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Solvency Fund Legislation Prompts Two Month Extension of First Quarter UI Payment Due Date
 

State officials have again extended the due date for first quarter unemployment insurance payments from Massachusetts employers. Originally extended by the Department of Unemployment Assistance to June 1st, the deadline for employer payments has again been pushed out another two months to Monday, August 2nd.  August 2nd is also the due date for second quarter employment and wage detail filings and contributions. Members can expect further information on the 2021 employer rates and solvency assessment from the Department of Unemployment Assistance soon.

The delay comes as the Legislature and Baker Administration work to pass legislation designed to address the unexpected solvency assessment increases recently experienced by employers in their Q1 bills.  Currently on the Governor’s desk awaiting approval, the legislation proposes shifting pandemic-related unemployment claims, currently charged to the solvency fund, into a new COVID fund which will be amortized over a 20-year period through bonding.  The move is designed to provide employers with short-term relief from the solvency assessment spikes, however the burden of paying off the program’s $7 billion deficit over the 20-year period will remain squarely on the shoulders of the Commonwealth’s employers. 

RAM continues to push for the state to share in this responsibility by utilizing a portion of the billions of dollars in American Rescue Plan funds coming into the Commonwealth to pay down a portion of the UI deficit. RAM members are strongly encouraged to take action today by contacting their state legislators and Governor Baker and requesting their support in using federal pandemic recovery funds as a means to mitigate the long-term impact of the UI deficit on businesses and job growth.  Please join us in this effort by contacting your elected officials today.

 

Click here to send your message.

 

ATTENTION MA LOTTERY SALES AGENTS

Take Action to Oppose Pending Cashless Lottery and Online Lottery Proposals

 
RAM members operating as sales agents for the Massachusetts Lottery are urged to take action now to oppose two proposals being considered by the Legislature which threaten to impact your lottery sales business.  The first would authorize the sale of lottery products by debit card (Cashless Lottery) and the second would authorize the sale of lottery products online (Online Lottery).

 
Budget conferees are currently considering whether to include in this year’s final budget a Senate adopted Cashless Lottery proposal. A series of stand-alone Cashless Lottery bills will also be considered by the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure (CPPL) at a public hearing scheduled for next Monday, June 21st.  The CPPL public hearing on Monday will also include consideration of a series of Online Lottery bills.

 
As both of these proposals threaten to negatively impact business derived from your lottery sales, RAM is urging members to contact their local elected officials to voice their opposition.  RAM has prepared a voter voice campaign to facilitate your communication.  

 
In addition to contacting your local elected official, members may also participate in the CPPL virtual hearing by submitting written testimony via email (click here to send message) or registering to present oral testimony before the legislative committee using this form by Friday, June 18th at 5pm.

Legislature Designates August 14-15 as Sales Tax Holiday Weekend

 

The House and Senate on Thursday passed a resolution calling for this year’s sales tax holiday (STH) weekend to be held on August 14 and 15. 

The STH was made an annual event in law in 2018, with either the Legislature or the Department of Revenue (DOR) setting the specific weekend in August each year.  The law calls on the Legislature to adopt the joint resolution "not later than June 15," but if they fail to do so, the DOR must designate a date for the weekend by July 1.  The Legislature acted on the resolution today, June 17. 

It remains unclear at this time if the DOR will take a different action, or agree on the Legislature’s set date.  RAM is currently awaiting further guidance from the DOR.

 

Gov. Baker Signs COVID-19 Policy Extensions Law

 
On June 16, Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill extending certain pandemic related policies, including cocktails to-go and the extension of outdoor dining.  The Legislature worked quickly to get Baker a partial compromise on issues of agreement, while continuing to hold discussions on other pandemic related policy matters.  The law reinstates certain policies that technically had lapsed with the end of the State of Emergency Order that expired at midnight on June 15th.   

 
The new law extends special permits for expanded outdoor dining, eviction protections and virtual public meetings through April 1, 2022.  The law also allows restaurants to sell beer, wine and cocktails to-go until May 1, 2022.

 

Baker Signs COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law

On May 28th, 2021, Governor Baker signed legislation establishing a COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave program in the Commonwealth.  Effective immediately, all Massachusetts employers must grant up to 40 hours of emergency paid leave for full time employees, and prorated emergency paid leave for part time employees, for certain COVID-19 related purposes. 

Employers are eligible for reimbursement for the cost of providing the required paid leave through a new $75 million state fund created by the law, unless the employer is otherwise eligible for reimbursement from the federal COVID-19 emergency sick leave tax credit program established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  Employers must make the required leave available through September 30, 2021, or until the state fund is exhausted. 

The state's COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Paid Sick Leave website provides important information about the program and resources to facilitate implementation, including Guidance for employers, Frequently Asked Questions, and the required Notice to Employees.  Additional guidance will be issued in the coming weeks, including information on how employers may apply for reimbursement from the state.

RAM will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

 

New Online Loss Prevention Information Sharing Platform 

The RAM LP Committee recently introduced the New England Organize Retail Crime Alliance’s (NEORCA) new online information sharing platform. 

LP committee members interested in requesting access to the service, should click here.  

 

 

The RAM Health Insurance Cooperative is NOW thriving – and growing – in 2021! 

The RAMHIC program offers RAM members:

  • A 3% discount off premium rates for small businesses in the small group market (groups of 1-50 employees).
  • Access to every small group plan offered by BCBSMA.  As well as a two plan option for added flexibility.
  • Defined contribution options to address the needs of both your business and your employees.

 

All BCBSMA small group plans through RAM come with:

  • A wellness program with potential employee incentives of up to $300 and an opportunity to earn 7.5% in backend employer incentives.
  • A free supplemental hospitalization policy for all subscribers, which covers $750 for a hospital admission and $150 each additional day up to 10 days.
  • A free $10,000 life insurance policy for all subscribers.
Click for more information on RAMHIC.