Pa. General Assembly Pass Additional COVID-19 Proposal Amid Democratic Opposition
Along partisan lines, House advances additional COVID-19 response measure.

As was outlined in Monday's Capitol Buzz, Pennsylvania's General Assembly is currently at odds over whether businesses throughout the Commonwealth should reopen during the unprecedented novel coronavirus pandemic. At the heart of the dispute among Republicans and Democrats is the governor's business closure order issued more than three weeks ago that has caused some confusion and frustration for many businesses across the state.

On Tuesday, the House resumed its legislative session under new temporary rules that allows the General Assembly to conduct its business remotely. The partisan divide among Republicans and Democrats boiled over as the House took up Senate Bill 327, which was amended on Monday in the House Appropriations Committee to include COVID-19 response provisions that Democrats claim reduce the governor's ability to act swiftly and limits the administration's flexibility during the crisis. Republicans argued that the amendments included in the bill are meant to increase bipartisanship, address looming economic issues and provide a layer of transparency to the governor's decisions to waive or suspend certain laws and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, Senate Bill 327, as amended, would: create a bipartisan, inter-branch COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force to address current and immediate issues, as well as long-term recovery solutions; require the governor to notify the General Assembly of all suspensions, waivers or exemptions to current statutory or regulatory requirements; and, mandate the state Treasury and all state-authorized entities that have the power to issue debt to identify and review their outstanding debt obligations and provide options for the refinancing of the debt. The bill was passed by the House and sent to the Senate for concurrence.

In addition, during an afternoon meeting of the House Appropriations Committee, legislation was amended to include one of the more controversial proposals offered by the Republican Caucus to reopen Pennsylvania's businesses. An amendment approved by the committee to Senate Bill 613 would include a Republican-supported plan to allow all businesses to reopen who follow the mitigation guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The amendment was voted along party lines.

Republican members say they have been inundated with calls and emails about the negative impact that the governor's closure order has had on businesses and communities across the state. Instead of forcing the governor's office to reopen businesses and potentially put workers and the public at risk, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are calling for the General Assembly to address proposals that help working families by increasing paid sick leave, enhancing health care access and assisting workers on the front line of the pandemic.

State Senate passes COVID-19 response bill allowing for remote activities.

In addition, the state Senate passed legislation that would allow for notary services and local government activities to be done remotely. Senate Bill 841 would allow notaries to operate and conduct their operations remotely, and also provides municipalities with the ability to govern during “stay-at-home” orders, social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

The legislation also reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. The PHC4 was established in 1986 as an independent agency tasked with collecting and disseminating health care cost data. Senate Bill 841 codifies the PHC4 under Title 35.

The bill was sent to the House for its concurrence.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

On Tuesday, the state Department of Health reported nearly 1,600 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 14,559. In addition, 240 Pennsylvanians have died directly from complications from the virus. To date, there have been nearly 77,000 negative cases across the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf is still asking all Pennsylvanians who must leave their homes for life-essential reasons to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the virus . The state Department of Health has provided guidance on how individuals can create homemade masks for their use in order to preserve high quality personal protection equipment for health care workers. The Centers for Disease Control also announced recommendations for people to wear face masks in public .

In addition, below is some guidance provided by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency on when to call 911 for emergencies:
Other News...
Pa. House welcomes three new members who won recent special elections. The Pennsylvania House saw three new members sworn into office this week, all winners of recent special elections held last month. Rep. Eric Davanzo of Westmoreland County, Rep. Tim Bonner of Mercer County and Rep. K.C. Tomlinson of Bucks County were officially added to the House roster.

First Lady Francis Wolf highlights importance of volunteerism even amid 'stay-at-home' orders. Francis Wolf, Pennsylvania's First Lady, is encouraging Pennsylvanians who are still able to volunteer to continue to do so, even with "stay-at-home" orders in effect statewide. Ms. Wolf said volunteerism during the pandemic is vital, and can still be accomplished while practicing social distancing and other mitigation efforts to limit the spread of the virus.

Individual stimulus funds could be coming as soon as next week. If the Internal Revenue Service has your banking information from when you filed your taxes, the money allocated for most Americans through the federal CARES Act could hit your account as early as next week.

Pa. opens trout season early amid COVID-19 pandemic. To avoid a higher concentration of anglers, the state announced on Tuesday that trout fishing season is now open in Pennsylvania. Opening the season two weeks early will help the state discourage a concentration of people gathering on the traditional opening day, minimize travel, and reduce the threat of illegal poaching in waters that have already been stocked. The season had been scheduled to open April 18.
Unprecedented times, but McNees is here to help
The situation surrounding COVID-19 is changing by the hour. Capitol Buzz will do its best to keep our readers as up-to-date as possible as to local, state and federal actions relating to the virus.

As we have stated in previous editions, for those businesses seeking guidance or assistance on how to proceed during this unprecedented time, please contact the McNees Labor and Employment Practice Group , or for government relations assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) .

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, check out the CDC's coronavirus information page or visit .

4, 5, 6, 18, 19, 20
1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30

14, 15, 16
4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18(NV)
1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30
15, 16, 17, 29, 30
1, 5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21
Capital Associates
To share on your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn - click the buttons below!
100 Pine Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101