|Reminder: Urge Congress to Provide Liability Protection to Essential Critical Infrastructure Industries
PMAA, NACS, SIGMA, NATSO and several other associations are urging Congress to protect essential businesses that remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic from lawsuits and other claims by infected persons. The liability protection effort would provide essential businesses, designated as essential critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security, with immunity from lawsuits claiming money damages for persons who allegedly contracted COVID-19 at a business premises or as a result of business operations.
The motor fuels, heating fuels and convenience store industries are at the forefront of COVID-19 response efforts and should not have to worry about future lawsuits for providing needed products and services to American consumers. Please click here to urge your lawmakers for liability protection in a future COVID-19 response bill.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a joint statement this morning that congressional Republicans “are united in our demand that healthcare workers, small businesses, and other Americans on the front lines of this fight must receive strong protections from frivolous lawsuits.” The Republican leaders added that such protections “will be absolutely essential to future discussions surrounding recovery legislation.”
““Imagine you are a business owner thinking about reopening, and you've heard that the trial lawyers all over the country are sharpening their pencils getting ready to sue you, claiming that you didn't engage in proper distancing or other issues related to health and safety,” McConnell said this week. Click here to read the story.
Fuels Institute’s Diesel Fuel Quality Council Conducting Study
The Fuels Institute’s Diesel Fuel Quality Council (DFQC) is conducting a diesel fuel quality study to evaluate fuel properties that affect engine performance. The study will collect diesel fuel samples from 190 nozzles and 95 underground storage tanks from a mix of retail and commercial facilities throughout the US.
Samples will be collected based on the share of distillate fuel sales in each PADD. Sample collection is randomized and not tied to information on diesel fuel quality or specific locations. Samples will be collected by Tanknology in conjunction with their annual compliance testing and monthly inspection for their clients with their permission. Information such as the terminal that supplies the diesel fuel, monthly throughput, biodiesel content, biodiesel blending on-site or at terminal, and routine preventative maintenance will be documented for each sample.
Samples will then be shipped to the Iowa Central Laboratory for analysis and analyzed for a variety of parameters considered important to engine performance including flash point, water & sediment, biodiesel content, and metals. All results will be provided to a third party for evaluation and results provided to the DFQC for review.
Coalition Wants Congress to Fund $150 Billion to Accelerate Electrification of Transportation
Recently, the Transportation Electrification Partnership (TEP), led by the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), asked Congress for $150 billion in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill including an expansion of the $7,500 EV tax credit and creating a “scrap and replace” federal government program similar for motorists to replace the internal combustion engine (ICE) for EVs. TEP was founded in 2018 by automakers (Audi, BMW, Tesla) and other stakeholders to “accelerate transportation electrification and zero emissions goods movement.”
PMAA believes the government should be focused on providing financial relief to Americans who need it most during this pandemic and not on wasteful tax policy that would benefit only wealthy consumers who have predominately taken advantage of the EV tax credit since inception.
Click here to write Congress in opposition to the EV tax credit expansion.
Paycheck Protection Program Funding Available Now!
On Monday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications from participating lenders as of 10:30am EDT on Monday morning.
Last Friday, the President signed into law the latest COVID-19 response bill that replenished the PPP with an additional $310 billion as well as an additional $10 billion for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The bill did not make any substantive changes to the PPP or EIDL program. Congressional leadership is characterizing the latest COVID-19 response bill as an interim funding effort, with the expectation that they will continue to negotiate a larger “phase 4” package in the coming weeks.
Click here for more information on the PPP.
Click here for more information on the EIDL.
Meanwhile, the SBA also updated its Frequently Asked Questions, including by providing additional information related to if and how the agency will review individual PPP loan files. This additional guidance comes as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Justin Muzinich has been tasked with assisting the SBA in administering the PPP. According to one report, this suggests that “the Treasury Department and SBA continue their close coordination on the successful implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program.” This same report suggests that larger financial institutions are concerned that smaller financial institutions are now being prioritized, leaving many of the big banks’ applications pending and with little information about their current status.
Federal Reserve Releases Additional Information about its Main Street Lending Program
After much anticipation, the Federal Reserve yesterday released additional information about its Main Street Lending Program (MSLP). Specifically, the central bank announced various changes related to the scope of and eligibility for the program, including by:
By way of reminder, the Federal Reserve announced this 13(3) facility on April 9 and accepted comments on its proposed term sheets through April 16. In total, more than 2,200 comments were submitted, ultimately resulting in a new, third loan option (Priority Loans). The central bank also released a set of Frequently Asked Questions, which addresses a number of key issues, including loan eligibility, the application process and various other terms and conditions. In its announcement, the Federal Reserve indicated that it soon plans to announce a date when the MSLP will officially be operational. The Treasury Department will support the MSLP with $75 billion in funding authorized by the CARES Act.
- Creating a third loan option, with increased risk sharing by lenders for borrowers with greater leverage.
- Lowering the minimum loan size for certain loans from $1 million to $500,000; and
- Expanding the pool of businesses eligible to borrow:
- Businesses with up to 15,000 employees or up to $5 billion in annual revenue are now eligible, which is up from 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue under the original terms.
- In its announcement, “[t]he Board recognizes the critical role that nonprofit organizations play throughout the economy and [indicates that it] is evaluating a separate approach to meet their unique needs.
Coalition Urges Congress to Suspend FET on New Heavy-Duty Trucks
This week, a coalition of 116 national, state, and local organizations and companies sent a letter to congressional leadership urging suspension of the 12 percent federal excise tax (FET) on the purchase of new heavy-duty trucks and trailers through 2021.
The Modernize the Truck Fleet coalition, which is led by American Truck Dealers, a division of the National Automobile Dealers Association, stated that the FET increases the cost of new heavy-duty trucks and trailers by $22,000 on average. The FET is also the highest percentage-based tax that Congress imposes on any product.
