Rep. Arora Supports the House Republican Pandemic Relief Package for Connecticut’s Service Industry

Posted on December 17, 2020

GREENWICH—State Representative Harry Arora (R-151) along with incoming House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-86), announced their intention to introduce legislation providing relief to Connecticut bars and restaurants, which have been disproportionately affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small businesses across the state are struggling as decreased foot traffic and stringent executive orders have restricted operations and forced many job creators to close their doors either temporarily or permanently. This is especially true for the service industry where 600 bars and restaurants have already succumbed to financial pressure, leaving thousands of individuals out of work. House Republicans are calling upon the General Assembly to follow the example set by other states that have provided their own relief measures.

“We are asking the administration to take immediate concrete action to prevent imminent mass closure of small business restaurants due to COVID-19 restrictions. These small businesses are bearing the brunt of our battle with COVID-19 and a targeted program is urgently needed to help this sector. Small business restaurants and bars are a significant part of our communities and local employment, and we need to use a very small percentage of the $1.3 Billion CARES Act money to help them,” said State Representative Harry Arora. “There is bipartisan support and I ask the governor to take action NOW. I am proud of our caucus for putting forward a practical program which would go a long way in mitigating the damage to these local jewels.”

Recently, House Republicans proposed multiple tax relief measures to help all Connecticut businesses. These latest proposals will focus on bars and restaurants. Below is an overview of their proposed legislation:

  1. Restaurant Grant Program: Establish a $50 million targeted pandemic relief grant fund for those with qualifying monetary losses;
    • Grants may not exceed $25,000. To qualify, a restaurant must…
      • Be closed or restricted as a result of the governor’s executive orders
      • Filed and paid sales and meals taxes from July 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020
    • Not available to drive-through establishments
  2. One-year suspension of liquor permitting and food licensing fees for certain restaurants;
  3. Three-month extension for municipal real and personal property tax payments for all businesses. This applies to the second half of real and personal property taxes for the year, which are currently due on January 1, 2021, and would now be due on April 1, 2021.
  4. A public-private partnership between the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and CT’s financial institutions to provide low interest loans to these businesses.

These proposals, in addition to House Republican’s recent proposal to delay the new 0.5 percent payroll tax, are important steps needed to stabilize the industry. House Republicans have stressed that this is not the time to implement new taxes, but rather to reduce the tax burden on cash-strapped businesses until the public health crisis is under control and economic conditions return to normal.

Legislators are hopeful that Governor Lamont will share their sense of urgency by using some of the remaining CARES Act funds to help a critical business sector for which he has pledged support.

The General Assembly is scheduled to convene on January 6, 2021 for the next regular session. This legislation will be a top priority for the caucus and the many bars and restaurants in their districts, and across the state.