Governor Cooper signed two bills on Monday, and they are effective immediately. The North Carolina General Assembly approved a robust $1.6 billion COVID-19 relief package. The legislation entitled the “2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act” is comprised of two parts: House Bill 1043 (HB1043) and Senate Bill 704 (SB704). The total dollar amount does not account for the $1.2 billion in other federal funds already allocated to various state agencies, and the $3.5 billion that will be appropriated to North Carolina through the CARES Act.
- $125 million to small business loans distributed by the Golden LEAF Foundation;
- $95 million will be used to support rural and teaching hospitals;
- $85 million will go to universities for COVID-19 research and treatment;
- $75 million to sustain school nutrition programs that are feeding vulnerable families;
- $50 million is earmarked for the purchase and acquisition of PPE;
- $44 million each to the University of North Carolina System and the North Carolina Community College System to fund online summer school and to sanitize the university system’s campuses;
- $35 million to purchase computers for students and staff in K-12 public schools to aid in online learning;
- $25 million goes to expanding virus testing and tracing (a key component of the phased reopening benchmarks);
- $20 million to Wake Forest University for antibody testing; and
- Nearly $9 million for broadband internet enhancements.
Additional highlights in the relief package include:
- Extends driver’s license and registration expiration deadlines;
- Interest accrued on income tax bills after April 15th is waived;
- Marriage licenses and notarizations can be carried out remotely during the pandemic;
- Modifies end-of-grade testing requirements for public schools;
- Adjusts the 2020-21 K-12 public school calendar;
- Allows pharmacists to administer a COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed;
- Adds liability protections for essential businesses and hospitals.