12 Mar Legislative News Week 9
Week nine of the Legislative Session started with the all-important Crossover Day on Monday that ran late into the night as lawmakers pushed to keep their legislation in play for the remainder of the year.
Though 27 legislative days have already come and gone, the final 12 days usually include most of the real action that will occur Under the Gold Dome in a year. Many pieces of legislation that did not get a vote by the deadline will be looking for “vehicles” to hitch a ride with or similar bills that they can sneak onto at the last minute. This process can be helpful at times but also gives us concern as all pieces of legislation must be reviewed carefully to find what small details could have an impact on our members.
PRESIDENT BIDEN SIGNS $1.9 TRILLION COVID-19 RELIEF BILL
This week on a party-line vote, Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan Act” COVID-19 relief package. This latest COVID-19 relief bill brings the U.S total spending on the pandemic to nearly $6 trillion. Click here to read the title-by-title summary of the bill. In addition to the $1,400 direct payments to individuals and extended unemployment benefits, the bill includes an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and an additional $15 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to help small businesses.
For agriculture, the bill provides an additional $4 billion to address pandemic-related disruptions throughout the food supply chain; invest in new infrastructure for farmers, food processors, and farmers markets to build resiliency; monitor COVID-19 in animals; support small meat and poultry processors; protect food and farm workers on the job; and increase food donations.
The relief package also includes an estimated $4 billion to pay up to 120% of Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American farmers’ outstanding debt as of Jan. 1. The package also designates about $1 billion for equity commissions, agricultural training, improved land access and other assistance to address what this administration claims is racial injustice in farming.