HARRISBURG – Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) officially introduced the “PA Healthy Citizens & Healthy Businesses Back to Work Initiative” today in an effort to safely return state residents to work.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the administration has shut down all businesses not considered to be “life-sustaining.”
Senate Bill 1103 would utilize health and safety guidelines by the Center for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration, and allow businesses to reopen without going through the Governor’s waiver process.
“There are strict guidelines in the measure, and if that protocol is practiced and conditions are met, businesses would be allowed to resume operations and would not be subject to the existing waiver process,” said Mastriano. “Unfortunately, the Governor’s waiver system is flawed, ineffective, lacks accountability, has no oversight and is riddled with unconstitutional powers.”
Mastriano noted that the state and country are confronted by the COVID-19 outbreak, which has necessitated emergency measures to curtail the spread of the virus. He encouraged residents to practice social distancing and health-conscience behavior.
After hearing from hundreds of businesses over the past several weeks, Mastriano developed what he believes is a “commonsense solution” and an alternative to the waiver system. The deadline to apply for a waiver is Friday, April 3rd.
“The closure order impacted tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and puts at stake the economic well-being of our citizens,” said Mastriano, mentioning that single parent families, young couples, non-profits, small businesses and the independently-employed are among the “hardest hit.”
As part of Mastriano’s legislation, businesses would be permitted to reopen if managers, owners and staff agree to comply with Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Dept. of Labor coronavirus mitigation precautions. Those measures would remain in place until the state-of-emergency has concluded.
Businesses that comply with those guidelines would not need a waiver to reopen, but must agree to enforce CDC and Labor Department policies during the health crisis. Also, businesses would be responsible for maintaining those standards, and are subject to being examined by an authorized inspector from the Health Department or local law enforcement.
“Timely and full compliance is required to continue operating during the crisis,” said Mastriano, explaining that an “appeals process” will be established at the Labor Department to handle any “disagreements” with the inspector’s findings. Those reports will be filed with the relevant House and Senate committees for review.
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