April 20, 2020, Harrisburg, Pa. — Today, Governor Wolf vetoed a bill, SB 613, that would have brought clarity to Pennsylvania’s controversial business shutdown and provided hope for the future. But Wolf responded to legislative and public pressure by providing dates and guidelines for reopening online vehicle sales and some construction projects.
Senate Bill 613 aimed to replace Wolf’s confusing “life sustaining” definition for business closures, end his secretive waiver system, and initiate planning for a safe and gradual reopening of the state’s economy.
Commonwealth Foundation President and CEO Charles Mitchell issued the following statement:
In his veto statement, Gov. Wolf said we need a “staggered” approach to reopening, but what is really staggering is that one in four Pennsylvanians are out of work due to his approach so far. I applaud Pennsylvania lawmakers for pushing him to change course through the reasonable legislation they passed. I’m thankful that today he began to listen to the voices of workers who can return to their jobs safely and want to do so.
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak began, all Pennsylvanians have been rooting for our governor. His success is essential to our friends’ and neighbors’ well-being. But much remains to be done. I urge the governor to work with the state Legislature to quickly and transparently outline a fuller plan of action that protects Pennsylvanians’ lives while also preserving their livelihoods.
Wolf’s veto comes as more than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have filed for unemployment, many of whom have yet to receive any payments. That total does not include the self-employed and contractors who were unable to apply for unemployment benefits until April 18.
As a result, Commonwealth Foundation estimates that Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is approaching 27 percent.
SB 613 would have brought Pennsylvania in line with most other states—including those in the multi-state task force Wolf joined—which have kept safe and essential services open.
Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres at 850-619-2737 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.
# # #
The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.