– Rep. Rich Irvin (R-Huntingdon/Centre/Mifflin) joined his colleagues in the General Assembly this week to pass legislation thousands of employees and employers have been demanding since the governor instituted his decision on which businesses could or could not remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are in the middle of a situation none of us has ever faced before, and we need to continue to take every precaution to protect the health and safety of every Pennsylvanian. However, while doing that, we also need to make sure people can keep a roof over their head, put food on the table and maintain their health insurance,” said Irvin. “We need to strike a balance and find a way forward that adheres to recommended safety protocols while also providing people an opportunity to work again and provide for themselves and their families. I’ve heard firsthand the suffering of mom-and-pop businesses all over the district, not able to make monthly payments and frustrated with the lack of transparency in their government.”
“The governor’s decisions as to what is deemed a life-sustaining business and which businesses qualify for waivers has been arbitrary at best,” said Irvin. “There have been reports of businesses with connections getting waivers, of some businesses in a particular field getting a waiver when others in the same field don’t, all while the governor repeatedly denies requests to make the list of approved and denied businesses public. Because of this, businesses have been left in limbo with their futures hanging in the balance, and more than 1 million people have filed for unemployment – many for the first time in their lives. The mental and financial stress placed on individuals and families is having a more detrimental impact than many realize.”
Senate Bill 613
would require the governor to allow businesses to operate in the Commonwealth during the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency provided the business is, and remains, in compliance with recommendations to mitigate exposure to COVID-19 as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
“Critics of this action need to understand this is not putting greed above individual lives, but relying on years of a researched federal list of essential industry and a trusted source to keep people healthy,” Irvin said.
“To be clear, businesses that wish to open, whether they are open to the public or not, would need to follow specific guidelines to ensure the utmost safety of their workers and customers,” continued Irvin. “Many other states are following the federal guidelines with success and Pennsylvania should follow suit if we are to save our businesses and save many families from financial ruin.
“It is important we act for the good and safety of our Commonwealth residents, but we need to remain viable and functioning as a state so we can survive once the virus is no longer a threat. This is a tough balancing act and I proud to put forward a plan for our future and Senate Bill 613 as amended is the right response at the right time,” concluded Irvin.
Senate Bill 613 was approved by both the House and Senate and is now on its way to the governor’s desk.
Representative Rich Irvin
81st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tricia Lehman