Category Archives: Government Grant

Will Your Company Require Vaccinations Monday? U.S. Supreme Court Could Decide Soon!

It’s possible that a decision may come as early as Monday when the Emergency Temporary Standard is set to go into effect.

BY SUZANNE LUCAS, FREELANCE WRITER@REALEVILHRLADY


Business owners and HR managers who have 100 or more employees got a little closer to a resolution over the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard when both sides argued before the U.S. Supreme Court today.

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The standard requires employers with 100 or more employees to either mandate vaccinations for all or to require your unvaccinated employees to take weekly Covid tests and wear a mask unless they work alone or 100 percent outside, among other things. But the objections center around these two principles.

The Sixth Circuit Court lifted the stay on the standard on December 17, and if the court doesn’t reenact the stay by Monday, it will go into effect on Monday. They may give a quick response, but not entirely necessary from an employer’s point of view. OSHA said that as long as companies are operating in “good faith,” it will not begin enforcement until February 9, giving the court a bit more time to decide.

While the briefs tend to be a more substantial influence on the justices than the oral arguments, you can get some idea of what to expect from them. Here’s what you need to know:

The Possible Outcomes

OSHA attorney Phillip Russell, an equity shareholder at the employment law firm Ogletree Deacon, gave four possible outcomes, each with its own set of issues for business owners.

  1. SCOTUS enters an indefinite stay pending further action by either SCOTUS or the 6th Circuit;
  2. SCOTUS enters a brief stay for the Court to further consider the briefing and oral arguments before addressing an indefinite stay;
  3. SCOTUS denies the applications and allows enforcement to begin as OSHA wants on Monday, January 10; or
  4. SCOTUS denies the applications and allows enforcement to begin, but enters a brief stay giving employers time to comply

In other words, a quick decision may not be a final decision. There may be a lot more before a final decision happens.

Opinions Seemed to Form Along Ideological Lines

Covid has been political for a long time, and those political lines seemed evident in the hearings. As an employment attorney and partner Jon Hyman at Herzer Wickers Panza says:

Based on the tone and tenor of the questions, there exists a clear, and not unsurprising, left/right divide on the court, which does not bode well for the ETS going into effect. I don’t see 5 votes against reinstating the stay.

For example, Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (appointed by George W. Bush) and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch (appointed by Donald Trump) both indicated that federal agencies were not the right place to solve the pandemic, while Justice Elena Kagen (appointed by Barack Obama) and Justice Stephen G. Breyer (appointed by Bill Clinton) indicated that the employees of the U.S. needed this mandate.

While it may be fun to guess which way the justices will rule based on what they say, it’s important to keep in mind that a statement made or a question asked in court may simply be a thought exercise, and not the justice’s true opinion. Regardless, there seemed to be a clear division along political lines.

What’s at Stake

While it may seem like this is a battle between pro-vaccination people and anti-vaccination people, that isn’t the case. A Court spokesperson said that all nine justices were vaccinated and had received booster shots. This is a case about federal power, versus state power, and who should be responsible for employee health.

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that even though Covid is a threat outside as well as inside the workplace, OSHA could still regulate that hazard.

Washington lawyer Scott A. Keller, representing the National Federation of Independent Business, argued the opposite, saying “[A] single federal agency tasked with occupational standards cannot commandeer businesses economy-wide into becoming de facto public health agencies.”

While this ruling will ultimately affect some 80 million employees, it doesn’t cover all employees and all businesses. Meaning, the U.S. could end up seeing vast differences in Covid rules for different organizations.

Hopefully, the ruling will come quickly and be decisive, one way or the other, but it’s likely that businesses will still be in limbo for a while.

 

JAN 7, 2022

 


Important Ways To Access Emergency Funding From The Government

How to Access $350 Billion in Emergency Funding From State and Local Governments

The Paycheck Protection Program may be over, but you can still get emergency funding. Just look closer to home.

 

How to Access $350 Billion in Emergency Funding From State and Local Governments

 

Originally Published on July 2nd, 2021 BY BRIT MORSE, ASSISTANT EDITOR, INC.@BRITNMORSE


Federal Covid-19 relief programs may be winding down or–in the case of the Paycheck Protection Program–over, but chances are, your business might still need aid.

