Pa. Legislature Leads National Move Toward Safe Reopening

April 15, 2020, Harrisburg, Pa. — Today, the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed a bill that would partially repeal Gov. Tom Wolf’s sweeping shutdown of so-called “non-life-sustaining” businesses, which has caused more than 1.3 million Pennsylvania workers to lose their jobs. The bill comes as a push to responsibly reopen the economy is spreading across the country, highlighted by protests in Michigan and North Carolina. 

Senate Bill 613 would allow businesses listed as essential by the Dept. of Homeland Security to reopen if they follow strict Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) health and safety guidelines. It would also require the governor to create a plan for further reopening of the state’s economy within seven days of the bill becoming law, while maintaining the stay-at-home order as necessary.

Commonwealth Foundation President and CEO Charles Mitchell issued the following statement:

Today, Pennsylvania lawmakers have shown how we can protect both citizens’ lives and livelihoods in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

People across Pennsylvania and the country realize that along with stopping the spread of COVID-19, they also need homes, money to buy food, and hope for the future. This bill provides that hope to Pennsylvanians by prioritizing the health and safety of our citizens while preserving their livelihoods. 

Governor Wolf’s shutdown order is among the strictest in the country. His unique business waiver process has proven so unmanageable and arbitrary that it has caused mass confusion and anxiety. And Wolf’s sweeping closure of the economy has led to a stunning explosion of unemployment and economic devastation.

People’s life savings, jobs, and homes do not simply reappear after they are lost. And more is being lost every day we do nothing.

If Gov. Wolf signs the bill, it would bring Pennsylvania in line with the standards  many other states have adopted to protect public health and initiate the process of creating a plan to safely reopen the economy.

In recent days, we’ve all heard about governors gathering into multi-state coalitions, making plans to make plans to reopen. But Pennsylvania lawmakers have demonstrated that the people’s representatives in each state can act thoughtfully and resolutely to bring certainty to citizens. We urge Governor Wolf to work with the Legislature to create a plan applicable to this commonwealth, and to do it quickly. 


Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres at 850-619-2737 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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