Edition for Thursday, August 6, 2020
To view this edition of Impact online,
your COVID-19 Impact newsletter!
As a valued member of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you
several times each week 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!
CALL TO ACTION | Please Contact
Your Congressional Delegation Now!
COVID-19 has presented Maine
businesses with numerous challenges during the past few months. As a result,
many companies in Maine have gone beyond the scope of their operations to
begin producing products that help protect the health and safety of Maine citizens,
health care workers, and employees. These businesses have continued to
provide these much-needed services to our state during this time of crisis.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce believes it is only appropriate that we provide these businesses with the ability to continue their efforts, without the threat of unreasonable or unprincipled liability or litigation. Due to the pressing nature of this issue, the Maine State Chamber has put together a statewide coalition, comprised of numerous associations representing thousands of businesses, to address this issue.
Right now, in the next stimulus
recovery bill currently being negotiated, Congress is considering adopting
time-limited, safe harbor protections for businesses to operate during the
pandemic. This is NOT a done deal!
Time is of the essence. The Maine State Chamber strongly urges Maine
emplolyers to contact your state congressional delegation and urge them to
support legislation that adopts time-limited, safe harbor protection for
businesses during this pandemic. Phone numbers to the Congressional offices
in Washington D.C. are as follows:
U.S. Senator Susan
Collins: (202) 224-2523
U.S. Senator Angus
King: (202) 224-5344
Chellie Pingree: (202) 225-6116
Jared Golden: (202) 225-6306
If you have any questions,
please contact Linda Caprara, senior government relations specialist for the
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 106, or by
Governor Mills Calls for
Sweeping Budget Cuts to Offset Pandemic Losses
According to a recent story in
the Bangor Daily News, Governor
Janet Mills on Wednesday directed most state department heads to identify 10
percent cost reductions in their agencies in her administration's
most dramatic response yet to revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus
pandemic. The sudden severity of the virus-induced recession is prompting an
unprecedented response by the state. Maine is facing a projected $1.4 billion
revenue shortfall over the next three years due to the pandemic with $524
million falling within the budget year ending June 30, 2021.
The drivers of the state
budget shortfall have long been known: Sales and use tax revenue is expected
to be down $230 million by the end of the 2021 fiscal year next June, a 6
percent decrease caused by dips in demand and associated economic
restrictions from Mills as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The
state has a rainy day fund with $258 million and other reserves that could
soften the blow. But the shortfall still presents a daunting challenge for
lawmakers when they return to Augusta either this year or after the 2020
election with additional relief from Congress uncertain.
Collins, Romney, McSally
Introduce Measure to Extend Unemployment Benefits Through End of Year
As negotiations continue this
week on COVID-19 relief, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mitt Romney
(R-UT), and Martha McSally (R-AZ) introduced a measure on Wednesday, August 5
currently expired unemployment insurance benefits to
ensure that unemployed workers receive them through the end of the year. The
amendment would allow states flexibility to transition toward wage
replacement and would phase in lower payments over the course of the next
five months. Last week, the Senators introduced similar legislation that
would ensure unemployed workers receiving federal benefits would continue to
receive them for the next three months. The amendment would preserve
additional unemployment insurance benefits through the end of the year and
provide flexibility to states, as they shift toward targeted wage
Golden, Kelly Lead 22
Members to Urge Inclusion of RESTART Act in COVID-19 Relief Package
The RESTART Act is gaining bipartisan momentum as
recognition grows that small businesses need relief designed to help them
weather ongoing pandemic
On August 4, Congressman Jared
Golden and Congressman Mike Kelly led 22 bipartisan House members to urge
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to push for the
inclusion of HR 7481, the
RESTART Act, in their negotiations for upcoming COVID-19 legislation.
Golden and Kelly's bill, introduced in the House last month, builds on the
PPP and targets relief funds to small businesses hardest-hit by the COVID-19
crisis. The program offers small businesses partially forgivable loans for
periods up to one year and provides needed flexibility for small businesses
to cover a broad array of expenses, including payroll, mortgage interest,
rent and utility payments, and PPE. In their letter,
Golden and his colleagues noted that there is support in both parties and in
both chambers for extending federal small business relief and for making
necessary changes to existing relief programs.
