U.S. Dept. of Labor Releases Initial Guidance on Federal COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law

The US Department of Labor has issued initial guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which requires employers with 500 or fewer employees to provide paid sick or family leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Additional guidance will be released in the coming weeks but this initial round provides some insight on the law, including:

  • The requirements of the act will go into effect on April 1, 2020.
  • The Act will not apply retroactively. The leave requirements effective 4/1/20 are on top of any paid leave provided prior to that date.
  • The Department will be focusing on compliance assistance in the initial 30 days that the Act is effective. So long as an employer has acted reasonably and in good faith to comply with the Act, there will not be an enforcement action for violations.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers | U.S. Department of Labor

For additional information, visit the links below 

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Energy Sector Critical Infrastructure/Ensuring Safe & Continued Operations

MOGA is working hard to ensure that workers in our sector can continue safe operations and are exempted from any travel restrictions that may be instituted.

The National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released a guidance document on the essential critical infrastructure workforce in the energy sector.  Governor Whitmer has incorporated the guidelines in Executive order 2020-21 to ensure that workers in our sector will be exempted from any travel restrictions.

The MPSC is hosting bi-weekly calls with the utilities, pipeline operators, and energy trade associations. On these calls, requests have been made for a recognized credentialing system for workers or contractors supporting critical energy infrastructure (if needed) in case travel restrictions are instituted or specific locales are locked down/quarantined. The issue has been raised by the Michigan Public Service Commission to the Michigan State Police- Emergency Management & Homeland Security Division.  We will continue to participate and monitor these calls and relay any information.

Recognizing the use of company badges may pose difficulties with contractors, some utilities, associations, and pipeline operators have offered to pull together lists of names of critical employees or contractors to provide the State Police or have expressed their interest in an access letter of some sort to be issued from State and carried with drivers/workers. These recommendations have been passed up through state agencies for consideration.

At this time, there is no credentialing in place and workers should be able to move freely. We will keep you updated as the situation continues to develop. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. 

Thank you and stay safe and healthy.

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Governor Whitmer Signs "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order

Governor Whitmer Signs “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 

Governor directs all non-critical businesses to temporarily close, all Michiganders to stay home or six feet away from others during COVID-19 crisis 

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (EO 2020-21), directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.  

Effective at 12:01 am on March 24, 2020, for at least the next three weeks, individuals may only leave their home or place of residence under very limited circumstances, and they must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when they do so, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances. 

Executive Order 2020-21

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U.P. Energy Task Force posts draft propane report; public comment deadline April 6

The U.P. Energy Task Force today publicly released 14 draft recommendations it is making to the Governor on propane availability in the Upper Peninsula. The recommendations are posted to the Task Force’s website along with a technical report on propane and possible impacts if delivery were to be interrupted.

The Draft of the Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force Committee Recommendations: Part I – Propane Supply and the Analysis of Propane Supply Alternatives for Michigan can be found at Michigan.gov/UPEnergyTaskForce.

The public can comment on the recommendations through 5 p.m. April 6 by:

  • Email to EGLE-UPEnergy@Michigan.gov
  • Postal mail to U.P. Energy Task Force
    c/o 
    Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
    Attn.: James Clift, Deputy Director
    P.O. Box 30473
    Lansing, MI 48909-7973

All comments will be shared with U.P. Energy Task Force members for possible inclusion into the final report, which is due to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by April 17.

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Trump Moves the Federal Income Tax Filing Date to July 15, 2020

At the direction of President Trump, the federal income tax filing date has been pushed back from April 15, to July 15, 2020.

"We are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties." - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. 

The new deadlines announced by the administration apply to federal tax income payments only. It's up to states to set their own deadlines (No guidance from Michigan has been announced at this time). Taxpayers can still request a six-month extension to file returns, like they could in any other year. We will keep you updated as additional guidance is released. 

 

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Strategic Petroleum Reserve to be filled to its maximum capacity

Department of Energy Executes On Direction Of President Trump, Announces Solicitation To Purchase Crude Oil For The SPR To Provide Relief To American Energy Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At the direction of the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, the Department of Energy (DOE) will fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to its maximum capacity by purchasing 77 million barrels of American-made crude oil. Today, DOE announced a solicitation for the purchase of an initial 30 million barrels to begin filling the SPR. Solicitations for additional purchases will follow.

“DOE is moving quickly to support U.S. oil producers facing potentially catastrophic losses from the impacts of COVID-19 and the intentional disruption to world oil markets by foreign actors,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. 

Under this initial solicitation, DOE will purchase up to 30 million barrels of sweet and sour crude oil with a focus on small to midsize U.S. oil producers. 

