As reported in my last update, the Georgia General Assembly is officially out of session until further notice. Last week, we did meet for a Special Session in order to allow Governor Kemp to move forward in his declaration of the unprecedented Public Health State of Emergency for our state.
During the special legislative session, we adopted House Resolution 4EX, which concurs with the governor’s executive order and ratifies the public health state of emergency. This action will assist health and emergency management officials across Georgia by allowing all of the state’s resources to be made available for the mitigation and treatment of COVID-19.
In addition to lifting the regulatory red tape which would hinder our efforts, this resolution also allows Governor Kemp the ability to compel a health care facility to provide services or the use of its facility if necessary, for emergency response. Further, the resolution allows our Governor the ability to implement a mandatory vaccination or quarantine program if needed.
For now, Governor Kemp does not feel a mandatory quarantine necessary, but does strongly advise all Georgians to follow social distancing protocol.
Last week, we did receive good news where assistance for our Georgia small businesses are concerned. Small business in Georgia make-up the majority of our state’s workforce. We will do everything possible to ensure that they have the resources they need in order to sustain their businesses during this trying time.
Thursday, March 19 brought the announcement that the U. S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Georgia small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Thanks to our state leadership’s persistence and quick action, the disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of Georgia, which is not the case for many of our neighboring states which have been offered relief for certain counties.
Under the SBA guidelines, small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. Available loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
We have worked very hard over the last few years to ensure Georgia is a business-friendly state as well as economically sound. We are confident that our conservative approach in budgeting, our rainy-day fund reserves as well as our state’s excellent credit will greatly assist to ensure we remain financially sound during these uncertain times.
While social distancing is not ideal, it is the best way to curtail the spread of COVID-19. We encourage you to follow social distancing recommendations and practical hygiene in protection of those most vulnerable.
Speaking of social distancing - Georgia’s election primary date is set to take place Tuesday, May 19. If you are high risk or would like to avoid exposure to large crowds, we encourage you to check the Secretary of State’s website for absentee ballot information and early voting options. If I have learned anything in quarantine, it is how blessed we are as a nation to be able to enjoy our daily freedoms. Please don’t let this pandemic keep you from exercising your right to vote.
As always, if you need anything at all, please feel free to reach out to me anytime. I will continue to send updates regarding pertinent news and action that your state government is taking to protect our citizens. In the meantime, we ask that you continue to pray for nation, state and citizens as we all work together in lessening the infection rate. May God bless each of you and may He continue to bless the great state of Georgia.