24 March 2020
Dear Senator Collins, Senator King, Representative Pingree, and Representative Golden:
We come to you as a delegation during this time of pandemic crisis to ask you to do everything within your power to help vital Maine small businesses remain viable. COVID-19 is not only rampaging through our healthcare system, it is ravaging our economic security as well. It is true that Maine is well known for its sense of independence and entrepreneurial spirit, yet during these uncertain times our sole proprietors, which represent a large percentage of Maine’s workforce, need more assistance than short-term loans if they are to survive and continue to be a driver of the state’s economy.
It is with this in mind, that we ask you to propose a federal waiver within the Unemployment Insurance Benefits program to allow sole proprietors to collect benefits while the state and the nation are reeling from the insecurity accompanying the Coronavirus pandemic.
Small businesses in Maine pay into state unemployment insurance and federal unemployment insurance pools for their employees. These same small business owners do not always count themselves as employees, rather they earn their salaries through the company’s profit. This means at times, they do not take home any salary at all. This is the unfortunate position that many Maine entrepreneurs find themselves in today as only essential businesses remain open.
This emergency is creating a reality where employees of these small businesses can access the unemployment insurance safety net, while their employers, who contribute funds, are left falling through holes in the system.
Additionally, we ask you to urge President Trump to issue a Major Disaster Declaration for the COVID-19 outbreak in Maine, as he has for Washington, California, and New York. A Major Disaster Declaration will allow the implementation of the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program which provides financial stability to individuals, including self employed people and sole proprietors, who have become unemployed as a direct result of a Major Disaster. With thousands of Mainers losing their jobs due to COVID-19 in Maine, many of them ineligible for regular Unemployment Insurance, DUA will be a lifeline to keep Maine’s economy afloat while protecting public health.
We know you are working diligently to keep your constituents safe and secure. We, for our part, are doing so as well. We hope that we can work together on this issue to ensure the hub of Maine’s working people is protected during this time of deep concern.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter.
State Representative Brian Hubbell,
Maine House District 135
Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, and Lamoine
[joining as signatory with 97 other Maine State Legislators]