In this Update:
Legislative Review: Pandemic Response
When Pennsylvania voters chose overwhelmingly this year to amend the state Constitution and limit the length of a governor’s unchecked emergency powers, they were weighing in on ballot questions created through Senate legislation.
Other measures passed by the Senate this year to safely respond to the COVID-19 pandemic include:
Act 1 of 2021 amending the state Fiscal Code to allocate $569.8 million for Rental and Utility Assistance, $197 million for education programs, and $145 million to support Pennsylvania’s struggling restaurants and taverns as they cope with the devastation created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor’s mandated closings and restrictions.
Act 21 of 2021 ensuring all waivers previously effective under the COVID-19 emergency will remain in effect until Sept. 30, 2021, unless sooner terminated by the authority which initially authorized the waiver.
Act 67 of 2021 allowing family members to safely visit long-term care facilities during a pandemic as essential caregivers.
Senate Resolution 90 extending the emergency temporary rules adopted to maintain continuity of operations of the Senate during the COVID-19 disaster emergency.
House Resolution 106 terminating the pandemic emergency declaration and ending the governor’s power to close employers, limit occupancy, suspend state statutes or issue stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19.
You can find a full list of bills of note passed by the Senate in 2021 here.
Senator Martin Participates in the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee Hearing on Economic Impact of the Workforce Shortage
On July 28th Senator Martin participated in a Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee hearing on the Economic Impact of the Workforce Shortage held at the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and chaired by State Senator John Yudichak.
“As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania is facing a serious workforce crisis that is threatening our businesses and slowing our economic recovery,” said State Senator John Yudichak. “Businesses across my district and throughout the Commonwealth have been forced to curtail their hours of operation or even close because of a workforce shortage. Today’s hearing will help the committee and the General Assembly learn more about workforce development reforms that will help our businesses, our communities and the people of Pennsylvania as we rebuild our economy.”
The committee heard testimony from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and local business owners. Senator Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) also joined Senator Yudichak and committee members at the hearing.
“Small businesses in Lancaster County and across this Commonwealth have already suffered immensely due to the restrictions and forced closures they had to endure throughout the pandemic, and now the workforce shortage threatens to delay their recovery even further,” said Senator Aument. “Anything that we as elected officials can do to help employers and employees get back on track and move our state’s economy forward is worthwhile. I commend Senator Yudichak for calling this hearing, so that we can learn more about this problem and work together to find commonsense solutions.”
“When you drive down any street in Lancaster County, you see ‘Help Wanted’ signs on lawns or in store fronts almost everywhere,” Senator Scott Martin (R-13) said. “We know that unfulfilled jobs are causing employers to shutter permanently and scale back operating hours. Workforce shortages also mean supply chain disruptions and increased prices on other goods and services. Whether we realize it or not, the impact of this is rippling through our economy and impacting all of us and our families. I’m thankful for Chairman Yudichak’s willingness to take a closer look at pocketbook issues such as this, so we can fully identify the needs and the role the General Assembly can play in creating an environment for economic growth and job creation.”
A May 2021 survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that forty-nine percent of Americans who became unemployed during the pandemic said they are not actively or not very actively looking for work.
“Big and small, businesses across the Commonwealth are facing an unprecedented workforce crisis that threatens their survival and Pennsylvania’s overall economic recovery. Today’s hearing was an excellent opportunity to discuss the challenges Pennsylvania businesses face and how industry and lawmakers can work together to help return Pennsylvanians to work and jumpstart our state’s economy,” said Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
John Longstreet, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association testified that the shortage is exacerbated in the hospitality industry because it takes so many people to run a restaurant or a hotel. The restaurant business generates more jobs per dollar of revenue than virtually any other industry and is the third largest non-farm employer in the country.
“Workforce is by far the most pressing issue the hospitality industry faces. I have never seen such a severe shortage in my 40-year career,” said John Longstreet, President & CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association. “There are several ways the legislature can help us address this crisis, including support for industry-specific workforce development programs and the association health plan, which would allow our members to affordably provide health insurance to their employees.”
All committee materials from the hearing, including a video of the hearing are available at https://community.pasenategop.com/072821/.
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