- The Washington Times
Monday, January 11, 2021

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday proposed providing $267 million in relief payments to residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The payments would help 400,000 residents in the lowest income bracket who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit and provide $750 for families and $450 for individuals if state legislators pass the proposed Relief Act of 2021, the governor said.

The proposed relief act totals $1 billion, and would provide $180 million in tax relief for laid-off residents by repealing all state and local income taxes on unemployment benefits and $300 million in tax relief for small businesses.

Mr. Hogan said he will introduce the act as emergency legislation and called on state lawmakers to immediately pass the economic relief package when the legislative session begins Wednesday. Checks could go out to Marylanders immediately if and once the act passes.

“Every day that goes by without passing a stimulus and tax relief package means more jobs that will be lost, more families who will lose their homes, more businesses who will go out of business and more people that suffer,” the Republican governor said. “Struggling Marylanders and small businesses who are barely hanging on cannot afford the kind of partisan bickering and needless delay that we have seen in Washington.”

Federal funding provided to Maryland will enable the state to provide more rental assistance and a 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Maryland already has provided $700 million in relief since the pandemic began, Mr. Hogan said.

The relief measure proposed by the governor follows calls for more aid for families and businesses from Maryland leaders, including Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker.

“I’m glad that the governor has heard our calls for urgent action. While this relief package will provide some assistance to our most vulnerable residents, much more is needed,” said Mr. Hucker, who described the package as a step in the right direction but insufficient.

He noted that Mr. Hogan passed the responsibility of the relief act to the General Assembly, which slows the process for providing financial help.

In the District, officials began Monday to accept applications for entertainment businesses seeking financial assistance. The $100 million Entertainment Bridge Fund is for businesses whose revenue relies on large gatherings for entertainment, events, trade shows or tourism and whose operations have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Some eligible businesses include tour and performance art companies, recreational sports leagues, event planners, event equipment rental and production companies, photographers, and trade show or event staffing services.

More information about the new funding opportunity will be shared during an event at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Those interested can reserve a spot by visiting bit.ly/DERTCall0112. The event can be viewed on Mayor Muriel Bowser’s social media accounts or at mayor.dc.gov/live.

Last month, the District awarded direct payments of $1,200 to about 20,000 residents eligible to receive pandemic unemployment assistance and offered $2.8 million in financial support for child care businesses. The city also is accepting applications for the $35 million restaurant and $15 million retail bridge funds.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam late last month directed $20 million to the state’s economic recovery fund. The funding will go to pending grant awards for more than 300 eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Northam earlier announced that the Rebuild VA fund, which previously totaled $100 million, offered grants to 2,500 small businesses and nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 45% of funding has gone to nearly 1,000 small businesses and nonprofits located in low-income communities, while about $50 million has been awarded to businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans, according to the Democratic governor.

“Small businesses and nonprofits are among those hit hardest by the pandemic, and many are bracing for an uncertain few months ahead as the virus surges and we await the widespread availability of the vaccines,” said Mr. Northam.

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