State Adds Payments to Businesses Hit by COVID-19 Mandates

Three senators and three House members haggled struck a deal on a bill that would set aside federal COVID-19 relief funds headed to the state, cities and counties.

Those funds would be used to pay claims to businesses that can show they were harmed financially by being forced to shut down or by limits on their operations.

While creating a system for considering and paying claims could avoid a larger total payout from lawsuits, it also would help small businesses that cannot afford to hire attorneys to sue state or local officials, supporters said.

Opponents argued that businesses receiving compensation should be required to use some of it on employees’ wages.

Some opposed taking half the funds for compensation from cities’ and counties’ allocation of federal coronavirus relief dollars.

Businesses with 50 or fewer employees would be eligible to file claims.

The bill passed 68-42 in the House and 24-14 in the Senate.