The Battle Continues. Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine continued to implement a series of orders in effort to stay ahead of COVID-19 and prepare for a surge of patients to hit hospitals throughout the commonwealth in the coming days. The General Assembly has also been passing legislation to help in the COVID-19 fight. Up to this point, however, most of the legislature’s actions have been bipartisan in nature. That all changed this week.
Republicans, who maintain the majority in both the House and Senate, advanced legislation to undue several of Governor Wolf’s business-related restrictions imposed over the past several weeks. The legislation would essentially force the administration to lift business closures in an effort to re-open the economy. Governor Wolf maintains the closure of “non-essential businesses” is paramount to help control the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impact on Pennsylvania.
So, this battle—now immersed in a political dogfight—continues as politicians struggle to stay ahead of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Not Looking So Great. The week ended with a not-so-great picture of the fiscal health of the Commonwealth. Yesterday, the Independent Fiscal Office issued its projections stating that a loss in state revenue could amount to as much as $3.9 billion over the next two fiscal years. The figure is an alarming estimate and they say depends on how long businesses are forced to remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more alarming was that they said the data suggests that the downturn in the economy could equal or even dwarf that of the Great Recession. Their data shows that corporate profits potentially could be ten percentage points worse than the 2008-09 economic collapse. APC is researching and working to determine the impact on the PennDOT Letting program going forward.
Hardly Noticed. A few weeks ago we reported that three new legislators were elected via special elections. Those legislators were sworn in as active House Members this week but without the usual pomp and circumstance that traditionally occurs during such ceremonies. We welcome Rep. Eric Davanzo (Westmoreland County), Rep. Tim Bonner (Mercer County), and Rep. K.C. Tomlinson (Bucks County) to the General Assembly. All three members will serve as Republican members of the PA House of Representatives.
Honoring a Leader. A bill also advancing through the General Assembly is House Bill 2191 that would honor the late and longtime state representative Richard A. “Rick” Geist by naming a bridge outside of his hometown, Altoona, in his honor. Geist passed away in November 2019 and was one of the longest serving House Transportation Committee Chairmen in history. Geist’s love for transportation and the health of the highway construction industry was well known. A fitting tribute to a great industry leader.