Coalition members believe new truck manufacturing will help keep drivers in the workforce and suspension of the FET will jump start the economy after the pandemic. Truck sales in the United States are now predicted to decline by 50 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Class 8 truck orders dropped by 52 percent compared to last year. As a result of government-ordered closures, truck manufacturing plants and truck dealers have either suspended or scaled back operations.
Labor Department Extends Employee Benefit Deadlines
Earlier this week, the Department of Labor (DOL) extended deadlines for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) notices, and extensions for plan participants and beneficiaries to make claims.
The EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 extends the time for plan officials to furnish benefit statements, annual funding notices, and other notices and disclosures required by ERISA so long as they make a good faith effort to furnish the documents as soon as administratively practicable. The notice explains that good faith includes the use of electronic alternative means of communicating with plan participants and beneficiaries, who the plan fiduciary reasonably believes have effective access to electronic means of communication, including email, text, and continuous access websites. The notice also includes compliance assistance guidance on plan loans, participant contributions and loan payments, blackout notices, Form 5500 and Form M-1 filing relief, and other general compliance guidance on ERISA fiduciary responsibilities.
Furthermore, another DOL notice, jointly issued with the Department of the Treasury and the IRS, extends certain time frames affecting participants’ rights to healthcare coverage, portability, and continuation of group health plan coverage under COBRA, and extends the time for plan participants to file or perfect benefit claims or appeals of denied claims. These extensions provide participants and beneficiaries of employee benefit plans additional time to make important health coverage and other decisions affecting their benefits during the coronavirus outbreak.
The department also issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on health benefit and retirement benefit issues to help employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries, plan sponsors, and employers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak understand their rights and responsibilities under ERISA.
April 2020 Contributors to PMAA MDF
PMAA’s Marketer Defense Fund (MDF) wants to thank the following individuals for their Marketer Defense Fund (MDF) contributions during the April 1- 30, 2020 timeframe:
Arizona: Arizona Petroleum Marketers Association
Michigan: Robert Hohn
Missouri: Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
New Mexico: New Mexico Petroleum Marketers Association
North Dakota: North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association
Oklahoma: Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Oregon: Oregon Fuels Association
Washington: Washington Oil Marketers Association
Corporate donations are acceptable. MDF funds have been used hire experts to cover important regulatory agencies and to create a COVID-19 Situational Update & Resources webpage to provide the latest updates and resources for petroleum marketers during the pandemic. Click here to donate to the PMAA MDF.
April 2020 PMAA Small Business Committee (SBC) PAC Contributions
PAC Co-Chairs Brad Bell and Tim Keigher are grateful for the PMAA Small Business Committee (SBC) PAC contributions from the following individuals during the April 1-30, 2020 time frame:
Georgia: Tommy Thompson
Michigan: Mark Coyne, Richard Folk, Daniel Pohl
South Carolina: William Curtis, John Horner
Federated Insurance Response to Coronavirus
Federated Insurance is committed to helping you as our nation unites to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here is a link to many valuable resources designed to inform and support your members during these uncertain times. Because this page is not available on our public site, you may want to save it in your browser for future reference as it will be updated regularly when additional resources become available.
Federated’s valued policyholders have these and additional resources available to them at Federated’s Shield Network or by contacting our Risk Management Resource Center at 1-888-333-4949. For additional information or to discuss this in further detail, please contact your Federated regional representative or PMAA’s National Account Executive Jon Medo at 800.533.0472. Federated is a PMAA Corporate Platinum Partner.
PMAA Corporate Platinum Partner Spotlight Featuring: Renewable Energy Group, Inc.
Five Steps to Offering Blended Bioheat® Fuel
With the warm winter coming to an anticlimactic conclusion, a relatively slow heating season now winds down for fuel dealers across the U.S. Northeast. Meanwhile, biodiesel and blended Bioheat® fuel sellers are excited for the opportunity to take advantage of several new and returning financial incentives, including the Biodiesel Tax Credit as well as the HBIIP grants mentioned above.
Even without these added incentives, as international oil demand hits record lows and pressure mounts on fuel dealers to provide cleaner and greener products, more and more heating oil providers are expected to invest in Bioheat fuel this spring and summer. Whether you are looking to begin purchasing and selling blended products or interested in bringing in biodiesel to blend onsite at your facility, REG is prepared to help you take the next step. To that end, here are our five steps to offering blended Bioheat fuel.
For additional information about Renewable Energy Group, Inc., please visit or contact Steve Klein. Renewable Energy Group is a PMAA Corporate Platinum Partner.
Federated Insurance Employment Practices Network HR Question of the Month
Federated Insurance’s HR Question of the Month focuses on employment-related practices liability issues. This month’s question is: Employee Returning from Trip - Precautions in Light of COVID-19? We have crews that ride together in vehicles and perform work outside. We have explained to employees that work is optional during this time and we have encouraged employees to stay home if they feel sick or are concerned about exposure. We have an employee who is returning from a trip to Puerto Rico. She is planning on returning and the crew she is assigned to is afraid of exposure. Can we require that she does not come in or turn in a doctor's note before return? How can we protect other employees? Please click here to read the response.
For additional information or to discuss this in further detail, please contact your Federated regional representative or PMAA’s National Account Executive Jon Medo at 800.533.0472. FFederated is a PMAA Corporate Platinum Partner.
This article is for general information and risk prevention only and should not be considered legal or other expert advice. The recommendations herein may help reduce, but are not guaranteed to eliminate, any or all risk of loss. The information herein may be subject to, and is not a substitute for, any laws or regulations that may apply. Qualified counsel should be sought with questions specific to your circumstances. © 2020 Federated Mutual Insurance Company.