In these unprecedented and uncertain times, Printing Industries of America is committed to providing the printing community with the most up-to-date resources on the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The COVID section on printing.org is virtually updated every day, sometimes more than once.
As President & CEO of Printing Industries of America, Michael Makin wanted to report on advocacy efforts and the various pieces of legislation that have been passed to help small business. PIA’s lobbying efforts (while via telecommute) are strong; we continue to be in non-stop communication with the House and Senate as legislative action in response to COVID-19 rapidly develop.
Below is a state of play as of March 19th:
Families First Coronavirus Response ActYesterday the Senate passed and the President signed HR 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, by a vote of 90-8. The bill is referred to as “Phase II” of the legislative response and follows an initial supplemental emergency appropriations bill addressing critical public health concerns (i.e., COVID-19 testing) last week. The law includes employer-related leave provisions including: Emergency FMLA, Emergency Paid Sick Leave, and refundable tax credits for employers required provide such leave. Please see a fact sheet by Littler Law Firm here. While some improvements were made to the initial House-passed HR 6201 (such as exempting employers with fewer than 50 employees from providing required leave if it would jeopardize the viability of their businesses and protection from civil FMLA damages in employee-initiated lawsuits), the Senate, unfortunately, did not answer PIA’s call (along with over 100 other trade associations) to replace mandates with a federal emergency fund providing more direct financial assistance to employers.
Phase III (and likely IV) Economic StimulusEven before the Phase II was passed, Congress was writing Phase III, which will include direct assistance to individuals and families (the government “checks in the mail”), roughly $250 billion in direct loans for small businesses in order to spur access to capital, and targeted relief for key industries (namely about $50 billion for airlines). This bill is fast-tracked in the Senate, but the process will require serious input from Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Schumer, which is likely to extend consideration of the bill into next week. Specifics of the provisions are still coming together and PIA is closely monitoring developments. Because the list of affected industries is growing beyond airlines, restaurants and hospitality companies, there is almost certain to be a Phase IV stimulus to address other impacted sectors. The timing of Phase IV legislation would likely be in April-May (drafting of the bill will take place almost immediately after passage of Phase III).
Postal Reform & USPS ReliefAs you can imagine, a multitude of industries are seeking to attach legislative priorities to these economic stimulus bills. One pitch PIA (and postal union allies) are strongly making to Congressional leadership is relief for USPS as it is an “essential service/business” during this national emergency. Clearly, USPS is critical as pharmaceutical prescriptions (pre-virus), government assistance checks, and even printed COVID-19 packets sent by the government to all addresses must be delivered. Package delivery demand is also increasing due to social distancing recommendations. Supplemental emergency appropriations to keep USPS functioning are needed. PIA supports this, but is also lobbying for inclusion of the following in Phase III or Phase IV: requiring the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to scrap its pending rate proposals and recalculate such based on influx of government funds, and attaching the House-passed/Senate-pending “USPS Fairness Act” that would repeal pre-pay requirements of retiree health benefits. It is vital not only for the country but for our industry that the USPS remains a strong, functioning delivery channel in this time of crisis and in a hopeful time of rebound.
Trump Administration ActionThe Administration continues to take executive action to address all aspects of COVID-19. Agencies such as Department of Labor, Department of Treasury, Small Business Administration, OSHA and EPA are updating their websites with new guidance for employers related to Administration announcements. PIA’s COVID-19 webpage provides links to these resources. One key piece of guidance for companies regarding tax payment deadlines was made yesterday: corporate taxpayers will be given a deferral of up to $10 million of federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020 until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. (The deferral is for individual and non-corporate taxpayers, too; the April 15 filing deadline remains in place.)
Again, the government response to the pandemic is changing day-to-day. PIA is providing a COVID-19 webpage with links to information and resourcesrelated to the printing and graphic communications industry. Included on this page are links to government guidance as well as related updates on PIA’s government affairs advocacy on behalf of your company, its employees and the entire industry. PIA encourages you to visit this webpage and hope it provides you valuable information as we all weather this storm together.
Association ReliefIt’s also stark reality that PIA, SGIA, our Affiliates and trade associations in general are facing immediate revenue hits based on the cancellations and postponements of conferences, conventions, award shows and other “mass gatherings.” Our industry is certainly adhering to a responsible course of action to help do our part to ensure public health and safety during this pandemic. In this context, PIA is working to make sure Congress considers the economic impact of associations and non-profits in the context of economic relief for loss of business related to the travel/hospitality industry.
Best regards, stay safe, stay strong, stay positive.
We shall overcome.
President & CEO
Printing Industries of America