Indy lawmakers say help is available to Hoosier workers, employers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Tuesday, March 31, 2020 2:01 pm

STATEHOUSE (March 31, 2020) – Indianapolis legislators encourage 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.

State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove), chair of the House Public Health Committee, said while the “stay-at-home” order is critical to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure Indiana’s health care system is not overwhelmed, these steps have repercussions.

“We are making tough decisions to keep Hoosiers healthy,” Kirchhofer said. “But all actions have consequences. As we all do our part to stay home and exercise social distancing, Indiana families and the economy are taking a hit. The state and federal governments are providing flexibility and funding to get our communities through these unprecedented times.”

To help, State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) 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.

“Hoosier employees and employers are critical to our economy,” Behning said. “This financial relief will hopefully alleviate some of the pressure many are feeling right now. As our community works to adjust to a new normal created by this pandemic, it is important now more than ever that we support each other and weather this storm together.”

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.   

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.

State Rep. Dollyne Sherman (R-Indianapolis) said thanks to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.

“The hardships our state and nation are currently facing are tough, but temporary,” Sherman said. “This help for Hoosier workers and employers from Indiana and the federal government is important to keep our economy afloat and prepare businesses to return to normal operation when the time comes.”

State Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) 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 businesses are cornerstones of our communities,” Speedy said. “They provide jobs, services and often support local projects and youth fundraisers. These low-interest loans can be the difference between keeping their doors open and shutting down completely.”

He 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.

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State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents House District 91,
which includes portions of Hendricks and Marion counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo. 

State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer (R-Beech Grove) represents House District 89,
which includes portions of Marion County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo. 

State Rep. Dollyne Sherman (R-Indianapolis) represents House District 93,
which includes portions of Marion and Johnson counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.  

State Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) represents House District 90,
which includes portions of Marion County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.