House of Representatives working on major economic development legislation
- would create distressed restaurant relief fund
The Massachusetts House of Representatives has recessed for the evening as they continue to make their way through what could be the final week of formal votes on Monday by taking up economic development legislation that has been packed with major proposals to legalize sports betting and reform local zoning rules to make it easier to build new housing.
Included in this legislation is a proposal to create a
distressed restaurant relief fund.
The fund would be created in collaboration with the authorization of legalized sports betting. The distressed restaurant relief fund would be funded by directing 30 percent of sports gaming revenue into the special fund. It is expected that sports gaming will bring in approximately $50 million in new revenues.
The fund would issue
one-time grants, up to $15,000 per restaurant, to address the financial impact of COVID-19, and could be used to cover rent, payroll, and insurance, among other expenses.
Additionally, amendments dealing with 3rd party delivery fees, interest accumulation on deferred meals tax and codifying expanded outdoor dining regulations have been filed to this bill and we are working on getting them accepted.
It is expected that this bill will pass the House on Tuesday and be sent to the Senate for their version of the bill.
We continue to thank the House for the frequent and repeated efforts to help our industry.
MA Senate also takes the position that restaurant relief is necessary
As the Senate awaits the House version of the bill, initial language was released on Monday, that may give a sense which way the Senate is headed in trying to help restaurants. The following language was included in the first version of a bill expected to be debated later in the week:
For a program to provide financial and capital assistance to restaurants impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus; provided, that said program shall be administered by the executive office of housing and economic development; provided further, that grants may be used for, but shall not be limited to, capital projects or equipment purchases necessary to uphold necessary public health and social distancing protocols for customers and staff related to the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic; provided further, that grants may be used for, but shall not be limited to, employee payroll and benefit costs, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other debt obligations; and provided further, that the executive office shall prioritize independently owned and operated restaurants and geographic equity when establishing the program criteria.
As the legislative session winds down, it is important that both branches of government appear to recognize that help is needed for the distressed food and beverage industry. We will continue to work hard to get a bill to the Governor for his signature.
Restaurants are Safe; Not Responsible for Rise in COVID-19 Cases
Today, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to the National Governors Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to set the record straight on the safety efforts restaurants are taking during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter highlights how the industry was highly regulated by state and federal requirements before the pandemic and has stepped up its safety protocols to meet new state and federal mandates for reopening. The Association also dispels some of the inaccurate information about the industry that continues to dot media coverage, social media conversations, and statements from some public officials.
Restaurants have lost more jobs and more revenue than any other sector of the economy because of the pandemic—and it will be among the slowest to recover. At the height of the shutdowns, the industry shed two-thirds of all jobs, and March-June, it lost more than $145 billion in revenue. Since the start of July, nearly 100,000 dining rooms have been shuttered again by state or local mandate putting people out of work and costing owners thousands in lost reopening investments.
Read the full letter to the National Governors Association
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