April 9th COVID-19 Information & Resources Update
Legislature Passes Additional Measures Aimed at Assisting Municipalities and School Districts

Governor Baker filed legislation, H.4616, aimed at further addressing challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created for municipalities and school districts. Both chambers of the Legislature have now passed the measure, which will be laid before the Governor for his signature.

The bill carries an emergency preamble, meaning once signed by the Governor, it will take effect immediately.

Provisions of the final legislation include:
  • Effective March 10, 2020 through June 30, 2020, allows the prudential committee or district commissioners to waive the payment of interest or other penalty related to late payments of various excise, tax and other charges.
  • Permits the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to modify or waive high school graduation competency requirements, in order to address disruptions caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to waive MCAS requirements for the 2019-2020 academic year to address disruptions caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Permits the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to certify a 1/12 budget for the operation of a school district starting on July 1, 2020 and for subsequent months, as needed, in the event that a vote on the approval of the district’s budget is delayed beyond June 30, 2020 as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Requires the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary to extend the deadline for school districts to submit its 3 year plan to address educational disparities in student subgroups to May 15, 2020, or later, as determined by the Commissioner.
  • Amends the date by which the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority board must approve a preliminary budget from March 15th to May 15th.
  • Amends the date by which the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority must submit a final budget to the advisory board from April 15th to June 15th.
  • Allows for spending flexibility between two supportive housing related line items.
  • Effective March 10, 2020, to the maximum extent possible, suspends, waives, delays, or simplifies in person verification requirements for Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program applicants.
  • Effective March 10, 2020, to the maximum extent possible, suspends, waives, delays, or simplifies in person verification requirements for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition applicants.

SBA Resources Available Through the CARES Act

The federal CARES Act makes substantial funding available to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19 through the Small Business Administration, both through new programs and adjustments to existing programs.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan program designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll. Loans are up to $10 million, with a 0.5% interest rate and a 2-year maturity; there are no payments for the first six months.
  • Who can apply? Businesses, non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors, with 500 or fewer employees.
  • When can I apply? The Paycheck Protection Program will be available beginning on Friday, April 3rd. Applications must be submitted by June 30, 2020.
  • How do I apply? You can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any participating federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or Farm Credit institution. Ask your local lender if it is participating in the program.
  • What else should I know? The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The program will be available retroactive from February 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020.
  • Click here to learn more

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance is a Loan Advance of $10,000 that is available to applicants who have been approved for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan; it does not need to be repaid, so you can think of the Advance as a grant for business expenses.
  • Who can apply? If you have applied or intend to apply to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, you can also apply for a Loan Advance.
  • When can I apply? The Loan Advance is available now.
  • How do I apply? Visit the SBA’s website to submit an application for the Economic Disaster Injury Loan and Loan Advance (click here to begin an application).
  • What else should I know? Please note that you should submit an application at the above link, even if you’ve previously submitted an EIDL application prior to the Loan Advance being available.
  • Click here to learn more

Debt Relief: The SBA is also offering Debt Relief to small businesses. Under this relief, the SBA will pay the principal and interest for six months beginning March 27th, 2020 for qualifying new and current holders of 7(a) loans.
  • Who can apply? Businesses who already have a covered 7(a) SBA loan or receive a 7(a) SBA loan prior to September 27, 2020.
  • When can I apply? This relief is applied for covered loans beginning with payments due after March 27, 2020.
  • How do I apply? Reach out to your SBA lender to discuss how this debt relief applies to your SBA loan.
  • What else should I know? This debt relief is available only to 7(a) loans and not to loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program, 504 loans, or microloans.
  • Click here to learn more

The Express Bridge Loan Program is available to businesses that have an existing business relationship with an SBA-approved lender; speak to your lender about accessing this option while you await a decision on long-term financing. Click here to learn more.
Video: CARES Act Loan Programs Overview

