As Louisiana has worked through the shutdown, Phase 1, and now Phase 2 of the coronavirus pandemic recovery plan there has been a lot of talk about "essential" or "frontline" workers. You know those individuals who reported to their jobs in the healthcare field, kept grocery stores open, drove public transportation, and the like.

Rewarding those workers for their dedication to the job and to the people of the state is on the minds of lawmakers in Baton Rouge. Currently, some lawmakers are seeking to gain bipartisan support for legislation that would offer frontline workers a $250 one-time state payment. That money would be paid from the federal money given to the state for coronavirus aid.

The measure was passed by the House Ways and Means Committee and is now set for debate on the floor of the full house. Supporters of the measure believe the $250 stipend should go to workers who risked their health to keep businesses operating during Louisiana's Stay-at-Home order.

To eligible for the stipend, a worker would need to make less than $50,000 in adjusted gross income based on their 2019 tax return. The employee would have also needed to work 200 or more hours outside the home between March 22nd and May 14th in order to qualify. Eligibility would be vetted by the Department of Revenue and applications for the stipend would have to be approved by the state's Board of Commerce and Industry.

Other lawmakers believe the best way to reward front-line workers for their dedication during the pandemic believe the stipend should come out of the $500 million dollars in federal aid earmarked to reimburse local governments.

Basically the point of contention on the stipend seems to be which bucket of federal money the state should use to make the payments. Democrats support using small business grant money. Republicans seem to support using local government reimbursement money.

Look for a compromise on the issue to get the money flowing sooner than later.


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