Feb 2, 2021
On Jan. 22, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statewide directive asking local Chambers of Commerce to work with state emergency management officials to make COVID-19 Rapid Test kits available to employers.

The Abilene Chamber of Commerce has agreed to serve as a test kit distributor on a first-come, first served basis. Each test kit will contain 40 tests and can be administered by the employer in the event a suspected infection exists in the workplace which will in return allow employees to resume work more safely and quickly.

“From the Chamber’s perspective, it is our hope that by indicating a downward trend among those tested we may see a more rapid and full reopening of our local economy,” said Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. “Testing through use of these free test kits is entirely voluntary.”

Yesterday evening Gov. Greg Abbott gave his State of the State and listed five “emergency items.” This designation means lawmakers can take up this issue in the first 60 days of the session. Those items for the 87th Session are:
  • Expanding Broadband Access
  • Discourage cities from defunding the police: “To keep Texans safe and to discourage cities from going down this dangerous path, we must pass laws that prevent cities from defunding police. This issue is so urgent, I am making it an emergency item this session”
  • Bail Reform: “To fix our flawed bail system and keep dangerous criminals off our streets, I am making the Damon Allen Act an emergency item this session.”
  • Election Integrity
  • COVID-related Civil Liability Protections

The Senate Special Committee on Redistricting met every day this week to solicit input on the 2021 legislative redistricting process. The hearing provided the public an opportunity to share details about their local communities and other information relevant to the process. Census redistricting data is now expected to be released after July 30th.
Both the House and Senate met briefly on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and have adjourned until February 9th.
Liability Protections for Businesses
In public events this week, Governor Greg Abbott reiterated he would like to see the Legislature protect individuals and businesses operating in good faith from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
Broadband Plan
Gov. Abbott also emphasized the need to improve statewide broadband internet access, stating “Another thing that the pandemic has taught us is that broadband access is not a luxury.”
Chapter 313
The state of Texas offers several economic development incentive programs to encourage business investment in the state. The Texas Economic Development Act, codified as Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code, was created to incentivize businesses to operate in and expand in Texas. Bills to extend chapter 313 have been filed, which is a priority issue for TAB this session. The Texas Comptroller issued a report reviewing the benefits of Chapter 313 that can be found here.
At the end of 2020, the federal government passed a $900 billion coronavirus-related stimulus bill designed to help small businesses in multiple ways. These included the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expanding the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), setting aside new funds for Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) grants and creating new live venue grants.

During the January 19 Small Business Update, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and chief policy officer, Neil Bradley, and chief digital officer, Mike Morello, discussed the latest developments concerning the stimulus bill. Bradley also answered many of the trickiest questions concerning PPP, ERTC, EIDL grants and live venue grants that had been posed by audience members.

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FEB 3 PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP) The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was re-launched in 2021 as a result of the Economic Aid Act signed into law December 27, 2020. It is now open for small business owners to submit applications directly to participating SBA lenders, but not for long. Applications must be received by PPP lenders no later than March 31, 2021. This free webinar takes place at 2:00 PM and will discuss the specifics of the PPP. Register Here.

FEB 24 MICROSOFT 365 PRODUCTIVITY & PLANNING Get the most out of your Microsoft 365 applications! In this training we’ll show you how to use the tools available in Microsoft 365 to maximize your business’s productivity and organization. This virtual webinar event is free and open to the public. Register here.

MARCH 24 SECURITY AWARENESS Did you know your team is your first line of defense when it comes to your business’s cybersecurity? Learn how to boost your defenses by training your team on Security Awareness. This virtual webinar is free and open to the public. Register here.

MARCH 25 & 26, APRIL 1 & 2 ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL PHILANTHROPY VIRTUAL TRAINING SERIES The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission are leading this series on development training suited for large and small organizations from any discipline with limited development staff. They will highlight the best practices while facilitating dynamic group interactions to help attendees build and strengthen their fundraising "tool-kit" so they can more effectively and sustainably achieve their mission. Click Here to learn more and Click Here to Register Now.