Sen. Murkowski Supports Liability Reform, PPP Flexibility in Next Round of Coronavirus
As part of NFIB’s Virtual Fly-In, Sen. Lisa Murkowski thanked Alaska small business owners for what they do for the state’s economy. The Senator told NFIB members that she understands COVID-19 has been a challenge. “When I ask folks how they are doing I always ask about health concerns, but economic health is also a priority. Restaurants and bars in Alaska are dying out. The tourists haven’t come this year and many small businesses have been shuttered.”
As for a second round of PPP, the Senator told NFIB members that she is aggressively pushing for the issue. “In the Senate, we have put forward the HEALS Act, which would get another round of funding to the smaller businesses with less than 300 employees. As for the forgiveness aspect, small businesses who have received just a few thousand dollars should be able to take advantage of an expedited process.”
When it comes to the Paycheck Protection Program. Sen. Murkowski said that the congressional intent was that expenses should not have to be deducted. The Senator said that members of Congress were all surprised by the ruling from the Treasury Department and she is working to fix the problem. Murkowski said expenses weren’t supposed to be taxable and credits the confusion with rolling out the program so quickly.
“I am also pushing for liability protection for small businesses who are doing the right thing and taking steps to protect their customers and employees from the coronavirus. Small businesses face enough challenges, they shouldn’t have to fear a lawsuit from customers. However, this is not a get out of jail free card. If a small business has willfully failed to reduce the risk then that’s a liability,” said Murkowski.
As for unemployment insurance, Sen. Murkowski said that the federal $600/week benefit under the CARES Act was necessary for some, but for others it was an unintended benefit. “I have heard from many small business owners in Alaska that it’s been a challenge. I understand some employees can make more money staying at home than they can in the workplace. I think it needs to be phased out. Under the President’s Executive Orders, Alaska has accepted a reduced $300/week of federal unemployment benefits.”
Moving forward, Murkowski thinks it will be several weeks before another round of stimulus help, after the Republican Convention. “Hopefully, in early September we can come together and move another round of PPP forward.”
After hearing concerns from an Alaska member about the Corporate Transparency Act and the fact that many small business owners don’t hear about new requirements from the Department of Treasury until years after they are passed, the Senator said she is following and monitoring the bill.
Finally, Senator Murkowski said she is doing everything she can to provide targeted relief to small businesses while still being stewards of the taxpayers.