Dear Chamber Members,
Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your Greater Sumter Chamber Team includes Governor Issues New Order and “Home or Work” Order Clarifications, General Assembly Held Session, Took Little Action, Members In Need
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Furloughed Employee Unemployment Benefits: The Governor issued Executive Order 2020-22 today, allowing furloughed employees to receive unemployment benefits while simultaneously receiving “COVID-19 Support Payments” from their employer.
The order requires SC. Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) to consider “a voluntary payment, or series of payments made by an employer to an employee in response to furloughing the employee” as a form of severance pay, which will not disqualify an employee from receiving unemployment. This order will allow employers to continue to support their employees while allowing them to receive unemployment benefits.
As SCDEW issues further guidance, we will be sure to share that information with our members.
Governor McMaster’s “Home or Work” Order: Executive Order 2020-21 went into effect at 5:00 pm yesterday. In addition to the update that was sent Monday, we are providing the following clarifications based on the questions we have received since the order was issued.
- SLED Clarification Regarding Travel Restrictions: As stated yesterday and contrary to what some of our members have heard, Governor McMaster’s orders DO NOT require citizens to possess special credentials to travel to essential work and activities.
- The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) issued guidance regarding the enforcement of Governor McMaster’s orders and expressly noted:
- “Law enforcement officers should continue to conduct enforcement activity in accordance with their own agency’s practices and protocols. During the course of these normal operations, if an officer develops reasonable suspicion or probable cause that an individual is in violation of Executive Order 2020-21, or any other Executive Order, the officer may take the appropriate enforcement action. However, there is no requirement in any existing Executive Order that an individual must possess or be able to provide written proof regarding the individual’s activities or travel, essential or otherwise.”
- Nothing is prohibiting a business from issuing employees paperwork that states they are an essential employee and must travel to work at an essential business. Still, the Governor’s executive orders do not require such a credential.
Non-Essential Business Operation: Some businesses may be unaware that even if they are deemed “non-essential” by Governor McMaster’s Executive Orders 2020-17 and 2020-18, they can continue to conduct business with the public via:
- Online or telephone order
- Alternate means of purchase or delivery of good or services such as:
- Curbside purchase, pickup, or delivery
- Home or off-site delivery
- Businesses MUST implement these measures in a manner that maintains “social distancing” and is consistent with state and federal public health and safety official guidance.
**NOTE: A business deemed “non-essential” may still seek clarification from the Department of Commerce if they are unsure of whether they can continue to remain open to the public.**
The SC House of Representatives and the SC Senate met today for the first time since March 17th with the intent to pass the two items described below. The House passed the Continuing Resolution, but the Senate added one amendment to the bill related to Santee Cooper, requiring the House to return to Columbia to act on it. The Senate also passed the Sine Die Resolution. We will keep you updated on when the General Assembly takes final action on these critical bills.
A Continuing Resolution: extends funding for state government at current fiscal year levels until the General Assembly can return to adopt a new budget. This resolution is needed because the General Assembly does not plan to meet again for the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and, therefore, won’t be able to pass a new state budget before the fiscal year ends on June 30th. As passed by the SC House and SC Senate, the Continuing Resolution will:
- Allow provisos from last year’s budget to remain in effect, so the proviso that prohibits private, 3rd party entities from collecting or assessing business license taxes (Proviso 109.14) will remain in place.
- Set aside $200,000 from the Contingency Reserve Fund:
- $180,000,000 to the COVID-19 Response Reserve account
- Allows the Governor to direct the expenditure of funds from the COVID-19 Response Reserve account for expenditures necessary and appropriate for the health, safety, and welfare of the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Allows the Governor to direct the expenditure of up to $15,000,000 from the COVID-19 Response Reserve account for the cost of protection of the health and safety of voters, poll workers, and employees of a county election commission related to conducting the 2020 primary, runoff, and general elections.
- $20,000,000 to the Disaster Trust Fund to be used for disaster relief assistance
- $180,000,000 to the COVID-19 Response Reserve account
The Sine Die Resolution: extends the legislative session past the regular date that legislative work ends (May 14th, 2020). The Sine Die Resolution, as introduced but not yet passed, specifies that the General Assembly will next meet in Columbia on September 15th and may debate the following bills:
- The State Budget (H.5201)
- Bills that have passed one body, including:
- Business License Tax Reform (H.4431)
- Comprehensive Education Reform (S.419 or H.3759)
As always, the SC Chamber Policy Team will continue to monitor these items during this unprecedented legislative session and advocate for the elements needed to support South Carolina businesses, throughout the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and into the recovery period.
3. Members In Need
Amedisys Home Health Care has 45 clinicians that provide in-home care to 400 patients here in the Sumter community and they are feeling the effects of the shortage of PPE. While their corporate headquarters is working to get supplies out to their various locations, shipping and supply allocation takes time. Melissa Marshall, Director of Operations, is reaching out to the Sumter community for help. They have a desperate need for masks (i.e. N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields, & they will accept homemade masks) and hand sanitizer! If you have these supplies available, please contact Melissa at 803-720-5244 so she can make arrangements to acquire them.
Please be sure to follow our Shop Local Facebook page.
These and other resources for businesses are available on our COVID-19 website. As always, we will keep you up-to-date on any further information as it becomes available.
Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or call our Small Business Hotline at 803-774-2402.
Have a great day,
Chris Hardy, CCE, IOM
President & CEO