House Democrats recently introduced The Heroes Act, H.R. 6800, a bold and comprehensive bill to address the ongoing public health crisis posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. Included in that legislation is language from U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) and U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III’s (MA-04) Fair Chance for Small Business Relief Act, a bill that would fix a flaw in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance Program that disqualifies small business owners with even minor offenses from critical relief.
“I have heard from countless small business owners in Ohio’s Third Congressional District and across the country who been unfairly precluded from obtaining the help they so desperately need. Congress should not be in the business of denying opportunity to people who have paid their debt to society—let alone not even been convicted of a crime,” Beatty noted. “That is why Congressman Kennedy and I joined together to do something about it.” She continued, “I am pleased to report that The Heroes Act includes a provision mirroring our bill that will ensure small business and micro business owners can obtain the necessary support to weather the financial fallout from COVID-19 and have the chance to build an even brighter future, as opposed to being judged, prejudged, or punished again for mistakes made years prior.”
“Small business owners pursuing their dreams should not be punished for past mistakes as minor as marijuana possession,” Kennedy said. “By denying these small businesses a lifeline, the SBA isn’t just harming their owners, it’s punishing their workers, their consumers and their community. It’s time to ‘ban the box’ for small business relief, and I’m proud to lead this effort with Congresswoman Beatty.”
Prior to introducing the Fair Chance for Small Business Relief Act, Beatty and Kennedy sent a letter to Congressional Leadership on April 15th urging them to ease restrictions on certain small businesses that are ineligible from obtaining assistance through the SBA due to collateral consequences from previous encounters with the criminal justice system.
Beatty and Kennedy’s bill is supported by SAFER Foundation, Collateral Consequences Resource Center, and NAACP Columbus. The Heroes Act will likely be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives this week.
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