Legislative Update: Bills addressing issues faced by employers and childcare centers due to COVID-19 and racial equity move forward

On Wednesday, the state House and state Senate passed legislation aimed at addressing issues that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Bill 413, sponsored by Rep. Russell Webber, suspends taxable wage base and holds the 2020 tax schedule for 2021 and 2022 when it comes to unemployment insurance as employers face a huge increase in the face of high unemployment rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation also requires all benefits paid due to a declared emergency come from a pooled account and not individual employers reserve accounts.

In a discussion of the bill on the floor, Webber stressed the importance of helping Kentucky’s employers during this trying time because if businesses have to close their doors, there will not be jobs for Kentuckians. He also stressed the importance of using available federal funds to pay the benefits many are still waiting on.

House Bill 413 passed the House with a 86-12 vote.

Another bill seeking to help Kentucky businesses and the adverse impacts of the pandemic also passed through the House Wednesday.

House Bill 278, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Flannery, would allow small businesses and self-employed individuals in Kentucky who have received a forgivable PPP loan to deduct expenses paid with the loan. Flannery said the legislation will not lead to a windfall for larger businesses but will instead protect Kentucky’s small businesses from a large tax burden.

He noted the loans were created and distributed in order to help businesses stay open and pay employees and while the federal government has decided the forgiven loans are nontaxable and qualify for certain deductions, the issue that exists is whether or not certain qualified expenses can be deducted which Flannery said this bill seeks to do.

House Bill 278 passed with a 96-1 vote.

House Bills 413 and 278 now both move to the Senate for consideration in committee.

Over at the other side of the Capitol, the Senate passed legislation seeking to help get childcare back on track in Kentucky.

Senate Bill 148, sponsored by Senator Danny Carroll, restricts regulations that can be imposed on certified family childcare homes in an effort to encourage more in-home care which could expand access to childcare for Kentucky’s working families.

The legislation, supported by the Kentucky Chamber, also prescribes what regulations the Cabinet for Health and Family Services may promulgate regarding child care centers during a state of emergency.

Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Senate President Pro Temp David Givens, establishing a commission with 13 members to help ensure policies passed by the legislature help address the ongoing struggle the state and nation face when it comes to race and inequality also passed the Senate Wednesday with a 35-1 vote.

Givens said there is currently no entity in state government to help understand the walks of life of others and he believes this bill will help start to make progress in this area as it is crucial to get policies right concerning the way they impact Kentuckians.

He added not only is it important to address racial inequities in the state but it is also economically beneficial for the state to lift up all Kentuckians.

The 13-member commission will include appointees from the Kentucky Human Rights Commission, four members of the state Senate, four members of the state House, and four members not affiliated with state government with expertise in education, health, economic development or the law who will be appointed by majority and minority leadership in both legislative bodies.

Senate Bills 10 and 148 now moves to the House for consideration in committee.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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