The United Motorcoach Association (UMA) hosted its weekly online Town Hall this past Thursday, April 16, led by UMA Chairman Jeff Polzien, Interim President and CEO Larry Killingsworth, and Vice President Ken Presley. Hundreds of members participated and chimed in with numerous questions and comments.
The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) were again the first order of business as both programs had been reported to reach their max that morning, halting applications and leaving millions of small businesses without relief. Congress is still negotiating additional funding for PPP, which has been stalled by both parties attempting to add specifics to the bill such as funding for hospitals, state and local government, and increased COVID-19 testing support.
According to CNN in a 4/21 interview with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.): “Of the $310 billion for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, $125 billion will be sent exclusively to the unbanked, to the minorities, to the rural areas, and to all of those little mom-and-pop stores that don't have a good banking connection and need the help.”
Presley and the UMA’s lobbyist Becky Weber of Prime Policy Group updated participants on their communication with Congress. Presley thanked the more than 6,000 UMA members who sent nearly 26,000 letters and emails to their representatives, noting that their efforts were making a difference. Killingsworth said that the emails and letters were a phenomenal response, but also encouraged members to make phone calls as they have been very effective.
UMA member John Grzywacz of CIT Signature Transportation shared that he has a successful phone conversation with Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) who offered her optimism: 1. Congress could still work together on the next round, so don’t lose hope; 2. Craft a concise, simple ask; 3. Reach out and call all representatives since they are stuck home in their districts—be the squeaky wheel and make your situation known.
Member Scott Riccio of Northeast Charter also shared that he had been contact with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), noting that she was receptive to a meeting, and had a call scheduled soon with Senator Angus King (I-Maine). Riccio is also attempting to get a meeting with Representative Jared Golden, a Maine Democrat.
As Congress works on the next relief package, Presley and Weber sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin regarding some flexibility of the PPP forgiveness. As the bus and motorcoach industry is very capital-heavy, they hope to have the forgiveness ratios of 75 percent for salaries and 25 percent for mortgage interest, rent, and utilities modified to a 50/50 split with vehicle interest included and forgiven. Presley said that other industries had also been having an issue with the breakdown, and that the “ask” could be accomplished by a simple administrative change. They also requested some flexibility with the forgiveness window, through December 31, as the travel and tourism industry will have a slow and staggered comeback throughout the country.
Town Halls are held every Thursday at 2PM ET. Information to join is available at uma.org.