Your Chamber advocacy team is working to share legislative updates and continue to advocate for your business in Washington, D.C., Harrisburg, and Philadelphia. We’ve created a round-up of recent activity including Key Takeaways for Your Business and a Detailed Legislative Update. This represents our best knowledge of the situation as of 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

Chamber members are invited to join weekly legislative update calls hosted by our Advocacy team to hear the latest on COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts at the federal, state, and local level as well as other legislative matters concerning our community.

We also have a COVID-19 Information Hub with up-to-date resources to support your business.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Federal

  • Congressional Democrats introduced the Justice in Policing Act, legislation to reform policing standards in response to the death of George Floyd that sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice.

  • Senate Republicans released a 10-point summary draft of their police reform bill, named the JUSTICE Act. The full bill is expected for release in the days ahead.

  • The two efforts share many similarities, increasing the probability that a bipartisan police reform package can pass in both the House and Senate.

State

  • Governor Tom Wolf announced a $225 million statewide grant program to support small businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis and subsequent business closure order.

  • The funds will be administered through the PA CDFI Network and will be made available through the Main Street Business Revitalization Program, the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program, and the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program.

  • Pennsylvania’s General Assembly approved a measure to stop Governor Wolf’s extension of the coronavirus disaster declaration.

  • The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday, June 15 to vote on House Bills 1841 and 1910 that address law enforcement background investigations and training for police officers and the judiciary to help them recognize child abuse.

  • Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus announced plans for a comprehensive package of legislation to reform policing in Pennsylvania.

  • The Wolf Administration approved 133 companies for a total of $10.8 million in new COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program Funding. This brings the total of approved loans through the program to almost $61 million in service to 745 businesses.

  • The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee passed House Bill 2025, which would require legislative authorization before Pennsylvania could impose a carbon tax on employers or enter into any multi-state program, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), that would impose such a tax.

  • Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai announced Wednesday that he intends to resign on June 15. It is expected that the current House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) will become the new Speaker.

  • The Chamber will be hosting Representatives Jordan Harris (June 17) and Kerry Benninghoff (June 19 – New Date) for virtual gatherings.

Local

  • Mayor Kenney issued a statement on the recent demonstrations and new commitments to police reform in light of the public’s calls for change.

  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia have nearly reached 24,000 with over 1,400 deaths.

  • The City has published a Safer at Home plan and executive order that outlines how Philadelphia is reopening for business. Residents are still advised to only engage in essential activities outside of their homes. 

  • City Council unveiled their New Normal Budget Act that seeks to invest $25 million as a first step to address social ills and racial disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest.

  • The Commerce and Economic Development Committee will meet on June 11 and will review, among other items, a bill seeking to regulate third-party food delivery services.

  • The Law and Government Committee will meet on June 12 and will review, among other items, a bill seeking to provide workplace protections in emergency health orders and regulations.

  • The Streets and Services Committee will meet on June 15 and will review, among other items, bills authorizing the operation of sidewalk cafes during the COVID-19 emergency and to authorize the Streets Department to permit closure of the public right-of-way during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

  • The Public Property Committee will meet on June 19 and will review, among other items, a bill to authorize an Amendment to a Joint-Use Agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pursuant to which certain parcels of real estate constituting the I-95 right-of-way.

  • The Finance Committee will meet on June 17 and will review, among other items, a bill to provide for additional extensions of certain benefits for the “Keystone Opportunity Zone, Economic Development District, and Strategic Development Area,” for the purpose of facilitating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Chamber, and our industry partners, were successful in amending the bills seeking to regulate the landlord-tenant relationship prior to being voted out of the Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless Committee.

DETAILED LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Federal: Updates from Washington D.C.

