May. 14, 2020

HARRISBURG – As the COVID-19 emergency and the governor’s business closure order move into a third month, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) again stood up for the people of rural Pennsylvania by voting to support the safe reopening of small businesses and give local officials some say in how they operate during a disaster declaration.

“Pennsylvania is a very diverse state where a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work, especially in the case of this pandemic,” Causer said. “While densely populated areas of our state struggle to control the spread of COVID-19, our rural area fortunately has seen few cases. While we have advanced to the ‘yellow’ phase of the governor’s reopening plan, it’s past time our local officials have a say in how we go about restarting our economy and getting our people back to work and providing for their families.

“Businesses deemed ‘essential’ by the governor have been operating safely for weeks. All of our business owners deserve the opportunity to modify their operations so they can reopen while ensuring the health and safety of their workers and customers,” he added.

Senate Bill 327 would authorize county officials to develop an emergency mitigation plan for business, in consultation with health and emergency management officials. The plan would have to be published on the county’s public website and would empower our local governments to reopen their economies when it can be done so safely. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would have to be followed.

Recognizing the economic devastation small business owners and many of their employees have experienced, Causer also cast “yes” votes on bills that would require the state to issue waivers to several business sectors, allowing them to resume operations if they choose to do so and can do so safely.

“Whether the services provided by these businesses are essential to you or not, you can be sure they are essential to someone. And they are especially essential to the people who own or work at these businesses and rely on the income they provide,” Causer said. “It’s time to move forward and reopen our economy to help our families and our communities safely.”

House Bill 2388 would require waivers for vehicle dealerships, lawn and garden centers, cosmetology salon and barber shops for hair services, messenger services, animal grooming services, and manufacturing operations. House Bill 2412 would require a similar waiver to all providers of legal services, and residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services.

While some of these businesses are open locally and in other “yellow phase” counties, Causer said the votes were necessary to respond to the lack of fairness, openness and transparency in the Wolf administration’s business waiver system. The administration finally released a list of businesses that were awarded waivers last week but, in defiance of a legislative subpoena, has yet to outline the criteria used to make those decisions. Lawmakers have been working for weeks to bring some clarity and consistency to the process.

Each of the bills will now go to the governor’s desk.

Causer noted he is also cosponsoring legislation, recently approved by the House State Government Committee, to help restaurants, clubs and food establishments by allowing outdoor and indoor seating to resume in areas of the state in the yellow or green phases of mitigation. Specifically, House Bill 2506 would allow establishments with existing decks, patios and courtyards to open those outdoor areas and would allow up to 50% of the outdoor maximum seating capacity in order to properly institute the federal and state mitigation guidelines. House Bill 2513 would allow establishments to use 50% of their indoor seating capacity under the same rules outlined in House Bill 2506

Representative Martin T. Causer
67th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Patricia A. Hippler