Last week your Senate returned to work on Thursday to tackle the task of getting CARES funds to the people. With an agreement reached between the Governor, the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House, it was agreed that the legislature will appropriate the funds and the Governor will administer the funds. The Senate Appropriations Committee began by holding a hearing to craft legislation that could become the vehicle for dispersing $100,750,000 CARES Act COVID-19 relief money given to the state to assist businesses impacted by shutdowns.
The first step in this process is the creation of the Back to Business Mississippi Grant Fund in the state treasury to help businesses through grants ranging from $1,000 to $25,000.
These grants would help cover expenses but not lost profits. The grants shall first go to small businesses that have not received federal funding.
Some points of the proposed legislation:
• Applicants must have filed income taxes in 2018 or 2019 and plan to file for 2020.
• Businesses that qualify are those forced to shut down or voluntarily closed due to coronavirus.
• Mississippi Development Authority will likely oversee the program.
• Businesses that have already received federal funding will receive reduced grants offset by the PPP funding.
While in session, the Senate practiced safe social distancing and healthcare workers screened lawmakers and employees entering the building.
In other news, we continue to see increased cases and deaths as a result of COVID-19. As of Sunday, May 10, Lauderdale has 482 cases with 43 death, Newton has 138 cases with 1 death, and Scott County has 457 with 6 deaths. This week the Governor continued to lift regulations week to allow additional freedom for the public. Beginning this week, restaurants are allowed to open with limited seating while following CDC social distancing. Additionally, gyms, salons and barber shops are authorized to reopen so long as they take precautions to protect patrons.
While we are moving to reopen more businesses, I still encourage everyone to take reasonable steps to protect yourself and others. If you need a mask, please contact my office or your local government office to request one. We will work together to get you masks to help slow the spread of this virus. Thank you for allowing me to serve you.