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Alert 4  Public Law Monday Message

Monday, June 8

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 Teresa Metcalf Beasley and Kevin Butler, you’ll find insights into areas of law we’re watching on your behalf.

In today’s edition:

  • New Ohio Treasurer liquidity program unveiled for school districts, cities
  • Expanded Paycheck Protection Program bill sails through Congress
  • Ohio Coronavirus Relief Fund, immunity measures pass both houses
  • Webinar for mayors and municipal staff: Current employment law overview

New Ohio Treasurer liquidity program unveiled for school districts, cities

Ohio State Treasurer Robert Sprague has introduced the COVID-19 Community Response Initiative for local governments, including school districts, which provides easy and cost-effective access to capital markets to help lessen the current strain on liquidity while providing the opportunity to accelerate fiscal year cash flows and address temporary financial shortfalls. Governmental entities participating in the program can issue tax anticipation notes with maturities up to one year, borrow and repay within the same fiscal year, and benefit from the state’s short-term credit rating with minimum administrative time and third-party fees, resulting in cash at low interest rates. The Treasurer’s office is expected to issue the proceeds of the notes on July 20, 2020, and applications are due late in June, so the time to act is now. Please feel free to contact Teresa Metcalf Beasley or Amanda Gordon with questions or to discuss how our public finance team can help. 

Expanded Paycheck Protection Program bill sails through Congress

This week our dedicated team providing guidance on the CARES Act and all federal stimulus measures offers detailed insight on the newly-enacted bill that dramatically expands the Paycheck Protection Program. The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, which both houses of Congress have overwhelmingly approved and the president has just signed into law, gives nonprofit and small-business borrowers (among other benefits) the following benefits beyond what the original version of the PPP offered:

  • Extends maturity dates for new PPP loans to between five and 10 years
  • Permits loans to be funded as late as December 31, 2020
  • Extends period of time for borrowers to spend loan proceeds from eight to 24 weeks, or by December 31, 2020, whichever comes sooner
  • Expands exceptions for employee-headcount calculations that make borrowers eligible for loan forgiveness, and more clearly identifies the deadlines by which borrowers must apply for forgiveness
  • Enlarges the amount of proceeds borrowers may spend on non-payroll costs like rent and utilities from 25% to 60%
  • Permits employer borrowers to defer up to half of their 2020 federal payroll taxes until the end of 2021, and up to half until the end of 2022

Read our team’s more detailed analysis here. You will note the expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program will be subject to additional regulations, and so it may be time to seek specialized guidance. Feel free consult any of the attorneys on our CARES Act team for assistance.

Ohio Coronavirus Relief Fund, immunity measures pass both houses

We’ve written previously on the progress of S.B. 310, which in its original version would require the state to pass along $350 million of Coronavirus Relief Fund monies under the federal CARES Act to local governments in order to permit reimbursements for expenditures made in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Having cleared the Ohio Senate unanimously, the bill has now passed the Ohio House, picking up a number of amendments along the way that will require the two houses to confer on a final version. 

Guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury on how Coronavirus Relief Fund monies may be spent at the local level continues to perplex mayors and finance officials alike. For example, may CRF dollars be spent to offset 100% a city’s already-budgeted public safety salaries during the coronavirus crisis? Some lesser percentage? We’ll keep you updated as the final version of the Ohio legislation unfolds, and based on shifting Treasury guidance we are prepared to provide opinions on how CRF money may be lawfully spent once it’s in hand.

We have also 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 S.B. 308 was adopted by the Ohio Senate, curtailing its original, more expansive version but still providing a number of healthcare, education, governmental and service-provider businesses and workers immunity from negligence claims stemming from the crisis. Earlier, a similar measure, 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.  

Each immunity bill heads to the other chamber for deliberation and a compromise, which is expected to be reached. All Ohio businesses – private, public and nonprofit – stand to benefit from the lessened litigation risk these measures would provide.  Contact anyone in our Public Law team for more guidance on these important state issues.

Webinar for mayors and municipal staff: Current employment law overview

We are active as members and supporters of the Northeast Ohio Law Directors Association, and we’re pleased to pass along the group’s invitation to local public officials for its next monthly seminar, which will be held virtually on June 11, 2020, at 12:15 p.m. At the one-hour webinar, McDonald Hopkins’ employment law partner Ryan Neumeyer will join our friends Joseph Brennan and Todd Hunt of Walter Haverfield to present on “Public Employers Issues in this COVID-19 World.” Among other topics to be covered, the panel will discuss civil service issues during a pandemic; how the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Family Medical Leave Act, and Fair Labor Standards Act apply; use of sick, vacation and other accumulated time; furloughs, layoffs and unemployment compensation; and collective bargaining.

The seminar, which is provided at no charge, would be timely and useful to mayors, city managers, HR directors and municipal attorneys continuing to wade through employment issues during the pandemic.  For details on how to attend online or by phone, download the flyer here.

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

©2020 McDonald Hopkins LLC All Rights Reserved
This Publication is designed to provide current information for our clients, friends and their advisors regarding important legal developments. The foregoing discussion is general information rather than specific legal advice. Because it is necessary to apply legal principles to specific facts, always consult your legal advisor before using this discussion as a basis for a specific action.

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