Legislative Update May 13th

Dan Reitz | Lobbyist

Illinois lawmakers will return to Springfield next week, May 20th through the 22nd to resume a spring session interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The House will relocate to the Bank of Springfield Center.  All House Democrats are being asked to sign a pledge to follow IDPH precautions when they return. They include getting tested before the session resumes, getting a temperature check on session days, wearing a mask at all times and traveling alone. He asked that all House Republicans also sign the pledge.

The Speaker’s office issued a memo to members advising them of how session will be conducted in a location remote from the Capitol. The Illinois State Police will provide security at the building and only a limited number of the public will be admitted.

Committee hearings will be conducted on the floor. The House clerk will conduct roll call votes when they are required.

The Senate will meet in the Capitol.  The Senate is expected to operate under normal rules.

On Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker said he wanted lawmakers to return to Springfield to act on economic relief measures for the coronavirus pandemic.

“The legislature must convene so that we can begin to put our financial and economic house back in order even as we battle this terrible virus,” he said during his daily briefing. “The General Assembly needs to pass a comprehensive plan to support families, small businesses and small towns.”

He said he wanted increased rent and mortgage assistance for families, grants and loans for small businesses and tax credits for small business job recovery. He also wanted assistance for small cities and towns to help with their first responder costs.

Lawmakers have been involved in working groups for weeks trying to negotiate legislation that absolutely must be passed during the spring session. Foremost among them is approval of a state budget. However, it will be a budget that could lose more than $4 billion of revenue that was anticipated before the pandemic hit, forcing businesses to close and putting people out of work. At the same time, there will be pressure to increase spending on programs to help those who have been hurt by the virus and its effects.

Beyond the budget, lawmakers are pushing to get other bills heard.  It is unclear if the General Assembly will hear any legislation that is not directly related to the pandemic during an abbreviated session.

Take Action: Trading Irregularities

Domestic Energy Producers Alliance

Make your voice count.

If your company was impacted by the trading irregularities on April 20, 2020, join us in demanding an immediate investigation.

We are asking that the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) begin an investigation without delay of the WTI crude oil futures traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). The investigation needs to include the possibility of market manipulation, failed processes and systems or computer programing errors in the WTI prompt month of May 20 and oil contract futures on the CME. This can never be allowed to happen again.

Steps you can take now.

  1. File a complaint with the CME on behalf of your company.
  1. Reach out to the CFTC and ask them to investigate the CME.

We want to hear your story.

Additionally, we would appreciate hearing your personal stories about how you/your company have been impacted by the price crash and crude oil trading below $0. This includes job losses, layoffs, furloughs, budget cuts, amount of shut-in production, etc. Maintaining your anonymity, it is so important we have the statistics and data to share with policymakers so they understand the real-life impact this has had on our industry.

 

Click here to download a sample letter to CTCF Chairman Talbot

IOGA Letter to Illinois Department of Natural Resources

IOGA sent the following letter to Daniel Brennan and Ernest Kierbach at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Oil & Gas Resource Management. The letter expresses IOGA’s concern about low oil prices and requests that the IDNR consider a moratorium on the issuance of NNCs and NOVs.

Read the full letter here.

Daniel Brennan responded to IOGA following our letter. His response said the IDNR’s Office Oil and Gas Resource Management has instituted the following changes.

“As of April 1, 2020, for any matter that results in the issuance of a NNC, the permittee with be automatically granted an extension of the maximum time allowed to return the well, facility or site to compliance. Additionally, the Office is reviewing all relevant sections of the Illinois Oil and Gas Act (225 ILCS 725 et al.) and Illinois Administrative Code (62 Ill.Adm.Code 240 et al.) to determine how best to address all non-emergency violations.”

Read the full letter here.

Executive Order 18

This order extends the Executive Orders issued by Governor Pritzker, in response to COVID-19, until April 30th. We are still listed as an essential industry and will continue to update the ever-changing state of our state.

Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses

(Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship)

Where can I apply for the Paycheck Protection Program?

You can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) at any lending institution that is approved to participate in the program through the existing U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 7(a) lending program and additional lenders approved by the Department of Treasury. This could be the bank you already use, or a nearby bank. There are thousands of banks that already participate in the SBA’s lending programs, including numerous community banks. You do not have to visit any government institution to apply for the program. You can call your bank or find SBA-approved lenders in your area through SBA’s online Lender Match tool. You can call your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center and they will provide free assistance and guide you to lenders.

Who is eligible for the loan?

