Covid-19 federal and state resources and guidance
Information is posted in the order that MFPC received it
USDA Market Expansion Programs
This information is from a group email from Patrick Rappold, Regional Wood Utilization Specialist, U.S. Forest Service, State & Private Forestry, Eastern Region, to State & Private Forestry partners about some grant funding opportunities related to expanding export markets. I only have experience with applying for and receiving funding through the USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP). Unfortunately the application submission window for the FSMIP closed last month. The FSMIP is fairly competitive, so now might be a good time to start planning of the FY21 RFP cycle. I present this information as a potential tool to assist hardwood lumber manufacturers with diversifying their international markets. Contact: cell 414-477-9167, Patrick.Rappold@usda.gov.
USDA Quality Samples Program Notice of Funding Opportunity
USDA Emerging Markets Program Notice of Funding Opportunity
USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP)
Rural Maine businesses that are not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may be able to get funding under the Business and Industry CARES Act Program provisions, which were included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Loans must be used as working capital to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more.
Share your ideas! As Gov. Mills administration works to re-open the economy and continues to strive to have a transparent process, it welcomes your thoughts and feedback and looks forward to reviewing all suggestions that are submitted. Please understand that we will take everything under advisement but may not be able to use every submission. Using this comment form, please take a moment to share your thoughts on potential goals and initiatives or on issues we should address in the planning process.
Gov. Janet Mills extended a state of civil emergency for the state of Maine for another 30 days on Tuesday, April 14, a move that enables Mills to retain her emergency powers to enact or relax prohibitions on social activities and commerce until May 15 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more.
Pierce Atwood – COVID-19: Main Street Loan Facilities – If your business did not meet the size limitations of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) there are facilities being developed for larger businesses (although they are also available for firms with PPP loans). One of those programs is the Main Street Loan Facility. This program provides for unsecured terms loans in which the bank lender holds 5% and sells 95% of the loan to the Federal Reserve. Read more.
Gov. Mills Issues Executive Order Moving Primary Election to July 14th: The order, which is effective immediately, also allows applications for absentee ballots to be made in writing or in person, without specifying a reason, up to and including the day of the election. It also extends the deadline for qualifying contributions under the Maine Clean Election Act to May 19, 2020.
For more on the Paycheck Protection Program, please go here.
U.S. Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance Guidance Letter 15-20 (UIPL) providing guidance to states for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). For department resources on COVID-19, please visit: https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus.
Pierce Atwood COVID-19 directory page where all alerts and updates are posted.
Governor’s office and state agencies
- Governor Mills Encourages Maine Small Businesses to Apply to Federal Paycheck Protection Program
- Details of Gov. Mills’ Executive Order, effective April 2
- Governor Mills Extends State’s Property Tax Exemption Deadline
- Governor Mills Requests Major Disaster Declaration from the Federal Government, April 1
- Ways Mainers Can Help Mainers During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Select Coastal State Parks Closed Due to Overcrowding
- Three Steps for Mainers to Follow Before Heading Outdoors
- Survival Skills: Navigating Cash Flow During Crisis | RECORDING HERE
- Survival Skills: Marketing Through Crisis | RECORDING HERE
- Q&A Thursday with SBDC Business Advisors | RECORDING HERE
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency –For States, CDL Holders, CLP Holders, and Interstate Drivers Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles:
On March 13, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a waiver to the Hours of Service Rule for commercial vehicle drivers transporting materials related to the COVID-19 outbreak in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This declaration exempted medical supplies and food products specifically, yet it was unclear how shipments of paper products and manufacturing inputs were considered. On March 18, the FMCSA revised and expanded the emergency declaration. The revised declaration is much more amenable to paper products and provides further clarity for the industry’s shipments. However, more clarity regarding whether pulp and paper-based packaging is included in the exemption is needed. AF&PA sent a letter to FMSCA requesting that pulp and paper-based packaging materials are explicitly included in the text of the declaration. More information at FMCSA.
FMCSA Hours of Service National Emergency Declaration
- Read the National Emergency Declaration
- Review Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q)
- Frequently Asked Questions Related to the FMCSA Emergency Declaration Part 2: 03/25/2020
- DHS Guide on Essential Workers
- CDC Guidance on New York City Truck Drivers & Delivery Workers
FMCSA Commercial Driver’s License Actions
- Three-Month Waiver in Response to the COVID-19 Emergency – For States and CLP Holders Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles (March 28, 2020)
- Read FMCSA CDL Waiver (March 24, 2020)
- Read FMCSA Enforcement Notice on Expiring CDLs
Is wood pulp covered under FMCSA’s waiver? According to AF&PA, wood pulp is covered if it is being used as a precursor to one of the essential items listed in the exemption as follows: (1) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; (2) supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants or (3) food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores;
Does the declaration cover packaging for food — for example, produce containers? Yes, packaging is covered as a precursor necessary to the production and transportation of products covered under the emergency exemption, according to AF&PA.
