Multiple Approaches to the Same End Goal. It seems the fashionable thing to do in Harrisburg (or in some cases Washington DC) is to propose various ways to re-open the state’s economy. United States Senator Pat Toomey jumped into the game this week by introducing a phased approach to re-open the economy. The plan looks very similar to Governor Wolf’s plan but varies on a few key areas—the top being allowing businesses to make the decision to re-open if they can meet the CDC COVID-19 safety guidelines. For a larger summary of Senator Toomey’s plan, go here.
More Re-Open Bills. The House continued to pass legislation this week again to force the re-opening of various business sectors. This week we saw bills adopted to allow for limited home and real estate sales, the expanded ability for restaurants to serve mixed drinks with takeout food orders, and the reopening of businesses such as law offices, pet groomers and some outdoor recreational establishments. It is unknown at this time if these will pass or if the governor will support these initiatives.
Governor Takes Action. The Governor did take some significant action this week by vetoing a telemedicine bill arguing it contained a provision he sees as limiting access to abortion. He stated, “As amended, this bill interferes with women’s health care and the crucial decision-making between patients and their physicians.” Republicans see it differently and stated that the bill made no changes to the state’s abortion laws.
A Shorter State Budget? Serious talks have begun by legislators to consider passing a shorter duration (5 to 8 month) budget and then revisiting it again in the fall when the financial picture is more stable. The main reason for not enacting a full 12-month budget is due to the extension of the state and federal tax filing deadline to July 15. The full income tax collection numbers won’t be known until then. You will have an opportunity to hear from PA House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor on Friday, May 8 at 10 a.m. Please click HERE to register for that special webinar.
And in other actions…The House Transportation Committee advanced the first of a 10-bill package (go here for more information) from the House Infrastructure Task Force Report. House Bill 2065, sponsored by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), would amend the state’s Public Private Partnership Law to allow municipalities to opt into and use the law to deliver PPP infrastructure projects.