You are eligible for a loan if you are a small business that employs 500 employees or fewer, or if your business is in an industry that has an employee-based size standard through SBA that is higher than 500 employees. In addition, if you are a restaurant, hotel, or a business that falls within the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 72, “Accommodation and Food Services,” and each of your locations has 500 employees or fewer, you are eligible. Tribal businesses, 501(c)(19) veteran organizations, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits, including religious organizations, will be eligible for the program. Nonprofit organizations are subject to SBA’s affiliation standards. Independently owned franchises with under 500 employees, who are approved by SBA, are also eligible. Eligible franchises can be found through SBA’s Franchise Directory.

I am an independent contractor or gig economy worker, am I eligible?

Yes. Sole proprietors, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and self-employed individuals are all eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program.

What is the maximum amount I can borrow?

The amount any small business is eligible to borrow is 250 percent of their average monthly payroll expenses, up to a total of $10 million. This amount is intended to cover 8 weeks of payroll expenses and any additional amounts for making payments towards debt obligations. This 8 week period may be applied to any time frame between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Seasonal business expenses will be measured using a 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019, or March 1, 2019, whichever the seasonal employer chooses.

How can I use the money such that the loan will be forgiven?

The amount of principal that may be forgiven is equal to the sum of expenses for payroll, and existing interest payments on mortgages, rent payments, leases, and utility service agreements. Payroll costs include employee salaries (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000), hourly wages and cash tips, paid sick or medical leave, and group health insurance premiums. If you would like to use the Paycheck Protection Program for other business-related expenses, like inventory, you can, but that portion of the loan will not be forgiven.

When is the loan forgiven?

The loan is forgiven at the end of the 8-week period after you take out the loan. Borrowers will work with lenders to verify covered expenses and the proper amount of forgiveness. What is the covered period of the loan? The covered period during which expenses can be forgiven extends from February 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020. Borrowers can choose which 8 weeks they want to count towards the covered period, which can start as early as February 15, 2020.

How much of my loan will be forgiven?

The purpose of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help you retain your employees, at their current base pay. If you keep all of your employees, the entirety of the loan will be forgiven. If you still lay off employees, the forgiveness will be reduced by the percent decrease in the number of employees. If your total payroll expenses on workers making less than $100,000 annually decreases by more than 25 percent, loan forgiveness will be reduced by the same amount. If you have already laid off some employees, you can still be forgiven for the full amount of your payroll cost if you rehire your employees by June 30, 2020.

Am I responsible for interest on the forgiven loan amount?

No, if the full principal of the PPP loan is forgiven, the borrower is not responsible for the interest accrued in the 8-week covered period. The remainder of the loan that is not forgiven will operate according to the loan terms agreed upon by you and the lender.

What are the interest rate and terms for the loan amount that is not forgiven?

The terms of the loan not forgiven may differ on a case-by-case basis. However, the maximum terms of the loan feature a 10-year term with interest capped at 4 percent and a 100 percent loan guarantee by the SBA. You will not have to pay any fees on the loan, and collateral requirements and personal guarantees are waived. Loan payments will be deferred for at least six months and up to one year starting at the origination of the loan.

When is the application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program?

Applicants are eligible to apply for the PPP loan until June 30th, 2020.

I took out a bridge loan through my state, am I eligible to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program?

Yes, you can take out a state bridge loan and are still be eligible for the PPP loan.

If I have applied for, or received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) related to COVID19 before the Paycheck Protection Program became available, will I be able to refinance into a PPP loan?

Yes. If you received an EIDL loan related to COVID-19 between January 31, 2020 and the date at which the PPP becomes available, you would be able to refinance the EIDL into the PPP for loan forgiveness purposes. However, you may not take out an EIDL and a PPP for the same purposes. Remaining portions of the EIDL, for purposes other than those laid out in loan forgiveness terms for a PPP loan, would remain a loan. If you took advantage of an emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000, that amount would be subtracted from the amount forgiven under PPP.

Download the proposed application here.

SBA Disaster Loan Program

This information is correct as of 3/23/2020

Anyone interested in applying for this program will apply directly with the SBA. This loan program is NOT being funneled through Banks like the typical SBA 7A or SBA 504 loan programs are.

Click here for the SBA Disaster Loan Program.

Click here to download the presentation from SBA representatives that explains the program and provides some guidance on how to apply. Click here for a quick 3-step overview of the process.

Below is a list of required documents that SBA will ask to be provided with your application for the Disaster Loan Program.

Required Documentation

The following documents are required to process an SBA Disaster Loan Application and reach a loan decision. Your SBA Loan Officer and Case Manager will assist you to ensure that you submit the proper documentation. Approval decision and disbursement of loan funds is dependent on receipt of your documentation.