Thursday, August 13 | The Bottom Line Podcast
with Maine Community
College System President, David Daigler
president of the Maine Community College System (MCCS), will be our special guest on The Bottom Line podcast. He will join The Bottom Line co-hosts Dana Connors of the Maine State
Chamber of Commerce and John Williams
of Williams Broadcasting to discuss MCCS' plans for providing safe, in-person
training on campus for students that need hands-on instruction and robust
remote learning for other students. In both scenarios, Maine's community
colleges are making sure students are getting critical training for the state's workforce needs.
please visit Williams
scroll down to "Listen Online" at the bottom of the homepage. To listen to the archived recordings,
please visit The Bottom Line page on the Maine State Chamber's
website. In addition, The Bottom Line
podcast can be heard on iTunes, iHeart Radio, Soundcloud, Stitcher Radio,
Spotify and radio.com.
Senator King Pushes to
Support Rural Economies Amid Coronavirus Relief Negotiations
Joins colleagues to cosponsor bill that would create jobs
in rural America supporting conservation and restoring public lands
On August 5, U.S. Senator
Angus King joined four of his Senate colleagues to introduce legislation that
would create thousands of living
wage jobs in rural America as these communities continue
to grapple with unique and devastating economic challenges during the
COVID-19 pandemic. The 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act would
support rural economies by investing in job training and development,
rangeland and working lands conservation programs, and the planting of
billions of trees.
In Teleconference, King
Discusses Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Student Mental Health with
Maine School Psychologists
On August 4, U.S. Senator
Angus King met with nearly 50 Maine school psychologists via teleconference
to discuss the importance of meeting the mental
health needs of students - especially given the increased
coronavirus-related challenges posed by the upcoming school year. The virtual
organization was formed at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic as a way
for school psychologists to connect and discuss how best to support remote
students and teachers coping with new routines and procedures. The call
also underscored Maine's shortage of school psychologists, as current
statistics estimate there is roughly one school psychologist for every 3,000
Maine students; in contrast, the national recommended ratio is one school
psychologist for every 500 students.
Senators Collins, King
Announce $2.6 Million to Support Maine Public Health Professionals' Response
On August 4, U.S. Senators
Susan Collins and Angus King announced that Maine
has been awarded $2,681,866 to support the state's
response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was awarded through the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for
Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID). In cooperation with the
CDC, Maine will use this funding to carry out surveillance, epidemiology,
laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications, and other
preparedness and response activities.
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 email@example.com. For
more information or questions, please contact Mark Ellis by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or
by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 109.
Maine Department of Labor
Releases Unemployment Compensation Claims Data for Week Ending August 1
The Maine Department of Labor reported
today that, for the week ending August 1, the department
recorded about 1,600 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance,
and 470 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
(PUA). These claims
represent about 1,700 individuals filing an initial claim. About 53,100
weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state
unemployment. In addition, about 26,400 weekly certifications were filed
under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in
order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
Between March 15 and August 1,
the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.32 billion in federal and
state unemployment benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than
$74 million in unemployment benefits in all of 2019. The Department has
handled approximately 178,200 initial claims for the state unemployment
program and 82,900 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
program. There have been almost 1.95 million weekly certifications filed.
Fraud Update: The Maine Department of Labor
continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment
imposter fraud. During the week ending August 1, the Department cancelled
about 530 initial claims and 520 weekly certifications that were determined
to be fraudulent.
Self-Employed and Other PUA Recipients Can Upload Tax Documentation: As announced last week, recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), whose income documentation was not automatically matched to their claim, can upload their tax documents within their ReEmployME account to determine if they are eligible for retroactive benefits. Once redeterminations are made, claimants will receive a new monetary determination letter in the mail stating what their new benefit amount is. If retroactive benefits are due for past weeks, they will be made within 14 days of the claimant receiving their PUA redetermination letter. Claimants have the right to appeal the determination if they believe the information is not accurate.
