What’s New In Governmental Affairs

Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee to Issue First Report

Since May 15, the Economic Recovery Committee created by Governor Mills, has been meeting regularly. The committee is charged with filing two reports to provide the Governor recommendations on how to support economic recovery efforts during and after the COVID pandemic. The first report is expected to be presented to the Governor on July 15.

The co-chairs, Laurie Lachance, President of Thomas College and Josh Broder, CEO of Tilson, sent a letter to Governor Mills last week providing an update prior to the July 15 report submission. In the letter, the chairs hinted that the committee may include some recommendations regarding setting up grant programs for struggling Maine businesses. Through the CARES Act passed by Congress, Maine has over $1 billion in federal aid. Some of those resources have been spent on COVID related expenses and programs, but the bulk of the money remains unused. The Economic Recovery Committee is expected to offer some suggestions to the Governor on how the remaining resources should be best spent.

The League continues to monitor and engage with the committee regularly. Sam May, Board Chair of Maine Harvest, serves on this important committee.

New Executive Order Mandates Face Mask Enforcement

On July 8, Governor Mills signed a new Executive Order mandating large retail businesses, restaurants, bars,  and lodging establishments in Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo, and York counties, as well as the municipalities of Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Brewer, and Lewiston to implement measures requiring customers to wear face coverings. Businesses can enforce this order by denying entry or service. A violation of this order could result in identified businesses losing their license to operate.

While Credit Unions and financial institutions were not identified in Mills’ latest order, the League strongly encourages all credit unions to continue to require that members to wear a mask when inside a branch. Members who would rather not wear a mask can be asked to access the credit union via drive through or online banking options.

Paycheck Protection Program Restarted, Next Version of the Program Being Debated

Over the July fourth weekend, President Trump signed into law an extension of the current Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The extension is being funded by unspent resources and will now run through August 8. The next iteration of the program is currently being debated by congressional leaders now. Both Senator Collins and Congressman Golden have submitted proposals to extend federal relief to small businesses. It is anticipated that Congress will consider another relief package in late July before the traditional August recess.

FinCEN Advisory on COVID-19 Fraud

FinCEN issued a comprehensive advisory highlighting imposter scams and money mule schemes related to COVID-19. Credit union staff are encouraged to read this advisory to better detect fraudulent activity.

U.S. Secret Service to Address Unemployment Fraud in Upcoming Town Hall

Thousands of Mainers and hundreds of Maine businesses—including credit unions—have been dealing with the unfortunate outbreak of fraudulent state unemployment claims. Special Agent Tyler Martin of the U.S. Secret Service will serve as the League’s guest speaker during the next credit union town hall virtual meeting on July 13 at 1:00 pm. Agent Martin will provide an update on the investigation, share best practices on how to deal with the situation, and listen to feedback from credit unions regarding their experiences.