Harrisburg, PA – The state House advanced two pieces of legislation designed to keep Pennsylvania jobs competitive with neighboring states during the COVID-19 pandemic, while offering local governments and their constituents some flexibility during the pandemic.

State Reps. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) and Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield/Cambria) issued the following statement in reaction to House passage of Senate Bills 613 and 841, which now await Senate consideration Wednesday before heading to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk:

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have spent countless hours working with constituents who are worried and frustrated. They are asking how the governor made the determination of whether or not their job is ‘essential’ or ‘life-sustaining’ and are wondering how they will pay their bills. The decisions made by this administration lack transparency and uniformity, and hard-working Pennsylvanians are paying the price.

“Senate Bill 613, which we proudly supported today, would place Pennsylvania’s ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ list on par with our neighboring states by following federal guidelines rather than the confusing lists and waivers that have been an endless source of stress since the governor’s shutdown order went into effect. Under this bill, Pennsylvanians will no longer have to worry about losing their jobs to their competitors across the state line during the COVID shutdown.

“Under Senate Bill 841, property tax discount periods would be extended for property owners and municipalities would have leniency to exercise when it comes to late payment fees and penalties. Local governments would also be permitted to meet virtually as opposed to face to face, which allows them to respect each other’s personal choice and level of comfort.

“Pennsylvanians are hurting. Many people in our communities are scared. It’s time to provide hope by charting a course that allows citizens to safely and carefully take charge of the situation. We are not calling for business as usual, but we are advancing solutions that look to the future and enable us to work toward a brighter tomorrow. These bills chart that course, and we urge our Senate colleagues and the governor to quickly advance them for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.”

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Harrisburg, PA – After hearing from thousands upon thousands of frustrated and concerned Pennsylvanians, House Republicans acted to pass legislation which would require transparency and consistency in how the governor determines which businesses can operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local state representatives, Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) and Rep. Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield/Cambria) also voted in favor of the legislation.

“Citizens of the Commonwealth have a great resilience and strength and will go to great lengths to do what is necessary to win this fight against an invisible enemy – the COVID-19 virus. However, managing the moment cannot be our only focus,” House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said. “This bill allows the governor to join us in creating a plan for allowing businesses that can operate safely to do so, and to save countless enterprises before they close forever.”

 

Senate Bill 613 was amended in the House to direct the governor to produce a plan to allow businesses that can follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency essential workforce guidelines to resume working in Pennsylvania.

“Our neighboring states have used this process from the beginning of this pandemic and their workforces are operating safely and efficiently,” Cutler added. “Pennsylvania’s businesses, large and small, and the millions of taxpaying residents who work for those businesses, deserve the opportunity to innovate and adjust their existing business to today’s unique and challenging environment.”

The House also took action to protect workers and first responders. House Bill 1189, passed with unanimous bipartisan support, would impact the state’s COVID-19 response in the following ways:

• Ensure employees cannot be terminated for abiding by stay-at-home orders or other quarantine measures.
• Increase benefits for police and other first responders if they are personally impacted by COVID-19.
• Establish a new employer tax credit program for employers of volunteer first responders.
• Extend renewal deadlines for PennDOT licenses that expire during the current emergency declaration.
• Call on the Department of Health to produce an extensive report of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania with demographic information broken down by every ZIP code in Pennsylvania.

“It’s hard to tell anyone their job is not life-sustaining. To the family members and loved ones they support, every job is life-sustaining. Today, our members stood up for every Pennsylvanian who wants the opportunity to continue to support their families. I urge the governor to work with us on this plan, and other long-term plans to help our state recover,” Cutler said. “Many experts anticipate a return of this virus later this year. That only makes today’s action more urgent, so that we can recover and rebuild, rather than continue to sit idly by and let the response to this pandemic lead to an economic pandemic future generations will be forced to clean up.”

Senate Bill 613 and House Bill 1189 advance to the Senate for further consideration.