The Pennsylvania General Assembly has been in town this week to conduct abbreviated sessions in both the House and Senate. Yesterday, the House approved SB613 with House Amendments which “shall be developed using recommended guidance from mitigating exposure to COVID 19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and shall conform to the March 28, 2020 advisory memorandum on identification of essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID 19 Crisis, as published by the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).”
Many have argued that Pennsylvania is among the most restrictive states in the nation in defining essential businesses, which included an ability to apply for a waiver. The Chamber & CREDC has encouraged a loosening of restriction on construction projects for many weeks, as health care projects – defined as essential – have successfully operated during the recent pandemic using strict health protocols. We had also encouraged conversation between the Governor and the General Assembly, but with the passage by the State House yesterday (largely along party lines) and likely passage today by the Senate, that opportunity for conversation has likely passed. Should the bill pass the Senate today without amendment, it will go to the Governor’s desk. Governor Wolf has three options: Sign it; Allow it become law without signing after 10 days; or Veto it. The Governor’s Office has recently indicated he is considering what he may do should the bill pass.
We have heard from a number of business segments, from construction to automotive to professional services, that have requested waivers with no response or have been denied a waiver. Should this bill become law, it will take some time to implement which should coincide with trends in lower COVID-19 cases and a lessened strain on health resources, which will allow businesses to focus on the future. From what we read, the future will include degrees of social distancing and precautions, such as masks, continued handwashing, and limits on large gatherings of people. We will keep membership and the regional business community apprised of information as we receive it and be available for questions via email or other means. Be sure to follow updates on our website harrisburgregionalchamber.org/conronavirus.