For Immediate Release
April 20, 2020
HARRISBURG - PA Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement on Gov. Tom Wolf’s “Plan for Pennsylvania,” which he announced last week as the Commonwealth looks to re-open its economy following the COVID-19 pandemic:
“During this healthcare pandemic, we appreciate the work of the Wolf administration to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as well as the efforts and sacrifices of businesses and citizens across Pennsylvania who have experienced the economic and emotional toll of significant restrictions and closures that have been imposed over the last several weeks. Fortunately, these efforts appear to be starting to pay off, as a growth in new cases has been on the decline and the focus is now turning to how and when to re-open businesses and bring Pennsylvania’s economy back.
“The governor’s ‘Plan for Pennsylvania’ looks to achieve this end; unfortunately, several components of the plan would increase costs and mandates on businesses at a time when many of them are struggling just to stay open. Placing additional burdens on job creators will only exacerbate this challenge. We need policies that will allow businesses to open their doors while at the same time protecting the health and safety of their workers and customers.
“While we appreciate the governor’s announcement today providing a path forward for some industries to begin operations – notably allowing for online auto sales – and with setting a target date to begin the regional re-opening of businesses, we believe we can already safely bring many of our construction workers back to work, using appropriate guidelines and safeguards, as dozens of other states have done now for weeks. Concerns remain over the application and management of the ongoing business shutdown order. That’s why we’re disappointed the governor chose to veto S.B. 613, which would have provided a standard for determining exemptions for critical industries that many other states – including California, Ohio, Indiana and Maryland – have adopted based on guidelines developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
“Also, as the Commonwealth looks to get the economy up and running, it’s important to clarify remarks made by the governor during today’s briefing regarding individuals who choose to remain collecting unemployment rather than returning to work. Per the law, absent ‘good cause,’ it constitutes an act of fraud to refuse suitable work in order to receive unemployment benefits. In fact, the state Department of Labor and Industry’s website instructs employers to report such refusals.
“The re-opening of our economy is an important, all hands on deck undertaking. As plans take shape for how the Commonwealth will rebound from this unexpected and unprecedented economic disruption, we look forward to working with the administration, lawmakers and stakeholders from the business community on a concise, workable process that prioritizes employee and consumer safety while helping businesses reopen in a responsible way.”
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.