As COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to spread throughout our state, I want to take a break from our examination of interim charges so that I can provide you with as much information as possible about what we are doing at the state level to address this global pandemic. A complete list of the resources highlighted in this column will be provided at the bottom of the page, as well as on my public Facebook page and website: www.TrentAshby.com.
With that, here’s the latest information on our state’s fight against the coronavirus. . .
As Texans across the state are urged to stay home, many businesses are faced with unforeseen financial challenges that have resulted in employee layoffs or even closure. In an effort to provide assistance to local businesses and their employees, Governor Abbott requested and secured Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which will provide long-term, low-interest loans to qualifying businesses across the state. Further, the Comptroller of Public Accounts has created a business tax assistance hotline where business owners can work with the Comptroller’s office to alleviate their sales tax burdens through short-term payment agreements or through waiving sales tax penalties and interest altogether.
Additionally, the Texas Workforce Commission has launched an online resource for employers, as well as dislocated workers who have been affected by the pandemic. Here you can sign up for updates on the latest employment support services and have access to resources aimed at helping businesses navigate these challenging times. The agency has also waived the application waiting period and taken other measures to provide temporary assistance. Whether you’re a business owner or an employee who has recently lost a job, I would encourage you to explore these resources that are designed to help.
In an effort to assist our state’s students, teachers and families, Governor Abbott recently issued an executive order stating that all of Texas’ schools are to be closed until April 3. In coordination with TEA Commissioner, Mike Morath, the Governor has also waived STAAR testing requirements for the 2019-2020 school year. While I applaud this decision, it’s important to know that TEA is working diligently to develop tailored instruction to ensure that schools across the state have the resources needed so that students can succeed at the next grade level. As information becomes available, I would encourage you and your family to visit the TEA website for updates on what Texas is doing to provide our students with a quality education during these trying times.
I also want to encourage you to consider giving blood. As more people continue to practice social distancing, our blood supply has continued to decline. It is safe to give blood, and the coronavirus does not pose any risk to blood donors during the donation process. Supporting your local blood center is a great way to help support the lifesaving work our first responders and healthcare professionals are doing everyday.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if we can help you in any way. Our District office may be reached at (936) 634-2762, or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.
Small Business Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application: www.sba.gov/disaster
Comptroller Enforcement Hotline: 800-252-8800; https://comptroller.texas.gov/about/emergency/
Texas Workforce Commission for Employers: https://twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-employers
Texas Workforce Commission for Jobseekers: https://twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-job-seekers
Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center: www.giveblood.org