U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins have introduced a bill that they say would allow seasonal small businesses in Maine and elsewhere to take fuller advantage of the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

The bill would modify a provision in the pandemic relief program to allow additional funds for some seasonal businesses that applied in the early days of the PPP, helping to equalize their treatment with that of other loan recipients, Collins and King said Monday in a joint news release. In order to receive the additional funds, such businesses would need to qualify for a second PPP loan.

Many seasonal businesses applied for and received PPP loans as soon as the program opened in April 2020, Collins and King said. Under the program’s original rules, seasonal businesses had to calculate their loan amounts based on their average monthly payroll for the period beginning either Feb. 15 or March 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2019. The senators said those windows did not fully capture the busy summer season, when the staffing and payroll needs of many of Maine’s seasonal businesses increase dramatically.

In late April 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department released a rule change that allowed seasonal businesses to calculate their loans based on the average monthly payroll in a consecutive 12-week period between May 1, 2019, and Sept. 15, 2019. The following month, the U.S. Small Business Administration issued another rule change that allowed seasonal businesses to increase their first-round PPP loans if using the seasonal method resulted in a higher loan amount, and if their lender had not yet submitted paperwork to the SBA for the loan.

However, Collins and King said Monday that many small businesses, anxious to take advantage of federal aid, had already submitted their applications, and that their lenders had already submitted the paperwork to the SBA. As a result, those businesses were not eligible to receive any additional funds.

The new bill, known as the Seasonal Business PPP Parity Act, would allow those businesses to access additional funds to offset their diminished loan amounts based on the rules and timing of their initial PPP loan applications. However, accessing those funds would require obtaining a second PPP loan, for which applicants must demonstrate a pandemic-related revenue loss of at least 25 percent compared with a year earlier.

Collins said she secured a provision in the December 2020 pandemic relief package to allow seasonal businesses that had not yet received PPP loan forgiveness to use the newer seasonal calculation to increase their loan amounts. The Seasonal Business PPP Parity Act would build on the December law by allowing seasonal businesses that already had received forgiveness when the December law was enacted to obtain the increases on initial PPP loans they missed out on as increases to their second-round loans.

“This new bill will provide this same treatment to small businesses whose first-draw loans had already been forgiven, which will provide welcome relief as they prepare for the busy summer season,” Collins said.

Since the PPP was launched last year, nearly 43,000 forgivable loans totaling $3.1 billion have been approved for employers in Maine.

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