This past week we met at the Capitol to continue the debate on how we would appropriate the funds from the CARES Act.

We met in different committees to discuss small businesses, education, rural internet, cities and counties, and unemployment. I was proud to be in the conversation in these meetings.

The first order of business on the House floor was the Small Business Relief Act. We will head back to the Capitol on the Tuesday after Memorial Day to deal with the rest of the CARES Act appropriations.

What we did pass was an historic, bipartisan $300 million small business relief bill for businesses impacted by COVID-19. We finished our work a little after 12 a.m, on Thursday morning.

The program will provide aid to Mississippi businesses in the following ways:

Phase 1: $60 million

• All businesses with less than 50 employees who filed Mississippi state income taxes in 2018, 2019, or eligible businesses who intend to file for 2020, and who were subject to any COVID-19 related state, municipal, and/or county required business closure or voluntary closure will receive a $2,000 relief check--no application required. Businesses covered in this phase include clothing stores, dance studios, barber shops, salons, restaurants, etc- any business forced to close by state or local government.

Phase 2: $240 million

• All businesses with less than 50 employees who filed Mississippi state income taxes in 2018, 2019, or eligible businesses who intend to file for 2020, and suffered any interruption in businesses due to COVID-19 may apply to receive up to $25,000 in grants to cover payroll, rent, utilities, mortgage interest payments and other eligible expenses incurred during the the COVID-19 outbreak. Approved applicants under this program will receive a base payment of $1,500 and can either (1) receive an additional $500 per full-time equivalent employee OR (2) itemize eligible expenses on the application form.

A few notes on Phase 2

•Businesses who receive checks under Phase 1 will be able to apply for Phase 2 relief without restriction.

•Businesses who did not receive federal PPP funds will receive priority for the first 21 days of the program. After that period, businesses who received PPP funds will be allowed to apply, with a portion of their state aid offset based on the amount of the PPP loan.

•For the first 60 days of the Phase 2 program, $40 million will be reserved for minority-owned businesses.

•Grants awarded will not be subject to tax.

Both programs will be administered by the MS Development Authority. Work has already begun at MDA to get Phase 1 payments sent to eligible business owners without delay. I will continue to provide updates regarding the application for Phase 2.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and their health will be essential during the long recovery ahead. As always, I look forward to hearing from you about this or other ways you think I can help.

Be safe over the Memorial Day weekend. It will surely be different this year, but the spirit of honoring those who gave their lives in defense of America is still the same.


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