COVID-19 Relief Measures
Dear Neighbor,
Over the last month, the state legislature and Congress have passed sweeping COVID-19 relief measures, and this letter is intended to give a very brief overview and a reminder of some provisions that may be relevant to you.
Unemployment Insurance:
  •  Nearly all employees, independent contractors, and self-employed workers are eligible to collect traditional unemployment and an extra $600 per week in “Federal Additional Compensation.”
  • Apply at or call the Anchorage UI Claim Center at (907) 269-4700.
  • Note that you can collect these benefits proportional to lost work hours—you don’t have to be laid off or furloughed to receive benefits if your hours have been cut.
Small Business Assistance:
The Small Business Administration now has forgivable loans for employers who retain their employees, which means the federal government will foot the bill for those employers who are able to avoid layoffs. Apply here

Northrim Bank is offering loans and assistance to small business who do not have an account with a local bank. For more information, please call 907-562-0062. Note: If you already have a loan with a local bank, I recommend checking with your current banker. The application is currently unavailable, but will be made available again soon. If interested, please check the Northrim Bank website. 
The state legislature created a new emergency grant program for small businesses based on an amendment I wrote to SB 241, to be administered by DCCED. This is a new program and the department is in the process of implementation. Contact my office if you want to connect with the department for updates.
AIDEA will back commercial loans for small businesses that are unable to make payments. Contact AIDEA or your banker for additional information.
Under federal and state unemployment insurance reforms, employers can reduce employees' hours and have those hours be compensated through Unemployment Insurance (this is sometimes called "work share"). If you are an employer and need assistance implementing Work Share, please let me know.
Emergency Paid Sick & Family Leave:
  • Applies to most private employers with fewer than 500 employees, from April 1 – Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Emergency paid sick leave provides either: 
  • Two weeks (80 hours max) of paid sick leave at the employees regular pay (up to $511/day or maximum of $5,110) when the employee is unable to work because he/she is
  • Quarantined (federal, state, local government order or advice of health care provider) and/or
  • Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis
  • Two weeks (80 hours max) at up to $200/day or $2,000 total because the employee is unable to work because of
  • a need to care for individual subject to quarantine (federal, state, local government order or advice of health care provider); or
  • a need to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed/unavailable based on the COVID-19 public health emergency; and/or
  • the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as defined by Secretary of HHS in consultation with Labor and Treasury
  • Emergency family leave is available for a longer period at 2/3 your rate of pay but only in limited circumstances when a parent needs to care for a child. 
  • Paid Leave Exclusions: An employer can deny either kind of leave to employees who are health care providers or first responders. Also, the U.S. Secretary of Labor can issue regulations excluding these workers from eligibility and businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
Cash Relief:
Individuals with less than $75,000 taxable earnings (or $150,000 joint filers) will receive $1,200 per person payments assuming they either file federal taxes or Social Security. Families with children also receive $500 per eligible child.
Payments scale down for individual income between $75,000 and $100,000 per year (individuals), and are ineligible above that.
Other Economic Relief:
Emergency legislation passed by the state prohibits foreclosure, eviction, or utility cut-offs related to COVID-19 through June 30. These regulations do not prevent landlords from evicting squatters, drug dealers, etc. As a reminder, federal taxes are not due until July 15.
Schools and food banks are stepping up to make food available to food-insecure families. Contact my office for details.
This is a very brief summary of the most expansive public health and economic relief legislation in U.S. history. Contact my office if you have additional questions. I hope we can be a resource as we all navigate the worst public health disaster in a hundred years and the most profound economic cataclysm since the Great Depression. We can get through this together.
Please keep in touch,
Senator Begich and I will be hosting a Zoom call this coming Wednesday, April 29 at 2pm. We look forward to speaking with you and answering any questions. Please pre-registered here.
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