Real Estate Opens Up for 'Limited Transactions,' Property Tax/Rent Rebates Coming Early
Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Tuesday that real estate companies can reopen across Pennsylvania.

Starting Tuesday, real estate companies can being to conduct "limited business transactions" across Pennsylvania, as Gov. Tom Wolf amended his business closure order to allow the industry to operate in "red" and "yellow" phase counties.

In amending his business closure order to allow for real estate operations to begin again in Pennsylvania, the administration provided guidance on how real estate companies should operate. Primarily, the guidance encourages all in-person activities to be scheduled and limited to no more than the real estate professional and two people inside a property at any time, exercising appropriate social distancing. The real estate guidance also requires businesses and employees to follow all applicable provisions of the ongoing general guidance for businesses permitted to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes requiring individuals to wear masks/face coverings and the protocols of what to do when the business has been exposed to a person who has a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

The governor's action came as he vetoed legislation that would have forced his administration to reopen real estate operations. The governor said he vetoed House Bill 2412 because it did not go far enough to protect employees and consumers or provide the safety protocols necessary to reopen. He also said the bill placed restrictions on municipalities related to property transfers, eliminating a local government's ability to conduct safety inspections and issue occupancy permits.

In addition to House Bill 2412, the governor also vetoed additional bills that would have reopened certain businesses throughout the Commonwealth, as well as allow local governments to create and implement COVID-19 mitigation plans relating to business closures. The passage of these bills, and the governor's subsequent veto, is another chapter in a continued standoff between the Republican-controlled legislature and the governor's office on how best to restart Pennsylvania 's economy.

The House is in session this week, and is positioning additional bills that challenge Gov. Wolf's stay-at-home and business shutdown orders and his three-phased plan to reopen the Commonwealth amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Wolf administration to release property tax/rent rebate payments to seniors and other Pennsylvanians earlier than expected.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf and State Treasurer Joe Torsella announced that property tax and rent rebates issued by the state for seniors and other vulnerable Pennsylvanians will be distributed earlier than expected.

Rebates issued through the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program to older homeowners, renters and people with disabilities, are typically distributed beginning July 1. But Gov. Wolf said the State Treasury will begin releasing these rebates starting Wednesday, May 20.

The ability to distribute the rebates earlier in the year was thanks the passage of House Bill 1076, which the governor signed into law on Tuesday.
Daily COVID-19 update for Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 610 new positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, bringing the state total to 63,666. In addition, 4,624 Pennsylvanians have died from complications from the virus. To date, there have been more than 286,000 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 . An executive order was issued on April 15 requiring customers entering a place of business to wear a mask.

Daily COVID-19 update for Ohio

The Ohio Department of Health reported 28,952 cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 1,720 deaths, including probable cases, by Tuesday afternoon. There have been 5,117 hospitalizations and 1,357 ICU admissions.
Other News...
Federal EPA sued by neighboring states over lack of enforcement of Pa.'s Chesapeake Bay pollution. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is being sued by the attorneys general of several states over the agency's failure to enforce Pennsylvania and New York's compliance with a Chesapeake Bay pollution-reduction agreement. Officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia on Monday filed notice in court that they intend to sue the federal government.

ATV trails now open in Pa. state forests. The state's Department of Natural Resources announced this week that all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) will be allowed on designated trails in state forest lands across the Commonwealth beginning on Tuesday. Similarly to how Pennsylvania reopened trout fishing season, ATV trails will open up several days before the start of the normal season to provide more opportunities for social distancing.

Casinos, PGCB working on safety plans to prepare for reopening. With hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue lost with the closure of Pennsylvania's 12 casinos, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has been working with each licensed facility to prepare for when the governor gives the green light to reopen. When they reopen, casinos will be required to implement a safety plan that includes social distancing and other mitigation efforts.

State College could endure heavy economic impact with no Penn State football. Last year, Penn State football accounted for more than $4 million in revenue for the university. But the economic impact of home games to the greater State College community, where the people who travel to Penn State on football weekends frequent the small businesses downtown, is current in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 and nonprofit consulting assistance please contact the McNees Strategic Solutions Group (MSSG) .

You can also visit the McNees COVID-19 Article & Resource Page for more information on various legal and political issues created by the novel coronavirus.

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

The Senate stands in recess until the call of the President Pro Tempore.

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The House stands adjourned until Tuesday, May 20 at 11:00 a.m.

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