Senate Files Bipartisan Bill for COVID-19 Relief

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Raleigh, N.C. — Today, the North Carolina Senate filed a bipartisan bill to appropriate or place in reserves $2.4 billion to support the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill is the culmination of weeks of bipartisan cooperation and teamwork.

“The virus might have forced us apart, but it brought together ideas from every corner of the state,” Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said. “From Cullowhee to Currituck, senators have taken on the task of responding to this unprecedented situation. Now that the General Assembly is back in Raleigh, it’s time for us to pass this bill to help North Carolinians move past this crisis and begin to move toward reopening the state.”

In March, Sen. Berger and Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D-Wake) agreed to a process that would give all senators an effective voice in how the final bill should look. The result is a bill that not only addresses immediate needs for personal protective equipment to fight COVID-19 on the front lines and to support testing for uninsured North Carolinians, but also funds long-term studies and vaccine development, and supports small businesses.

“There isn’t a single North Carolinian that hasn’t been impacted by this virus in some way,” Sen. Blue said. “It is imperative that we come together to provide relief to our citizens. Our members have worked tirelessly since this pandemic began, and now we have the chance to provide relief to all North Carolinians.”

The funds come from federal money allocated to North Carolina.

“These federal funds allow us to attack this virus and its economic impact on multiple fronts,” Sen. Berger said. “Through supporting immediate needs and long-term research, North Carolina is better positioned to deal with the challenges our citizens are facing.”

Highlights of the bill include:

Appropriations

  • $50 million to purchase supplies and equipment necessary for life safety, health, and sanitation, including ventilators, touch-free thermometers, gowns, disinfectants, and sanitizing wipes

Health Care

  • Provides Medicaid coverage for uninsured individuals so they can get tested for COVID-19

K-12 Education

  • Waives end of year testing requirements

Higher Education

  • Waives or extends for one year the traditional requirements for teacher and principal preparation programs, student teaching requirements, and exams

Department of Transportation

Temporarily extends DMV deadlines, fees, and fines for certain licenses and requirements for six months if they expire between March 1, 2020, and August 1, 2020.

Public Meetings

Clarifies the ability of public bodies (including municipal and county governments) to meet remotely during states of emergency.

Taxes

Waives required interest payments on individual income tax and corporate income and franchise tax returns due on or before April 15, 2020, if those taxes are paid before July 15. The relief applies to tax returns and to estimated tax payments for 2020 due on or before April 15, 2020.

Unemployment Insurance

  • Increases the maximum weekly unemployment benefit to $400 as of August 1, 2020, when the new federal benefits are scheduled to expire

The official Medium account for N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger’s press office.

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