Police Reform Bills in Development

This week Congressional Democrats introduced the Justice in Policing Act, legislation to reform policing standards in response to the death of George Floyd that sparked nationwide protests against racial injustice. The legislation seeks to end forms of police brutality by lifting accountability measures and improving transparency, striving for equal justice. The bill would also make lynching a federal crime, ban no-knock warrants, create a national registry for policy violations, collect more data on violent force disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age, etc., and limit federal funding for state and local police unless certain requirements are met. Congressional Democrats have called for passage of the bill this month.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican leaders have named Senator Tim Scott to lead a working group of Republican colleagues in drafting their version of a police reform bill. A 10-point summary draft of the bill, named the JUSTICE Act, shows many similarities to the Democrats’ proposal, including anti-lynching language, no-knock warrants limitations, increased data collection, as well as funding for police body cameras. The Senate bill is expected for release in the days ahead.

The two efforts in tandem by Republicans and Democrats increases the probability that a bipartisan police reform package can pass in both House and Senate.

Questions? Contact Anselm Sauter (asauter@chamberphl.com) for more information about federal legislative affairs.

State: Updates from Harrisburg

Gov. Wolf Announces $225 Million in Small Business Grants

This week, Governor Tom Wolf announced a $225 million statewide grant program to support small businesses that were impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis and subsequent business closure order.

The funding was approved by the General Assembly and allocated through the recently enacted state budget, which included $2.6 billion in federal stimulus funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, of which $225 million was earmarked for relief for small businesses.

The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will distribute the funds to the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which will then administer the funding in the form of grants.

Eligible businesses will be able to use the grants to cover operating expenses during the shutdown and transition to re-opening, and for technical assistance including training and guidance for business owners as they relaunch their businesses.

The funds will be available through three programs:

  • $100 million for the Main Street Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the governor’s March 19, 2020 order relating to the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses and have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19.
  • $100 million for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program for small businesses that experienced loss as a result of the business closure order, have or will incur costs to adapt to new business operations related to COVID-19, and in which socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations.
  • $25 million for the Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program, which will allow the CDFIs the opportunity to offer forbearance and payment relief for existing portfolio businesses that are struggling due to the impact of COVID-19, as well as shore up the financial position of the CDFIs that are experiencing significant increased defaults in their existing loan portfolios.

The PA CDFI Network is a group of 17 PA-based community development financial institutions that primarily provide financing options for small businesses.

General Assembly Approves Measure to Stop Disaster Declaration Extension

Pennsylvania’s General Assembly approved a measure to stop Governor Wolf’s extension of the coronavirus disaster declaration.

The legislatures approved both Senate Bill 1166 and House Resolution 836 by party line votes.

SB 1166 would change the state’s Constitution to alter the way in which emergency declarations are implemented and extended after first being declared by the governor, giving the Legislature the ability to nullify an attempt by the governor to renew his emergency declaration after the initial 30-day period. Current law allows the governor to issue an emergency declaration for up to 90-days before it must be renewed. Wolf, who declared an initial COVID-19 emergency disaster in March, recently extended the declaration for as much as another 90 days, and he maintains he can continue to renew the declaration even if the General Assembly does not agree.

HR 836 seeks to terminate Wolf’s specific coronavirus emergency declaration. Democrats raised concern that Pennsylvania would lose federal CARES relief dollars by terminating the emergency order.

General Assembly to Consider Police Reform Measures

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday, June 15 to vote on House Bills 1841 and 1910.

HB 1841 would require an employer to disclose employment information to a law enforcement agency that is conducting a background investigation of an applicant, and to permit a court to compel the release of such employment information if the employer fails to comply.

HB 1910 seeks to ensure police officers and the judiciary receive mandatory training to help them recognize child abuse early on and be fully aware of the reporting requirements, as well as the full complement of resources available for effective forensic interviewing of abuse victims.

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai has called for a special session of the legislature to address police reform measures.

On Wednesday, members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus announced plans for a comprehensive package of legislation to reform policing in Pennsylvania.

