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Republican lawmakers challenge Wolf administration’s business closures

Republican state lawmakers are combating the Wolf administration’s shutdown orders with bill proposals they say would support small business owners while minding social distancing rules.

Rep. Francis X. Ryan, R-Palmyra, asked Health Secretary Rachel Levine Wednesday to “reconsider [her] opposition to the legislation in the General Assembly” in advancing legislation that would ease closure orders on small businesses while observing social distancing guidelines.

“While the administration’s effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-I9 is commendable and certainly no easy task, I am increasingly alarmed about the impact such a broad-brush approach is having on our citizens, the small businesses that employ them, and our overall economy,” Rep. Francis X. Ryan, R-Palmyra, said in a letter to Levine Wednesday. “I am also concerned about the toll it will take on all of us in the weeks, months and years ahead.”

Rep. Brad Roe proposed a bill he said would support small businesses while enhancing social distancing guidelines. The legislation would allow retail businesses staffed by one employee to open for business as long as it allowed only one customer into the store at a time. Roe said the idea is to enable shoppers to visit small venue retailers and avoid the larger crowds at big-box stores.

“This would limit the customer’s interaction to one person, whereas if they go to a big box store, they could come in contact with hundreds of other people,” Roe told General Assembly colleagues last week.

Rep. Natalie Mihalek, R-Allegheny, introduced legislation that would require the Department of Community and Economic Development to issue a waiver allowing car dealerships to open while respecting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“I believe that an undue burden has been placed on our consumers, on our dealers and on the 50,000-plus workers from the industry who are now without jobs,” said Mihalek. “This is why I introduced House Bill 2388.”

 

Justin Henry
Justin Henry is the regional reporter for the Central Penn Business Journal and the Lehigh Valley Business. He can be reached at jhenry@bridgetowermedia.com.

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