Advocacy

 

 

Legislative Reports & Updates

January 26, 2021
vfda-2021-general-assembly-weekly-report


January 25, 2021

2021.01.14VFDA RESPONSE-IFHV_Opposition_to_SB1268

January 22, 2021

COVID Relief Plan and PPP
Compiled by NFDA

COVID-19 Economic Relief Bill
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides an overview and a breakdown of the Economic Relief Bill passed in late December.

Overview
After an eight-month, stop-and-start test of endurance, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID-relief and $1.4 trillion government funding package that gives critical pandemic aid to Americans, while securing federal agency operations through September 2021. While no additional state and local aid was provided, an extension of the deadline by which the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) resources must be spent was extended to Dec. 31, 2021.

The mammoth measure, which the president signed into law on Dec. 27, will provide another round of direct payments, enhanced unemployment benefits, education funding, and aid to sectors still reeling from the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Small Business Provisions:

  • Provides $325 billion in small business funds.
    • $284.5 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
      • A small business can receive a second PPP loan if they have less than 300 employees and can demonstrate a revenue reduction of 25%.
      • Maximum loan amount reduced to $2 million.
  • $20 billion for new Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants for businesses in low-income communities.
  • $15 billion in funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions.
  • $3.5 billion for continued Small Business Administration debt relief payments.
  • $2 billion for enhancements to Small Business Administration lending.
  • Businesses that received PPP loans would be able to take tax deductions for the expenses covered by forgiven loans.
  • Expands PPP eligibility for 501 (C)(6) nonprofits, including local newspapers, radio, and television broadcasters, and destination marketing organizations.
  • Provides $12 billion for Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions that provide credit and financial services to low-income and minority communities.

The complete overview and breakdown can be found here:
https://www.ncsl.org/ncsl-in-dc/publications-and-resources/covid-19-economic-relief-bill-stimulus.aspx

From SESCO Management Consultants (www.sescomgt.com)
Hourly Earnings Increase 0.8%, CPI Increases 0.4% in December
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that average hourly earnings increased 0.4 percent from November to December 2020. This result stems from an increase of 0.8 percent in hourly earnings combined with an increase of 0.4 percent in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Average hourly earnings increased 3.7 percent from December 2019 to December 2020.

D.C. Passes Sweeping Ban on Non-Compete Agreements and Policies
The District of Columbia (D.C.) has enacted legislation which bans the use of nearly all noncompete provisions in employment agreements and workplace policies. The Act is effective on February 11, 2021. Importantly, the Act does not have a retroactive effect on non-compete agreements in existence before the Act’s effective date. The Act will require employers to modify existing employment policies (as opposed to existing agreements), and curtail the practice of offering or imposing non-compete agreements to or on employees who perform work in D.C. The Act does not cover physicians who make at least $250,000 per year; however, the Act requires their employers to provide them with 14 days’ notice of non-compete provisions.
We recommend all employers have SESCO review their Employee Handbook on annual basis to ensure compliance with all federal and state laws.

Ensuring Your Employment Application Is Lawful
The days of the “one size fits all” employment application may soon be coming to an end. As federal, state, and local governments increasingly heighten employer hiring process requirements, national employers must be diligent to avoid getting tripped up by the varying rules across different locations. Specifically, three areas, based on state law, may expose employers to liability if asked about on employment applications: “ban the box” laws, salary/compensation history bans, and medical inquiries. Employers may order compliant employment applications on SESCO’s web site, www.sescomgt.com
To ensure compliance we recommend employers review all applicable policy and practices, and to contact SESCO if questions exist. For assistance, contact us at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com


January 19, 2021

Please find below links to information regarding legislation your VFDA Legislative Committee and Board put forward with support of Senator John Cosgrove. He has generously agreed to be our patron.

Attached you will find a copy of the bill, a point paper, and a “Myth Busters” document, which was developed when we discovered that the Funeral Consumer Alliance – VT Chapter – had reached out to all members of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee in opposition to the bill.

