Edition for Tuesday, May 19, 2020
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your Daily Impact newsletter!
As a valued member of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you every
afternoon, through emails like this one and on Facebook and Twitter, until the pandemic passes. We
intend to provide you with the latest state and federal information, as well
as highlighting the creativity and innovation that is occuring here in Maine
during this unpredictable and rapidly changing time. To assist you in
navigating the uncertainties ahead, we have created a diverse and
comprehensive collection of web-based resources to help you take care of yourself and your family, your employees, your business, and your community.
Do you have a question? ASK THE EXPERTS.
We are here to
help in any way we can!
Updates Plan to Restart Maine's Economy
The Mills Administration
announced today the following updates
to its plan to restart Maine's economy:
1 Maine residents may enjoy campgrounds
beginning Memorial Day weekend; and,
2 The Administration is
delaying the full reopening of gyms, fitness centers, and nail
salons in light of emerging research and experiences in other states of
COVID-19 transmission related to these establishments.
With these updates,
campgrounds, including RV parks, may now reopen with enhanced health and
safety precautions to Maine residents only beginning on Friday, May 22, 2020,
an acceleration of the previously identified reopening date of June 1 (Stage
2). This change is similar to the current policies of New Hampshire and
Vermont regarding campgrounds.
The Mills Administration is
also delaying the full reopening of gyms and fitness centers, originally
scheduled for June 1 (Stage 2), in light of new studies
raising concerns about the transmission of the virus in such settings due
to large numbers of people in relatively small spaces with moist, warm
atmospheres coupled with turbulent air flow generated by intense physical
exercise. Gyms and fitness centers are currently allowed to conduct outside
classes of less than 10 participants and one-on-one instruction inside.
Additionally, the Mills
Administration is delaying the re-opening of nail salons, also originally
scheduled for June 1 (Stage 2), after the State of California identified the
establishments as a source of COVID-19 community transmission. While claims
continue to be reviewed, some preliminary evidence suggests that the close,
face-to-face contact between clients and professionals could increase risk of
transmission. Maine is assessing such evidence and expects to announce new
re-start dates for nail salons and indoor gyms and fitness centers in early
New Lending Programs To
Launch By June 1, Federal Reserve Chief Says
The Associated Press reported
today that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the Fed's lending
programs for medium-sized businesses and state and local governments
would begin operating by the end of this month. Powell said that while the
Fed has received a "good deal of interest" in those programs, if not enough
companies or state and local governments seek to borrow, the Fed would
consider changes to them. That could include expanding their eligibility.
The Fed's Main Street Lending
program, announced in March, will extend up to $600 billion in loans to
companies with up to 15,000 employees. The Treasury has provided $75 billion
to offset any losses from the loans, drawn from $454 billion that Congress
provided the Treasury to support Fed loans in the relief package.
State Revenue Falls Short
$248M For April
The Bangor Daily News reported
today that the state collected barely half
of the revenue it had projected last month as the economic effects of the
coronavirus pandemic set in, pointing to the budget challenges the state can
expect in the coming months as an economic downturn continues. The state saw
less coming in as sales in hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, lodging and
auto sales declined. But most of the revenue plunge was because of the delay
in the state's income tax filing deadline to July 15, according to the
state's revenue report for April, which projected the state's unemployment
rate for the month would be 14.7 percent.
Income tax receipts usually
boost state revenues in April, but Mills extended the filing deadline to July
15 in line with the federal government's current deadline due to the
pandemic. That delay in individual and corporate income tax revenue
translated to $264 million less than projected in those categories. When
balanced out with revenues that came in above projections, the state's
revenue shortfall for April was $248 million.
Some categories of sales saw
double-digit bumps, such as online shopping and food and building supply
stores. Meanwhile, other sectors suffered sizable losses. Lodging and
restaurant sales, among the hardest-hit industries of the pandemic, decreased
by 45.5 and 33 percent respectively compared to a year ago. Auto sales also
dropped 27 percent after a strong winter.
State officials have said they
expect to have enough cash to cover this year's expenses through various
channels including the rainy day fund and the general fund balance. Mills has
also asked state departments to freeze spending and hiring except in
emergencies, which could save up to $250 million.
Even as things appear grim,
state Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, who co-chairs the Legislature's budget
committee, said it is too early to get a sense of the size of the loss the
state will weather. The report "doesn't give us a clear picture" because of
its focus on March - and the state may not have a better idea of longer-term
effects until its revenue and economic forecasting commissions meet this
summer. "In the meantime, all we can do is monitor and watch," he said.
As Students Face
Coronavirus-Related Challenges, King Joins Bipartisan Call to Increase Investment
in Public Education
U.S. Senator Angus King
(I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of 27 colleagues in urging Senate
leadership to include funding
for America's schools, educators, and students in the next round of
coronavirus relief funding. In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senators highlighted the
impact of the coronavirus crisis on education budgets and emphasized the
importance of supporting public education through the pandemic.
"We continue to see the challenges our states and school districts face on a daily basis and the impact this pandemic will have on education budgets over the next 18 months," wrote King and his colleagues. "Less than 1% of the CARES Act funding was specifically dedicated to supporting public schools. This is insufficient to stabilize education through this crisis. We are particularly concerned about how the educator workforce and other school personnel will be impacted by COVID-19."
