(Harrisburg) — Two flood-recovery bills introduced by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) to help the hardest-hit victims of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee have won the approval of key Senate committees.
Baker’s first bill offers grants to persons whose uncompensated losses exceed the limit of federal aid. The second offers low-interest loans to small businesses.
“These storms are among the worst natural disasters to hit this area, but existing programs are not enough to meet the need,” Baker said. “Under the circumstances, we have a responsibility to provide avenues for state help.”
Senate Bill 1264 offers grants of up to $10,000 to flood victims whose uncompensated losses exceed the limits of federal aid. An individual with an income at or below 300 percent of poverty level is eligible to apply.
The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, which Sen. Baker chairs, on Monday. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill in the next two weeks.
A second bill, approved by the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee today, offers low-interest loans to small businesses in flood-declared counties.
“I have heard from many small business owners who are still struggling to recover from the floods,” Baker said. “Many small businesses do not qualify for aid, or if a program exists, it is not providing assistance on a timely basis.”
Senate Bill 1297 sets up a state loan program through the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development. The Small Business Flood Relief Program would help for-profit enterprises that employ 100 or fewer persons.
Loans to small businesses will range up to $100,000. Loans for working capital or inventory will be offered at three percent interest. Loans for equipment or real property would not exceed one percent interest.
“Some communities had their entire business district washed away. It is clearly in the public interest to help flood-stricken communities, businesses and employees recover as soon as possible,” Baker said. “This loan program will restore jobs in a region that has suffered from economic troubles and natural disasters.”