Business Updates

November 10, 2021

Vaccine Mandate Update

 

A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers.

 

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

 

At least 27 states, along with private employers and other organizations, have filed suit against the mandate.

November 5, 2021

Yesterday the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) that establishes binding requirements for employers with more than 100 employees to require those workers to become fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus or submit to routine testing and mask wearing in the workplace.

 

While some states have filed complaint lawsuits against the Federal government, OSHA has clearly stated the ETS preempts any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks, or testing. Texas does not operate a state workplace safety and health plan and is defined as a federal OSHA state.

 

The ETS, which remains in the comment period, is effective as of today and will remain in place for six months. OSHA may extend and/or modify the ETS. If an employer expects to have 100 workers, including part-time, seasonal and certain temporary employees, at anytime during these six months, the ETS will apply.

 

With the initial provisions of the ETS going into effect December 5, covered employers will need to act quickly.

 

The US Chamber of Commerce has released a very informative video and printed summary that explains the ETS, including who is covered by the new rules, recordkeeping and compliance matters, implementation timelines and penalties for non-compliance.

 

We have also included a series of links to resources mentioned in the video and to the US Chamber's ETS Handbook.

 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH US CHAMBER VIDEO (APPROX. ONE HOUR)

 

US CHAMBER ETS HANDBOOK AND FAQ

 

Below are links to the four employee notification requirements referenced in the video, along with a link to the full ETS and guidance from the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission on religious and medical exemptions.

OSHA EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARD FACT SHEET

 

CDC KEY THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINES

 

OSHA WORKER'S RIGHTS UNDER THE COVID-19 ETS

 

OSHA FACT SHEET ON PENALTIES FOR FALSE STATEMENTS & RECORDS

 

READ OSHA'S FULL EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARD

 

EEOC GUIDANCE ON RELIGIOUS & MEDICAL EXEMPTIONS

 

 

November 4, 2021

Yesterday, the Biden Administration announced details for two major COVID-19 vaccination policies that affect companies with more than 100 employees and healthcare providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Together, it is estimated the new rules will encompass two-thirds of the American workforce.

 

EMPLOYERS WITH MORE THAN 100 WORKERS

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) that establishes binding requirements for employers with more than 100 employees to:

  • Get Their Employees Vaccinated by January 4th and Require Unvaccinated Employees to Produce a Negative Test on at Least a Weekly Basis: All covered employers must ensure that their employees have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – by January 4th. After that, all covered employers must ensure that any employees who have not received the necessary shots begin producing a verified negative test to their employer on at least a weekly basis, and they must remove from the workplace any employee who receives a positive COVID-19 test or is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a licensed health care provider. The ETS lays out the wide variety of tests that comply with the standard. The ETS does not require employers to provide or pay for tests. Employers may be required to pay for testing because of other laws or collective bargaining agreements.

  • Pay Employees for the Time it Takes to Get Vaccinated: All covered employers are required to provide paid-time for their employees to get vaccinated and, if needed, sick leave to recover from side effects experienced that keep them from working.

  • Ensure All Unvaccinated Employees are Masked: All covered employers must ensure that unvaccinated employees wear a face mask while in the workplace.

  • Other Requirements and Compliance Date: Employers are subject to requirements for reporting and recordkeeping that are spelled out in the detailed OSHA materials. While the testing requirement for unvaccinated workers will begin after January 4th, employers must be in compliance with all other requirements – such as providing paid-time for employees to get vaccinated and masking for unvaccinated workers – on December 5th.

 

READ OSHA'S FULL EMERGENCY TEMPORARY STANDARD

 

HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS

 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at the Department of Health and Human Services is requiring workers at health care facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid to have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – by January 4th. The rule applies to employees regardless of whether their positions are clinical or non-clinical and includes employees, students, trainees, and volunteers who work at a covered facility that receives federal funding from Medicare or Medicaid. It also includes individuals who provide treatment or other services for the facility under contract or other arrangements. 

 

READ CMS INTERIM FINAL RULE

 

May 17, 2021

Governor Greg Abbott today informed the U.S. Department of Labor that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment compensation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective June 26, 2021. This includes the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Federal law requires the effective date of this change to be at least 30 days after notification is provided to the Secretary of Labor. As a result, the effective date will be June 26, 2021.

