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$912 million COVID-19 relief bill that would help renters and restaurants heads to Gov. Wolf’s desk

A COVID-19 relief bill that would provide money for rental assistance and the struggling hospitality industry, among others, was approved by the state House and Senate and now awaits Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature.

The $912 million package is made up mostly of funds given to the state through Congress’ COVID Relief Bill passed in December and provides funds to restaurants, schools, employers, tenants and landlords.

Wolf intends to sign the bill, according to Lyndsay Kensinger, press secretary for the office of the governor.

The Senate approved the bill late last month, and a modified version of that bill was approved by the House today. The amended measure was quickly passed this afternoon by the Senate on a 48-0 vote.

The bill allocates $569.8 million for rental and utility assistance, $197 million for education programs and $145 million for the state’s hospitality industry.

Funding for the Rental and Utility Assistance program would be provided by federal Coronavirus stimulus money and would be divided up to counties by population size.

One of the largest changes the bill was an amendment in the House ensuring that forgivable loans given to Pennsylvania businesses through the federal Paycheck Protection Program will not be taxed by the state.

Sen. Patrick Browne, R-Lehigh, thanked the House for the change and expressed hope the bill will be approved by the Governor in its entirety.

“Without the changes in this bill that we are hopeful the governor will accept, there would have been a problem with how our tax code treated grants out of the very important paycheck protection program,” Browne said. “We would be taxing those forgivable loans and including money from those loans in our treasury.”

Ioannis Pashakis
Ioannis Pashakis covers health care, the gig economy, cannabis and technology. Email him at ipashakis@bridgetowermedia.com.

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