|Legislative Session Update
The Missouri Senate is scheduled to reconvene next week in order to pass a supplemental budget bill and House Bill 2456, dealing with the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA) program. The Senate’s Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear the bills on Tuesday, April 7. The full Senate is scheduled to convene on Wednesday, April 8, in order to discuss and debate both pieces of legislation.
Update on Coronavirus in Missouri
On March 30, the governor announced he has approved a waiver granting full reciprocity for physicians and surgeons from other states who wish to assist Missourians during the COVID-19 crisis. The reciprocity waiver will allow out-of-state health care professionals to provide care in areas of need. During this state of emergency in Missouri, physicians and surgeons licensed in other states can provide care to Missouri citizens, in person or using telehealth options, as long as they are licensed in another state and their license is in good standing.
Additionally, at the request of the Missouri State Board of Nursing and the Missouri Board for the Healing Arts, the governor has temporarily waived a regulation requiring that a collaborating physician and an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) be within 75 miles of each other. This waiver expands the ability of health care professionals to meet the needs of citizens during the COVID-19 outbreak. It also reduces travel for patients and providers, in an attempt to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Since the governor signed Executive Order 20-06 last week, the Missouri National Guard and other agencies has been working to identify potential alternate care sites, if needed, around Missouri. While nothing has been confirmed, several possible sites have been assessed.
On April 1, the governor announced $180 million in expenditure restrictions to ensure a balanced state budget and the necessary funds to combat COVID-19 going forward. These restrictions include reduced funding for several state departments, including the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, Department of Transportation, Office of Administration, Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Economic Development among others.
On April 2, the governor signed an executive order suspending late penalties for concealed carry license renewals.
As of April 2:
· The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) reported more than 1,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Missouri.
· The St. Louis City Department of Health reported 270 confirmed cases in the City of St. Louis.
St. Louis County Update
Businesses are encouraged to continue to comply with the County’s Stay at Home Order which went into effect on March 23, 2020. Businesses not complying with the Essential Business portion of the Stay at Home Order can expect enforcement action to begin in the near future. Some examples of essential businesses include doctor’s offices, pharmacies, grocery stores, take-out restaurants, gas stations, plumbers and electricians, banks and laundromats. Businesses that are not essential include, but are not limited to, dine-in restaurants, beauty salons and gyms. If non-essential businesses are continuing their operations, please report these violations to the St. Louis County Counselor.
The St. Louis County Department of Public Health’s Rapid Notification Order went into effect on April 2, 2020. The department will require any laboratory company or health care provider:
· To report a positive test result for COVID-19 to the department immediately, but no later than six hours after notification of the result;
· To report a death caused by or from complications of COVID-19 to the department immediately, but no later than twenty-four hours after the time of death; and
· To submit negative test results immediately, but no later than twenty-four hours after notification of the result.
For more information about COVID-19 in St. Louis County, please visit, www.stlcorona.com.
DHSS has announced that it is expediting COVID-19 testing and test results for some first responders and other public health and safety professionals by processing their tests through the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory. The lab can provide test results within 24 hours of receiving the specimen, faster than some commercial laboratories. In order to be tested through the lab, health care and public safety professionals must have had close contact with a suspected COVID-19 patient and subsequently experience symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Missourians who meet these criteria can ask their health care providers to call the COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411 to request testing. If the patient is approved for testing, the hotline representatives will assist with the completion of a PUI (person under investigation) form and send a copy to the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory.
The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) has announced several updates:
· DSS is temporarily suspending Food Stamp applicant interviews as a condition of eligibility for applications received in March and April. DSS is getting clarification from the USDA on May applications.
· DSS will make a special payment to Child Care Subsidy providers to ensure they are paid no less in the month of March 2020 than the average of their payments for the preceding three months.
· DSS is developing a food assistance community resource list that will be posted on their website to link Missourians to local food sources. DSS is also working with the Food Bank Association to help ensure Missourians in need have access to food.
· The Family Support Division Call Center (855-373-4636) is now open 7 days a week, Monday through Friday 6:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
CARES Act Relief for Businesses
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes a number of provisions to assist businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Several of these programs are still being developed by federal agencies and will become available in the near future.
· Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans – Provides cash flow through forgivable federal loans for employers who maintain their payroll despite closures or disruptions. Approved lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020. Learn more.
· Economic Injury Disaster Loans – Available to businesses and nonprofits, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to provide economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. Apply online directly with SBA.
· SBA Economic Injury Disaster Advance – Applicants for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program can apply for a loan advance of up to $10,000. To access the advance, you must apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid. Apply online directly with SBA.
· SBA Small Business Debt Relief Program – Provides relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans. SBA covers principal and interest on new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020 and current 7(a) loans for a period of six months. To access this program, contact your SBA lender for more information.
· Counseling & Training – Business counselors are available through your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Women’s Business Center (WBC) or SCORE mentorship chapter to guide businesses through this uncertain time. Counseling is free and training is low-cost. Check availability here.
· IRS Employee Retention Credit – The Employee Retention Credit provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by eligible employers. This resource is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. Learn More.
With schools closed, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) Office of College and Career Readiness has compiled helpful teaching and learning resources for Missouri educators, students and parents who are operating remotely due to COVID-19. Information is broken down by subject area, and includes online, offline and hybrid options. An additional page of information has been created for Career & Technical Education content areas as well. Additionally, schools may wish to implement virtual learning through a new or expanded contract with a vendor. For more information, please visit the MOCAP website.
Additional updates and changes to DESE and/or public school operations can be found at DESE’s website.
Missouri’s tax filing and payment deadline has been extended to July 15, 2020. As Missourians continue to file their taxes during the coronavirus outbreak, the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) is encouraging taxpayers to e-file their state tax returns and Property Tax Credit (PTC) claims. According to DOR, electronically filed returns and PTC can be processed faster than paper returns. Additionally, individuals who e-file can have their refund deposited directly into their bank account and generally receive their refund faster than those who file a paper return.
April 1 was Census Day, a day were individuals are encouraged to participate in the 2020 Census. Census data is used for several government functions; it even plays a role in how federal funding is distributed throughout the country. Missourians can take the 2020 census online at My2020Census.gov. Missourians who do not wish to respond online can respond by phone. The Census Bureau will send a mail-in form to those who fail to respond by internet or phone.
State Park Changes
Out of an abundance of caution and in response to recent events, Missouri State Parks has temporarily closed four state parks and partially closed one additional park. These closures took effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, and are scheduled to continue until April 30. Castlewood State Park, Elephant Rocks State Park, Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site and Park and Weston Bend State Park have closed. St. Joe State Park has closed the off-road vehicle riding area. Additionally, gates to individual parking lots may close at all state parks when the lot reaches capacity.
The Missouri Department of Corrections is working to keep COVID-19 out of prisons, including by taking the following steps:
Missouri Vocational Enterprises, which operates 22 industries inside state prisons, has also modified operations to help communities during the COVID-19 crisis:
With the ever-changing situation regarding the coronavirus, it’s important to stay informed. For up-to-date information about the spread of the coronavirus in Missouri, please visit DHSS’ website at health.mo.gov. The department also has a 24-hour hotline to address your questions and concerns at 877-435-8411. For additional information about the coronavirus, please visit the CDC’s website at cdc.gov.