding to rural broadband connectivity, telehealth grants, improvements to broadband availability maps to ensure taxpayer dollars are directed to unserved communities and the removal and replacement of equipment from foreign entities that pose national security risks to U.S. networks and consumers.

Governor Laura Kelly said on Wednesday in her weekly COVID-19 update that she was urging Congress to pass the relief package and to particularly extend the deadline to spend CARES Act funding.

Rep. Roger Marshall said the bill repurposes unused CARES Act funds to help residents make it through the winter. He said the reopening of the PPP will ensure assistance is available to struggling small businesses. He said families will get another stimulus check and federal unemployment benefits have been extended.

“Since the summer, Republicans have called for a targeted relief package that prioritizes refunding the Paycheck Protection Program, funding for vaccine distribution, additional support for unemployed Americans and resources to allow our children to safely return to the classroom. This relief legislation delivers on all of those priorities and leaves out the unnecessary funding for cities and states and socialist priorities of the left,” said Rep. Marshall. “This package not only will help families, small businesses, and communities still struggling with the impacts of COVID-19, but it also gives us the tools we need to defeat this virus.”

According to Rep. Marshall, the relief bill includes the following:

  • Adds $280 billion to PPP
    • Gives businesses with 300 employees or less an opportunity to apply for a second PPP loan
    • Includes organizations and excludes unions from PPP eligibility
    • $15 billion in funding included for entertainment venues, movie theatres and museums
    • Codifies federal rules ensuring churches and faith-based organizations are eligible for PPP loans
    • Expenses covered with funds by PPP made tax-deductible.
  • Provides $68 billion to ensure continued manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses
  • Delivers $600 stimulus checks to adults and children
  • Provides $300 per week federal unemployment until March 14
    • Extends and phases out PUA
  • Sets aside $13 billion for USDA support of farmers, ranchers and biofuels industry
  • Provides $82 billion for schools and universities to reopen to in-person classes
    • Extends eviction moratorium
  • Allocates $7 billion in broadband funding to build out rural networks and telehealth.

“As a physician, I often tried to share a message of hope to patients facing a tough diagnosis,” said Rep. Marshall “Over the past 11 months, I’ve learned even more about how important hope is to all of us.  With the vaccines being distributed and given, and now this next phase of COVID relief, I believe hope is visibly there for all Kansans. This Christmas season, I encourage those of us with more than enough to reach out to our neighbors who might benefit from some encouragement and a message of hope.”

According to the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association, the new package will also benefit restaurants, especially with the second round of access to the Paycheck Protection Program with provisions unique to help the restaurant industry.

“From the day Kansas restaurants were shut down by the pandemic, the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association (KRHA) has worked with the National Restaurant Association to press Congress and the Trump Administration for both long-term and short-term economic support,” said KRHA President & CEO Adam Mills. “This bill will help Kansas restaurants with much-needed capital that will allow more time for us to work with Congress to create the additional programs to save our beloved community restaurants.”

“Just in case anyone is trying to figure out just how important this relief bill is to Kansas restaurant owners, I just finished visiting with a multi-location restaurant operator who today decided to keep two stores open they had planned to close if not for this bill. The need is real and the impact is substantial to literally thousands of families,” Mills added.

The KRHA said relief targeting the restaurant industry includes the following:

  • Enhanced PPP loan size
  • Enhanced access to PPP
  • Deductibility of business expenses paid with PPP loans
  • Enhanced Employee Retention Tax Credit
  • Extension of Work Opportunity Tax Credit
  • Increased deduction for business meals

“The action taken by Congress today will keep tens of thousands of restaurants from closing in the coming months,” said Tom Bené, President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “A second round of PPP, combined with unique enhancements for the restaurant sector, will provide critical access to capital. Restaurant operators and their employees are dedicated to serving their communities, and today’s bipartisan agreement will give them the opportunity to do that through the holidays. However, the long-term economic challenges facing independent, franchise, and chain restaurants will not end with the new year, and we will continue to press federal and state leaders for the support that will put us on the road to recovery.”

For more information on restaurant recovery, click here.

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