“The small to midsize oil producers, which are the focus of the initial crude oil purchase, employ thousands of Americans,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “These businesses have been particularly hard hit by recent events but under President Trump’s leadership, we are taking swift action to assist hard hit producers and deliver strong returns to the taxpayer.”

Today’s solicitation is the first step toward filling the SPR to its maximum capacity.  The Department is working with Congress to finalize the funding to support the purchase of the full 77 million barrels of oil, consistent with the President’s directive.

“The SPR is mission-ready to receive up to 685,000 barrels per day,” explained Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Steven Winberg. “With its extensive storage, pipeline, and marine infrastructure along the Gulf Coast, the SPR will help relieve oil-related disruptions to our economy.”

Recognizing the private sector needs time to plan for delivery logistics, the solicitation is for crude oil to be delivered in May and June; although, early April deliveries are encouraged.

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MMA To Host Call on Federal COVID-19 Bill (Monday, 3/23/20)

The Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA) will be hosting a call on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on Monday, 3/23/20 at 10:30 a.m. 

MMA is partnering with Honigman, LLP to host a conference call to discuss the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  The new law signed by President Donald Trump just yesterday expands the Family Medical Leave Act to all companies with fewer than 500 employees in the case of certain “qualified needs” related to COVID-19 and requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide Paid Sick Leave to employees impacted by COVID-19.  The cost to employers for both of these programs will be offset through tax credits. 

Attendees may dial-in with the following information:

  • 877-746-4263
  • Access Code 0284902#

About the Speaker: Matthew E. Radler, Partner, Honigman

Matthew Radler is a labor and employment attorney who focuses his practice on wage and hour matters, counseling clients on compliance with an array of federal, state and municipal laws governing wages, working conditions and civil rights. For more information, members may find his bio online.

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May 4th State Lease Auction Cancelled

In accordance with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations designed to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), we will be canceling the May 4, 2020, Oil and Gas Lease Auction.  The related acreage will be offered at the proposed October 26, 2020, Oil and Gas Lease Auction. There will be a nomination period for the October Auction from May to June, but specific dates have not been determined yet. 

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DEPA Announces Anti-Dumping Investigation

DEPA Press Release March 12, 2020

TULSA, OK –  Today, the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance (“DEPA”) announced the association’s support for an American anti-dumping action petition to be filed with the United States Department of Commerce and the United States International Trade Commission requesting the initiation of an antidumping and/or countervailing duty investigation regarding crude oil price manipulation by Saudi Arabia, Russia, and perhaps others.

The petition will seek a determination that the recent actions taken by Saudi Arabia, Russia, and others to unreasonably increase their supply of crude oil at prices below market value will result in material injury to the U.S. domestic crude oil industry.

 “This is a direct attack on U.S. oil and gas producers. They are taking advantage of this corona virus pandemic that is sweeping the world to focus on this industry and to devastate it. These actions warrant the imposition of antidumping and/or countervailing duties on crude oil imported into the US from these countries. Saudi Arabia’s and Russia’s actions have already, and will continue to, harm U.S domestic crude oil producers and industry.” -DEPA Chairman, Harold Hamm

The petition seeks to protect the U.S. domestic crude oil industry, U.S. energy security, and the U.S. economy. DEPA is moving expeditiously to investigate and potentially to prepare a filing.

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Important Industry Tax Information Resulting from Covid-19

Dear MOGA Members,

On behalf of MOGA Industry Economics and Taxation Chair, Shelly Ashmore, please find below 2 critical messages on taxes in the wake of COVID-19.  Please share this information with your networks.

1) Click Here for a notice from the State of Michigan waiving penalty and interest on sales, use and withholding taxes for 30 days in light of COVID-19.

2) Below is a notice from U.S. Treasury Secretary announcing a 90-day payment extension for most taxpayers.

Treasury Secretary announces 90-day payment extension for most taxpayers.

Following President Trump's declaration of a national emergency, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated at a press conference on March 17, 2020 that individuals can defer tax payments up to $1 million for 90 days. Corporations can defer up to $10 million of tax payments for 90 days. The $1 million limit for individuals was established to cover small businesses and passthrough entities, he said.

"We encourage those Americans who can file their taxes to continue to file their taxes [by] April 15," Mnuchin said, especially encouraging people who will be getting tax refunds to do so. "Just file your taxes," he said, and "you will automatically not get charged interest and penalties" on payments made within the 90-day deferral period.

Observation: Mnuchin's statement did not extend the tax filing due date. For individuals the filing date, generally, is April 15. But they can get an automatic extension to file till October 15 by, for example, filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S.Individual Income Tax Return.

Observation: Many details remain unclear with respect to this relief, and no official written guidance has been released as of yet.

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Michigan Petroleum Directory Now Available!