PA Chamber Leads Coalition in Calling on Lawmakers to Enact Permitting Reform

HARRISBURG – Today, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry spearheaded a group of 68 leading business associations and local chambers of commerce in sending a letter to Governor Josh Shapiro and members of the Pennsylvania state legislature, urging them to take decisive action in reforming the state’s “dysfunctional and unpredictable permitting system.”

The coalition, which represents several of Pennsylvania’s top industries and professions, detailed in its letter how challenges surrounding the current permitting process – including excessive wait times, burdensome costs, and a general lack of transparency – disadvantage Pennsylvania when it comes to attracting new business investment.

“The Commonwealth has too often lost out on investment to other states, and our inadequate permitting system is one key factor,” the letter reads. “The current process takes too long, lacks transparency, and costs businesses money and good-paying jobs for our state’s workers.”

The letter also outlined support for recent executive actions taken by the Shapiro administration to enact durable and lasting reforms to the state’s permitting process. Moreover, the coalition called for continued cooperation between the governor and members of the General Assembly in order to unlock the benefits of these reforms, including a more modern public infrastructure system, increased manufacturing, and additional economic opportunities for Pennsylvanians.

“Reform should be built upon the tenets of predictability, transparency, efficiency, and durability,” the letter continues. “Now is the time to coalesce around meaningful reforms that will allow our state to truly compete and lead. Doing so will build upon bipartisan momentum at the federal level to streamline permitting and unlock American investment.”

The coalition also reaffirmed its readiness to work with state leaders to improve Pennsylvania’s economic trajectory and capitalize on “a generational opportunity” unlock the state’s potential.

Full text of the letter is available here.


This letter is the latest of several steps the PA Chamber has taken to promote permitting reform.

  • Pennsylvania Chamber President and CEO Luke Bernstein published an op-ed explaining how permitting reform will make Pennsylvania competitive on the national and world stage, and co-authored an op-ed with Pennsylvania State Building & Construction Trades Council President Rob Bair calling on state lawmakers to enact permitting reform.
  • In March, Pennsylvania Chamber Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday testified at a House Republican Policy Committee hearing, highlighting investments Pennsylvania lost in recent years due to a dysfunctional state permitting process. The Chamber’s testimony identified a comprehensive solution to the permitting process that addresses state agency resources, permit deadlines, and reforms to the permit appeals process.
  • Also in March, the Pennsylvania Chamber joined the national “Permit America to Build” coalition and sent a letter to Congress urging federal lawmakers to enact legislation that will modernize permitting processes.


Bad For Business: State House Advances Trio of Overreaching Proposals

Last week, House lawmakers advanced several bills with the potential to significantly impact Pennsylvania employers:

H.B. 950

Would amend the state constitution for the stated purpose of prohibiting future lawmakers from enacting “Right to Work” legislation, which guarantees that individuals cannot be forced to join or contribute financially to a union as a condition of their employment. The language of the bill, however, is ambiguous and could have far broader implications. Prior to  House consideration of the bill, the PA Chamber sent a memo to the House of Representatives, outlining concerns about its potential unintended consequences and the committee’s decision to prioritize this initiative.

This legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 102-99. It now awaits Senate action.

H.B. 930

Would increase employer workers’ compensation costs by significantly expanding benefits for permanent injuries or disfigurement, informally known as the “scar benefit.” Under current state law, employers are responsible for paying medical costs and wage-loss benefits for individuals who are injured on the job, as well as additional benefits for various reasons. Last month, the PA Chamber sent a memo to the House of Representatives, detailing how H.B. 930 would expand the scar benefit far beyond its original purpose, leading to higher insurance and related costs for Pennsylvania employers.

This legislation passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 112-88. It now awaits Senate action.

H.B. 577

Would require businesses with five or more full-time or part-time employees (and that do not offer a retirement savings plan) to participate in a government-run auto-IRA retirement program for their employees. While the PA Chamber fully supports encouraging citizens to save for their retirement, we expressed a desire for lawmakers to delay voting on this proposal until it can be subject to thorough vetting, discussion, and transparency to ensure the proper safeguards are in place.

This legislation advanced out of the House Commerce Committee by a vote of 12-9. It now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Bipartisan “Clean Slate” Expansion Clears House Committee

Members of the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to advance H.B. 689 – bipartisan legislation that seeks to build on Pennsylvania’s first-in-the-nation Clean Slate law.

Enacted in 2018, this policy expedites the expungement process by automatically sealing old criminal records if the individual has remained crime-free for a period of time.

The PA Chamber worked with a strong bipartisan group of lawmakers to develop the first iteration of Clean Slate, address concerns from the business community and get the bill across the finish line. Since then, the policy has been well received by employers, advocates supporting Pennsylvanians with criminal records, and job seekers alike who recognize its help in building a robust, dynamic, and well-trained workforce.

H.B. 689 expands record-sealing eligibility to individuals with certain low-level, non-violent felony charges on their record, with the goal of encouraging them to find a job and reenter society.

Prior to the bill’s consideration, the PA Chamber sent a memo to the committee urging its members to support the bill.

“Advocates for and direct beneficiaries of Clean Slate report that this policy encourages individuals to reenter the workforce, look for employment, apply for and accept jobs and apply for promotions. We believe those expressing these sentiments. This population represents a potentially vast pool of under-tapped talent in Pennsylvania, and we urge the committee to support H.B. 689 to help facilitate their employment,” the PA Chamber wrote.

House Bill 689 now awaits further consideration by the full House.