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Latest news, alerts, and events.

Mar 25, 2020
Posted Under: COVID

***UPDATED MARCH 25***

Thank you to all of you who have contacted us ready to advocate on behalf of your mission and the nonprofit sector. We know you’re keenly interested, as we are, in the implications for nonprofits on COVID-19 public policy.

We hope you will find the summary below helpful. The public policy landscape is changing quickly, and we will do all we can to be sure we are providing up-to-date information. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with specific questions or join us on our Advocating for COVID-19 Relief webinar to get the latest update.

Here is our current focus on behalf of Alaska nonprofits and your employees.

LOCAL LEVEL

We are focused on ensuring nonprofits are considered in all economic policy and recovery decisions

Anchorage Economic Resiliency Task Force: Foraker President/CEO Laurie Wolf was appointed earlier this week to Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s “Economic Resiliency Task Force” where she will able to provide an essential nonprofit perspective to the municipality’s response and recovery.

Local Recovery Efforts: We have asked the Alaska Municipal League to encourage that other local governments considering COVID-19 recovery commissions or task forces include local nonprofit leaders. We anticipate that local governments will start conversations on recovery in the coming days. Please let us know if this is happening in your community – it is important for us to track those efforts to ensure that a strong nonprofit voice is included in decisions.

STATE LEVEL

Letter to Governor: Foraker submitted a letter to Governor Dunleavy this week calling on his administration to include Alaska nonprofits in any policy and economic recovery decisions. Additionally, we requested that all state agencies be flexible with nonprofits on reporting and deliverables on their grants and that the state’s unemployment insurance program be equipped to withstand the significant loss of jobs, furloughs, and reductions in hours Alaskans are experiencing.

Alaska Economic Stabilization Taskforce: Governor Dunleavy established an “Alaska Economic Stabilization Taskforce,” co-chaired by former U.S. Senator Mark Begich and former Governor Sean Parnell. We believe that having a solid nonprofit voice on that panel will be critical for Alaska’s economic recovery.

Connecting with all legislators: We reached out to all Alaska legislators to share the letter we submitted to Governor Dunleavy. We also called for including the nonprofit perspective in any economic recovery legislation.

House Bill 308: The Legislature passed a bill expanding unemployment benefits for Alaskans impacted by COVID-19. The final version of HB 308 now heads to the governor’s desk for final approval. The bill:

    • Allows Alaskans who have lost work, whether from being forced to stay at home and care for children displaced from school or childcare, or those who lost employment when their employer’s business closed, to apply for unemployment benefits from the State of Alaska.
    • Makes the state eligible to receive federal unemployment insurance grants authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
    • Waives the normal one-week waiting period and the requirement that those affected be ready and able to work, as many Alaskans will be forced to remain indoors.
    • Removes the cap on the number of dependents cared for in the bill and increases the allowance for dependents from $24 to $75 per dependent per week.

Governor’s Economic Stabilization Plan: The proposal covers a range of action to combat the impact of COVID-19. You can find more information in the original press release from Governor Dunleavy  and see the six main components of plan.

Connecting with the Commissioner of Revenue: We reached out to Commissioner Mahoney  to request the following from the State:

    1. Create special provisions for nonprofits in the small business loans.
    2. Provide cash assistance directly to nonprofits.
    3. Provide a safety net for nonprofits who need to furlough or dismiss staff because of lost revenue.

 

Federal Level

SBA Loans: The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it will make disaster loans for businesses and nonprofits impacted directly by COVID-19. The good news is that there is a lower interest rate for nonprofits receiving loans. Go to the SBA’s webpage to begin the loan process.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law: On March 18, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, (FFCRA) into law. The act requires certain employers to provide employees with paid family and medical leave or paid sick leave for specified reasons in response to COVID-19.

To help Alaska nonprofits better understand the provisions of the act, Manley & Brautigam P.C. in Anchorage prepared this material for us. The act takes effect on April 2, 2020. Any activities an organization needs to take to comply with the law should be completed by midnight on April 1, 2020. You can also find helpful information in this posting from the National Council of Nonprofits.

If you have further questions, please contact Foraker’s Director of Human Resources Rebecca Savidis at rsavidis@forakergroup.org.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act): The Senate and House hope to pass the $2 trillion legislation in the coming days. Below are key nonprofit sector-wide issues on which advocates have been most active – you can find details on each of these points here.  (Thanks to the National Council of Nonprofits for their analysis):

    • Emergency Small Business Loans
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loans
    • Charitable Giving Incentive
    • Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit

Other significant provisions include:

  • Direct Payments to adults of $1,200 or less and $500 per child ($3,400 for a family of four) to be sent out in weeks. The amount of the payments phases out based on earnings of between $75,000 and $99,000 ($150,000 / $198,000 for couples).
  • Expanded Unemployment Insurance: Includes coverage for workers who are furloughed, gig workers, and freelancers. Increases payments by $600 per week for four months on top of what state unemployment programs pay.
  • Amendments to the New Paid Leave Mandates: Lowers the amounts that employers must pay for paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act* (enacted March 19) to the amounts covered by the refundable payroll tax credit – i.e., $511 per day for employee sick leave or $200 per day for family leave.
  • Significant Spending: The bill also calls for large infusions of cash to the following sectors:
    • $150 billion for a state, tribal, and local Coronavirus Relief fund
    • $130 billion for hospitals
    • $30 billion for education
    • $25 billion for transit systems

Federal grants flexibility: The Office of Management and Budget has posted instructions allowing federal agencies to issue exceptions to the grants rules in the OMB Uniform Guidance to remove administrative impediments on services necessary to carry out the emergency response related to COVID-19. Those include:

    • No-cost extensions on expiring grant awards
    • Abbreviated non-competitive continuation requests
    • Allowing expenditure of award funds related to the public health emergency, including resumption of activity in the future and the appropriateness of future funding
    • Waivers from prior approval requirements
    • Exemption of certain procurement requirements

We will continue to update developments as they occur. And we will hold frequent COVID-19 policy updates. Again, if you have questions, call us.