The bill will be amended to exempt funeral directors who received their license by December 31, 1979, rather than 1975, because there is one active member who had his/her license reinstated in 1979 and is a Manager of Record for a funeral home. There is no desire of the VFDA to force anyone from the livelihood they have spent a lifetime building.

Lacy has sent all of this information to members and requested that VFDA members reach out to legislators on the Committee, your own legislators, etc. and has provided information to you to do that. Please reach out as soon as possible via phone call and email.

Angie Bezik

SB1424 Manager of Record
Point Paper
Myth Busters


January 12, 2021

While final pre-introduction activity is taking place on legislative priority bills, below is an update of on the 2021 General Assembly session. We hope you will find this information useful.

Also, there are two new members of the House of Delegates who won this week in Special elections. Angelia Williams Graves replaces Joe Lindsey in the 90th district (Norfolk/Virginia Beach) and Candi King replaces Jennifer Carroll-Foy in the 2nd district (Prince William and Stafford).

vfda-0108-2021-session-weekly-report

January 11, 2021

Please find attached three documents (Microsoft Word downloads) from Angie Bezik:

Legislative Agenda and Membership Participation (reminder)
VFDA Membership and Employee Participation (review of importance of their participation)
VFDA Membership and Employee Immediate Action (Directions and messaging for VFDA Membership and employees to cut and paste into emails and for making calls to legislative offices)


 

Legislative Alerts


January 18, 2021Manager of Record Legislation

VFDA Members:

SB 1424 Funeral service establishments; manager of record

SB 1424 will be in committee Wednesday, January 20th. Please contact committee members below asking them to support this bill. Their names are linked to their contact information.

Barker (Chair)
Ruff, Locke
Vogel
Ebbin
Reeves
McPike
Dunnavant
Mason
Boysko
Stuart
Pillion
Bell
Hashmi
Kiggans

Talking Points:

The Emergency Regulations, which went into effect this January 14th created an unanticipated consequence. It allows an individual that is licensed as a Funeral Director only to become the Manager of Record and oversee an establishment that is offering embalming of deceased humans without any knowledge or practical experience of the embalming procedure. The Administrative Code dictates that a Manager of Record “shall be fully accountable for the operation of the establishment as it pertains to the laws and regulations governing the practice of funeral services…”

Senate Bill 1424 ensures that a Manager of Record for a funeral service establishment that does perform or offer embalming services to the families they serve is well trained and experienced to manage a situation following an embalming, such as purging, for example. There are some funeral service companies that have a “central embalming facility” that bodies are sent to for embalming before they come back to the funeral home where the funeral services will occur. It is a must to have Manager of Record who is appropriately trained and experienced to handle any situation related to the operations of a funeral service establishment.

Senate Bill1424 establishes that a person licensed as a funeral director may become a Manager of Record for funeral service establishments that do not offer or provide a cost of embalming on the mandated “General Price List.”

Senate Bill 1424 also recognizes that original funeral director licensees from the 1970’s were allowed to continue becoming Managers of Record and so exempts these long-time – albeit fewer than a dozen – funeral licensees who today are still Managers of record. Senate Bill 1424 does not seek to diminish the life’s work of these fine funeral directors.

Remember to thank them for their time and to support this bill.


January 13, 2021

HB 2116: Contact your legislator and ask them to support!

Dear VFDA Members:

This is great news from the Virginia General Assembly. Delegate Martha Mugler has filed HB 2116. This is an important bill that we have been wanting this past year!

HB 2116 Certain declared states of emergency; essential workers; funeral service licensees; emergency.

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Certain declared states of emergency; essential workers; funeral service licensees; emergency. Provides that in any case in which the Governor has declared a state of emergency related to a communicable disease of public health threat, funeral service licensees shall be considered essential workers and shall be included in any group afforded priority with regard to (i) access to personal protective equipment and (ii) administration of any vaccination against such communicable disease of public health threat during such emergency. The bill contains an emergency clause.

