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State and Federal Policymakers Continue to Address COVID-19

Federal Updates

Late last week, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law, providing a third wave of action from the federal government on the current pandemic. As this legislation was being developed and considered, the League was actively involved with Maine’s federal delegation. Senator Collins’ office reached out early in the process for our input into the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Plan.

The CARES Act is now in its second stage development. The programs are authorized under the law, but the implementation, rulemaking, and administration will be run through the SBA and the U.S. Department of Treasury. Implementation will take time, but the U.S. Treasury anticipates that these critical programs will be up and running as early as next week.

Many credit unions do not have a Lender’s Loan Guaranty Agreement with the SBA. If a credit union is interested in making these loans and does not have an agreement in place, credit unions will soon be able to submit an application to delegatedauthority@sba.gov for expedited review. The League is actively working with the local SBA office to obtain additional program guidelines and details and will provide an update once that information is in hand.

There are a variety of programs that are expected to come online to support businesses and individuals, including direct stimulus checks administered by the IRS, paycheck protection to maintain the workforce, and microloans.

The CARES Act also provides additional tools for credit unions, including the expansion of the NCUA Central Liquidity Facility, allowing troubled debt restructuring, and including credit unions in delaying the implementation of the current expected credit loss (CECL) accounting standard.

State Updates

On Tuesday, Governor Mills issued a new Executive Order to protect public health.  Effective Thursday, April 2 at 12:01 AM, the Governor’s ordering the people of Maine to stay home unless to leave for an essential job or an essential activity. The order will be enforced by law enforcement as necessary and violations will be classified as a class E crime subject to up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Credit unions are defined as essential businesses under Governor Mills’ March 24 Executive Order. As such, credit unions can remain open and provide services to members.

In addition, the Governor has mandated the following new restrictions:

  • For essential businesses and operations that remain open, limiting the number of customers in their buildings at any one time, implementing curb-side pickup and delivery options as much as possible, and enforcing U.S. CDC-recommended physical distancing requirements for their customers and employees in and around their facilities.
  • Prohibiting the use of public transportation unless for an essential reason or job that cannot be done from home and limiting the number of people traveling in private vehicles to persons within the immediate household unless transporting for essential activities.
  • Mandating the continued termination of classroom or other in-person instruction until at least May 1, 2020.
  • Mandating that, when out of the home or when at work at an essential business, individuals shall maintain a minimum distance of six feet from other persons.

While the new Executive Order continues to consider credit unions as essential businesses, there are additional measures credit unions with open lobbies can take, including increasing cleaning procedures and signage, limiting the number of people allowed in the lobby at any given time, and using painter’s tape or some other means to mark six-foot distances on the floor in waiting lines.