To our friends, clients and colleagues in local and regional government, higher education and the nonprofit sector, welcome to our latest Monday Message from the Public Law Group at McDonald Hopkins. In today's email, assembled by attorneys Kevin Butler and Kelsey Smith, you’ll find insights into areas of law we’re watching on your behalf.
In today’s edition:
- Vital stimulus bill plods through Ohio House committee
- Ohio House immunity measure passes; Senate version to be tweaked
- U.S. House bill would extend, expand Paycheck Protection Program
- Office reopenings: Best practices
Vital stimulus bill plods through House Finance Committee in Columbus
Despite its 33-0 passage in the Ohio Senate, S.B. 310 is stuck for the time being in the Ohio House Finance Committee, where it will receive a fourth hearing on June 3. S.B. 310, which thus far has seen no opposition testimony, would require the state to pass $350 million of Coronavirus Relief Fund monies under the federal CARES Act to local governments in order to permit reimbursements for actual expenditures made in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The bipartisan measure is at this point the lowest-hanging fruit for cash-strapped municipalities anticipating huge COVID-related losses, in view of the fact that the larger stimulus bill from Washington, the HEROES Act, remains a work in progress.
U.S. Treasury Department guidance on the use of Coronavirus Relief Fund monies – the same dollars to be passed down to local entities under S.B. 310 – is nuanced and continues to evolve. Our Public Law team, which contributes to a dedicated group of McDonald Hopkins attorneys closely following the CARES Act and other stimulus measures, can help you prepare for your eventual receipt of these funds and advise you on how the funds may be put to lawful but creative and meaningful uses in your communities. Contact any of us for guidance.
House immunity measure passes; Senate version to be tweaked
We reported recently on two tort immunity measures introduced in the Ohio General Assembly that would protect various industries and employees from liability for pandemic-related activities. Last week an amended version of H.B. 606 passed the Ohio House, adding specific coronavirus-related activities as well as broader public health emergency response to the list of governmental functions for which the state’s political subdivisions enjoy immunity under Chapter 2744 of the Revised Code. Take note: tucked into the measure was also a provision that certain employees, including police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, will receive a rebuttable presumption under workers’ compensation law that they contracted COVID-19 in the course of their employment. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The Senate’s competing immunity bill, S.B. 308, is broader in scope than its House cousin. Its sponsor has promised a substitute version that remains in the offing, although by all accounts (and like the House version) the bill will include local governments and a broader range of healthcare providers as protected parties. We’ll continue to keep you updated on how the two bills stack up, and whether to expect adoption soon.
U.S. House bill would extend, expand Paycheck Protection Program
Kelsey Smith of our team has offered insight into the bill overwhelmingly passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives which would dramatically expand the Paycheck Protection Program for nonprofits and small businesses and would extend its provisions through the end of 2020. If approved, the latest act would triple the amount of time for PPP borrowers to meet eligibility criteria for full loan forgiveness; allow recipients to defer payroll taxes; and lower the percentage of PPP loan proceeds required to be spent on payroll from 75 to 60 percent, freeing up additional dollars for other uses. Read Kelsey’s alert on the subject here.
Office reopenings: Best practices
A shout out to Ryan Neumeyer, who participated last week in a webinar hosted by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance on trends and strategies for creating safe office environments. While the focus was on office space in DCA’s footprint, Ryan shared insights that are more universal in nature within the coronavirus milieu: from COVID-related employment litigation emerging nationwide, to the future of open office floor plans, to employers flexing schedules and staggering shifts in an era when telecommuting and distancing grow by necessity. You can watch the recorded webinar on DCA’s Facebook page by clicking here. (Hint: Ryan’s most salient insights begin at around 19:45, 30:00 and 42:45.) You can hear more from Ryan on this topic by registering for the webinar announced below.
If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact any member of the McDonald Hopkins Public Law team.
Have a great week!
Teresa Metcalf Beasley
Chair, Public Law