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Small-Business Owners Ask Legislature For More Assistance

Several small-business owners from across the state told the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee during an online public hearing that they are still hurting and need help to either stay open or reopen for business after the emergency shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One owner said she has already told the usual part-time workers she hires that they don’t have a job. Another said there are plenty of reservations, but people are uncertain whether they can visit the state.

“This whole issue around the 14-day quarantine. Probably 80 percent of the phone calls I receive on a daily basis is people trying to figure whether they can come or not,” says Matt Libby, owner of Libby Camps in northern Maine.

One restaurant owner told the panel that the requirement to provide safe spacing between tables could cause some restaurants to close because they can’t operate with so few tables. There were also suggestions for state help.

“Look at our prior year’s sales tax and find a way to give us a bailout for our sales tax. Our sales tax, our revenues, are an indicator of the amount of money that we make,” says Amy Forbes, who owns Perkins Cove Candy in York County.

Others suggested a property tax credit program and other financial help for businesses.

The panel said it will consider specific ideas for use of the billions of dollars in federal aid to the state.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.