Wind-Energy Firms to Invest $100M in UMaine Aqua Ventus Project
to a recent Mainebiz story, two
firms with global expertise in offshore wind energy are partnering with the
University of Maine on its floating offshore wind technology demonstration project. Diamond Offshore
Wind and RWE Renewables will invest $100 million to build the project and
help demonstrate the technology at full scale, according to a news release
Wednesday. The project is projected to produce more than $150 million in
total economic output and create hundreds of Maine-based jobs during the
construction period. Cianbro Corp., based in Pittsfield, is another partner
on the project.
New England Aqua Ventus project consists of a semi-submersible concrete
floating platform that will support a commercial 10- to 12-megawatt wind
turbine, which will be deployed in a state-designated area 2 miles south of Monhegan
Island and 14 miles from the Maine coast. The purpose of the project is to
further evaluate the floating technology, monitor environmental factors and
develop best practices for offshore wind to coexist with traditional marine
activities. The turbine will supply clean, renewable electricity to the Maine
grid. Construction, following all permitting, is expected to be completed in
New Survey Boosts Case for Working Remotely in Vacationland
to a recent Mainebiz story, the
number of people working remotely in Maine for employers based out of state
may be larger than most people think. That's one of the conclusions of a new
survey by Live+Work in Maine, an advocacy group that plans to use the
findings and hundreds of anecdotes gathered to make a stronger case for the
pluses of working - and hiring - in Vacationland. The findings are in line
with prediction that 25% to 30% of the global workforce will be working from
home multiple days a week by 2021 as a growing number of large Maine
employers rethink their office setup and real estate footprint post-COVID-19.
The survey also found that lots of individuals work in Maine for employers
headquartered outside the state, including Google, IBM, online real estate
database company Zillow Group Inc., Cambridge, Mass.-based software firm
HubSpot Inc., Hartford, Conn.-based research and advisory firm Gartner Inc.
and Chicago-based real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.
Providing Books to Maine Students
educators were recently surveyed about critical needs of their students.
Books were highlighted as a top priority for students of all ages. Supporting
reading is essential for students to continue to thrive in schools. Making
certain that our students, particularly our youngest readers, have easy
access to books during the end of the school year and throughout the summer
is crucial for preventing summer slide.
with yeoman-like efforts by Maine teachers and a hands-on approach from the
Maine Department of Education to ensure all Maine students have been able to
continue learning remotely during the pandemic, we know that learning over
these past few months has inevitably been disrupted. In addition to the
school year disruption, student achievement often widens during the summer,
an outcome referred to as summer slide. Summer slide accounts for as much as
85 percent of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and
their middle- and upper-income peers. Providing students with appropriate
books will help address this challenge. Not only does summer reading enable
students to continue practicing foundational skills, but it opens the world
to students through stories and knowledge building around topics of interest. We need your help to ensure students across
our 16 counties have access to books, an essential commodity.
are a few ways you can support Maine students:
1 2020 Maine Books Challenge: Educate
Maine is leading this initiative to provide students with books while supporting
local bookstores. You can purchase an online or physical gift card at one of
Maine's independent bookstores. Every $10 donation provides a book for a
Maine student. Every donation will be matched by the Law Offices of Joe
Bornstein up to $5,000. Teachers across Maine will help coordinate book
distribution to students. If interested in supporting this effort, please
email Katherine at email@example.com.
2 Scholastic Books: This company has offered
significant discounts to help get books to Maine students. For example, a $1,000
donation can support 300 books for 100 students. A $5,000 donation can
support 1,500 books for 500 students. If interested in supporting this
effort, please email Megan Diver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Community Book Donations: Gently used
books are also needed across Maine. We are seeking community drop off spots
at local employers throughout the 16 counties. If your business is interested
in becoming a location for books to be collected, please email Megan Diver at
will be distributed to students directly through their schools and at local
meal sites throughout the summer. Additional information about summer
literacy initiatives can be found here. Thank you for supporting Maine students.
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