PA Chamber Urges Thoughtful, Inclusive Process for Developing Far Reaching Workplace Proposal

PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf announcing a series of executive orders impacting employers and the workplace.

“We appreciate the governor’s intent and urge his administration to solicit input from employers to help avoid unintended consequences.

For example, requiring strict wage and benefit standards for employers to qualify for state aid may not impact larger corporations but could pull critical lifelines from small businesses already struggling through pandemic and workforce crises.

The governor has also called for public shaming of employers who violate labor laws.  We certainly support holding accountable those who skirt the law, harming employees and creating an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors.  At the same time, policymakers should recognize that violations are often unintentional and eventually remedied. Employment laws and regulations are notoriously complicated; such as similar federal and state laws that include subtle differences creating what’s known as the ‘compliance trap.’

The governor mentioned employers owing unemployment compensation back taxes, but some may not even be aware they owe, especially after the chaos of the last year and a half.  We would hope a public list of ‘bad actors’ only incudes companies who violate the law and willfully fail to comply after exhausting appeals or any administrative resolution process.

We look forward to working with the administration as it further develops these policies.”

State & Federal Political Recap

Gov. Wolf Holds News Conference in Support of Minimum Wage Increase

On Friday, Governor Tom Wolf joined Democratic members of the House and Senate, including House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton, in Philadelphia to again call for a raise in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage.  Without regard for the economic consequences of this proposal, Gov. Wolf has repeatedly called for the state’s minimum wage to be raised to $15 per hour after an initial increase to $12.  The governor and advocates have also proposed eliminating the tipped credit system used primarily by the restaurant industry, which would force these small businesses to increase labor costs by 425 percent as they continue struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Carla Sands Announces Run for Pennsylvania Senate Seat

President Trump’s former ambassador to Denmark announced last week that she was joining the crowded primary field vying for the state’s Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate.  Carla Sands is a Pennsylvania native and CEO of Vintage Capital Group.  The primary election will be held in May 2022.

New Law Gives Telecom Companies Competitive Advantage in PA

According to reporting in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, legislation that passed in late June could be a boon for the competitiveness of Pennsylvania’s telecom market.  Municipal permitting for 5G infrastructure — formerly a process that could play out over many months — is now limited by statute to 60 or 90 days before being granted automatic approval.

Commerce Department adds 34 Chinese Companies to ‘Entity List’ for Xinjiang, Trade, Military Abuses

On Friday, the Biden Administration added 34 additional companies, 14 headquartered in the People’s Republic of China, to the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security’s ‘Entity List’ for activities “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States.” Among the reasons for the listings were support for actions that aided the PRC government’s oppression of minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, trading with Iran in violation of existing U.S. regulations, and supporting China’s military modernization programs.  Maintained by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the list restricts trade practices on goods listed on the U.S. Government’s Export Administration Regulations.