HARRISBURG – Today in Harrisburg, Rep. Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery) voted in favor of legislation to protect the health of all Pennsylvanians while bringing fairness and consistency to PA businesses that are deemed essential.
“This year has created unique challenges for our state and nation,” said Toepel. “Our top priority will always be the health and safety of all Pennsylvania citizens. However, we are now – as the governor has pointed out – moving to the next phase of this crisis, in which we need to look at fair and balanced ways to allow Pennsylvania workers to start earning a paycheck again and providing for themselves and their families, if a place of business is able to provide a safe working environment.”
Senate Bill 613
, passed today by the House, 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 (CDC) and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which 42 other states follow.
“I have received numerous phone calls and emails that point out the current inconsistencies in the list of which businesses can and cannot be open for business,” said Toepel. “Some large retail employers are able to remain open, while smaller community businesses that offer the same products or services and can arguably do so using safer practices have been forced to shutter their business and risk losing their livelihoods. The people of Pennsylvania are demanding fairness and greater clarity, as well as mandated guidelines to what safety measures businesses should be adhering to for the protection of both workers and the public when they reopen. Senate Bill 613 would help answer those concerns.
“This legislation and the other bills we passed in the House today are a continuation of the work we have been doing to position Pennsylvania for success throughout this pandemic,” said Toepel. “We have worked to provide $50 million for our frontline health care workers, moved our state primary from April to June to better protect those who would vote in person at the polls, and voted to create the COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force with members from all three branches of government.
“We have done this all with a priority on the health and safety of Pennsylvanians,” continued Toepel. “No business would be able to open, or remain open, without following the strict protocols of the CDC. This is a balanced approach that will protect both lives and livelihoods.”
Other legislation passed by the House today included Senate Bill 841
, which would direct the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council to prepare a report about Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report would include information on the costs the state has incurred while dealing with the pandemic in order to qualify for additional federal and state aid.
It would also allow remote notary services to take place in order to help prevent fraud by witnessing the signing of documents and verifying their authenticity. This is specifically needed in regard to automobile and home transactions.
Also, House Bill 1189
was adopted and on its way to the Senate. House Bill 1189 would extend benefits for first responders, commonly referred to as the Enforcement Officer Disability Benefits Law or the Heart & Lung Act, who contract or is diagnosed with, or is in quarantine due to exposure to, the novel coronavirus.
In addition, doctors, health care facilities and other testing locations that administer a test to an individual for COVID-19 and receive a positive test result, would be required to report electronically to the Department of Health certain identifying demographic data of the patient or the individual within three days of the diagnosis.
“This legislation is important because we need to protect workers from mistreatment and we need to gather as much information as possible about COVID-19 cases to better be able to monitor and fight the virus,” said Toepel.
All three bills now go to the state Senate for consideration.
Representative Marcy Toepel
Pennsylvania House of Representatives