8/21/20
The Slice gives you all the news you can use. Each issue will include any COVID-19 updates, reopening information, legislative news, and other relevant items for our readers. Please let us know if you'd like to see anything in particular or have other feedback - just email marketing@vrlta.org.
Government Affairs
Hotel Action Alert - Urge Congress to Consider Immediate PPP Legislation
 
Congress is returning from recess early to address the U.S. Postal Service budget shortfall this weekend. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that the House Members will only be voting on funding for the Postal Service, there is a possibility that they consider additional COVID-related relief options. Senate Republicans plan to introduce and vote on a “skinny” COVID-19 relief bill intended to assist millions of Americans struggling with the economic and health crisis caused by the pandemic.

If Congress is unable to agree upon a larger package, we need your help to urge House and Senate leadership to consider a “standalone” Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) expansion bill. The PPP application deadline has expired, barring any new businesses from taking advantage of this critical program. Crucially, businesses that have already received a PPP loan and are still struggling are excluded from reapplying for the program. This must change!

We need you to help us apply pressure on Members of Congress this weekend. It is imperative they consider an expansion to the PPP similar to what was included in the HEALS Act. This would extend the application deadline and allow distressed businesses to apply for a second PPP loan, to retain and rehire employees and keep the lights on.

We have a small window before Congress goes out on recess again. The hotel industry needs your voice and we need Congress to ACT NOW!
VRLTA Holds 20+ Member and Legislator Zoom Meetings
 
Prior to the commencement of the Virginia General Assembly Special Session, VRLTA hosted approximately 20 member-legislator Zoom meetings. The purpose of these meetings was to help advance issues of importance heading into the special session, and to build support for issues that will be taken up during the regular session in January 2021.

The meetings included advocating on:

  • Making alcohol to-go permanent;
  • Liability protections for businesses from COVID-19 related lawsuits;
  • Preventing unemployment insurance tax increases on businesses;
  • Relief from hospitality related taxes;
  • Protecting against the application of landlord-tenant law at lodging establishments;
  • COVID-19 Business Relief Grants.

Thankfully, these meetings are already paying dividends in our interactions with legislators. Once the special session concludes, we will once again begin to facilitate these meetings. 
Virginia General Assembly 2020 Special Session Update
 
The Virginia General Assembly 2020 Special Session convened on September 18. Already, it has been full of action and deliberations on many bills. At this point, VRLTA is monitoring and acting on many bills that would impact our industry.
Paid Sick Leave Legislation Defeated

Earlier this week, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee met. During that committee meeting, SB5076 was considered. This burdensome legislation would have required employers with 20 or more staff provide paid sick leave to employees. Thanks to the advocacy efforts of VRLTA and other business organizations, the measure was trounced in committee.
Transient Guest vs. Tenant Bill Deliberation Pushed Back

Legislation that would alter the 90-day threshold for the application of landlord-tenant law at lodging establishments was also introduced. SB5089 would place additional obligations and constraints at lodging establishments, including revoking the 90-day threshold for transiency at hotels, motels, extended stay facilities, or other transient accommodations.

If this bill were to pass it would drastically alter hotel operations and classify a guest as a tenant the first day they check into the establishment. Not only is this change incongruent with the lodging business model, such a shift in the notion of transiency could undermine the collection of sales and lodging taxes. The proposal would make it more difficult for lodging businesses to respond quickly and effectively to human trafficking issues, and make all lodging businesses subject to the eviction moratoriums being considered by the General Assembly. The bill was scheduled to be taken up by the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee this week; however, the committee was running behind and decided to punt the bill to the next committee meeting.
COVID-19 Liability Protection Bills Progress

Liability protection from frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19 is another issue generating significant attention in the special session. Several bills—HB5019, HB5037, HB5040, HB5074, SB5067, SB5098, SB5099—have been introduced to provide safe harbor protections from COVID-related lawsuits to businesses that comply with health and safety guidelines. It’s very likely that the bills that will be the vehicles that move forward include HB5074 and SB5067.

As the Special Session continues, we will be sure to keep you apprised of developments with these and other critical bills that our team is following.
Upcoming Events
Do You Know Someone Extraordinary?

Nominate them for a VRLTA Ordinary Award - Nominations Close Next Tuesday, August 25
Help us ensure we don't miss out on recognizing the amazing people and businesses that make up the hospitality and tourism industries.

Please take a few minutes to NOMINATE an outstanding person or organization. This year, we have 20 categories, including - NEW! - Hospitality Hero categories for individuals and organizations.

Don't miss your chance to nominate an extraordinary person or organization for a 2020 Ordinary Award!
VA1 Tourism Summit - November 16 in Richmond!

The 2020 VA1 Tourism Summit is still on, although in a modified format. We'll gather for a one-day event in Richmond, but it will be jam-packed with amazing speakers and content focused on travel in the time of COVID-19; "back to business" strategies; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and more relevant and timely topics.

The event will follow all guidelines for safety and distancing, and adhere to current federal, state, and locally-mandated protocols. We continue to monitor the situation and will adjust plans as necessary. Learn more at www.va1tourismsummit.org. Registration NOW OPEN!
Education & Training
Save the Date for VRLTA's Webinar Wednesday!

VRLTA is continuing our members-only webinar series on September 9. Joining us at 10 a.m. that morning is Jennifer L. Rose, CSP, the VOSH Cooperative Programs Director at the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. She'll be sharing how restaurants, attractions, campgrounds, and hotels can better comply with the recently-implemented Virginia Department of Labor requirements around workplace safety.
ServSafe: Classes Are Up and Running

VRLTA's preferred ServSafe training partners are offering ServSafe training around the state - we currently are listing more than 20 classes in 10 different localities, so there is bound to be a class near you. We've added a new preferred training partner in Northern Virginia, ORS Interactive; they are offering some classes in Spanish. ORS and RVA Food Safety are also offering test proctoring. Click here to learn more and see the entire upcoming schedule. Partners' classes are filling quickly, so register today!
AHLA Safe Stay Course for Hotel Staff

To further expand the hotel industry's Safe Stay initiative, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is offering COVID-19 Precautions for Hotels, an online course developed in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) and created to help hotels train their staffs on the enhanced safety and cleanliness guidelines.
More News You Can Use
Restaurant Law Center Guidance Around Mask Usage for Restaurant Patrons and Employees

The Restaurant Law Center has put together two useful Q&A documents: one related to guests wearing face coverings and one related to employee infection control practices.

Other relevant documents related to reopening and recovery can be found here.
Teladoc Health Now Available - Offer employees virtual health and mental health visits

Teladoc Health is a program from UnitedHealthcare that offers virtual visits with doctors and mental health specialists. The program is available to ALL VRLTA members. Enroll your business and pay just $7 per employee per month for unlimited visits with no copay for employees and their families.