Legislative Updates

This page will be continuously updated. Because of the nature of the COVID-19 situation some information may become outdated before it’s removed or updated on this page. 

Call the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services 24-hour hotline at 877-435-8411, if you are need of immediate help.

If you have specific COVID-19 questions for Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services email [email protected]

 Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

On March 27, Congress passed Phase 3 of their response to the COVID-19 outbreak, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This latest round of relief includes about $2 trillion worth of aid for businesses, state and local governments, major industries, healthcare systems as well as additional support for unemployment and nutrition programs. Below is a brief summary of items covered by Phase 3 that will affect employers and employees. Please consult your financial and legal advisers before taking advantage of any federal relief programs.

Unemployment Benefits:  While the previous phase of relief extended unemployment benefits and fast tracked the process, this Act makes it so that those receiving unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19 will get an extra $600 per week for up to four months. The additional benefit will be on top of whatever state benefits they may already receive. Congress’ goal here is to have unemployment benefits make up for 100 percent of lost wages.

Direct Cash Infusion:  All U.S. residents with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) will get a $1,200 ($2,400 for couples) one time “rebate” payment.

Business Tax Credit:  Businesses will get a tax credit for keeping workers on their payrolls during the coronavirus pandemic. To qualify, businesses have to prove they took a 50 percent loss compared to the same quarter in years past. They would get a refund for half of what they spend on wages, up to $5,000 per worker. Employers won’t be able to get special SBA loans if they opt for the tax credit.

Social Security Payroll Tax:  Employers and self-employed individuals will get to defer the 6.2 percent tax they pay on wages that is used to fund Social Security. The deferred tax would have to be paid over the following two years: half by Dec. 31, 2021, and the other half by Dec. 31, 2022.

Retail Tax Fix:  Retailers, restaurateurs and hotels will be able to immediately deduct from their taxes what they spend on property improvements. This write-off ability was supposed to occur in the 2017 tax overhaul. The fix will help by letting businesses file amended refunds from prior years.

Paycheck Protection Program:  This new loan program, known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), is based on the SBA’s existing 7(a) loan program and will make forgivable loans of up to $10 million available to qualifying small businesses. Unlike other 7(a) loans, applicants are not required to show that credit is unavailable elsewhere or demonstrate repayment ability. PPP loans are backed by a 100% guaranty from SBA. The PPP is an attempt to avoid mass unemployment, the effort includes funding to cover payroll, rent and utilities. The program aims to cover eight weeks of these costs. A business can receive up to 250 percent of its average monthly payroll. This program is open to businesses with fewer than 500 workers, including nonprofits and those who are self-employed. The money will initially be a loan, but portions may be forgiven and become a grant if the company uses the loan solely for payroll, rent or utility costs. This program is retroactive to February 15, 2020 and is available until June 30, 2020.  If a business has received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan thru the SBA, they may still receive a PPP loan to the extent that the disaster loan was used for a purpose other than those permitted for PPP loans.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, referred to as Phase 2 of Congress’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Act will take effect on approximately April 2nd and end December 31, 2020. This legislation includes a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse—dollar-for-dollar—local businesses for paid sick leave and family and medical leave wages paid to employees that are affected by COVID-19. It will allow workers to care for themselves and loved ones impacted by coronavirus.  Additionally, the credit will help businesses to stay up and running.

To further assist workers affected by this, the Act also included $500 million in emergency administrative grants to increase state capacity to process unemployment applications and make payments. States could now modify certain unemployment policies, including rules related to job searches and initial payment waiting periods, on an emergency temporary basis. While these measures will go a long way to help employers and employees, Congress is planning a Phase 3 response which is likely to included additional relief for small businesses and a cash infusion for employees. For additional Phase 3 information, please click here.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act –

Payroll Tax Credit

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act which will take effect on approximately April 2 and end on December 31, 2020 includes a refundable payroll tax credit to reimburse businesses for paid sick leave and family and medical leave wages paid to employees that are affected by COVID-19, allowing workers to care for themselves and loved ones impacted. Small and midsize employers can claim two new refundable payroll tax credits to reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing employee leave related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Find details at irs.gov/coronavirus

Columbia Chamber of Commerce Legislative Efforts for COVid-19 Relief

The below text is from a press release sent March 18. 

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is working with its community partners, state and federal officials along with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Chamber of Commerce to work towards relief for our business community.

Our current top legislative and governmental priorities and efforts focus around:

  • Small Business Administration Disaster (SBA) Relief
  • Unemployment Benefits
  • Employer-paid payroll taxes
  • Employer tax credits

One of the Chamber’s greatest effort has been in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the state chamber who have been working through local chambers such as ours to petition the Small Business Administration to declare Missouri a Designated Disaster Area due to COVID-19.

In addition to DED and chambers, legislators have begun pushing for this action, followed by the Governor and all of Missouri’s Congressional Delegation.

Once the SBA confirms Missouri’s disaster declaration, disaster assistance funds become immediately available to Missouri businesses and private nonprofits. This includes low and no interest loans, and grants. This action is expected to occur soon.

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce will continue to advocate for Missouri to take action to provide relief to those who have been laid off. Today, with the full support of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Missouri’s Congressional Delegation and Congress passed Phase 2 of the federal COVID-19 stimulus response. Highlights of this Phase include up to $1 billion in a boost to unemployment benefits in preparation for the increased demand as a result of layoffs due to the economic downturn.

This boost allows Missouri, pending state action, to expedite the process for acquiring benefits and alter the requirements to keep said benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition to unemployment benefits, Congress’ Phase 2 includes a measure that will provide refundable tax credits to employers to cover wages paid to employees while they are taking time off under sick leave and family leave programs. Credits would be against employers’ payroll tax payments. This credit would be in effect for wages through the end of 2020.

These legislative and governmental efforts will help our businesses and community better endure the damaging impact of COVID-19.