By: Rep. Linda Dean Campbell
The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed numerous bills last year to support small businesses and hard-hit industries like our restaurants. We have continued that work by sending to Governor Baker’s desk a financial relief bill to help businesses and employees most affected by the pandemic.
The bill, which passed the House and Senate unanimously, includes the following provisions:
• For businesses, the legislation will freeze the Unemployment Insurance rate for 2021 and 2022, allow state borrowing to ensure the Unemployment Insurance trust fund remains solvent, and waive state taxes on forgiven PPP loans for small businesses. Waiving state taxes on forgiven PPP loans was the subject of a bipartisan bill filed by House Minority Leader Brad Jones that I was proud to co-sponsor.
• For workers, the legislation will provide an additional safety net by making sure employees have access to paid leave if they need to take time off to get the COVID-19 vaccine, to recover from COVID-19, to quarantine due to exposure, or to care for a loved one due to the virus. Employers will be reimbursed for the cost of this paid leave.
• For unemployed individuals, the legislation will provide a tax credit for those who are unemployed with income below 200% of the federal poverty line. It will also waive penalties for missed tax payments on unemployment benefits received in 2020.
Collectively, these measures will provide timely relief that will support businesses, workers, and their families, while also boosting our state’s economic recovery. With much more to be done, our work continues.
The state is also continuing to provide direct aid to Massachusetts businesses to help them stay afloat as our economy recovers. The Commonwealth has given out almost $648 million in direct financial support grants to 14,351 businesses statewide – this includes more than $3.6 million for over 75 Methuen businesses and more than $3.9 million for over 80 Haverhill businesses.
One challenge that lies before us is ensuring businesses and employees have access to the digital tools that have become critical in the remote working economy. I look forward to examining this topic as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity alongside my respected colleague Senator Barry Finegold. Our committee will examine immediate matters such as issues with the vaccine sign-up website, as well as matters that affect our everyday lives, including high-speed Internet access, data and privacy protections, cybersecurity, and more.
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the State Legislature and serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Advanced IT, the Internet and Cybersecurity. She can be reached at Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2380. ◊