Lamont Pushes Presidential Primary to August, Makes Face Masks Mandatory; Plus New Business Moves

On Friday, April 17, Gov. Ned Lamont made two key moves official in his executive order:  he postponed the state’s presidential primary for a second time, to Aug. 11, and he declared wearing a face mask in public mandatory when close contact between people is unavoidable.

Face masks required in public

Lamont’s executive order from today requires people to wear cloth face coverings or a higher level of protection in public wherever close contact is unavoidable.

The order reads:  “Effective at 8 p.m. on April 21, 2020, any person in a public place in Connecticut who is unable to or does not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering. In addition, individuals shall use a mask or cloth face covering when using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing or similar service or means of mass public transit, or while within any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area. The commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development will be required to update the previously issued Safe Workplace rules and Safe Store rules. Nothing in this order shall require the use of a mask or cloth face covering by anyone for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition, anyone under the age of 2 years, or by an older child if the parent, guardian or person responsible for the child is unable to place the mask safely on the child’s face. If a person declines to wear a mask or face covering because of a medical condition as described above, such person shall not be required to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition.”

Presidential Primary postponed again

Friday’s order also further postpones Connecticut’s presidential preference primary to August 11.

Lamont’s order rescheduling–for the second time–the presidential primary to Aug. 11, 2020 was done “to protect the health and safety of voters, poll workers, and the most vulnerable members of the population.” The move aligns the presidential primary to the same date that state and local primaries had already been scheduled to be held. Originally, the presidential primary had been scheduled for April 28; the governor rescheduled it to June 2 with a previous executive order (which is now superseded by today’s order.

State launches new “Talk It Out” hotline to help families experiencing stress of caring for children during pandemic

Parents and caretakers in need of help with the stress and increased needs resulting from caring for their children during the COVID-19 crisis are invited to call the state’s new “Talk It Out” hotline to receive assistance.

An initiative of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, the hotline provides support from trained professionals who will listen and speak with those in need about their concerns and, if additional help is needed, refer them to responsive services.

Parents and caretakers are invited to call 833.258.5011 or visit the Talk It Out CT website.

Gov. Lamont said reaching out for support and help is a healthy way for a family to respond to increased stress.

“Seeking help and support at times like these is a sign of strength and hope,” the governor said. “It is normal, and we all need help at times–especially now.”

The “Talk It Out” hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on weekends from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It has both English and Spanish capacity.

AdvanceCT launches second business survey to provide feedback to state policymakers

AdvanceCT, the nonprofit organization that works to advance overall economic competitiveness in Connecticut, Friday launched a second survey for the state’s businesses with the goal of providing continued feedback to state policymakers regarding how businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Results of the survey will be used to prioritize economic recovery initiatives. The survey is developed in partnership with the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

Businesses interested in participating in this survey can access it here: COVID-19 Phase II Business Impact Survey

Banking Commissioner issues COVID-19 stimulus check guidance to Connecticut chartered banks and credit unions

This week Connecticut residents began to see their stimulus money directly deposited into their accounts. In keeping with the intent of the program that these monies be used to meet the basic needs of residents, Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez issued guidance to Connecticut state-chartered financial institutions urging them to not use stimulus funds deposited into accounts to offset outstanding debts customers and members may have with their financial institution. The guidance comes in response to Governor Lamont’s continuing directive to state agencies to identify ways to assist Connecticut residents.

“As stimulus checks begin to reach Connecticut residents, we want to be sure the money is used for its intended purpose,” Commissioner Perez said. “Many people are now finding it difficult to meet basic needs, like food, medicine and housing. It is in this spirit that we issued our guidance to Connecticut state-chartered banks and credit unions. Connecticut financial institutions have been a great partner during this public health emergency. I applaud those institutions who were proactive in establishing similar policies before checks were issued.  We appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

The guidance urges Connecticut state-chartered banks and credit unions to not use a stimulus payment to satisfy an overdraft that existed prior to a stimulus payment being deposited to the account, or to exercise rights of offset against the account with respect to other debts. The guidance covers a period of 30 days from the date the stimulus payment is deposited to the account, and financial institutions are strongly encouraged to document any offset with the express agreement of the customer or member. If a financial institution’s systems automatically apply a stimulus payment to an account overdraft, the financial institution is urged to reverse the application of the stimulus payment as promptly as possible.

Consumers are urged to reach out to their financial institutions with questions. They may also request assistance through the Department of Banking’s website.

Department of Revenue Services launches assistance program to help taxpayers impacted by COVID-19

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) has launched a new assistance program specifically designed to help taxpayers subject to current DRS collections matters who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DRS Priority One Taxpayer Assistance Program (Priority One) is available to business and individual taxpayers who may be unable to meet their current collections obligations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any taxpayer who is the subject of a payment plan, bank warrant, wage execution, or other levy by DRS and needs relief or assistance because of the impact of COVID-19, can contact DRS directly to speak to a tax professional.

“Every person and business has been impacted by COVID-19. It is important now, more than ever, for taxpayers to know DRS is committed to working with them,” Acting Revenue Services Commissioner John Biello said. “In keeping with the DRS mission of providing the highest level of customer service, this new program connects taxpayers with a DRS professional, who will review individual circumstances and determine what relief may be available.”

Anyone in need of assistance can contact the DRS Priority One Taxpayer Assistance Program via phone at 860.541.7650 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or Email.

In order to assist DRS in evaluating email inquiries, taxpayers are encouraged to provide as much information as possible about their situation and the relief that is being sought.