- Fact Sheet for Employees
- Fact Sheet for Employers
- Questions and Answers document – addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage; how small businesses can obtain an exemption; how to count hours for part-time employees; and how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law.
- IRS Filing and Payment Relief Regulation and Guidance: In Notice 2020-18, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced special Federal income tax return filing and payment relief in response to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency. Linked here are answers to frequently asked questions related to the relief provided in the Notice. These questions and answers will be updated periodically and are designed to be a flexible tool to communicate information to taxpayers and tax professionals in this changing environment.
- EEOC Guidance on Worker Temperature Tests: On March 18, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance to clarify that employee temperature testing for COVID-19 at operating work sites at this time would not constitute a “medical examination” prohibited by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). This guidance is responsive to a request AF&PA made to the Administration following up on member concerns. The guidance also addresses other workplace safety issues pertinent to facilities operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as how much information an employer may request from an employee who calls in sick, and whether an employer can require a sick employee to go home, require a doctor’s note to certify that an employee is fit to return to work, and screen job applicants for COVID-19. You can access the new EEOC guidance here.
- Trade – Canada and Mexico: On March 18, President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau agreed to close the border separating the two countries temporarily to non-essential travel. The restrictions do not apply to trade in goods. On March 20, the U.S. and Mexico likewise announced restrictions on non-essential travel beginning March 21.
- USTR Section 301 China Tariffs: USTR issued a press release and a Federal Register notice (here) announcing that it is seeking comments on potential modifications to existing Section 301 China tariffs in line with COVID-19 pandemic. USTR’s release stresses that submissions, and consideration of those submissions, would be limited to products subject to the tariff actions and relevant to the medical response to the coronavirus.USTR’s notice indicates that any such changes would likely be in the form of modifications to existing tariff lists, as opposed to exclusions. That view is supported by explicit statements that these modifications would be separate from existing exclusions processes currently still running for List 3 and List 4A products. Comments should be submitted using the Federal eRulemaking Portal on Docket No. USTR-2020-0014. USTR is requesting that comments be submitted “promptly” but no later than June 25, 2020.
- EPA Compliance Guidance: On Thursday, March 26, U.S. EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) issued a temporary policy on how the Agency would use enforcement discretion to address noncompliance with environmental requirements that results from the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is retroactive to March 13. Key points include:
— Duration: The policy is temporary but applies to actions/omissions that occur while it is in effect, even after the policy is terminated. Its scope will be reassessed on a regular basis, and EPA will provide at least seven days’ notice of its termination.
— Conditions: Generally, if compliance is “not reasonably practicable,” facilities should minimize the effects and duration of noncompliance, and identify the nature and dates of noncompliance, how COVID-19 caused the noncompliance, steps taken to return to compliance, and document this.
— Routine compliance monitoring and reporting: Specifically, if routine monitoring and reporting obligations — including compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification — is “not reasonably practicable” and “COVID-19 was the cause of the noncompliance” entities should maintain the requested documentation internally for possible later inspection by the state or EPA. EPA does not expect to seek penalties in situations where they agree that “COVID-19 was the cause of noncompliance and the entity provides the supporting documentation to the EPA upon request.”
–Absent exigent circumstances, once the policy is no longer in effect, EPA does not plan to ask facilities to “catch-up” missed monitoring or reporting if it pertains to a requirement with intervals of less than three months.
— For semi-annual or annual obligations, EPA expects entities to take reasonable measures to resume compliance activities as soon as possible and note the reason for the delay when submitting late information.
— States: As many states and tribes run delegated environmental programs, the policy acknowledges they may take a different approach.
— Settlement agreements: For EPA settlement agreements, OECA advises parties to use notice procedures that are set forth therein; EPA intends to treat routine monitoring and reporting obligations the same way as described above. However, for those consent decrees imposed by courts, the courts retain their own jurisdiction.
— Exclusions: The guidance does not apply to criminal violations, Superfund and RCRA corrective actions, accidental releases, and imports.