House Republicans Make Progress in Path to COVID-19 Recovery
4/21/2020
HARRISBURG – House Republicans continue to carry the voices of Pennsylvanians fighting to save their jobs and livelihoods during this pandemic, acting this week to once again save jobs, launch a cost and recovery task force, and put a hold on expensive and burdensome regulatory practices during the emergency declaration. House Republicans passed an amended version of Senate Bill 327, as well as other substantive legislative measures.

“In many cases, the challenges and sacrifices every Pennsylvanian is facing as a result of COVID-19 evolve faster than the legislative process. We sincerely applaud the efforts of our Senate colleagues in passing another option to reopen businesses across Pennsylvania, and we are sorry we could not carry this option to the governor’s desk,” House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said.

“Unfortunately, Gov. Tom Wolf recently vetoed a separate business reopening plan and is not showing a willingness to proceed with any plan we put on his desk. However, because of House and Senate Republican diligence, the administration is taking steps to start reopening sectors of our economy that our members have actively advocated on behalf of in recent weeks. If we do not see additional progress, we will not hesitate to send new, more expansive reopening plans to the governor’s desk, or more direct action in response to his emergency order.”

Senate Bill 327 was also amended to include a COVID-19 emergency regulatory tolling provision. This would require that any regulation not finally approved or disapproved to be suspended in place until 90 days after the emergency order is lifted.

“Workers and employers in all sectors of our economy are facing enormous challenges by no fault of their own. A provision temporarily putting additional burdens on hold will help the backbone of our economy recover more efficiently as the governor allows more Pennsylvanians to return to work,” Cutler said.

Additionally, Senate Bill 327 makes changes to a proposed COVID-19 cost and recovery task force. After input from all branches of state government, the task force would now be made up of nine people. The governor, the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, the speaker of the House, the Senate president pro tempore, and two state judges, or appointees by any of those mentioned.

“Many of these leaders are already engaging in regular inter-branch discussions. They are proudly representing the interests of their constituents, while also using their many years of unique experience as public servants,” Cutler said. “It will take all of us, from all corners of the Commonwealth and backgrounds, to help every Pennsylvanian come out of this pandemic stronger than when it started. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the solution.”

The House also took action to disapprove a significant new overtime work regulation that was introduced at a time when the state was experiencing record low unemployment. The pandemic has caused a drastic change in Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate, and House Republicans agreed that this is the wrong time to move forward with any regulation that could increase the loss of jobs.

The House also passed House Bill 2376, with bipartisan support, which would allow retail stores of all sizes to open if they follow CDC for social distancing and safety, and House Bill 1822, which extends employee protections related to COVID-19.

“No one should be forced out of a job due to a COVID-19 positive test, or for abiding by a quarantine order related to a COVID-19 exposure. We recognize these are difficult times for all sectors of our economy and we are proud to continue to act to ensure family-sustaining jobs will be protected in this crisis,” Cutler said.

The bill would also put a temporary hold on any new state contracts. Controlling spending and additional costs for taxpayers is an important and immediate step that must be taken at a time when the state will soon face many difficult budgeting decisions.

“All of the legislative efforts are in direct response to the people who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent emergency orders from the governor,” Cutler said. “Every law was written to ensure that people’s health was the first priority, as well as their livelihoods.”

The bills now advance to the Senate for further consideration.

Representative Bryan Cutler
100th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Mike Straub
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mstraub@pahousegop.com
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