On March 9, 2020, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia Vice President of Local Government Affairs William Carter IV, Esq. testified about Bill 200011. Below is a copy of his testimony.

Testimony Submitted by William Carter IV, Esq., Vice President of Local Government Affairs, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia

Good Morning Councilwoman Bass, Councilman Henon, and members of the Committee on Public Health and Human Services. My name is William Carter, Vice President of Local Government Affairs for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and I am here today to offer testimony on Bill 200011.

The business community is laser focused on inclusive growth for the City of Philadelphia. In this regard, last Spring, the Chamber launched the PHL Neighborhood Growth Project (NGP), which grew out of our 4-year Roadmap for Growth initiative and focuses on comprehensive business growth, spanning all demographics in every neighborhood in the city.  With our partners the African-American Chamber of Commerce, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, the Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Independence Business Alliance (LGBTQ), and dozens of civic and business leaders from across the city we are engaging with community leaders and everyday citizens in an effort to build a strong, inclusive, and growing economy that benefits everyone.

We strongly believe we should be working together on programs and policies that increase the number of residents working in good paying jobs with responsible employers.  Although, we support the notion that employees should be able to use time off for the birth of a child, adoptions, and to handle medical emergencies for themselves and for loved ones, we also have to recognize that many of Philadelphia’s hardworking business owners are barely making it. Further, many of these employers already offer a variety of generous benefits and leave packages to deal with such life altering scenarios – and companies with 50 or more employees, subject to the FMLA, provide these benefits on top of that federally mandated program.

The fact is Philadelphia’s small and mid-sized enterprises and nonprofits, with under 50 employees would be most heavily impacted. These, again, are companies trying their best to just stay viable while offering benefits such as health insurance. They have informed us that if they are required to offer Paid Family Medical Leave it will not only raise their costs but could unintentionally cut into existing benefits they currently provide. To further complicate matters, we understand there is currently bi-partisan motion at the state level which would establish a Pennsylvania Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program to be administered by the state Department of Labor and Industry, and it is not at all clear how that legislation would comport with this local mandate.

As you are aware, not all businesses and non-profits are alike. We continuously hear from those who would like the government as a supportive partner so they can grow, hire more employees, possibly gain competitive advantages, and have a hope to thrive.

As currently written, we believe this Bill does have a negative impact on local businesses and would have an adverse effect on inclusive growth in Philadelphia.

We appreciate Councilman Henon holding the Bill in committee and committing to gathering further stakeholder feedback in this regard.  Thank you for the opportunity to testify.