RCRC recently joined with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to heighten public awareness of the need for permanent funding of the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program and the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program. With the assistance of NACo and RCRC, several opinion pieces by RCRC Board Members were published by local media outlets in recent days, expressing why this funding is so critical for the survival and economic recovery of rural counties. The primary message of each opinion piece is to urge Congress to enact two separate pieces of legislation to permanently fund PILT and SRS.
RCRC has joined a broad coalition of employer-based organizations contributing to the conversation the Governor and lawmakers are having about how California’s workers’ compensation system should intersect with COVID-19. On Sunday, in a letter to Governor Newsom and leaders in the Senate and Assembly, the coalition laid out some core principles for consideration as the both the Governor and the Legislature evaluate proposals which would enhance benefits to workers. The group urged that any proposal enacted should
provide clarity and predictability for injured workers and employers;
not shift the burden of proof to the employer through a “conclusive presumption” – this would result in providing workers’ compensation benefits even in cases where evidence clearly indicates the infection did not occur at work;
consider enhanced benefits be temporary and provide a clear end date;
not allow access to workers’ compensation for asymptomatic employees who test positive, since there is nothing to “cure or relieve”;
not include housing and living expenses as part of the system;
narrow the application of a presumption for COVID-19 to workers who face a demonstrably higher risk of exposure; and
consider the probable number of claims if healthcare payers are incentivized, by a conclusive presumption, to actively move infections into the workers’ compensation system.
These principles outlined to the Governor and the legislative leadership would keep the focus on extending workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses without becoming a safety net system for this pandemic. As the process moves forward, the coalition is prepared to discuss individual proposals and evaluate the performance of California’s workers’ compensation system.
On Monday, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) issued a tentative Assembly Legislative Session schedule as the Assembly is set to reconvene on May 4th. Subsequently, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announced an updated Senate Legislative Session schedule with the Senate returning the following week on May 11th. The recess, which began in mid-March, was extended as California worked to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Currently, it is unclear how the traditional legislative process of considering and acting upon bills will occur due to the compressed timeframe (the Legislature faces a constitutionally-mandated adjournment date of its Regular Session on August 31st). As the Legislature assesses the extraordinary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that the Legislature and the Newsom Administration will continue to face daunting challenges and difficult budgetary decisions ahead.
Plans for ensuring social distancing, remote participation, and other public health precautions continue to be considered. And, depending on guidance of public health officials, the final return date is subject to change.
For more information regarding state legislative activities, please contact the RCRC Governmental Affairs staff at (916) 447-4806.
Coronavirus Relief Available from the Small Business Administration
The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering several coronavirus relief options to help alleviate the financial hardships resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The programs have received an overwhelming number of applications from businesses, so be sure to check the SBA website for the latest updates on the status of these programs.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program. After initial funding was quickly depleted, the program received an infusion of an additional $310 billion, allowing the SBA to resume the program on April 27, 2020. Be sure to check the SBA website for the most recent information on the application process and availability of funds.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) County Resource Page Available
The California State Association of Counties (CSAC), RCRC’s local government partner, continues to provide excellent up-to-date state and federal information to counties on this ever-changing pandemic event. We encourage visiting CSAC’s COVID-19 resource page, which contains vital links to all CSAC COVID-19 advocacy letters and resources. CSAC’s staff continues to work around the clock to update activities so that all of California’s counties can remain properly informed.