Bills Offer Business Economic Relief

In this episode of The Workplace podcast, CalChamber Executive Vice President and General Counsel Erika Frank and CalChamber Policy Advocate Preston Young discuss three CalChamber-supported bills moving through the legislature that will provide economic relief to small businesses: SB 87, AB 83 and AB 80.

The deadline for new bills to be introduced passed last week and the CalChamber has identified a number of bills that are beneficial to small business, helping them stay afloat during this COVID-19 crisis, Frank tells podcast listeners.

Governor Gavin Newsom and the legislature have agreed on what bills will be part of the budget process, so these types of bills will see more immediate action than they typically would in the legislative process, Young explains.

The good news, he says, is that the following three relief bills have been included into the budget process and will see expediated action.

COVID-19 Relief Grant Program

One important bill that has been introduced is SB 87, Young says.

A few months ago, the Governor rolled out a $500 million small business grant program. SB 87 significantly expands it.

SB 87 (Caballero; D-Salinas) appropriates $2.075 billion from the General Fund to the Golden State Stimulus Emergency Fund and awards grants to small businesses, nonprofits, and cultural institutions that have experienced economic hardship resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.

In order to be eligible to apply, a business needs to make between $5,000–$2.5 million in annual gross revenue. Grants awarded would vary anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000, Young explains.

While this is not a huge chunk of money, when paired with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and prior grants, SB 87 is a bridge to get to the next stopgap in the economy, he points out.

Grant money can be used for payroll, health care benefits, rent, utilities, and more.

License Renewal Fees Waiver

Another important measure is AB 83 (Committee on Budget), which is a companion bill to SB 94 (Skinner; D-Berkeley).

AB 83 waives license renewal fees for bars, restaurants, and businesses licensed by the barbering and cosmetology board.

Although the bill is narrowed to license renewal fees, these fees can range from $455 to more than $1,200, and for many businesses right now, every penny counts, Young says.

When, Frank asks, will these waivers be available?

Young answers that the bill still has to be approved and signed, and then there likely will be an application process. More information will be available once the bill is finalized.

Tax Consolidation

The last bill Young discusses is AB 80 (Burke; D-Inglewood). The bill brings California into partial conformity with the federal government’s tax treatment of deductible business expenses paid for using PPP funds, Young explains.

Under this bill, businesses can deduct up to $150,000 in expenses covered by the PPP loan from their state income taxes.

As a CalChamber advocate, Young says that he would prefer the bill establish full conformity, but the proposal is still a good way to provide employers with clarity and get them to think about tax implications and quarterly estimates.

A hearing for AB 80 is scheduled for today.

Young estimates that the bill will be signed into law in March.

Voice Your Support

If a business wants to voice their support for any of these bills, what’s the best way to do so, Frank asks?

Young recommends that businesses talk to their local representatives. Businesses can send letters of concern or support, call the offices of their representatives, or get in touch with the Governor’s office.

Legislators are trying to help small businesses, so they will be receptive to your calls, letters and concerns, he says. But do it quickly as these bills are coming up fast.

Want to know more about pending legislation? The CalChamber offers a variety of free ways you can stay up-to-date on news having an impact on California business:

  • HRWatchdog: a free blog that provides news on the latest labor laws and topics related to labor and employment issues.
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  • eAlert: a free weekly newsletter that provides updates on proposed laws affecting the job climate in California, and features special reports on the economy, ballot propositions and more.
  • Daily Headlines: Daily compilation of news from major California newspapers on current issues to help you make better strategic business decisions. You’ll also get insights on upcoming anti-business legislation, health care mandates, and economic updates.
  • International Trade Update: weekly e-newsletter providing digest of international headlines, trade policy, CalChamber member companies in the news, and calendar of international events.

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