The Mississippi Legislature convened on May 12. It was the Legislature’s time to show that it could come together to manage the money sent down by the CARES Act. The outcome was good to see.
Committees met to discuss the many avenues this money could help the state. Committees were formed to discuss the issues involving (1) Small Businesses, (2) Education and Broadband, (3) Counties and Municipalities, (4) Unemployment, (5) Health and Hospitals and (6) Elections. Most of these are very broad, and it will take much more time to solidify a plan. However, Mississippi’s small businesses need help as soon as possible.
I was able to sit in on portions of each meeting involving these committees, except Counties and Municipalities. But, when we go into session again, I expect to be in some of that committee’s meetings as well in order to help facilitate the movement of these funds to the right priorities.
After much discussion in committee and on the floor of the House, the conference report passed both the House and the Senate. Then following is an explanation of the act:
- There are two tracks: (1) a direct payment track and (2) an application-based track
- A direct payment of $2,000 per business will be made to businesses that have an active State Tax ID number or SSN, located in Mississippi, have less than 50 employees and has not received any money from the Federal Programs offsetting COVID19 expenses.
- Direct payment track grants have $60,000,000 allocated.
- Small Businesses and Stores forced to close by State or Local Government orders are eligible.
- Application track grants were funded $240,000,000.
- Mississippi businesses in good standing with 50 or fewer full-time employees, a filed 2019 or 2019 tax return or formed between January 1, 2020 and March 1, 2020 and will file a 2020 tax return and a business interruption due to COVID-19 will be eligible to obtain a grant up to $25,000.
- The grant program will be administered by MDA.
- The amount of the grant will be a base amount of $1,500 plus the greater of 1) $500 per full-time employee or 2) the amount of itemized “eligible expenses”.
- $40,000,000 of the grants will be made available to minority-owned businesses.
- For the first 21 days of the application process, applications will only be from those not receiving any federal funds related to COVID-19. Thereafter any eligible business may apply.
- Use of the grants shall be subject to audit and non-compliant used funds shall be returned to the state.
- If there are any funds not dispersed by November 1, 2020, the Governor shall have discretion to transfer monies to another state agency for CRF-eligible expenses.
- Funds from the PPP program shall not be subject to state income tax; however, eligible expenses covered by PPP funds may not be taken as tax deductions.