By Bob Katzen

The Senate 8-31, rejected an amendment that would create and fund a $5 million Business Relief Fund to provide grants to struggling businesses affected by COVID-19 that thus far have not qualified for grants because of a lack of operational and income history. The amendment requires that businesses must have been open at least 90 days before the pandemic state of emergency was declared and on the day it was declared.

Amendment supporters explained that businesses that were not in business in 2019 don’t have income tax returns and other documentation from 2019 to compare to 2020 and show how their business has been adversely affected.

“When people dedicate their lives and their savings to starting their own businesses, to contributing to the economy and to the strength of the workforce by hiring and training employees, only to be told that they haven’t been around long enough to receive the aid that is being offered to established businesses, it is devastating,” said sponsor Sen. DiZoglio. “They deserve a chance to survive, to see a return on their investment, to contribute to the tax base and employ our family, friends, neighbors and fellow residents of the commonwealth. Every additional business that survives the pandemic in Massachusetts will enhance the longer-term health of our economy.”

Amendment opponents said they are open to the idea of the relief fund but argued that the Senate should focus on the bill itself which offers millions of dollars in relief to businesses rather than add amendments at this juncture. They said this idea can be revisited in the future.

(A “Yes” vote is for the $5 million grant program. A “No” vote is against it.)

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