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The MSBA is an integral partner of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce (MDCC) and serves as a member organization on the MDCC COVID-19 Workgroup.  The MDCC COVID-19 Workgroup meets via conference call every Thursday.

Here are the Highlights of the April 16, 2020 MDCC COVID-Workgroup meeting:

Review of Governor Hogan Press Conference 4/15/20

    • Governor issues new Executive Order (EO) to require the wearing of masks or face coverings when inside any retail establishment, or when riding on public transportation; Executive Order also requires retail locations to require staff to wear face coverings and to put into place social distancing measures
    • Order will go into effect on Saturday at 7am to give retail establishments time to comply
    • Recovery plan will have 4 building blocks:
      • 1) Exponentially expanding testing capabilities
      • 2) Increasing hospital surge capacity
      • 3) Ramping up access to personal protection equipment (PPE)
      • 4) Building a robust contact tracing network
    • The governor announced that he will unveil the beginning of a plan to reopen the economy next week; More on that and our response below

 Key takeaways from MD Chamber of Commerce Leadership Conversation with Senators Cardin and Van Hollen

    • The top for priority for the State is public health.
    • Congress has provided substantial help to the economy through the CARES Act.
    • As of Wednesday (4/13), there are approximately 925,000 loans in the country that have been approved, representing about $226 billion. That money has not all been released, but that is what is in the pipeline, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), and has been approved.
    • Maryland numbers are somewhat inconsistent. On 4/14 the press reported $1.5 billion of loans to 4,700 Maryland businesses.
    • There is a significant amount of concern over the accessibility and funding level of the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and that the appropriated funds will be far outstripped by demand. Senator Cardin stated that Congress is going to make sure that, to the best of its ability, every eligible small business will be able to apply, receive and have funded the full benefits of the PPP program.
    • That means that Congress will be putting more money into the PPP beyond the $350 billion already appropriated, and it is prepared to do that.
    • However, there are other funding needs in the small business programs, including the emergency disaster relief grants that are oversubscribed.
    • There are also underserved communities to address that are having a difficult time because they do not have an existing relationship with a bank or other reasons.
    • There is a recognition that there are reforms needed to the small business programs, including PPP, to ensure they continue to work for all small businesses; They’ve heard about the regulations that the Treasury imposed that were not in the bill, including the loan repayment period of two years instead of up to 10 years.
    • The hope is that “CARES 2” or stimulus 3.5 or 4 will address many of the outstanding issues in addition to the needs of state and local governments.
    • Maryland will receive $2.3 billion through the State Stabilization Fund for those jurisdictions in the state with over 500,000 people. The Maryland delegation would like to see maximum flexibility for use of those funds, and they are working to develop guidelines for use of those funds.  There are 5 jurisdictions in Maryland that will benefit from the direct draw from the Treasury Department.
    • Recording here: https://youtu.be/FRbwNXwMdCU

 Update from Maryland Bankers Association on SBA and PPP funding

    • Absent agreement in Congress on replenishing it, the PPP has run out of funds as of 4/16.
    • According to an SBA Report released on 4/13, in Maryland 11,937 loans have been approved totaling $3,756,206,258. Banks must fund the loans within 10 days of approval so the funding has begun with a large outflow expected this week. Maryland is 32nd in the number of applications approved relative to the other states and 23rd in relation to the total dollar amount of approvals. This does not include applications in the pipeline.
    • As of last night (4/15), SBA announced that any applications that are not yet approved are halted.
    • Economic impact payments for individuals—visit the IRS website directly (Get my Payment); You can check on your eligibility and status; Beware of scams.

Update action taken by counties and local jurisdictions

    • Over the course of the last week, we’ve seen the proliferation of counties taking steps to implement additional measures aimed at protecting public health and safety and blunting the impact of COVID-19.
    • These include: 1) requirements for face masks or face coverings to be used by consumers and employees; 2) requirements that employers provide face masks or coverings in certain instances, or provide instructions for employees on how to fashion their own; 3) requirements to establish barriers between employees and employers at certain retail establishments; 4) limiting capacity in certain retail establishments; 5) promulgating new guidelines on social distancing
    • So far we know of local orders via the county executive, county council or health official in the following jurisdictions: Montgomery, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Charles, St. Mary’s; We’ve learned that Baltimore, Howard and Frederick County have things in the queue so I anticipate those to come shortly.
    • The issues with these orders are innumerable. Beyond the typical challenge that a patchwork of local rules and regulations presents, in particular for multi-jurisdictional employers, businesses are being given little to no warning and there for almost zero lead time for compliance. Not to mention there is an enormous challenge, even among health care providers, in acquiring PPE at the moment.
    • With the Governor’s announcement yesterday, we thought we had prevailed in getting one state set of requirements; However, after the press conference, our business coalition partners reached out to the administration and were told that the EO announced yesterday does not speak to local orders and that locals can adopt stricter measures, but cannot adopt measures that conflict.

APCIA Liability Protection Effort

    • American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) is leading an effort in support of private sector COVID-19 liability protections. APCIA has been working on immunity language to provide to the Governor’s office aimed at providing protection from negligence exposure. APCIA is coordinating a coalition in support of this request.

 Engagement with MEMA

    • Last week, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) reached out to the Chamber and host of other business associations. Through it’s Business Operation Center, MEMA will be hosting bi-weekly calls with members of the private sector to share information to include industry information, success stories, issues at hand and future supply chain issues.

 Maryland business coalition effort; Guide to re-opening the economy

 There is an effort underway to send a letter to the Governor and his administration with a series of principles to be considered when re-opening the economy. The letter was drafted by the Chamber, NFIB and the Maryland Retailers Association and a number of other business groups have already signed on.  Full text of the letter will be available by the end of the week.

  • The principles outlined within it include:
    • Pre-Emption
    • Transparency
    • Flexibility
    • Liability Protection
  • Additional elements?

Policy Recommendations Discussion

    • Feedback from the General Assembly Small Business Working Group
      • Best practices for re-opening; Examples of how businesses are pivoting
    • General Assembly COVID-19 Legislative Task Force
      • Input from business groups