The bills to be introduced by the Senate Democratic Caucus propose to:

  • Improve municipal police officer education and training
  • Institute “8 Can’t Wait” to ban deadly police practices
  • Appoint a special prosecutor for cases of officer-involved shootings
  • Require civilian review boards and provide grants and technical assistance to improve their performance
  • Ban chokeholds
  • Improve police pay
  • Improve standards for the use of deadly force
  • Demilitarize law enforcement
  • Fund a regional policing incentive program and study
  • Ban consent while in custody
  • Create a professional oversight and policy development board for police officers
  • Enhance civil asset forfeiture protections
  • Penalize false reports of “criminal activity” based on race or ethnicity

The Senate is expected to review several police reform measures in its Judiciary and Law & Justice Committees in hearings and voting meetings during the month of June.

Wolf Administration Approves $10.8 million in New COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program Funding

The state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary Dennis Davin announced that 133 companies have been approved for funding in the final disbursement of the COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program (CWCA). The latest cohort of businesses to receive funding includes chiropractors, restaurants, breweries and wineries, salons, and fitness facilities. Over the course of the program, nearly $61 million was awarded to businesses across Pennsylvania.

In total, 745 businesses were approved for loans totaling $60,722,641. View the list of approved projects, new projects are highlighted in yellow.

On March 25, 2020, Governor Wolf announced that the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) authorized the transfer of $40 million to the Small Business First Fund for CWCA. PIDA authorized making $61 million available to provide loans of $100,000 or less to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees.

Businesses seeking further guidance and clarification from DCED can also contact its customer service resource account at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. For the most up-to-date information on Pennsylvania’s response to COVID-19 visit pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19.

House Committee Passes Bill to Prevent RGGI

On Tuesday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee passed House Bill 2025, which would require legislative authorization before Pennsylvania could impose a carbon tax on employers engaged in electric generation, manufacturing, or other industries operating in the Commonwealth, or enter into any multi-state program, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), that would impose such a tax.

In October 2019, Governor Wolf issued an executive order directing PADEP to begin drafting RGGI regulations. RGGI would establish a regional cap on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution that power plants can emit by establishing a trading system. Each unit of trade, known as an allowance, would represent authorization for a power plant to emit one short ton (2,000 lbs) of CO2. Power plants in RGGI member states can trade allowances, preventing the total amount of CO2 emissions in the region from increasing. RGGI would also establish a carbon tax on fossil fuel users for the resulting CO2 emissions.

The bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Speaker of the House to Resign

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai announced Wednesday that he intends to resign on June 15.

It is expected that the current House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) will become the new Speaker.

Upcoming State Virtual Events

Questions? Contact Liz Ferry (lferry@chamberphl.com) for more information about state legislative affairs.

Local: Updates from Philadelphia’s City Hall

Mayor’s Statement on Demonstrations

Pursuant civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, Mayor Kenney issued the following statement on recent demonstrations and new commitments to police reform in light of the public’s calls for change.

COVID-19 Case Data

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced 126 additional confirmed cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Philadelphia since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 23,951. The Department of Public Health confirmed 34 additional fatalities in Philadelphia. This brings the number of residents who have succumbed to the virus in Philadelphia to 1,433. Of the total deaths, 699 (53%) were long-term care facility residents.

Safer at Home (Yellow Phase)

The City has published a Safer at Home plan and executive order that outlines how Philadelphia is reopening for business. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health continues to advise residents that they are safer at home and should only leave to engage in essential activities. 

Lower-risk activities permitted to operate within certain parameters during the Safer-at-Home Order (Yellow Phase) include:

  • Restaurants (including food trucks and walk-up ordering, no dine-in service)
  • Retail businesses (curbside and delivery are strongly encouraged)
  • Child care centers
  • Outdoor youth day camps and recreation
  • Outdoor parks-related amenities
  • Office-based businesses (telework still required whenever feasible)
  • Consumer banking
  • Automobile sales
  • Real estate activities
  • Manufacturing
  • Warehouse operations

Continued Precautions

As they restart, businesses will be required by the Safer-at-Home Order to follow a safety checklist of operations called “Safe Mode” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additional recommendations for different types of businesses and activities are detailed in a separate set of industry-specific guidelines.

