State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, took time Tuesday night to sit down with a group of concerned residents and business owners who were attending the Valley Industry Association’s first-ever virtual Cocktails and Conversation event.
During the event, which was held via a Zoom meeting, those in attendance had a chance to sip drinks, eat food and ask Wilk questions about the ongoing developments in Sacramento, particularly how the governor’s stay-at-home order will affect small businesses.
“As you know, we don’t have a congressional representative right now, and that’s problematic for my constituents,” said Wilk over a phone call the following day. “Even though it’s not our level of government, we’ve certainly been involved in trying to help small businesses get their (Paycheck Protection Program) loans and other information.”
The Paycheck Protection Program, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep paying their workers throughout the pandemic.
“SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities,” the government agency’s website reads.
“No. 1, I would apply for everything that’s available,” said Wilk. “No. 2, and this is really important, a lot of businesses have business interruption insurance. And insurance companies are telling a lot of these businesses that this does not qualify.”
“But I think that question is up for debate,” Wilk said.
The senator advised those small-business owners to file a claim with their insurance company. Wilk said that a well-respected applicant attorney had spoken with him and told him, “Have all your constituents file … these insurance companies are misinterpreting what the law is.”
During the call, Wilk also praised Gov. Gavin Newsom for the first-time governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and “Safer at Home” ordinance, saying that while he had complaints about the governor’s first year in office, he believes the state’s response has been “focused” and “transparent.”
The questions raised to Wilk during the VIA meeting ranged from concerns about how long the safer-at-home directive will be — in effect, what upcoming or not-upcoming legislation might be able to help their businesses — and how does the governor plan to use the budget now that there has been a shift in priorities.
Wilk answered questions throughout the meeting and encouraged people to head to the state’s emergency website, COVID19.ca.gov, to see what is available to them and their business.