Businesses

  1. Business Loan Application (SBA Form 5) completed and signed by business applicant.
  2. IRS Form 4506-T completed and signed by Applicant business, each principal owning 20% or more of the applicant business, each general partner or managing member and, for any owner who has more than a 50% ownership in an affiliate business. (Affiliates include business parent, subsidiaries, and/or businesses with common ownership or management).
  3. Complete copies, including all schedules, of the most recent Federal income tax returns for the applicant business; an explanation if not available.
  4. Personal Financial Statement (SBA Form 413) completed, signed and dated by the applicant (if a sole proprietorship), each principal owning 20% or more of the applicant business, each general partner or managing member.
  5. Schedule of Liabilities listing all fixed debts (SBA Form 2202 may be used).
  6. Complete copies, including all schedules, of the most recent Federal income tax returns for each principal owning 20% or more of the applicant business, each general partner or managing member, and each affiliate when any owner has more than a 50% ownership in the affiliate business. Affiliates include, but are not limited to, business parents, subsidiaries, and/or other businesses with common ownership or management.
  7. If the most recent Federal income tax return has not been filed, a year-end profit and loss statement and balance sheet for that tax year is acceptable.
  8. A current year-to-date profit and loss statement (typically within 90 days)
  9. Additional Filing Requirements (SBA Form 1368) providing monthly sales figures.

Illinois Unemployment Resources

This information is correct as of 3/23/2020

COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19. IDES recently adopted emergency rules to try to make the unemployment insurance system as responsive to the current situation as possible.

What is Unemployment Insurance (UI)?

In general, UI provides temporary income maintenance to individuals who have been separated from employment through no fault of their own and who meet all eligibility requirements, including the requirements that they be able and available for work, register with the state employment service and actively seek work. Click here for more information.

For Employers:

If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, will the employer’s unemployment contribution rate increase?

At this time, no further guidance has been issued. Until such time, normal procedures will be followed. In general, the contribution rate of an experience rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer’s former employees.

Potential Closure or Layoff

Rapid Response Services are available to employers who are planning or have gone through a permanent closure or mass layoff at a plant, facility, or enterprise, or a natural or other disaster, that results in mass job dislocation. The State Dislocated Worker Unit coordinates with employers to provide on-site information to workers and employers about employment and retraining services designed to help participants retain employment when feasible, or obtain re-employment as soon as possible. For more information, visit Rapid Response Services for Businesses or contact your local Illinois workNet Center.

Click here to learn more about unemployment benefits during this time.

Illinois Tax News – Providing Emergency Assistance Programs

This information is correct as of 3/25/2020

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is working to provide emergency assistance programs for Illinois small businesses. Click here for the current status of the plan initiatives.

IL 2019 Taxes:

The Illinois due date for individuals, trusts, and corporations to file and pay taxes has been extended to match the federal due date of July 15, 2020. This relief is automatic, an extension does not need to be filed. See the attached bulletin for details.

Illinois has not extended first quarter estimated taxes for 2020 for calendar year taxpayers, that due date remains 4/15/2020. The second quarter calendar year estimate is due 6/15/2020.

 

Exercise Care In Shutting Down Leases

With the drop in the price of oil, operators may feel compelled to completely shut down operations as to a particular lease. This could prove to be a risky proposition. An IlJinois Appellate Court decision in 2003 stated as follows with respect to the cessation of operations and the status of the lease:

“One of the reasons offered for the defendants’ failure to run the pumps and produce oil was the depressed price of oil. Though a depressed market may have rendered it unprofitable to operate the lease, it did not prevent the operation of the wells. We have reviewed the lease and have found no provision excusing production and marketing in the event that the oil market becomes depressed. The depressed price of oil was not contracted against. Consequently, it cannot be used to justify nonproduction, and it does not prevent a lapse of the lease where production has been shut down.”

The terms of the operative lease should be carefully reviewed to determine any language that addresses cessation of operations and production. Many of the lease forms provide that if the operations are not resumed within a certain number of days, the lease could terminate.

The fact that the wells on a lease are the subject of temporary abandonment status will not excuse the absence of operations and production for purposes of perpetuating the lease.

Before completely ceasing operations as to a lease, the lease provisions should be carefully reviewed. Do not place yourself in a position where it could be argued that the lease has terminated.

Consult with your attorney as to this issue and be cognizant of the minimal operations and production required to perpetuate your lease.

IOGA Letter to Governor Pritzker – Essential Need for Oil & Gas

IOGA sent the following letter to Governor Pritzker concerning the essential need for oil and gas businesses during this unprecedented time. The product our members produce
is not only vital to our state’s infrastructure but will also help to move and produce the products necessary to keep Illinois’ citizens supplied with the essentials needed for their lives
at home.

This letter encourages the Governor to careful consider the oil and gas industry in any future directives during this time.

Read the letter here.