Federal Advocacy Update 7-28-20

Federal advocacy continues to be an active front for Arts Wisconsin.  Here’s a quick update on recent developments.


HEALS Act

The Senate GOP released their $1 trillion stimulus proposal on July 27. It continues many of the same programs put in places with the CARES Act, with some adjustments and additions. It does not include funding for cultural agencies (National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and Institute for Museum and Library Services), with the exception of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Top highlights:

  • Unemployment benefits extended, but reduced. $200 (instead of $600) per week, and then, when states are able to finish calculating, 70% of previous income – plus state level unemployment.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) extended. Small businesses with 300 or fewer employees that show a revenue loss of 50% will be able to apply for a second loan.
  • Stimulus checks sent to citizens based on same formula under CARES Act – $1,200 per taxpayer making $75,000 or less.
  • Schools will get $105 billion for K-12, Higher Ed, and a portion being flexible for use by Governors.
  • Widespread liability protection for businesses between Dec. 1, 2019, and either the end of the coronavirus emergency declaration or Oct. 1, 2024. Liability is predicated on a business making attempts to follow health guidelines related to COVID-19.
  • State and local governments will not receive additional funding, but it does provide flexibility and longer deadlines for the CARES funding reaching those entities.

Bill is far from passage. It will most likely pass the Senate along party lines, and then will head to the House whose leadership will take issue with more than a couple of these provisions.

There is somewhat of a clock on this though – unemployment benefits under the CARES Act run out July 31st, and for many, rent is due August 1st.


NEA Funding in Budget

While the NEA was not given a boost of COVID relief funds in the HEALS Act above, the US House did adopt another increase for the NEA of $7.5m – from $162.5 to $170 million. This is a part of the FY21 budget process, and not related to COVID-19.

Read the update from National Assembly of State Agencies (NASAA) >>


CALMER Act

Introduced in the US House, but no action to report as of writing, the Culture Arts Libraries Museums Emergency Relief (CALMER) Act is a targeted relief bill to cultural institutions. The main provisions include:

  • Provides additional emergency relief funding for NEA, NEH, and IMLS grant programs created in CARES Act:
    • $4 billion in emergency relief funding for NEA
    • $4 billion in emergency relief funding for NEH
    • $6 billion in emergency relief funding for IMLS
  • Expands NEA and NEH grant eligibility to all arts/cultural nonprofit organizations.
  • Removes the $300 charitable deduction cap implemented in CARES and allows taxpayers to claim the deduction on 2019, 2020, and 2021 taxes.
  • Extends the suspension of the 50%-of-adjusted-gross-income (AGI) limitation for individuals and the 25% AGI limitation for corporations through 2021.
  • Gives 501(c)(3) nonprofits a payroll tax holiday for 2020.
  • Adjusts Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) for nonprofits to give loan forgiveness to 501(c)(3) nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees and eliminate the minimum loan size for nonprofits so nonprofits don’t have to borrow more than they need.

Click here for the one-page summary >>


SOS + RESTART Acts

The Save Our Stages (SOS) Act, spearheaded by the new National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), would create a $10 billion program to help smaller, independent arts venues keep their business alive while being shut down.

Read the Summary >>

The Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards a Recovery in Twenty-twenty (RESTART) Act targets the hardest-hit businesses during the COVID shutdowns, including arts venues. Businesses who have not been able to open their doors, yet still maintain employees and overhead would see greater flexibility of PPP loan terms, among other items.

Read the Summary >>

Thanks to the SC Arts Alliance for the update info!