Senate Approves Measures to Allow some Employers to Reopen

HARRISBURG – The Senate approved two bills today that would provide common sense in deciding which employers and employees can safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Senator David G. Argall.

“Since Governor Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses to close a month ago, I have been pushing for more transparency and accountability in the administration’s haphazard and inconsistent waiver process for employers and employees,” said Argall.  “These bills will help establish a better process for determining which employers can continue to remain open, provide clarity on strategies necessary to protect the health and safety of both customers and employees, and give county leaders a stronger voice in which mitigation measures should be implemented locally.”

Senate Bill 613 would require the governor to create clear guidelines for businesses to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that are able to operate safely under the new guidelines would be permitted to re-open as long as they comply with mitigation strategies.

The bill would require COVID-19 mitigation plans to be developed by the Wolf Administration based on guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia follow CISA guidelines.

To restore local control, Senate Bill 327 would give county governments the option to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following CISA guidelines. Under the bill, businesses already identified as essential could continue to operate. However, counties would also be given the authority to develop plans to allow other industries to operate if it is safe to do so.

The bill also creates a COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force made up of representatives of all three branches of government to identify and address issues related to the COVID-19 public health emergency together. The panel would be responsible for developing a recovery plan to restore public services and economic activity when it is safe to do so.

Instead of working with Pennsylvania employers and employees and lawmakers to develop a recovery plan for Pennsylvania’s economy, Governor Wolf recently joined other northeastern governors in an agreement to open selected industries on a shared schedule. The plan would essentially give unelected bureaucrats in other states more power over Pennsylvania businesses than state lawmakers and local elected leaders.

CONTACT: Christine Verdier

570-773-0891