HARRISBURG, Pa. – A house divided over Senate Bill 613, a bill that would allow more businesses to open in the state by adopting less stringent federal guidelines for essential business.
The bill passed the Senate Wednesday afternoon along party lines.
“Things are still shut down right now because we still have tens of thousands of Pennsylvania residents who are infected with this thing,” Democratic State Rep. Michael Schlossberg said.
“We’ve seen significant chaos problems with over 30,000 businesses asking for clarification from the administration,” Republican State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie said.
Currently, 42 states are using these federal guidelines. One major change would be it would allow mostly all construction to resume.
“If you don’t have any construction projects continuing on schedule, you could be stuck in a hotel room possibly with your family and that’s actually a less-safe environment,” Mackenzie said.
The state, on the other hand, is using stricter guidelines from the Wolf administration that allowed businesses to apply for a waiver. However, that process was marred with issues.
“Some individual companies in the industry are getting a waiver and their competitors are getting denied,” Mackenzie said.
Although Democrats agree more businesses will have to open, they say it’s too soon, and unsafe, to start opening more businesses up.
“The truth is there’s no way to get the balance right,” Schlossberg said.
Something reiterated Wednesday in a press conference with some of the state’s front line workers.
“Yes, let’s get back to work but lets go back to work when it’s time, when it’s safe, and when our country has prepared itself,” said Darrin Kelly, President of the Allegheny County Central Labor Council.
Republicans say the federal guidelines do offer CDC instruction on how to operate safely. “Even if you adopt those guidelines you can still you can still have flexibility within them,” Mackenzie said.
Governor Tom Wolf hasn’t indicated if he’ll veto the bill or not.