Sep. 23, 2020

Lawmaker votes to support state’s restaurant industry
HARRISBURG – The House today came back into session to attempt an override of the governor’s veto of legislation to allow local school districts to make the decision of whether to hold school sports and activities and how many spectators can be in attendance, said Rep. Rich Irvin (R-Huntingdon/Centre/Mifflin). The chamber also voted on legislation to relax restrictions on the state’s bars and restaurants implemented by the governor.

“Parents simply want to watch their children play a school sport or play in the school orchestra,” said Irvin. “The governor agreed earlier this year that decisions on whether schools should reopen to in-person learning should be left up to the school districts, and there is no reason decisions regarding other school activities should not be made by the school districts as well.

“Communities in Huntingdon, Centre and Mifflin counties do not have the same rate of COVID-19 cases as Allegheny or Philadelphia counties,” continued Irvin. “That’s why these decisions should be made at the local level.”

Although a veto-proof majority voted in favor of the bill when it was first presented to the House, the override vote failed to garner the needed two-thirds of the chamber to pass.

“I was greatly disappointed today when some of the members who supported House Bill 2787 the first time it came up switched their votes and decided not to support local decision-making on this issue.”

In other news, the House passed House Bill 2513, which relaxes indoor seating limits; allows for outdoor dining; eliminates a requirement that alcohol sales be accompanied by a meal; and affords those who work in the restaurant industry some measure of stability and certainty in what has been a continually changing landscape.

“Most restaurants are barely hanging on with restaurant capacity capped at 25% for much of the spring and summer,” said Irvin. “Although the governor just this week started to allow restaurants up to 50% capacity, he could change his mind at any moment without warning. This legislation will give business owners some measure of stability in moving forward.”

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, 70% of restaurants and bars may not survive the pandemic and according to the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, 86% percent say it is unlikely they will be profitable within the next six months.

“Restaurant owners and the thousands of people they employ need our help,” said Irvin. “The legislation now goes to the governor for his consideration, and I sincerely hope he signs it into law.”

Representative Rich Irvin
81st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tricia Lehman
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