On Wednesday, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce held a webinar with SBA District Director Bob Nelson and Deputy District Director Peter Kontakos, focused on the CARES Act and its small business loan programs. The speakers shared details about the programs and further guidance on accessing the loans. You can view a recording of the webinar online at this link; the video is approximately 60 minutes.
From Bowditch & Dewey: Summary of CARES Act Temporary Rule for Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FMLA

The U.S. Department of Labor has released its temporary rule implementing the Paid Sick Leave (“PSL”) and expanded FMLA (“eFMLA”) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. Bowditch & Dewey has published a summary of the new rule, available online here. Included in the summary are:
  • The definition of Child Care Provider
  • The definition of Telework
  • Background on determining an accurate employee count for compliance purposes
  • Details on exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees

MassDOT Announces Opportunities for Public Comment at Joint MassDOT Board and Fiscal and Management Control Board Meeting

In an effort to provide opportunities for public comment and engagement while protecting the health and safety of the public and staff, the MBTA and MassDOT have announced that the April 13 Joint MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) and MassDOT Board Meeting will be held virtually; public comments may be submitted by mail, email, or voice message.

The Joint FMCB and MassDOT Board meeting on April 13 will begin at noon and be livestreamed. The agenda for the Joint Board meeting is posted at mbta.com and on the MassDOT website.

Public comment will also be taken in two segments on April 13. The first public comment period will address MassDOT and Joint items and will take place prior to these items’ discussion. The second public comment period will address the remaining MBTA FMCB items and will take place prior to these items’ discussion.

To Submit Comments In Writing:
  • To submit in writing by email, comments may be submitted at any time to [email protected].
  • To submit in writing by mail, comments may be mailed to:

MassDOT Board of Directors
and/or Fiscal and Management Control Board
C/O Owen Kane
10 Park Plaza – Suite 3510
Boston, MA 02116

For written comments received by mail or email at least ninety minutes before the start of the Joint Board meeting, the commenter’s name and affiliation (if stated), along with the first few sentences of the commentary will be read aloud during the virtual public comment period by Board Counsel or the Chair. Mailed and emailed comments will be compiled and distributed to all Board Members in advance of the meeting.

To Submit Comments Via Voice Message: Voice message comments may be submitted by calling 857-360-9742 and leaving a message by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 12. At the beginning of the message, commenters should state their name and company or organizational affiliation in addition to the agenda item(s) their comment pertains to. Voice messages received before Monday will be played aloud during the public comment portion of the Joint Board meeting and captured in the livestream video. Voice messages must be limited to two minutes per commenter, or up to four minutes for comments submitted on behalf of more than one individual.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Health care providers of all kinds, throughout our region, are in desperate need of testing and medical equipment including N-95 masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators, and other needed personal protective equipment that can be used by front line medical staff and care providers. The Commonwealth has announced an online portal where individuals and companies can easily donate or sell personal protective equipment (PPE) to support efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak in Massachusetts.

By visiting the COVID-19 PPE Procurement and Donation website, businesses and organizations can offer for purchase or donation critically needed personal protective equipment, including: N95/N99 masks (respirators), surgical/procedure masks, facemasks with integrated shields, Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPR), goggles, gloves, protective suits/gowns, booties/shoe covers, headcovers, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. The portal can be accessed online at this link.

The program also provides an entry point for local manufacturers to get more information on adapting their businesses to produce more equipment here in Massachusetts.
Spotlight On Our Investors: The Kraft Group

The Partnership extends our sincerest thanks to all of our Investors who have stepped up to the challenge of serving the community during this pandemic. Thanks to the efforts of Foxborough's The Kraft Group, over one million respirator masks were flown to Massachusetts to be delivered to healthcare workers on the front lines. Through their Patriots & Revolution Foundation, donations are being accepted to continue the purchase of supplies; if you'd like to donate, click here. Thank you to The Kraft Group!
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. Partnership operations are continuing throughout the duration of the current public health crisis, with our staff working remotely. You may reach me directly via email at [email protected] .

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership