During this challenging time, the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC) stands ready to support your organization and to provide timely information that may be useful to you. The GBC will provide updates on COVID-19-related state and federal legislation and highlight the impacts on business.
To navigate this page, click on each of the subheads that appears throughout.
Prior to early adjournment on March 18, the Maryland General Assembly passed key measures to address the State’s response to the COVID-19 emergency. These bills were introduced at the request of the Governor and amended and passed by the General Assembly.
Chapter 12 (Senate Bill 1079) – State Budget – Revenue Stabilization Account Transfers – Coronavirus – authorizes the Governor to transfer up to $50 million from the Revenue Stabilization Account (Rainy Day Fund) to fund costs associated with the response to the Coronavirus Disease 19, or COVID-19. The bill requires the Governor to submit proposed fund transfers to the Legislative Policy Committee for a review period of seven (7) days prior to the transfer. The legislation also requires the Department of Budget and Management to submit reports to the Legislative Policy Committee and the Maryland General Assembly on the use of funds within 60 days of fund disbursement. This bill is effective through June 30, 2021.
The General Assembly also included $10 million in the State Budget (Senate Bill 190/Senate Bill 192) to aid in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in addition to the $50 million included in Senate Bill 1079.
The General Assembly also passed the COVID–19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020 (Chapter 13/Senate Bill 1080) as emergency legislation. This bill authorizes the Governor and State agencies to take specific actions under the declared state of emergency to address the catastrophic health care emergency related to the outbreak of COVID-19. The legislation establishes protections for individuals who are directly impacted by COVID-19 or more broadly impacted by the restrictions imposed by the emergency measures across multiple categories:
- Health Insurance and Medicaid: The bill authorizes the Governor to take a series of actions that would facilitate access to health care and provision of that care and mitigate costs to individuals for COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment, including: (1) coverage of testing costs for COVID-19 based on testing protocols recommended by the Secretary of Health; (2) coverage of the costs of immunizations for COVID-19; and (3) waived restrictions on telehealth protocols for COVID-19.
- Retail Profits: The bill authorizes the Governor to prohibit retailers from increasing the sale or rental price of certain goods or services to a price that increases the retailer’s profits by more than 10 percent, including: food, fuel, water and ice, medicine, medical supplies and equipment, cleaning products, building supplies and equipment, energy sources, and storage space. If the Governor publishes a list of goods and services to which the prohibition applies, violators will be subject to civil and criminal penalties under the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.
- Employer Actions: Under the provisions of the bill, the Governor may prohibit an employer from terminating an employee solely on the basis that the employee has been required to be isolated or quarantined.
- Increased Unemployment Insurance Eligibility Due to COVID-19: The bill authorizes the Maryland Secretary of Labor, notwithstanding any other provision of State UI law, to determine that an individual, who need not separate from the individual’s employment, is eligible for UI benefits if:
- the individual’s employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
- the individual is quarantined due to COVID-19 with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; or
- the individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection of COVID-19 or to care for a family member due to COVID-19.
The bill also includes provisions to address the staffing of health care facilities owned or operated by the State. The bill is effective through April 30, 2021.
On March 2020, the Senate President and House Speaker convened the Joint Covid-19 Response Legislative Work Group.
The Work Group will monitor the effects the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus) in Maryland. Further, it will support the Governor and Department of Health, and advise the General Assembly on any actions they should be taking.
The Governor has established the Maryland Unites website to provide centralized information on the State’s response to COVID-19 and available resources, including the recently announced grant and loan programs for Maryland businesses.
Signed into law on March 6, 2020, this emergency spending bill provided $8.3 billion for treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19. This bill included:
- $3.1 billion to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a variety of uses, including therapeutic development, vaccine development, and purchase of supplies such as masks and personal protective equipment. $100 million of these funds were directed to community health services for underserved groups.
- $950 million to state and local health departments, disbursed through the Centers for Disease Control, to fund staffing, data analytics, and other immediate needs of local health departments. There is a requirement for 50 percent of these funds to be allocated within 30 days.
- $300 million to buy vaccines and treatment as they become available
- $1.25 billion for international activities to respond to the outbreak internationally.
Signed into law on March 18, this bi-partisan legislation focuses on the anticipated economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers and includes paid leave guarantees for certain workers, expanded food assistance and unemployment insurance benefits, and employer tax credits, among other measures.
This bill has significant implications on employers. The bill includes provisions that:
- establish a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking unpaid leave due to the coronavirus outbreak,
- expand unemployment benefits and provide grants to states for processing and paying claims, and
- require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees,
Detailed information on key provisions can be found here.
The CARES Act, the largest stimulus bill in our nation’s history, was signed into law March 27, 2020. The $2.2 trillion package is designed to support workers, business, and industry in the wake of the unprecedented economic impacts of COVID-19 and expedite economic recovery.
The highlights of the bill are included below:
- $377 billion for small businesses
- Including $350 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides the Small Business Administration with the ability to guarantee in loans to small businesses to cover payroll costs, paid sick leave, supply-chain disruptions, employee salaries, health-insurance premiums, and mortgage payments.
- Provides eight weeks of cash-flow assistance to small businesses with 500 employees or fewer.
- If employers maintain their payrolls until June, the portion of the loans used for payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven.
- Eligible entities include: self-employed individuals—including those who are part of the “gig economy” – and certain nonprofits, including 501(c)(3) organizations
- $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits
- $150 billion fund for state, territorial, tribal and local governments to aid in their response.
- $25 billion for public transit systems.
- $100 million for health care providers
- Direct payments or “rebate checks” for individuals and couples, including $1,200 for single filers with incomes up to $75,000; $2,400 for couples with combined incomes up to $150,000; and a $500 credit per child.
- $500 billion in loans for distressed companies/industries
For a full section-by-section summary of the legislation, click here.
Signed into law on April 24, this legislation adds funding to the programs as established in the CARES Act. Eligibility rules and guidelines are the same as established in the CARES Act. The bill authorizes:
- $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program – $60 billion of which is set aside to guarantee loans made by smaller depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions
- $50 billion for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
- $10 billion for EIDL grants
- $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing
Signed into law by the President on June 5, 2020.
This bill modifies provisions of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was authorized in the CARES Act. The key changes to the program for businesses to know:
- Extends the time period that businesses have to expend the funds from 8 weeks 24 weeks
- Reduces the amount of the loan that is required to be spent on payroll from 75% to 60%
- Extends the covered period of the loan from June 30 to December 31
- Extends the delay on employer payroll tax payments through the end of 2020
- Protects loan forgiveness eligibility for businesses whose employees declined to return to their jobs or whose business functions no longer require the pre-pandemic headcount to operate
- Extends the payback period for new loan applicants from two years to a minimum of five for those not seeking or who are ineligible for forgiveness
Click here to read the letter that the GBC and other business organizations sent to the regional Congressional Delegation asking them to pass an additional stimulus package for business and workers that are being affected by the coronavirus crisis.