LEGISLATIVE ALERT
Congressional update
Last week, Senate Republicans introduced their draft of the next COVID-19 relief, protection and stimulus legislation. The bills are collectively referred to as the HEALS Act and are serving as the starting point of negotiations on Capitol Hill. This legislation includes a number of provisions that support the travel industry, including:

  • Expanded eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to all CVBs or destination marketing organizations (DMO), including any 501(c) nonprofit, quasi-governmental organization or political subdivision of state or local government with 300 employees or less

  • Extends the PPP through the remainder of the year

  • Provides limited, temporary and immediate safe harbor for businesses that follow proper health and safety guidelines and takes steps to protect struggling businesses against frivolous lawsuits and abusive litigation. 

  • While maintaining access to PPP, transition to RESTART or an expanded Recovery Sector Loan program for longer assistance for hardest hit industries.

  • Supporting $10 billion in EDA grants to promote safe and healthy domestic travel.

  • Supporting expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) to $15,000 per employee, per quarter, for businesses of all sizes, provide tax credits for PPE and testing, creation of an individual travel tax credit and a tax credit for the meetings and events industry.

  • Providing $13 billion in additional emergency assistance to U.S. airports.

Congress remains in negotiations, with the two parties unable to come to an agreement this week.

As work continues on Capitol Hill, LTA urges our membership to contact the Louisiana Congressional Delegation in support of the provisions provided in the HEALS Act for the travel industry. Specifically, it is imperative that the final legislation includes recovery funding for our Convention & Visitors Bureaus. Louisiana’s CVBs – who support every community in the state – have not yet been able to access any recovery funding, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
 
As with all small businesses and non-profits, CVBs are facing significant issues, while managing expectations that they serve as the backbone of their community’s economic recovery. As hotel revenues have plummeted, so too have the CVBs’. As a result, many are facing an existential threat to their continued operation. An investment in tourism marketing will boost Louisiana’s economy by re-engaging conventions, meeting planners, sports groups and leisure travelers who spend money in every corner of Louisiana.
 
We urge you to use the link below to send emails and social media messages to your congressmen in support of recovery funding for the travel industry.
After you’ve sent our alert, please share it with your colleagues and visit the US Travel advocacy toolkit for additional ways to engage, throughout the month of August. 
Main Street Recovery Program now accepting grant applications 
The Louisiana Department of the Treasury is now accepting applications for the state's Main Street Recovery Grant Program, which provides direct assistance to small businesses with pandemic related expenses. Businesses can apply for $15,000 to cover eligible expenses. Businesses who didn’t receive a PPP loan, insurance payment or Economic Injury Disaster loan will be given priority for grants if their applications are received before Aug. 17. All eligible companies are encouraged to apply for the program, though, as funds will be dispersed for as long as they are available. Visit LouisianaMainStreet.com for more information and the application.
President signs Great American Outdoors Act 
Earlier this week, President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act, providing the largest investment in the nation’s parks and public lands since 1956. The act is a significant victory for public lands and tourism communities and will help to address critical repairs needs within the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service and other public land agencies. The act also permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which provides funding and matching grants to enhance and establish local, state and national conservation areas and funds everything from local playgrounds to battlefield expansions. 
Governor extends Phase Two order through Aug. 28
Today, Gov. Edwards signed an extension of his order keeping Louisiana in Phase Two and extending his statewide mask mandate, the closure of bars to on-premises consumption and the limitation on gatherings of more than 50 people for at least another 21 days, through Friday, August 28. The Governor’s order is largely unchanged from his previous one.

Louisiana has seen modest improvements in its COVID-19 situation in recent days, following the Governor’s mask mandate and bar restrictions. Reports of COVID-like illness, case counts and hospitalizations are trending down statewide, per data from the Louisiana Department of Health.  
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