Arlington, VA – The National Grocers Association (NGA), the national trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, offered its support for major components of the coronavirus aid and relief legislative package that was introduced yesterday in the Senate. The package, led by Senate Republicans, includes a few of NGA’s top priorities, including strong business liability protections, capping unemployment benefits based on previous earnings, and tax credits for expenses related to cleaning and PPE procurement.
Liability protections authored by Sen. John Cornyn (R- TX) protects businesses open during the pandemic from coronavirus exposure claims if the businesses took reasonable steps to comply with public health guidance or standards. The Senate Finance Committee bill modifies the unemployment compensation program by capping total benefits at 70 percent of lost wages, thereby eliminating situations where workers are paid more to stay home than return to work. The bill also includes a measure similar to the NGA-supported legislation, the Healthy Workplace Tax Credit, authored by Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) and Sen. Portman (R-OH), which would provide refundable tax credits to businesses for the costs of COVID-19 testing, PPE, disinfecting, extra cleaning, and reconfiguring workspaces.
“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, independent grocers and their associates have worked tirelessly to serve Americans across the country. We have gone to great lengths to protect our employees and the public from virus exposure,” said NGA President & CEO Greg Ferrara. “We are encouraged the Senate bill would avert a tide of frivolous and unfounded lawsuits filed against grocers simply for staying open to serve the public.”
“The supermarket industry has changed drastically over the last several months, requiring grocers to extend more resources and staffing towards handling increased demand and maintaining a safe atmosphere for employees and customers. The unemployment and tax credit provisions are an important first step in ensuring independent grocers can continue to operate safely and retain and recruit a qualified workforce,” Ferrara concluded.
“NGA supports the inclusion of liability protections, an unemployment compensation fix, and tax credits in the Senate legislative package,” said Chris Jones, NGA SVP of Government Relations & Counsel. “However, we hope that Congress and the White House can work quickly to pass a federal aid package that includes other top NGA priorities of rewarding frontline workers and strengthening federal nutrition programs.”
To learn more about all of NGA’s top priorities for the coronavirus economic relief legislation, visit NGA’s recent blog post.