View Full Text

This bill is in the early stages and has not been assigned a committee, but the VFDA asks that members and district members contact your legislators and ask them to support this bill.

Tell your story and what you have encountered over the last year!


December 14, 2020

Funeral professionals need to be designated as essential healthcare workers

Dear VFDA Members,

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for continuing to do the important and sacred work of serving the communities of Virginia. To say this year has been challenging is an understatement, and I have seen firsthand your resilience, innovation and determination to honor the deceased and provide closure for their loved ones throughout this global public health crisis.

Over the past year, we have partnered with the National Funeral Directors Association to make progress at a national level to gain support and secure accommodations for our industry. But there is still work to be done here in Virginia to help the funeral profession during this pandemic.

Our colleagues continue to face significant challenges in getting valuable resources and support and many firms cannot carry out their duty to serve the grieving families of Virginia due to restrictive limitations in place. Specifically, limitations that do not leave space for honoring descendants in a non-religious service or ceremony.

That is why I ask you for your support in helping with an important initiative we are working on here at the VFDA.

In our most recent letter to Governor Northam, our association implored him to make funeral directors a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. But we can no longer wait and see. Funeral professionals need to be designated as essential healthcare workers.

Please download this template letter (Microsoft Word format) you can sign and send to the Governor’s office stating our case for being formally recognized as essential healthcare workers. You may include a note about a challenging time you experienced on the job this year if you would like, or you can simply sign it and drop it in the mail.

It is our hope that standing together and showing up as a united profession will make the needle move in our favor for this designation.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. The VFDA exists to support you in your important work.

Sincerely,

Lacy Whittaker
Executive Director


December 7, 2020

Can You Afford a 37% Tax Increase?

Dear VFDA Members:

NFDA needs your voice to avoid a “surprise” tax on small businesses that took advantage of COVID-19 loans from the federal government!

As many of you know, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans made possible through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act earlier this year were a lifeline for many small businesses, including funeral homes.

The concept of the PPP loans was simple: if a qualifying small business used a federally-guaranteed loan to pay their employees and cover certain non-payroll expenses, the loan would be forgiven. Congress included a provision in the CARES Act stating that any portion of a PPP loan that was forgiven would be excluded from gross income for tax purposes.

In spite of Congress’ clear intent, the IRS recently issued Notice 2020-32 that reversed this ruling and turned a tax-free loan forgiveness into taxable income! This could result in a surprise tax increase of up to 37% on small businesses when they file their taxes in 2020.

With the potential for additional financial harm to small businesses, the recent IRS Revenue Ruling 2020-27 states that expenses funded through a PPP loan are not deductible for 2020 if the taxpayer expects their loan to be forgiven, regardless of whether an application for forgiveness has been submitted.

While Republicans and Democrats in Congress have expressed their displeasure with the recent IRS notice and ruling, America’s small businesses need them to take action by passing legislation to address the tax treatment of PPP loan forgiveness.

According to the Small Business Administration, about 5.2 million small businesses – including funeral homes – received $525 billion in PPP loan funds during the pandemic, enabling them to pay their employees and keep their doors open. Without action by Congress, the IRS’s recent actions could mean even more small businesses would be forced to permanently close, putting millions of people out of work and causing further damage to the economy.

Take Action
You have successfully helped us move important policy issues forward during the pandemic. Most recently, your voice made a tremendous difference in our push to get the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine to prioritize funeral directors in their guidance to state and federal public health officials on the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine.

You can make a difference on this issue too!
Show your support for your colleagues and other small business owners, like yourself, by sending a message to your members of Congress asking them to pass legislation before the end of the year reversing the unfair steps taken by the IRS to change the tax treatment of PPP loans. Doing so will take just a few minutes of your time – we even have a pre-written message you can send.

Click here to get started!