The PA Chamber was featured in multiple news outlets discussing a variety of legislative issues over the past several weeks.
A Pennlive article noted our organization’s response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to transfer $145 million from the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund for a small business pandemic grant program. The article cites PA Chamber President Gene Barr noting that straining this fund could lead to tax increases on businesses down the road, which could do more harm than good in the long run. He said there are other ways to address the pandemic’s economic fallout on businesses – including providing targeted and temporary liability protections, a widely-supported proposal the governor vetoed in November. Barr also challenged the Wolf administration’s indoor dining ban – saying there is “little to no data” to back up the theory that restaurants and bars are where the virus is mainly being spread.
The PA Chamber’s statement applauding the bipartisan Congressional passage of legislation that will provide a second round of COVID-19 relief to businesses nationwide was included in in stories that appeared in the Daily Item, the New Castle News, and the Meadville Tribune.
“We applaud Congress’ passage of this important COVID-19 relief legislation. As the pandemic rages on, the support for small businesses and nonprofits; as well as additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program comes at a critical juncture,” Barr said. “For months, the economy has suffered as states have implemented mitigation orders in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus … Many of those that have been able to survive this challenging environment thus far are currently hanging on by a thread.” The story also quotes Barr as saying that the business community would have liked to see liability protection added to the relief package.
An opinion column by Barr regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s mitigation orders on businesses was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In the column, Barr acknowledges that the latest orders could be the final death knell for many in the hospitality industry, adding his disappointment that the administration has made these decisions in a vacuum with little input from industry experts.
“Since the early days of the pandemic’s arrival in Pennsylvania, this administration has repeatedly failed to take into consideration the realities facing businesses forced to comply with the various mitigation orders,” Barr said. “Mitigation orders are often inexplicably announced late in the day with unrealistically rapid effective time frames. Their actions have led to a chaotic, confusing and stressful environment for employers and have had serious financial implications.”
“With cases spiking, the state ought to focus more on effectively enforcing the measures already in place,” Barr added. “As the business community has repeatedly stressed to the administration, employers need the backing of law enforcement and state officials to effectively enforce the mandates that are designed to keep us safe — particularly mask wearing.
“We understand these are trying times, but the only way we will overcome these challenges is by working together. It is time the administration finally commits itself to engage, coordinate and communicate with the business community in order to strike a balance between protecting our public health and preserving our fragile economy.”