Just-Signed Bills Offer Relief from Pandemic Hardship

More Funds for Small Business Grant Program

Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation this week to provide relief to Californians experiencing pandemic hardship.

Included in the package were bills to allocate another $2.1 billion to the small business grant program and waive license renewal fees for businesses in industries hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

The bills went into effect immediately upon being signed on February 23.

The California Chamber of Commerce applauded the Governor for taking action that offers some much-needed economic relief for California’s small businesses.

“Small businesses in the state are reeling from the economic fallout of COVID-19 shutdowns and the financial bridge provided through the fee waivers and grants approved today by Governor Newsom will provide help and hope as we wait for California’s economy to recover,” the CalChamber said in a statement issued after the bill signings.

“While the Governor’s action today is an important step forward, our small businesses still need tax and regulatory relief,” the CalChamber continued. “The Legislature should act swiftly to pass AB 80, which offers preferable tax treatment for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and they should reject any proposal that adds to the cost of doing business in the state.”

Small Business Relief

CalChamber-supported SB 87 (Caballero; D-Salinas) adds $2.1 billion to the $500 million program providing grants of $5,000 to $25,000 for small businesses, nonprofits and cultural institutions hurt by the pandemic.

To be eligible to apply, the annual gross revenue of the business needs to be between $1,000 and $2.5 million.

Grant money may be used for costs such as payroll, health care benefits, rent, utilities and more.

Fee Waivers

CalChamber-supported SB 94 (Skinner; D-Berkeley) waives for two years license renewal fees for restaurants, bars, barbers and cosmetologists.

Annual fees for bars and restaurants licensed through the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control range from $455 to $1,235, according to the Governor’s office, which estimated the fee relief will apply to 59,000 businesses. More than 600,0000 barbering and cosmetology individuals and businesses are licensed through the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Still Pending

Set to be considered by the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee on March 1 is CalChamber-supported AB 80 (Burke; D-Inglewood), which brings California into partial conformity with federal tax treatment of deductible business expenses paid for using PPP funds. Once signed, the bill will allow businesses to deduct up to $150,000 in expenses covered by the PPP loan from their state income taxes.

Staff Contact: Preston Young