What Lies Beyond 2020?
It goes without saying that 2020 has been an incredibly tumultuous year for us all. Between the global pandemic and the widespread negative economic affects that it’s brought with it, I know that we’d all love nothing more than to collectively turn the page and leave everything about 2020 behind. Unfortunately, we will most likely be dealing with the fallout of both these realities for some time to come.
While the economy has shown some signs of progress, its overall recovery has been tepid at best. Moreover, sustained improvement may be contingent on Congress coming together for an additional round of stimulus. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Nancy Pelosi remain worlds apart from reaching a deal. Post-election politics may very well change this political reality, but for the time being there is no telling if or when more stimulus will arrive.
In addition to the turbulent economic climate, we simply don’t know how long the pandemic and its related restrictions will last. There’s no need to spell them all out, but numerous confounding variables translate to great uncertainty. For HVACR contractors, this means contending with the threat of COVID-19 related exposure lawsuits, adhering to additional regulations and guidance, and placing a greater emphasis on workplace safety for the foreseeable future.
Admittedly, this sounds like a lot of doom and gloom. There is a silver lining, though. ACCA will be here every step of the way advocating for HVACR contractor interests in Congress and the administration while providing whatever resources we can to help our members weather the remainder of this storm—just as we have done throughout 2020 and will continue to do when the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past. As we shift our focus to 2021 and the 117th Congress, ACCA will work on several issues affecting the issues. There are two in specific, though, that are currently at the forefront, and have an immediate impact on ACCA members and their ability to conduct business.
First issue that we are actively fighting for is liability protection from COVID-19 related legal action—specifically for essential workers like HVACR contractors. Lawsuits, no matter how frivolous, can prove to be costly and detrimental to the viability of any business, regardless of size. It may sound like common sense, but there is no reason that contractors who are doing their best to protect themselves, their customers, and their employees should be punished for simply doing their jobs. This is especially true given the fact that HVACR contracting essential work and a pillar of our way of life. ACCA members have been working tirelessly to keep our country’s critical infrastructure afloat since the onset of the pandemic. If ACCA members are punished for nothing more than going to work, then the whole country will suffer.
As it stands, Senate Republicans have signaled that COVID-19 liability protection will be a primary focus of any additional stimulus deal or funding that is put forth. In fact, liability protection was included in the “skinny” stimulus bill that Republican Senators put forward before the election (“skinny” refers to the size of the package being smaller than previous rounds of stimulus or other options being put forward). This undoubtedly is an encouraging development but does nothing to change the day-to-day reality of exposure lawsuit threats unless the policy is officially signed into law. ACCA will continue to fight for protection for our members in Congress and will provide updates on any related developments.
In addition to liability protection, ACCA is fighting for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness for member companies. H.R. 7777 and S. 4117, the Paycheck Protection Program Small Business Relief Act, would completely forgive all PPP loans of $150,000 or less upon the completion of a simple one-page relief form. This important legislation would provide real, tangible economic benefits to many ACCA members and businesses who participated in the PPP, while also simplifying the forgiveness process.
In a similar fashion to COVID-19 liability protection, PPP loan forgiveness has received positive feedback on Capitol Hill. An important difference, however, is that both sides of the aisle in both houses seem to agree on this issue. The Senate version of the bill has 30 co-sponsors, and the House version has 77. Both versions are bipartisan. Such widespread support is encouraging because it means that the bill may move forward even in the absence of a broader COVID-19 relief deal. As always, ACCA will continue to advocate for PPP loan relief and provide members with updates on any related developments.
These two important issues are highlights of what’s to come, but they are by no means a comprehensive list of what the ACCA members and the industry will face in the year ahead. As we move into 2021, ACCA requests that you make your voice heard by letting us know what issues are most important to you and your business. Your voice is important because it allows us to better represent you and advocate for your interests to the best of our ability. You can also let us know your thoughts by reaching out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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