Senate Report

By TYLER MCCAUGHN,

Your Senate went back to the Capitol last week to work on help for small businesses. Senate Bill 2772 was passed to create a $300 million relief package for small businesses forced to shut down because of COVID-19.

The bill which went to the Governor for approval, will immediately send $2,000 checks to certain small businesses required to shut down under governmental orders. Those include businesses that fall under one of the governmental classifications: restaurants, personal care - salons and barbers, amusement/recreation, schools and instruction - dance and Gym, performing arts companies, spectator sports, amusement parks, motion picture industries, furniture/home furnishings stores, clothing/shoes stores, jewelry stores, luggage stores, sporting goods stores, hobby stores, music stores, book stores, florists, office supply stores, gift stores, miscellaneous retail stores, and child care businesses. 

In addition to the immediate payments, $240 million will be made available in grants ranging from $1,500 to $25,000 to all applicants who meet criteria established by the Mississippi Development Authority.  These grants are specifically designated for business expenses related to COVID-19.  These payments may be reduced if the business received federal assistance. 

For the first application period, $40 million shall be set aside with priority to minorities and women owned businesses.  Following the initial application time, the remaining of the $40 million shall be returned to the main fund for distribution. Applicants must have filed income taxes in 2018 or 2019 and plan to file for 2020. The business must have been formed before March 1, 2020.  The federal government has defined eligible expenses as only mortgage interest, rent, payroll, utilities, or other COVID-19-related expenses allowed by law, each for no more than a two-month period. Lost profits are not covered or reimbursed.

The passage of this package is the first expenditure made from $1.25 billion in federal CARES Act COVID-19 relief money Mississippi received to assist with coronavirus recovery.

The legislature will return on May 26th to work on additional appropriation packages to help other sectors.  The Senate looks forward to working with the House and Governor to get the remaining funds out to help others.  It is crucial to understand that these funds come with restrictions by the federal government. 

In other news, Governor Reeves placed Scott, Newton, and Lauderdale Counties under additional restrictions due to the spike in COVID-19 cases. Though our numbers are rising, it stands to reason that our healthcare professionals have opened more testing for individuals having symptoms.  As more testing is available, more cases will be identified. 

Most residents are abiding by the requirements to wear masks in public locations.  Since the order, we have seen efforts to ensure that residents have access to masks in order to comply with the order of the Governor.  Thank you to all elected officials, fire departments, and others that have assisted in distribution.  It is my hope that these efforts will result in the lowering the spread of cases in our district. 

Thank you for allowing me to serve you.

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