Families First Coronavirus Legislation

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President Trump signed the first coronavirus response measure (PL 116-123) into law on March 6. That law provided about $8 billion for immediate response efforts to the Health and Human Services Department, State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Small Business Administration.

On March 18, the House revised and passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (H.R. 6201). Soon after, H.R. 6201 had passed the Senate and the President had signed off on this second legislative installment in response to the COVID-19 crisis. For many employers, there are extensive new obligations to provide job-guaranteed emergency leave and paid sick leave.

As the Senate considered the House bill, AmericanHort joined 104 like-minded business organizations in pushing back against this approach in a letter to the Senate. We are deeply concerned that many horticulture businesses do not have the cash flow and liquidity to bear these new mandates just as the Spring season arrives. Unfortunately, the imperative for the Senate to act quickly overcame the push for better policy approaches.

We have posted summary information on the new bill and collected additional guidance from federal agencies– including new documents produced by the Department of Labor in the Coronavirus Resource Center. Also, the new leave mandates will be the subject of a March 25 webinar featuring AmericanHort experts with CJ-Lake LLC and K-Coe Isom. If you miss the webinar, the recording will be available on the AmericanHort Coronavirus Resource Center.

The Senate and House are now at work negotiating a third stimulus package in response to the coronavirus, and there is already some talk from the House side about a fourth coronavirus relief bill. While details are very fluid, we expect final legislation to be voted on that may provide up to $2 trillion in relief and stimulus.  The Senate is expected to take up the legislation on March 25 with a vote in the House to follow, at the earliest, on March 26. The package is expected to include individual payments to many Americans; airline and possibly other industry loans and/or grants; and a major investment in small business loans.

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