TSA releases HME exemption

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is granting a temporary exemption from requirements in 49 CFR part 1572 regarding expiration of TSA security threat assessments (STAs) for Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME) holders. For the duration of this exemption, a State may grant an extension of up to 180 days for an HME that expired or would otherwise expire between March 1, 2020 and the end date of this exemption, even if the individual was unable to initiate or complete the required STA before the expiration date.

If the state grants an extension, the individual with an expired HME must initiate the process of renewing his or her STA for an HME no later than 60 days before the end of the State-granted extension. TSA may extend this exemption at a future date depending on the status of the COVID-19 crisis.

Paycheck Protection Program application now available

The application for the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been posted online.

A summary provided by the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship states that the program would provide cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If employers maintain their payroll, the loans would be forgiven, which would help workers remain employed, as well as help affected small businesses and our economy snap-back quicker after the crisis.

PPP has a host of attractive features, such as forgiveness of up to 8 weeks of payroll based on employee retention and salary levels, no SBA fees, and at least six months of deferral with maximum deferrals of up to a year. Small businesses and other eligible entities will be able to apply if they were harmed by COVID-19 between Feb. 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. This program would be retroactive to February 15, 2020, in order to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. Loans are available through June 30, 2020.

While the program is “live” as of today, it is expected that most lenders will be ready to go next week. It is advised that members to go to their own bank and those banks that are already 7(a) lenders, because they will likely be ready to lend under this program faster than other banks. However, all FDIC institutions will be brought into the program in the near future. Members interested in the PPP should apply as early as possible.

Members should review an overview of the PPP from the U.S. Treasury online and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) literature from the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Extension of compliance period for 2020 UCR in Connecticut

From CT DMV.

The Unified Carrier Registration Plan (UCR) has announced that it is recommending a delay, until July 1, 2020, for the enforcement of UCR registration for 2020. This recommendation is based upon the delay in the rulemaking process for establishing 2020 carrier rates, along with the current COVID 19 crisis.

Based upon UCR’s recommendation, the State of Connecticut will extend the compliance period for 2020 UCR registration until July 1, 2020. After July 1, enforcement action will begin for carriers that have not registered for 2020. This extension shall not apply to any registration year prior to 2020.

This notice applies to all motor carriers (for-hire, private and exempt) as well as brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies operating in interstate and international commerce that are required to register under UCR.

The notice is available as a PDF from the Connecticut DMV.

Small business owner’s guide to CARES Act

From US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

The programs and initiatives in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was just passed by Congress are intended to assist business owners with whatever needs they have right now. When implemented, there will be many new resources available for small businesses, as well as certain nonprofits and other employers. This guide provides information about the major programs and initiatives that will soon be available from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to address these needs, as well as some additional tax provisions that are outside the scope of SBA.

To keep up to date on when these programs become available, please stay in contact with your local Small Business Administration (SBA) District Office, which you can locate here.

Struggling to get started? The following questions might help point you in the right direction. Do you need:

  • Capital to cover the cost of retaining employees? Then the Paycheck Protection Program might be right for you.
  • A quick infusion of a smaller amount of cash to cover you right now? You might want to look into an Emergency Economic Injury Grant.
  • To ease your fears about keeping up with payments on your current or potential SBA loan? The Small Business Debt Relief Program could help.
  • Just some quality, free counseling to help you navigate this uncertain economic time? The resource partners might be your best bet.

See the complete document from the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship online.

Connecticut Resources

DRS extends filing deadline for certain annual state business tax returns

From Connecticut Department of Revenue Services.

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is using their statutory authority to grant an automatic extension of Connecticut filing deadlines for certain annual tax returns in order to support businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak effectively immediately. This is consistent with the emergency declarations signed by Governor Lamont.

“DRS understands some business taxpayers may find it difficult to meet tomorrow’s state tax filing deadline, given current circumstances,” said Commissioner Biello. “This extension is designed to support these taxpayers, and tax practitioners, meet their responsibility to file returns and remit payments. DRS encourages those with questions specific to their own, individual circumstances to call or e-mail the agency.”

Acting Commissioner of Revenue Services John Biello is exercising this authority under Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-2(a)(5).

Effective immediately, the filing deadlines for certain annual tax returns due on or after March 15, 2020, and before June 1, 2020, are extended by at least 30 days. In addition, the payments associated with these returns are also extended to the corresponding due date in June.

The impacted returns and the associated filing dates and payment deadlines are set forth below…

See the complete release from DRS online.

