Government Relations Report:
June 3, 2020

PPP | Fuel Efficiency Rollback Lawsuit | RSA Guidance to VRs

Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

PPP “Fix” Bill Passes Congress

Last night, the Senate approved House-passed legislation making changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).  The bipartisan bill – titled the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act – is intended to make PPP loans more accessible by making the terms of use less restrictive and more flexible.  The measure has been sent to President Trump and it is expected that he will sign the bill, thus allowing the changes to go into effect.

Congress created PPP as part of a $2 trillion rescue package signed into law in March and designed to aid small businesses during the Coronavirus crisis. The Program has proven to be massively popular: the initial $349 billion in funding was depleted by mid-April, which led to Congress authorizing an additional $310 billion for the Program.

The PPP Flexibility Act’s legislative language will impact small businesses approved for PPP lending by: extending the loan forgiveness period from the current eight weeks to 24 weeks; extending the deadline to rehire workers from the current June 30 date to December 31; and altering a provision that required recipients to use at least 75% of their loan for payroll costs (the bill allows businesses to use at least 60% of their loan on payroll and 40% on other costs), amongst other “fixes.”

Specific details regarding the bill’s financial provisions and modifications can be found here.

States Sue Feds Over Fuel Efficiency Rollback

Twenty-three states plus the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit challenging a Trump administration rule requiring 1.5% annual increases in fuel efficiency through 2026. One of the largest deregulatory actions taken by the current administration, the rule seeks to rewrite an Obama-era policy that set 5% annual increases in fuel efficiency.

Referred to as The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, the rule attracted immediate opposition and was criticized for utilizing questionable science, rolling back environmental protections, and potentially reducing automotive-related employment.  The Trump administration has argued that the new rule will reduce future new car costs and save automakers billions in regulatory costs, although both average consumer fuel costs and carbon dioxide emissions will increase.

The EPA has declined to comment on the lawsuit but defended the rule as a “sensible, single national program that strikes the right regulatory balance, protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry.”

RSA Provides Guidance to VRs

The federal Rehabilitation Services Administration released a Q&A document related to COVID-19 and state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) functionality and services.  Covering a range of topics – including management of VR referrals and applications, alternatives to face-to-face service delivery, and VR use of set-aside funds – the document encourages VRs to ensure the continuity of service delivery to individuals with disabilities.  While VRs have been permitted to amend their standards amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, the agencies are still expected to “not unduly delay” application processing and service provision.

In other VR news, on June 2 the Department of Education marked the 100th anniversary of the first federally funded state VR program.