Workers from bus drivers to garbage collectors to grocery store clerks – people who stayed on the job during coronavirus pandemic while the rest of the state stayed home – can start applying Wednesday for a $250 “hazard pay” check.
The one-time stipend was approved by the Louisiana Legislature last month and signed into law Monday by Gov. John Bel Edwards. The checks will be sent in 14-21 days after the application is approved by the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
Applications will be available online – at https://frontlineworkers.la.gov/ – shortly after midnight. Applications can be mailed or downloaded in printable form or are available by calling (855) 307-3893.
The form is relatively simple and can be filled out online in a matter of minutes.
Applicants should have pay stubs on hand, said Luke Morris, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Legal Affairs. After the typewritten signature, attesting to truthfulness under penalty of perjury, and the completed form is submitted, the applicant will receive a confirmation number.
Revenue Secretary Kimberly L. Robinson noted that the Act 12 rebate can only spend $50 million, which means the payments will go out to about 200,000 workers on a first come, first served basis. If more information is necessary, the Revenue Department will write a letter asking for further details, but the applicants won’t lose their place in line.
Robinson said she wants to mail out the checks within 14 to 21 days after an application’s approval. But income tax returns also are due Wednesday and the department’s personnel will be busy. An applicant’s submissions need to be vetted, sometimes by other agencies. Still, Robinson said she is confident the checks will be issued within the time limit, “hopefully.”
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The Revenue Department also will collect statistics from the applications. Nothing personal will be shared, Morris said, but the aggregate numbers will provide the state with its first look of how many people remained on the job during the pandemic.
Under Act 12, workers qualify if they make less than $50,000 a year, are Louisiana residents, and worked at least 200 hours between March 22 through May 14, when the state’s stay-at-home order was in place. They also need to have been employed as of March 11 in a list of jobs deemed essential. Obviously, nurses and cops are included. But so are home healthcare providers, hospital housekeepers and laundry personnel, firefighters and emergency personnel, convenience store clerks and home meal deliverers, as well as a host of other jobs in more than two dozen employment categories.
Independent contractors, self-employed individual, and gig workers may be eligible, if all of the same eligibility requirements are met.
Rebates are generally exempt from seizure by creditors. However, the Revenue Department will reduce a rebate payment for outstanding child support obligations as reported by the Department of Children and Family Services or for spousal support obligations.
Though Democratic legislators called the $250 rebate their greatest accomplishment in the back-to-back legislative sessions that ended on June 30, no lawmaker voted against the idea.
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Democrats had pushed House Bill 70 by Rep. Sam Jenkins, of Shreveport, as a counterpoint to Republican efforts to send $300 million to help small businesses get back on their feet. The money comes out of the state’s $1.8 billion from the federal $2 trillion coronavirus aid package.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a press release urging eligible workers to apply for the Frontline Workers COVID-19 Hazard Pay Rebate Program.