"It is not just teachers who
will be impacted by these shrinking education budgets. Countless cafeteria
workers, school bus drivers, counselors, and other support staff are expected
to take a dramatic hit during this pandemic. Our students cannot meet their
full potential without the many professionals that make their schools work
for them day in and day out," they continued.
The CARES Act provided initial
relief to students, schools, and educators through the Education Stabilization
Fund, $13.2 billion of which is allocated to governors for distribution to
K-12 schools. Education organizations are recommending a further investment
of $175 billion for the Education Stabilization Fund to be divided between
local education agencies and institutions of higher education.
Collins, King Announce
Nearly $190,000 for UNE to Support Maine's Telehealth Infrastructure in
Response to COVID-19
U.S. Senators Susan Collins
and Angus King announced that the University of New England (UNE) will
receive a total of $186,080 to increase
telehealth capabilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding was awarded through the CARES
Act, which Senators Collins and King voted for.
"Maine has the nation's oldest population by median age, which presents unique challenges during the ongoing public health crisis. In addition, many of Maine's seniors reside in rural areas where there is often a lack of access to primary care," said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. "This investment will help UNE continue to give medical professionals the tools and resources they need to safely provide quality care to their patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic."
These investments will help
train students, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, allied health and
other high-demand professionals in telehealth. This will enable these professionals to
maximize telehealth for COVID-19 referrals for screening and testing, case
management, outpatient care, and other essential care during the pandemic.
A Virtual Update
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, together with local and regional chambers of
commerce, invites you to our Regional Breakfast Meetings, held virtually on
Zoom. As a local business leader, your valuable insight is instrumental to
this open dialogue about issues that affect your business, your community and
your state. We need your expertise and input to make recommendations and to
identify opportunities for moving Maine's economic future in a positive
attending one of our annual statewide breakfast series meetings is an ideal
way for you, the Maine business leader, to interact with business associates,
new and prospective Maine State Chamber members, and state representatives in
a relaxed setting. This year, due to the COVID-19 situation, we will be
hosting this event online as a coffee, so fill your cup and join the
conversation from the comfort of your home.
YOU TO OUR SERIES SPONSORS:
Systems, Inc.; Central Maine Power Company; Maine Department of Economic
& Community Development; Northeast Delta Dental; Versant Power; VHB
Thursday, May 21
9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
with the Bangor Region
Presque Isle Area
Thursday, May 28
9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Wednesday, June 3
8:00 to 9:00 a.m.
This session is a program
of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce
This morning, we hosted our Lewiston Area Regional Breakfast, the
second in our virtual update series. The Chamber's Advocacy team reviewed the
work of the session, prior to its abrupt adjournment in mid-March, as well as
making a few predictions about a possible special session, the coming
election season, and even how the 2021 session might look given the pandemic.
Thank you, again, to the sponsors of
this morning's Coffee Hour: our Premier Sponsor, Androscoggin Bank, and our
Official Sponsors, Brookfield Renewable Energy and Procter &
Use The Maine State Chamber's Blog And Daily
Impact To Tell Your Story!
Numerous Maine companies are stepping up or
pivoting nimbly, as Maine people resourcefully address the challenges of this
pandemic. Share your perspective and experience with us and with the rest of
the business community. How are you facing and overcoming the challenges
posed by this pandemic? What are you and your employees doing in this
dramatically different economy? Tell us about the innovations your company or
employees are making or ways you have adapted your company to meet your
blog entry should be 300 to 500 words. Join
us in creating a written history of the business community's resilience and
innovation during this extraordinary time. Please submit your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. For
more information or questions, please contact Mark Ellis by emailing email@example.com or
by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 109.
2020 Maine State Chamber Health Care Forum
Wednesday, May 27 | 10:00 to 11:15 a.m.
A confirmation of event details will be available shortly. The 2020 Maine State Chamber Health Care Forum will focus on the changing nature of coverage in Maine; both through legislation and through innovation. The program will be virtual, and roughly an hour in length. We will begin with a presentation by Denise McDonough, President of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine. Her presentation will focus on innovation in the marketplace, and cost saving initiatives being undertaken by Anthem. After that, there will be a panel discussion that includes Kristine Ossenfort, Senior Government Relations Director at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine, and the Maine Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa, to discuss the legislative events of this past session, and the policy changes that were enacted by lawmakers that are likely to impact the individual and small group markets, both in terms of policies, coverage and price. Join us for what promises to be an interesting and informative session.
Helping Maine's struggling
child care providers as employees return to work
The Maine State Chamber's partners
at Educate Maine, Maine AEYC, and MaineSpark have come together to provide
support to an important industry, one that is more important now than ever
before. Many of Maine's childcare centers have remained open during the
pandemic to take care of the children of essential workers. Unfortunately,
they are struggling to find needed and essential cleaning supplies at local
stores due to the low supply.
We are hoping Maine State
Chamber members might be able to help so that these centers can continue to
provide safe care to Maine's children. Do you have supplies that are not
being used now that employees are working from home? Are you able to order
supplies through a vendor? Items on the request list include disinfecting
wipes (the most requested item); hand sanitizer; hand soap; paper towels;
toilet paper; rubber gloves; bleach; disinfectant spray; non-contact
thermometers; face masks (cloth is ok); and, alcohol wipes.
Organizers have surveyed child
care providers and are tracking
their supply requests. If you are able to donate supplies,
please send them directly to the provider. In addition, please email Kate
Leveille with your donation so we can adequately track supplies or
if you have any questions. Thank you for any support you can offer. We are
all in this together.
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