Bartholomew County lawmakers say help available to Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by: Randy Spieth  | Thursday, April 2, 2020

STATEHOUSE (April 2, 2020) – Bartholomew County legislators are encouraging Hoosier workers and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to access recently expanded state and federal resources for help.

Under Indiana's temporary "stay-at-home" order, many businesses deemed not essential have laid off staff or cannot pay employees while they are shut down. To help, State Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) said Gov. Eric Holcomb expanded unemployment coverage to those impacted, including Hoosiers whose work hours were reduced, those under medical quarantine and employees who cannot continue to work because of lack of child care options.

"Indiana workers are now facing new daily challenges during this public health crisis," Eberhart said. "With state leaders’ quick actions, we are ensuring Hoosiers are not left in the dark if they cannot work. These steps will help workers receive benefits sooner to assist them through the outbreak."

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Hoosiers should file for unemployment insurance if their employment has been interrupted or ended due to COVID-19, and their claim will be evaluated. Individuals must apply for UI benefits online, using a computer or smart phone at Unemployment.IN.gov. For questions, the state asks Hoosiers to review the Frequently Asked Questions, the Claimant Handbook or the online video tutorials before calling the 1-800-891-6499 helpline, which continues to experience a high volume of calls.   

According to State Rep. Ryan Lauer (R-Columbus), Indiana waived the one-week waiting period for payment of unemployment benefits, and it is retroactive to March 8, 2020. Qualified claimants can typically receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, but this has been extended by an additional 13 weeks.

"Local employers are shutting down to help flatten the curve, but losing one or more sources of income is taking a toll on families," Lauer said. "By waiving the waiting period, Hoosiers can more quickly receive benefits to continue providing for their loved ones. These measures can offer a little comfort to families who need help through this difficult time. We will get through this together, and I believe we'll come back stronger than ever."

Due to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.

State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) said small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits can receive up to $2 million in low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster's impact. The loan interest rates for small businesses and nonprofits are 3.75% and 2.75%, respectively, with terms up to 30 years.

"Small-business owners have already likely reviewed their finances through this public health crisis, and they need to know this resource is available," Lucas said. "These loans can fill the gap during this challenging time and help keep the business alive. Indiana relies on all these businesses, and we want to see them to return to normal operations."

Lucas said businesses' merit rate/tax rate will not be impacted if they lay off employees due to the coronavirus.

For more information and to apply for a small business loan, visit SBA.gov/disaster. Hoosiers can also contact 1-800-659-2955 or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov with additional questions.

Residents are reminded to stay up-to-date with the Columbus and Bartholomew County COVID-19 Task Force response by visiting covid19communitytaskforce.org

-30-

State Rep. Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) represents House District 57,
which includes Shelby County and portions of Bartholomew and Hancock counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Ryan Lauer (R-Columbus) represents House District 59,
which includes portions of Bartholomew County.
Click here to download a high-resolution photo.

State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) represents House District 69, which includes
portions of Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings and Jefferson counties.
Click 
here to download a high-resolution photo.