U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Arkansas, said Thursday that he’ll introduce a bill next week to help more businesses qualify for the second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans.
The bill, called the PPP Revenue Adjustment Calculation to Increase Capital Accessibility Long-term (or PRACTICAL Act), would allow businesses to use any 13-week period to demonstrate at least a 25% year-over-year reduction in gross receipts.
Right now, businesses that received a PPP loan during the first round of the program must show the reduction using a fixed quarter (January-March, April-June, July-September and October-December) to qualify for a second PPP loan in this round.
Hill announced the plan at Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe in Little Rock. He credited Jim Keet, who owns the local franchise through his Keet Management Co., for the idea for the bill.
“This amendment will help countless businesses qualify for assistance that they desperately need while still being consistent with the original intent of the law,” Keet said.
Hill called the PPP “a necessary tool for struggling small businesses” amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He said more than 14,000 Arkansas businesses have received $4.6 billion through the program, designed to soften job losses from the pandemic.
Congress recently extended the application deadline for the $284 billion program, which is run by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Businesses have until May 31 to apply through their lenders for the forgivable loans.
Hill said his bill takes into account that many businesses, but especially restaurants and retailers, operate on a 13-week rolling basis.
“This is just good policy for SBA in general, period, for businesses in this industry,” he said, adding that he hopes this effort will spur a permanent policy change for SBA programs.
Hill said he previously tried to introduce the change as an amendment, first to the most recent stimulus package, and then again when the program deadline was extended. In both cases, lawmakers declined to accept amendments.
“I would say in general legislative practice, whether you're at the state capitol or federal capitol, going in and getting your team together and introducing a bill — even if it's three sentences long — putting it out there is still the best way to see that it's included,” he said.
Hill said he’s “optimistic” the bill will have bipartisan support. He described it as addressing a procedural, rather than political, issue.
Montine McNulty, CEO of the Arkansas Hospitality Association, said pandemic restrictions were different across different states, causing business closures at different times. Hill’s bill will “be really helpful” if Congress passes it, she said.