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Pingree: Heroes Act Would Broaden Assistance for Maine’s Seasonal Small Businesses, Nonprofits

Washington, May 13, 2020

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said today that The Heroes Act, a comprehensive new COVID-19 recovery package up for a vote in the U.S. House this week, fixes shortcomings of the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which Maine’s small businesses and nonprofits have requested.

“Maine’s small businesses have been clamoring for changes to the Paycheck Protection Program because its one-size-fits all approach does not work for the range of businesses it was designed to help. A restaurant or theater that is unable to open due to stay-at-home orders should not be expected to hire back its employees until the business is fully operational,” said Pingree. “The Heroes Act would give needed flexibility to these small businesses by extending the deadline for them to rehire their employees to December 31st, tripling the payroll forgiveness period from 8 weeks to 24 weeks, and providing a safe harbor for employers who can certify why they are unable to rehire workers in the prescribed timeframe. Weeks ago, I wrote to House leadership and outlined the changes to the PPP small businesses in our district said they needed and I am pleased to see that their needs are reflected in the Heroes Act.”

The Heroes Act makes access to PPP more attractive to Maine’s seasonal businesses by:

  • Allowing small businesses to claim payroll forgiveness under PPP loans over a 24 week period, rather than 8 weeks in CARES Act; 
  • Extending the PPP loan covered period through December 31, 2020, rather than June 30;
  • Eliminating the requirement imposed by Treasury/SBA that 75% of PPP money go to payroll costs in order to receive full loan forgiveness; 
  • Ensuring small businesses are still eligible for loan forgiveness if they can certify that they are unable to rehire workers in the prescribed timeframe; and
  • Targeting the smallest businesses by reserving 25% of remaining PPP funds for businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

The bill offers other assistance for small businesses by:

  • Allowing non-profits of any size to be eligible for PPP loans;
  • Providing $10 billion for SBA disaster loans (EIDL) to resume grants and loans to non-agricultural small businesses;
  • Increasing transparency and accountability by requiring SBA to report daily and weekly on PPP loans to provide transparency on who is getting loans, including ethnicity and gender; 
  • Providing a temporary moratorium on small business and nonprofit debt collection during the crisis and for 120 days thereafter, and reasonable forbearance and repayment options for small businesses and nonprofit organizations when payments resume following the debt collection moratorium;
  • Making SCORE and Veteran Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) eligible for SBA technical assistance funding under the CARES Act; and
  • Allowing legal cannabis businesses access to financial services.

On April 16, Pingree wrote to House leaders urging commonsense fixes be made to the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) and provisions be included in Congress’s next COVID-19 relief package to help small businesses weather this crisis.

Earlier this week, Pingree joined 29 of her House colleagues in requesting that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigate the allocation of loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to large, publicly traded companies. 

 

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