NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — President Donald Trump said lawmakers are far from reaching a deal for a new coronavirus stimulus package. “We’re so far apart," he said, accusing Democrats of not taking care of the people. Democrats, on the other hand, are pushing for more money to constituents and state and local governments. Republicans accuse Democrats of being non-negotiable.

What You Need To Know

  • Rep. Harley Rouda proposed bipartisan bill for small businesses to receive up to $25,000 in tax credits to purchase COVID-related supplies

  • Ice Cream shop, Sugar 'n Spice reopened after buying new safety equipment

  • Owners said the changes are not cheap

  • They support the bill, not only for themselves but for others, who have been forced to shut down due to the pandemic

As some CARES Act relief benefits are set to expire Friday, one California congressman is proposing a bipartisan bill for small business tax credits he said was inspired by his constituents.

In the California summer heat, locals and tourists alike flock to one small but mighty shop on the Balboa Island called Sugar ’n Spice, a town favorite for their frozen bananas and hand-dipped ice cream bars. This year, Sugar ’n Spice owners, Courtney and Will Alovis, who claim to have the “original frozen banana”, celebrate the shop’s 75th anniversary.
But the celebration fell short due to the pandemic when the two made a tough decision to close for three months to ensure everyone’s safety. 

“Our number one goal is to keep our team safe, and their families and our community," Will Alovis said. "So you know we love doing business; we love selling ice cream and all that stuff, but we live in this community.”
The pair bounced back quickly though, reopening with new guidelines: mandatory masks and gloves at all times; new social distancing requirements; and upgraded technology like contactless credit card systems, new screens and an intercom.
They are taking every precaution but unfortunately, they say, this doesn’t come cheap. With PPE in high demand and inflated prices, on top of fewer customers, the Alovis’ say it’s a difficult time for many.
“A box of gloves a year ago would have cost $3. Because of this worldwide shortage, now it costs $20-$30. So, the expenses have really skyrocketed,” Will Alovis said.
Now, as Congress negotiates a new Coronavirus relief package, Rep. Harley Rouda (D-48) of Newport Beach is advocating for his bipartisan bill that could provide tax credits to small businesses, like Sugar ’n Spice, as well as nonprofits, and local governments of up to $25,000 a year to buy PPE and other supplies related to COVID-19.

Rouda said any business with fewer than 500 employees would be eligible and owners would be able to claim their credit when they file their payroll taxes. 

“Small businesses are already financially strapped because of the pandemic and the economic collapse,” Rouda said. “They need help reopening and one of the things they need help with is the increased expenses in PPE in being able to protect their customers, their employees, and their staff.”
Rouda said small businesses shouldn’t be penalized for providing safe and clean service and said many operate with small profit margins, where any break could be the difference between success and shuttering. 
The Alovis’ are elated at the chance for COVID-related tax credits, not only for them but for others. They said several shops around them have been forced to close permanently. 
“There was a toy store that was down the street that has been here forever," Courtney Alovis said. "After the pandemic, [they] unfortunately had to close the doors.”

The Alovis’ said that could happen to them, to anyone. But even amid hard times, there are still sweet moments where they are thankful the community continues to visit their humble shop. 

The Helping Businesses Reopen Safely Act of 2020 bill has been introduced in the House and is co-sponsored by a Republican from Florida. It’s unclear if there will be able more support for this bill.

As for the Alovis’, they said their shop has steadily received more customers since they reopened in May and said they’re taking this situation “day by day."