July 31 Federal Policy Update

Included in this update:

  • Senate’s Fourth Stimulus Bill
  • RESTART Act 
  • Save our Stages Act

Senate Releases Fourth Stimulus Bill
On July 29th, the US Senate released their version of a fourth stimulus bill to address the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. The HEALS Act is a $1 trillion stimulus package proposed by Republican lawmakers. The act would distribute another round of stimulus checks of nearly identical benefits as those issued through the CARES Act in April. It would also provide $500 checks for all dependents, without the age limits of the CARES Act. Unlike the CARES Act, the HEALS Act allocates $16 billion for COVID-19 testing. Additionally, the HEALS Act allows for more methods of payment than the CARES Act,  including payment to accounts from which tax payments were made after 2017, debit card accounts, and other Treasury-sponsored accounts.

The HEALS Act is less generous than the Democrats' proposed HEROES Act, which was proposed in May but hasn’t been taken up by the Senate. The HEROES Act provides an additional $1,200 for each dependent—up to $3,600 total in extra payments—as compared to the CARES Act’s $500 for each. The HEALS Act also prohibits payments to incarcerated people, people who died before 2020, and people without a Social Security Number (SSN). The HEROES Act does not restrict payment to incarcerated or deceased people, and requires as Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) rather than a SSN. Unemployment aid is a major point of contention between HEALS and HEROES, as the Republican plan would cut enhanced unemployment benefits from $600/week to initially $200/week, then up to $500/week to match 70% of lost wages when added to state benefits. Considering the differences between the proposals, both parties will likely need to make concessions before the final bill. According to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the HEALS Act “serves as a starting point for bipartisan negotiations.”

MASSCreative supports the RESTART Act (S.3814 and H.7481), a bipartisan plan to support small and mid-sized businesses in their recovery from COVID-19. Small businesses with part-time employees are also eligible. The policy would provide six months worth of payroll, benefits and fixed costs and allow for flexible use of loan proceeds and loan forgiveness. Loan forgiveness would be based on lost income and would reach 90% for businesses with fewer than 500 FTE and high revenue loss. The act would also implement a seven year payback schedule.


Save Our Stages Act
MASSCreative also supports the Save Our Stages Act (S.4258) a $10 billion grant program for live venue operators, promoters, producers and talent representatives. Eligibility extends to for-profit and nonprofit organizations that are not publicly traded, have fewer than 500 FTE, and do not own or operate venues outside of the US or in more than 10 states. Advocacy for this bill is being led by the National Independent Venues Association (NIVA). Their website provides a pre-written message supporting the act to send to legislators.

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published this page in COVID-19 Updates 2020-07-31 17:50:51 -0400

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