On April 15, the state Senate concurred in House amendments on a bill that would have brought Pennsylvania into line with 45 other states by following federal standards for what constitutes essential businesses during the COVID-19 emergency.
Governor Wolf has already said he will veto the bill.
A veto would mean Pennsylvania will continue to operate under some of the most restrictive emergency orders for business closures in the nation. Governor Wolf’s “life-sustaining” business list, which was modified several times, has been confusing and sometimes inconsistent, especially in the application of the “waiver” process that’s resulted in some businesses cleared to open, while competitors in the same field have been denied.
The federal standards that would apply should SB 613 take effect would clarify that certain categories of business are essential and provide guidance on how they can safely and responsibly open. Among the businesses open in other states using these standards are realtors, car salespeople, construction firms, garden shops, and industries key to the supply chains of critical manufacturing and services.
Another bill passed by the Senate yesterday (SB 327) would establish a Task Force consisting of all three branches of government to provide a necessary blueprint for managing existing challenges and planning for recovery. This Task Force would consider the perspectives of all key stakeholders, and the plan would be developed in a fully transparent manner with opportunities for public engagement. An amendment in the Senate would allow counties to manage business openings according to their own needs. The Governor has threatened a veto of this bill as well.