Truckers working long shifts to get product back on store shelves

From WFSB.

MTAC President Joe Sculley was featured in this video report which originally aired on March 28, 2020.

An archived version of the broadcast is available online.

Modifications to SBA Bridge Loan Program

Today the Small Business Administration (SBA) published a notice expanding eligibility for its Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program (Express Bridge Pilot) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As originally announced in October 2017, the Express Bridge Pilot authorizes certain SBA lenders to provide expedited SBA-guaranteed bridge loan financing on an emergency basis in amounts up to $25,000 for disaster-related purposes to small businesses located in communities affected by Presidentially-declared disasters while those small businesses apply for and await long-term financing (including through the SBA’s direct Disaster Loan Program).

Per this notice, the SBA has expanded eligibility for the Express Bridge Pilot to include small businesses nationwide adversely impacted under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration issued by President Trump on March 13, 2020. Because the President’s COVID-19 Emergency Declaration covers all states, territories, and the District of Columbia, eligible small businesses under the Express Bridge Pilot will now include small businesses located in any state, territory, and the District of Columbia that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. The SBA notes that previously, those small businesses would not be eligible for Express Bridge Pilot loans because the program was limited to eligible small businesses located in “Primary Counties” that have been Presidentially-declared as major disaster areas, plus any “Contiguous Counties.’

In addition, the SBA is revising program requirements to allow Express Bridge Pilot loans made under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration to be approved through March 13, 2021. This is a revision to the previous policy that only allowed Express Bridge Pilot loans to be made up to six months after the date of the applicable Presidential disaster declaration. Finally, the SBA is extending the term of the Express Bridge Pilot from September 30, 2020 to March 13, 2021 to assist small businesses that may experience delayed effects resulting from the COVID-19 emergency to benefit from the Express Bridge Pilot and to allow SBA to continue its evaluation of the program.

Statement on state and local restrictions on movement – COVID-19

From FMCSA.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is aware that States, localities and territories have implemented or may consider implementing quarantine or travel restrictions that impact movement within their jurisdiction and on persons entering from certain locations within the United States and U.S. territories with sustained community transmission of the COVID-19 disease, as caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2.

States, localities, and territories may wish to consider the following when implementing any quarantine, movement, and/or screening requirements that impact freight and passenger transportation by commercial motor vehicles. These suggestions draw on lessons learned from State, local, and territorial actions to date, as well as Federal guidance recommending unrestricted movement and access for critical infrastructure workers.

The Department of Homeland Security, through the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines,[1] has identified the following as essential workers…

See the complete statement from FMCSA online.

Truckers come to the rescue during coronavirus outbreak

From the Middletown Press.

Trucks. We used to hate them but now we love them.

We used to hate them when we thought they were clogging our overburdened highways, causing accidents and slowing our drive. We even seemed happy when tolling would affect trucks but not passenger cars.

Now we finally appreciate how truckers are crucial to resupplying our stores, keeping us well fed in this time of crisis.

As one national trucking official once said, “I wish all trucks were equipped with glass walls so people could see all the things we deliver.”

Another trucking advocate told me, “Now we have a chance for Americans to see how important trucking is, how good and decent the drivers are, and how they really love this country.”

See the complete article from the Middletown Press online.

TSA offers guidance on HMEs and TWICs

From National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC).

In response to the COVID-19 emergency, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is finalizing a draft exemption notice and accompanying memo that permits State licensing entities to grant a 120-day extension on a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) security threat assessment for drivers whose HMEs expired on March 1, 2020, or later within 120 days of the notice’s publication in the Federal Register. This proposed extension will allow drivers whose HMEs recently expired or will soon be expiring to continue to transport hazardous materials in light of access constraints to enrollment centers or State licensing entities because of COVID-19.

TSA also offered clarification on the use of expired TWIC cards. Current Federal regulations permit unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities or vessels with an expired TWIC under special circumstances.  If an individual cannot present a TWIC because it expired, and the individual previously has been granted unescorted access to secure areas with a TWIC, the individual may be granted unescorted access to secure areas by a facility or vessel for a period of no longer than 30 consecutive calendar days, see 33 CFR § 101.550 (a).  TSA is coordinating with USCG on a regular basis to determine if additional guidance may be needed to support transportation workers.  Updated information regarding USCG operations and procedures, including TWIC, may be found under “Featured Content” on the USCG Deputy Commandant for Operations website  and by monitoring Coast Guard Maritime Commons.

See the original release from NTTC online.