UPDATE FROM NGA

As a reminder, NGA is compiling and distributing information in real-time. For daily updates, p lease visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) website. If you have any questions, please contact Robert Yeakel, Director of Government Relations, at ryeakel@nationalgrocers.org .  
 
NGA President & CEO Greg Ferrara Participates in Conference Call with President Trump 
Today, NGA President & CEO Greg Ferrara participated on a food industry executive conference call with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, and Agriculture Secretary Perdue regarding industry efforts to respond to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Ferrara used the opportunity to highlight the extraordinary work of the independent supermarket industry and their employees in responding to the needs of consumers. He and other food industry and supermarket executives described the situation on the ground in food retail and throughout the supply chain. The executives requested that the White House work with the food industry in loosening regulations that would help alleviate supply chain concerns and reinforced the need for the President to encourage the American public to refrain from hoarding food and cleaning supplies.  Greg also asked that USDA work closely with the supermarket industry before making any significant distribution changes to SNAP, including issuing D-SNAP. He noted the industry needs time to prepare for any distribution. Secretary Perdue agreed. 
 
House Passes Coronavirus Emergency Legislation
Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act by a wide margin. The bill provides paid leave, food assistance, an expansion of unemployment insurance, and additional Medicaid funding to States. While the bill has some good provisions relative to SNAP and nutrition assistance, NGA’s biggest concern is the paid sick leave portion of the bill because it requires only small businesses (500 employees or less) to comply with expanded sick leave requirements. Employers will be required to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to employees affected by the coronavirus. For two weeks, or 80 hours total, employees impacted by coronavirus will receive emergency paid time off. After two weeks, employees could remain off the job and get paid up to two-thirds of their regular rate of pay under an expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) program that expires at the end of the year. Although the bill provides tax credits to offset the cost to the employer, it provides a broad set of covered sick leave justifications that employees can use to take paid sick leave during the coronavirus public health emergency. NGA is requesting that Congress make changes before the bill reaches the President, as we are concerned that the paid sick leave provisions could trigger a shortage of critical food industry workers. In response to other concerns from the small business community, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced that the IRS would provide a cash advance for companies that claim the paid leave tax credit to shore up any potential cash flow challenges. Despite these assurances, NGA believes the bill is too flawed to become law in its current state.
 
CLICK HERE for NGA’s summary of key provisions in the House-passed bill that impact the independent supermarket industry.
 
Transportation Department Issues Trucking Hours of Service (HoS) Waiver
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours of service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the virus outbreak. Vehicles will be exempt from federal HoS requirements if they are delivering food for emergency restocking of shelves. It does not include deliveries of mixed loads – the delivery must be for restocking food on store shelves. Some States are also providing flexibility on truck weight limits, but FMCSA has so far declined to provide a blanket national waiver.
 
White House Requesting Additional Retailers Help with Drive-Thru Testing Initiative 
On Friday, the White House announced that large national retailers like Walmart. Target, CVS and Walgreens will help expedite testing by hosting drive-thru testing facilities in parking lots. The White House has invited NGA and its members to volunteer to help expand this effort to more locations. If your company is willing to host coronavirus drive-thru testing in your parking lot, please reach out to Chris Jones, NGA’s SVP of Government Relations & Counsel, at cjones@nationalgrocers.org who will provide more information. 

Ohio Grocers Association
1335 Dublin Road, Suite 207B
Columbus, OH 43215