26 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2020 virtual capabilities to adequately continue the permitting process. With many local building departments already under-resourced, and many state and local governments facing severe revenue downturns due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the letter communicated that building and fire prevention departments needed additional resources to continue their essential operations and urged the Administration to use existing authority to make funding available under the Disaster Relief Fund to assist departments. “The resulting CARES Act provided $150 billion in assistance through a Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for ‘necessary expenditures’– by state, local, tribal, and territorial governments – to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury Department then released guidance that lists, as an eligible expense under the CRF, ‘expenses to improve telework capabilities for public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.’ AWC contacted Members of the House and Senate appropriating and authorizing committees to highlight this issue and support future funding if needed. “Finally, AWC joined NAM and other manufacturers seeking tailored liability protections for manufacturers and other essential industries, asserting that manufacturers who operated as critical infrastructure, and in good faith, should not be punished by frivolous lawsuits. Some states have extended liability protection offered to health care workers to manufacturers, architects, engineers, and contractors aiding in the crisis. However, a national approach is needed to ensure uniformity in all states. “Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) have said they won’t agree to another stimulus bill that doesn’t include liability protection for businesses, while Democrats have expressed skepticism about the idea. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on it in May, with Leader McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), stating they would introduce a liability protection bill. AWC supports this effort and is working with Congressional allies to ensure targeted and limited safe harbor liability protection to protect the continued operation of critical infrastructure.” Fire Service Relations Manager Ray O’Brocki presenting on tall mass timber to the Maryland State Fireman’s Association.