Half of the country’s smallest businesses continue to struggle with the economic impacts of the pandemic, according to a June report by Yahoo Small Business. The survey also found that just 38 percent of microbusinesses–defined as those with fewer than five employees–received government support during the pandemic, with 85 percent saying they relied on community assistance to keep them afloat. 

If your company still needs financial support, consider tapping state and local small-business relief programs. Many of these programs were launched early in the pandemic, but they still have funds available. The American Rescue Plan Act, which President Biden signed into law on March 11, 2021, allocates $350 billion to states, localities, territories, and tribal governments to help eligible residents. Of that, $195.3 billion is going straight to the states.

According to the National League of Cities, an advocacy group for municipalities, the funds for local governments will remain available through December 31, 2026, but may only offset costs incurred by December 31, 2024. While states can elect to deploy the money in different ways, approximately 30 states, including Utah and Georgia, are using it to fuel small-business relief efforts, mostly in the form of loans or grants. Some states also offer to connect founders with resources or mentorship.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, a pub, and restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, was approved for a $10,000 grant through the state’s Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund in November 2020 after the company was forced to lay off most of its 77-person staff. Co-founder Bob Szuter says the assistance program, which ended in January 2021, was not small change. “The total amount was not significant relative to the size of our business, but it certainly helped during a difficult period of 2020 when we did not know when and if there would be additional federal support,” says Szuter.

Different States, Different Rules

Every state and local program is unique–proffering different eligibility requirements, potential awards, and revenue-loss floors. Some programs require businesses to show certain revenue-loss thresholds or proof of having to close up shop. For example, businesses in Grand Junction, Colorado, can access up to $7,500 in grants but must demonstrate that the business was compelled to close or substantially limit operations because of the pandemic. New York awards grants based on an entity’s annual gross receipts for 2019, with a maximum of $50,000. Connecticut supplies one-time grants of $5,000 to businesses with fewer than 20 employees or a 2019 payroll of less than $1.5 million.

Other states offer both grant and low-interest loan programs–typically defined as loans with interest charges of less than 5 percent. Arizona’s Small Business Success Loan program offers loans of up to $75,000 with repayment terms ranging from six months to five years. Similarly, the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund provides businesses with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue low-interest loans of up to $50,000. At least 50 percent of a loan’s proceeds have to be applied toward payroll or other eligible compensation, including salaries, wages, tips, paid leave, and group health care benefits.

No Assurances

While these programs may still have plenty of funds available–some don’t even have an application deadline–you’d better act fast. Many programs are accepting applications on a rolling basis until the funds are gone. That’s why it’s best to get your applications in as soon as possible, says Tom Sullivan, vice president of small-business policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been following state programs throughout the pandemic. But track them, he says. While all 50 states are due some portion of the funding from the Rescue Plan, the timing of the disbursements may be different in each state.  

To wit, the timing of the second tranche of funding provided to states through the Rescue Plan is contingent on the local unemployment rate. According to the Treasury Department, states that have experienced a net increase in the unemployment rate of more than 2 percentage points from February 2020 to the latest available date of certification will receive their full allocation of remaining funds in a single payment on or around May 2022. Other states will receive funds in two separate, equal tranches.

With that, some states, counties, and cities may choose to establish new programs in the near future, says Sullivan. Governments have to apply through Treasury, and those applications are getting processed now, he says. He recommends first getting in touch with your local chamber or local economic development center, as these institutions may be paying close attention to the deployment of funds. 

Before you contact a local department or apply for assistance, it’s crucial to have your financial documents in order, notes Sullivan. This includes annual or quarterly profit-and-loss statements and tax documents. “Every city and county is generally a little different,” says Sullivan, “but the folks who get their stuff in first generally get preference.”

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RELATED:

Paycheck Protection Program (sba.gov)

SBA Paycheck Protection Program Update: SBA Provides Guidance On Certification Of Need And Extends Safe Harbor For Repayment Of PPP Loans – Government, Public Sector – United States (mondaq.com)


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