 

 

APRIL 30, 2021

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced the application portal for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will open on Monday, May 3. Starting today, eligible businesses may register for an account with the SBA to apply for the $28.6 billion in available funding. Businesses working with Square or Toast do not need register beforehand on the application portal.

 

Eligible businesses include:

  • Restaurant, Food Stand, Food Truck, Food Cart;

  • Snack and Nonalcoholic Beverage Bar;

  • Caterer;

  • Bar, Lounge, Saloon, Tavern;

  • An Inn;

  • Brewery, Brewpub, Microbrewery, Taproom, Tasting room;*

  • Bakery;*

  • Winery;*

  • Distillery;*

  • A licensed facility or premise of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products;

  • Other similar place of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or alcohol.

REGISTER IN ADVANCE | ACCESS APPLICATION PORTAL

READ RRF PROGRAM GUIDE

VIEW CROSS PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES

READ NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION STEP-BY-STEP APPLICATION GUIDE

MARCH 12, 2021

Yesterday the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into into law, which included the creation of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and a number of changes to economic recovery programs created in prior stimulus acts.

 

RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND (RRF)

One year since pandemic-related closures were ordered, $28.6 billion has been approved for the RRF, a new federal grant program for restaurant owners with 20 or fewer locations. The National Restaurant Association will host a FREE webinar that outlines the programs and the application process on Monday, March 15 at noon. CLICK HERE to register.

 

Eligibility

The eligibility definition includes restaurants, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, saloons, inns, taverns, bars, lounges, brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms, licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products, or other similar place of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink.

 

Covered Losses

An eligible business may receive a tax-free federal grant equal to the amount of its pandemic-related revenue loss, calculated by subtracting its 2020 gross receipts from its 2019 gross receipts. But there is also a process for businesses started in 2020 to qualify and apply.

 

Funds from the grants can be spent on a wider range of expenses than previous relief programs, including mortgages or rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage inventory, payroll, and operational expenses. Five billion dollars of the fund will be set aside for restaurants with gross receipts under $500,000 and, for the first three weeks of the application period, the Small Business Administration will prioritize awarding grants for women-, veteran-, or socially and economically disadvantaged-owned businesses.

 

What if I already received a PPP loan?

Businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program loans are eligible for the RRF, but grant eligibility will be lessened by the amount received. Grants will not be taxed as income and all normal federal tax deductions are protected.

 

What should I do now? How can I apply?

The RRF will be administered through the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and it is expected that final rules and an application portal will not be available for several more weeks. However, eligibly entities must have both a Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S identification number AND a System for Award Management (SAM) number to make application. Both are free to obtain, but may require days/weeks to receive, so it is important to apply now and be ready when the SBA application portal is announced and opened.

 

APPLY ONLINE FOR a D-U-N-S Number

APPLY ONLINE FOR a SAM Number

DOWNLOAD NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION GUIDE TO THE RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND

MARCH 1, 2021

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has delayed the setting of the employer’s unemployment insurance tax rates until late June to allow for more time for ongoing legislative efforts and the continuing economic recovery to play out. This will effect the first two quarters of 2021. For the first quarter, ending March 31, reports are due by April 30, but payment has been adjusted to August 2. For the second quarter, ended June 30, reports are due August 2, but payment has been adjusted to September 30.

FEBRUARY 24, 2021

The IRS is giving all Texas residents and businesses an additional two months to file their federal income taxes, following the winter weather crisis. Texans will now have until June 15 to file their 2020 returns, instead of the regular deadline of April 15.The extension also includes any taxes that would have been owed by April 15, as well as any business returns that otherwise would have been due on March 15.Texans also will have until June 15 to make 2020 IRA contributions.

ADVOCACY UPDATES

TEXAS WINERIES

The Board of the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce has drafted a letter to Governor Greg Abbott requesting the immediate opening of Texas wineries, and is seeking support from surrounding Chambers as co-signatories.

Individuals who wish to lend support of this initiative are encouraged to contact their respective elected officials or use this one-click advocacy tool.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

The Chamber has also offered public comment in support of an infrastructure cost-share agreement with The McDonald Companies, who are working to develop a 110-unit apartment complex on Friendship Lane funded using 4% tax credits from the state. The development is expected to offer a mix of one, two and three bedroom units with monthly rents ranging from $822-$1,140.

 

The City agreed in a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Charlie Kiehne dissenting, to a 50/50 cost share on a water line extension and curb/gutter extension totaling approximately $40,000.