As you may know, the Builders Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh, BAMP, initiated a legal challenge last summer to the Commonwealth's rules governing residential construction activities mandated by Governor Tom Wolf and then Health Secretary Rachel Levine.
At the time the challenge was filed, the Commonwealth had issued guidance that, among other things, limited the number of workers permitted to work on a construction site. The limitations were different between residential and commercial construction sites, which prompted BAMP to challenge the order under the “equal protection” clause of the United States and Pennsylvania constitutions. The Governor's orders limited the number of workers on residential construction sites during the Red phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to a maximum of four (4) workers while allowing a greater number of workers at commercial projects based on the square footage of the project. While these limits are no longer in place under the Yellow and Green phases, BAMP's Board of Directors felt that it was important to continue with our legal challenge of the orders in the event that the Commonwealth determined a need to return to the Red phase and to have on record that future orders concerning this or any future pandemic would recognize that residential construction would be treated the same way as commercial construction projects.
Since its filing, BAMP entered negotiations with the state’s Attorney General's Office in an effort to reach a settlement prior to a trial. I am pleased to report the Commonwealth has agreed to a settlement stipulating that residential and commercial construction projects should be treated the same if or when restrictions on construction activities are reimposed in exchange for BAMP’s dropping its suit. The proposed settlement was approved by BAMP's Board of Directors and the members who joined in this legal action, and the case has been settled given the desired effect.
I want to thank the member companies (Londonbury Homes, Sparkle Construction-SSP, The Fireplace & Patioplace, TJ Bush Enterprises and Rossman/Hensley, Inc,) who gave their names to the action, which allowed us to avert unnecessary objections by the Commonwealth to our complaint.
I also want to recognize and thank Kristen Moritz, Esq. of the law firm Gesk Moritz, who represented BAMP in this legal challenge. Her attention to detail and counsel in reaching our objective and the desired outcome was exemplary.
Finally, I wish to thank the Pennsylvania Builders Association and its Industry Action Fund as well as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) who gave their financial support and legal expertise that aided us in this effort.
This unfortunate action is one more example of the importance for members of trade associations to band together and stand up when necessary to protect the best interests of its industry and the livelihoods of their businesses.