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The Legislature remains in recess. I am working from home as many of you are. I thank you for all that you are doing to keep people safe and well during this crisis. My staff is still hard at work on your behalf. Although they are working from home, they still have access to our phone calls and emails. If you have any questions or concerns be sure to contact us by email (email@example.com) or by phone (402-471-2615). Hanna has been analyzing the new federal programs to help us know how they impact Nebraska and our constituents. Lillian has done a great job of keeping track of new resources and posting links to new resources on our Facebook page. She accumulates these new resources once a week for these weekly updates. These updates get posted on our legislative website, so you can go back and reference any of our previous updates there. We have also created a resource page at the top of our website that contains an overview of key resources. If you have resources that we should post, feel free to contact our office.
Governor’s Executive Orders
The Governor issued an executive order that temporarily waives many of Nebraska’s health profession licensure statutes and regulations to allow medical professionals that are new, inactive or from out of state to be able to practice in Nebraska. The full order can be found here.
Turkey Hunting Permits
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is suspending the sale of nonresident spring turkey hunting permits in an effort to prevent the potential for the spread of coronavirus. This helps protect the health of Nebraskans by discouraging unnecessary travel.
Social Distancing Restrictions Extended
The Governor also extended statewide social distancing restrictions through April 30. The previously announced restrictions, which have now been extended, can be found here. In accordance with these restrictions, all schools in Nebraska will be operating without students through the rest of this school year. Extra-curricular activities for the spring season have been cancelled as well.
Small Business Updates
The SBA has updated its page with information about Economic Injury Disaster Loans, the Paycheck Protection Program and the Employee Tax Retention Credit here.
In response to the pandemic, small business owners are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application and this loan advance will not have to be repaid. An overview of the loan advance and information about eligibility is available here.
Paycheck Protection Program
The CARES Act is encouraging banks and credit unions to make small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These loan applications can be approved and funded the same day. Under this program, loans may be forgiven in an amount equal to the borrower’s payroll, rent, utility and other expenses incurred in the eight-week period after origination. Applicants will apply through a lender, not through the SBA. Employers searching for an approved lender can do so on the SBA website. Loans must be made by June 30th of this year. More information is available here.
Employee Retention Tax Credit
Tuesday marked the launch of the Employee Retention Tax Credit program, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. The IRS has published guidance on their webpage here, where you can find answers to questions about eligibility, how credits are calculated, which wages qualify and how to receive credits.
Unemployment Insurance Information
The Department of Labor announced on Thursday that an unprecedented number of claims have been filed in the past two weeks, with the number nearly equating the total for the entire 2019 calendar year. The Commissioner assured people that they are processing applications as quickly as they can and expect to send out payments in three to four weeks.
The DOL is still awaiting federal guidance on the software they are using to process applications from self-employed individuals and independent contractors. Though it may take 7-10 days to receive that guidance and get the software up and running, you can still file a claim now and are encouraged to do so. Be sure to mark “COVID-19 shutdown/layoff” when you apply, and your application will be processed even if it appears that you are denied.
My office has received calls about the process of filing a claim and issues reaching the Department of Labor by phone. Due to a high call volume, the Department is encouraging people to use the website whenever possible and to leave a callback number if you must speak to someone over the phone.
Guidelines Extended for 30 Days
President Trump has extended the federal coronavirus guidelines until the end of April. These guidelines include avoiding discretionary travel and social gatherings, following CDC guidelines to protect your health at work if you are an essential employee and using drive-through or delivery options when ordering from restaurants. For more information, visit this link.
The distribution of stimulus checks of $1,200 (plus an additional $500 for each dependent under 17) will begin in the next two weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. More details about eligibility and payments are available here.
The Treasury has issued new guidance stating that Social Security recipients will automatically receive economic impact stimulus checks, no action required. More information about social security recipients is available here.
The Food Bank for the Heartland has updated its list of mobile food pantries. They are partnering with Bellevue Public Schools to host a drive-up pantry on April 15th at Mission Middle School (2202 Washington St). Their website (linked here) has additional information about their mobile pantries and other services they can provide.
Nebraska Impact has established their COVID-19 Relief Fund. Their website also has information about volunteering opportunities, blood banks, and educational resources. Donations will go toward communities and helping statewide community collaboratives and are accepted here.
Bellevue Fire Crews will provide a drive-by with lights and sirens for kid’s birthday parties. To request a visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org at least one day in advance.
Teachers are now delivering lessons for four hours a day to students stuck at home. The programming is available on cable TV (Cox Channel 1116, News Channel Nebraska). Lessons can also be streamed anytime here or in Spanish here.
Another resource for educators, families and students is the LearnEverywhere Facebook group. This online community is a place to share ideas and projects for young learners. To join the group, click here.
The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce website has added a new step-by-step guide to help small businesses access aid. To see the guide, visit https://www.bellevuenebraska.com and look for “US Chamber Small Business Loan Guide” on the right hand side of the page.
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All the best,