Scarnati Leads Legislative Effort to Safely Re-Open Pennsylvania

(HARRISBURG) – This week, Senate Bill 327 was passed by the Senate which included an amendment by Senator Joe Scarnati (R-25).  As amended, Senate Bill 327 allows for the safe re-opening of Pennsylvania’s economy through local decision making.

“As each week passes and Pennsylvanians struggle as a result of the impacts of COVID-19, we need strong leadership in Harrisburg, now more than ever,” Scarnati said.  “I am proud to have led the Senate effort to move legislation forward that puts Pennsylvanians first. Every area of our Commonwealth has been impacted differently by this public health emergency, and a one-size-fits-all approach that the Governor has been using does not work.”

Scarnati’s amendment to Senate Bill 327 provides local control by allowing the governing body of a county, in consultation with their local health and emergency management officials, to develop and implement a countywide plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for businesses.  The county mitigation plan would require businesses to use the recommended guidance for mitigating exposure to COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to operate within the county.

Scarnati also noted that under the bill, businesses identified as essential critical infrastructure by the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) could begin to operate and businesses already identified as essential by the Governor could continue to operate. However, counties would also be given the authority to develop plans to allow other industries that would not meet the definition of life sustaining under the Governor’s essential business list to operate if it is safe to do so using CDC guidance.

“In March, Governor Wolf made the decision to shut down Pennsylvania businesses that he deemed as non-life-sustaining,” Scarnati said.  “His arbitrary and unfair process has left some big-box stores open while many small business owners and their employees are struggling to pay bills.  Employees who want to work need to be provided the option to do so, as long as it is done in a safe way and adheres to national guidelines.”

The bill also creates a COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force, made up of representatives of all three branches of government, which is tasked with identifying and addressing issues related to the COVID-19 public health emergency together. The panel would be responsible for developing a recovery plan to restore public services and economic activity when it is safe to do so.

“In the past, our state has seen natural disasters, such as floods and tornados, which have impacted areas of our state differently.  Just like those disasters, COVID-19 has affected regions of our state differently. Brookville is not Manhattan. Emporium is not Philadelphia. I am hopeful the House of Representatives will pass Senate Bill 327 and the Governor Wolf will show positive leadership by signing the legislation. Join me in telling Governor Wolf to sign this bill and help Pennsylvanians, instead of vetoing the bill and hurting our communities.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Flessner