Financial Support for Businesses

City Council’s New Normal Budget Act

This week City Council unveiled what they entitled their New Normal Budget Act that seeks to invest $25 million as a first step to address social ills and racial disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest roiling the city and country since the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

City Council Stated Meetings

Last week Council’s State Meeting was held on June 4, 2020. View bills introduced during the session »

City Council’s latest Stated Meeting took place Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Thereafter, remaining Stated Meetings for this session are as follows:

  • Thursday, June 18, 2020
  • Thursday, June 25, 2020

Information on how to give public comment at stated meetings of City Council can be found at phlcouncil.com/offering-public-comment-at-council-sessions-temp.

Budget Hearing Schedule

Due to the recent unrest, City Council’s budget schedule has been modified. View the FY21 Budget Hearing schedule »

City Council Committee Hearings

Commerce and Economic Development

Thursday June 11, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. | View the full agenda »

Of particular interest: Bill 200344 – Seeking to regulate third-party food delivery services, require certain disclosures to consumers, and provide for a limitation on certain fees charged to consumers.

Law and Government

Friday, June 12, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. | View the full agenda »

Of particular interest: Bill 200328 – Seeking to provide workplace protections in emergency health orders and regulations, provide protections for employees against retaliatory actions both for the disclosure of information related to employer non-compliance with such orders and for refusal to work under unsafe conditions caused by non-compliance with such orders.

Streets and Services

Monday, June 15, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.  | View the full agenda »

Of particular interest: Bill 200351Authorizing the operation of sidewalk cafes during the COVID-19 emergency until December 31, 2020 in areas of the City where such activity currently must be otherwise authorized by special ordinance, and allowing expanded activity by currently licensed sidewalk cafe operations.

Bill 200352 – Amending Chapter 11-100 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “General Provisions,” to authorize the Streets Department to permit closure of the public right-of-way, including on street parking spaces, for public health, welfare, and safety purposes during the COVID-19 public health emergency until December 31, 2020, including expansion of business uses that cannot operate in indoor environment or have limited indoor capacity and/or service due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Public Property

Friday June 19, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. | View the full agenda »

Of particular interest: Bill 200354 – Authorizing the Commissioner of Public Property, on behalf of the City of Philadelphia, to enter into an Amendment to a Joint-Use Agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pursuant to which certain parcels of real estate constituting the I-95 right-of-way, located beneath the elevated highway between the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Walt Whitman Bridge, are leased to the City of Philadelphia by the Commonwealth, subleased by the Interstate Land Management Corporation.

Rules Committee

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. | View the full agenda »

Finance

Monday, June 20, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. | View the full agenda »

Of particular interest: Bill 200347Amending Chapter 19-3200 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Keystone Opportunity Zone, Economic Development District, and Strategic Development Area,” to provide for additional extensions of certain benefits, for the purpose of facilitating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Housing, Neighborhood Development and the Homeless

Last Friday 4 of the 5 Bills seeking to regulate the landlord-tenant relationship were voted out of committee. However, Bill 200303 seeking a mandatory year-long rent freeze was held in committee. The Chamber, working with various real estate organizations including PAA, HAPCO, BIA, and BOMA, was successful in amending the following bills prior to being voted out of committee: Amendment to Bill 200294Amendment to Bill 200295Amendment to Bill 200301Amendment to Bill 200302Amendment to Bill 200304Amendment to Bill 200305.

View a full list of Council’s Committee Hearings »

View information on how to give testimony at public hearings of City Council committees »

All Stated Meetings and Public Hearings will be held remotely using Microsoft Teams and can be viewed on Xfinity Channel 64, Fios Channel 40, or online at: phlcouncil.com/watch-city-council

Questions? Contact William Carter (wcarter@chamberphl.com) for more information about local legislative affairs.

WE’RE HERE FOR YOU, YOUR TEAM, AND YOUR BUSINESS

The constantly changing nature of this public health crisis requires continued engagement with public policy developments. We invite you to reach out to our advocacy team directly with your questions: 

Chamber members are invited to join weekly legislative update calls hosted by our Advocacy team to hear the latest on COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts at the federal, state, and local level as well as other legislative matters concerning our community.

We also have a COVID-19 Information Hub with up-to-date resources to support your business.