Wednesday News Roundup
Millions available for small businesses in new release of state CARES Act funding
Montgomery, Ala. - Governor Kay Ivey announced Wednesday a second wave of CARES Act funding for Alabama small businesses, nonprofits, and faith based organizations with 50 or fewer employees. Through Revive Plus, eligible entities can now apply to receive grants up to $20,000 for pandemic-related expenses not already reimbursed through other federal assistance programs. Entities must currently be in business, have a W-9, and existed since March 1, 2020 to be eligible.
Entities may access grant information and the grant application through the Coronavirus Relief Fund website. The application period for the Revive Plus Grant Program will open at 12 p.m. on Nov. 23 and run through 12 p.m., Dec. 4, 2020. Funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis until the $200 million allocation is exhausted. At least ten thousand small businesses could be assisted through the program.
Additional announcements may come as the state hurries to spend the millions remaining in CARES Act funding before the end of the year. Unused funds will be sent back to Washington.
Hatcher, Knight advance to runoff in Alabama Senate 26 special primary
Montgomery, Ala. - State Representative Kirk Hatcher will face former state representative John Knight in to fill the Alabama State Senate 26 seat vacated by former Senator David Burkette. Hatcher had about 48 percent of the vote, coming just short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, while John Knight finished second with about 21 percent of the vote. Linda Burkette, David Burkette’s wife, finished in third with 10 percent while the rest of the candidates finished with single digits. Turnout was low with just 5.7% of the district’s voters turning out.
The runoff is set for Tuesday, December 15, and the general election will take place on March 2, 2021. The winner of the runoff will face Republican William Green.
Hundreds of Birmingham employees’ jobs in limbo as CARES Act and stimulus confusion continues
Birmingham, Ala. - AL.com reported that Mayor Randall Woodfin is attempting to bring back 132 employees who had been furloughed due to a $63 million shortfall due to COVID-19’s effects on tax revenues. Both cities and the state have for months asked the US Treasury Department for further guidance as to what is an allowable expense. Woodfin pointed to guidance issued on September 2 that all public safety payroll and benefits could be reimbursed via the CARES Act, which could presumably include library and parks and recreation employees.
Woodfin proposed that CARES Act funding would cover the $7 million to bring back "pubic safety" employees under the CARES Act. However, if the federal government determines an expense is not allowable, the city must pay it back. The council decided to postpone their vote originally scheduled for November 17.
State seeks to use CARES Act funding to expand broadband
Montgomery, Ala. - State legislators are hoping to expand broadband in rural communities, if they can get clarity whether or not it is an allowable expense. House General Fund Chairman Steve Clouse reportedly suggested that additional leeway from Congress in spending the Alabama's excess CARES Act funding would allow for the broadband expansion. Many groups have asked Governor Ivey, who maintains control of the money through the Department of Finance, to shore up the state’s unemployment fund, food banks, and other social services.