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House approves $250 hazard pay for Louisiana's front-line workers

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BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana House has passed a proposal to award a one-time $250 payment to those who had to report to work during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the proposal, those who worked at grocery stores, drove buses, manned health care facilities, and performed other essential activities for at least 200 hours from March 22 through May 14 would be eligible. The payment would be available to workers with an adjusted gross income on their 2019 tax return of $50,000 or less.

The bill, which already earned approval from the state Senate, now goes to Governor John Bel Edward's desk for final approval.

Under the bill, thousands of workers would be eligible for a piece of the $50 million in payments made possible through federal virus aid funds. The money would be awarded to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis to as many as 200,000 people who apply and meet the criteria.

Rep. Sam Jenkins, who represents Bossier and Caddo Parishes and authored the bill, hopes that more funding will become available.

"If there's some available CARES Act money that has not been used for small businesses for local government then we could get some more of those dollars and try to make sure we're sending it to these workers that helped us during this critical time," said Jenkins.

Funding for the program will be compromised of $25 million from the Coronavirus Local Recovery Allocation Fund and $25 million from the Louisiana Main Street Recovery Fund.

Once the secretary of the Department of Revenue has verified that an applicant is eligible for the one-time hazard pay rebate, the list of eligible applicants will be submitted to the treasurer for payment. The treasurer will then make payments within ten days of receiving the list of approved applicants, however, the total amount of rebates issued cannot exceed fifty million dollars.

The treasurer may pay additional rebates if funds are made available and the additional rebates are approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on the budget, according to the bill.

More details about the application process, which will be from July 15-Oct. 31, are expected to be announced at a later date. The Louisiana Department of Revenue says it's working on the application which will be accepted online and in paper form.

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