Submitted by Norm Needleman, State Senator.
(February 16, 2021) I hope you are staying safe and healthy. I want to give an update on a legislative effort to provide relief to small businesses. Plus, there are a couple of upcoming virtual events that may be of interest to people seeking new employment opportunities or information on assistance programs available to those experiencing high energy rates.
Introduced Legislation to Provide Relief to Small Businesses
We all know the hardest-hit of all during the pandemic are small businesses. Too many have suffered extreme financial burdens, and many have closed. We owe it to the men and women who put their lives into their work to protect them, and their investments and livelihoods, from any further damage.
I have joined a coalition of Democratic state senators to introduce legislation that would provide financial relief to small businesses dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m proud to share this legislation is moving forward and was discussed during a public hearing last week.
If voted into law, Senate Bill 711, “An Act Concerning COVID-19 Relief For Small Businesses,” would have three important benefits for small businesses:
- Small businesses with less than 100 employees cannot have unemployment insurance premiums increased due to increased claims due to COVID-19 and insurers cannot use increased claims due to COVID-19 when calculating businesses’ losses compared to competitors.
- Small businesses would be exempt from sales tax when purchasing personal protective equipment to protect employees.
- Agencies reviewing or potentially changing regulations must develop an economic impact statement and an assessment seeing how those regulations would impact small businesses before they are potentially introduced.
These common-sense steps will prevent surprise costs and put money back into businesses, allowing them to better survive until this pandemic ends.
Virtual Hiring Event on February 18
The American Job Centers of Eastern Connecticut will host a virtual hiring event Thursday, February 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Zoom, allowing individuals seeking new employment opportunities to interview for manufacturing, health care, warehouse and customer service jobs, among others. Job openings available will include hands-on manufacturing roles, personal care attendant roles and other positions working in transportation, logistics and driving.
For a complete list of job openings, and to register for the event, please visit https://ewib.org/American-Job-Center-EAST/Virtual-Events; upon registering, you will be contacted to select a time slot and get meeting details. Interviews will take place over Zoom in 15-minute, one-on-one formats.
Access Health CT Special Enrollment Period
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Access Health CT has begun a special enrollment period for those who are not currently enrolled in coverage through Access Health CT. The enrollment period is open now through March 15, 2021. To get help with your enrollment, you can go to AccessHealthCT.com and click the “Live Chat” icon or call 1-855-805-4325 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Rollbacks of COVID-19 Restrictions Tentatively Announced
Expressing caution and keeping an eye on the state’s declining COVID-19 infection metrics, Governor Ned Lamont announced this week that several restrictions in place to prevent infections may be loosened in coming weeks. On Friday, March 19, private, social and recreational events at commercial venues will be allowed again, with indoor capacity capped at 50 percent of attendance or 100 people and outdoor capacity of up to 200 people allowed.
Should the state see a reversal of current trends, the announcement may be reverted; Governor Lamont also mentioned that increasing sporting event attendance may be the next major rollback announced in the near future.
Eversource Hosting Online Webinars February 18, 24 Describing Financial Assistance Programs
Eversource will host free online webinars on Thursday, February 18 and Wednesday, February 24 to provide solutions and assistance to customers experiencing high energy rates and who may have experienced interruptions in their employment. The webinars will provide information on protection from service disconnection, programs to reduce past-due balances, extended payment plans and no-cost energy efficiency programs that lower energy bills. The webinars will be hosted at 10 and 11 a.m. for English speakers and at 6 p.m. for Spanish speakers. More information is available at www.eversource.com/billhelp.