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 25, 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

  • The expected Congressional July 4th recess leaves only several weeks of a summer session to advance significant priority packages before returning in September, including legislation related to appropriations, transportation, defense, police reform, and additional pandemic relief.

  • A motion to proceed failed this week on Senate Republicans’ JUSTICE Act. Senate Democrats are calling for bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point to move a comprehensive police reform bill forward.

  • The Senate appropriations process may be delayed as partisan differences take shape on provisions Senators are seeking to include in the FY21 appropriations bills.

  • House Democrats released the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion proposal for infrastructure spending. The bill is not expected to be considered in the Senate. The Trump Administration has said it is preparing its own nearly $1 trillion infrastructure proposal.

  • Senate Republicans are expected to release a next-phase proposal for COVID-19 relief and assistance in late July with a focus on business liability protections and incentives for people to get back to work.

State

  • The PA House elected Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) as Speaker of the House and the House Republican Caucus elected Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) to serve as the next majority leader in addition to filling other leadership positions.

  • The PA Senate Communications and Technology Committee passed several broadband accessibility bills this week to improve access in rural areas and to allow broadband expansion using existing infrastructure.

  • PA’s Independent Fiscal Office released its official FY20-21 revenue estimate and is projecting a $3.5 billion revenue shortfall for FY19-20.

  • Governor Wolf has extended the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) regulation deadline to provide additional time for the Department of Environmental Protection’s governing bodies to review and approve the proposal.

Local

  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia have exceeded 25,000 with over 1,500 deaths.

  • The City announced a $1.4 million Restore and Reopen Program and $3 million Restart PHL Loan Fund for businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest.

  • The City released the Reopening with Care strategy for moving to the Green Phase of reopening on July 3. If certain targets are met and safety guidelines followed, new industry segments – including salons, gyms, schools, colleges, and museums – will be able to open as we enter green.

  • The Chamber mobilized our community to provide feedback and testimony to City Council prior to and during last week’s hearing on the Emergency Paid Sick Leave bill. Due to these, and other efforts, the bill was amended to exempt businesses with under 500 employees and to sunset at the end of the calendar year.

  • 16 bills were introduced during the June 11 and 18 City Council sessions. View our full legislative update below for summaries of each of these pieces of legislation.

DETAILED LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Federal: Updates from Washington D.C.

Congressional Recess and Outstanding Actions

Congress is expected to recess for two weeks following Independence Day at the end of next week, leaving only two to three weeks in all of July and August between the House and Senate to advance significant priority packages before returning in September. These include the FY21 Appropriations Bills, a Surface Transportation Reauthorization, and the National Defense Authorization Act, all of which will need to be completed by September 30. In addition, the prospect of the passage of a comprehensive police reform bill and an additional phase of COVID-19 relief and assistance package remains unclear.

Comprehensive Police Reform

A motion to proceed failed this week on Republican Senator Tim Scott’s comprehensive police reform package, the Just and Unifying Solutions To Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. Senate Democrats would not vote to open debate and offer amendments on the proposal calling it so “threadbare and lacking in substance” that it did not provide a proper baseline for negotiations. Instead, Senate Democrats are calling for bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point. Both sides had hoped to pass a police reform bill before Independence Day, but it remains unclear whether Congress will pass anything at all after Democrats blocked the Republicans’ police reform proposal.

The Senate is not expected to consider the House Democrats’ proposal, the Justice in Policing Act, which is up for a floor vote.

FY21 Appropriations

The Senate appropriations process may be delayed as partisan differences take shape on provisions Senators are seeking to include in the FY21 appropriations bills. Republicans allege that Democrats are introducing certain “poison pill” amendments that will derail efforts to pass subcommittee spending bills because they will not have bipartisan support. The compromise last summer to lift the budget caps for FY21 spending prohibits the use of poison bills or policy riders. Republican leaders believe that until the Appropriations Committee returns to a bipartisan framework in the amendment process, the markups will be delayed.    

Meanwhile, the House will soon begin markups on subcommittee spending bills remotely with intent to bring spending bills to the House floor at the end of July.

Infrastructure Spending

This week, House Democrats released the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion proposal for infrastructure spending. The package includes a five-year $494 billion surface transportation reauthorization called the INVEST In America Act which was voted out of committee last week. In addition, the spending bill invests in school buildings, child care facilities, affordable housing, broadband, as well as water, clean energy, and health care infrastructure. The House Democrats’ transportation proposal does not include any revenue raising measures to offset the total costs of the bill.

The bill will likely pass from the House floor along party lines and is not expected to be considered in the Senate. The Senate’s highway reauthorization was unanimously approved in committee last summer.  Several more Senate committees need to finish their work on the measure in the Senate.

Meanwhile, The Trump Administration has said it is preparing a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure proposal as part of its push to stimulate the economy that would invest mostly in traditional infrastructure and broadband.

Additional Phase of Coronavirus Relief and Assistance

Senate Republicans continue their evaluation of the impact of previous pandemic-related legislative packages before they intend to release a proposal for additional aid, which they have said could come at the end of July.

Leader McConnell has said the next phase of legislation must be within $1 trillion, include business liability protections, and should be narrowly focused on creating incentives for people to get back to work. Many Republicans have worried that additional expanded unemployment payments will discourage people from returning to work. In previous legislation, Congress had enhanced unemployment aid by $600 a week which is set to expire on August 1, 2020. Democrats have wanted to extend the expanded unemployment benefit, while Republicans are interested in a return to work bonus that would be paid over a period of weeks for those that stop collecting unemployment to go back to work.   

Last month, the House passed its HEROES Act, a sweeping $3 trillion dollar proposal for economic assistance and relief that, among other provisions, extends the expanded unemployment benefits and enacts hazard pay provisions.

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

State: Updates from Harrisburg

PA House Elects New Speaker

On Monday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives elected Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) as the 141st Speaker of the House. Cutler was first elected to the House in 2006 and rose quickly through the ranks of leadership.

The House Republican Caucus held private elections to fill open leadership positions. House Republicans chose Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) to serve as the next majority leader. Most recently serving as majority whip, Benninghoff has held several leadership positions within the state House, including two terms as Majority Policy Committee chairman and chairman of the House Finance and State Government committees.

Members also elected Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) to serve as whip and Rep. Martin Causer (R-Mckean/Cameron/Potter) as the Republican Policy Committee chair. Oberlander previously served as caucus secretary and Majority Policy Committee chairman. Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) retains his position, as does Caucus Chair Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery), Caucus Secretary Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset) and Caucus Administrator Kurt Masser (R-Northumberland/Columbia/Montour).

Senate Committee Passes Broadband Bills

The Senate Communications and Technology Committee passed several broadband accessibility bills this week.

The committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 835, to establish a grant program to improve access to high speed broadband internet in rural areas of the Commonwealth, and Senate Bill 1118 and House Bill 2438, bills that would allow broadband expansion using existing infrastructure.

The state House passed HB 2438 unanimously on June 10.

IFO Releases Revenue Estimate for FY 2020-2021

This week, Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office released its official Fiscal Year 2020-21 revenue estimate.

According to the IFO, FY 2019-2020 will end with $32 billion in revenue, which is $3.5 billion short of what the IFO projected last year at the start of FY 2019-2020. That’s $200 million better than what the IFO estimated would be the situation once the current fiscal year ended, due to improved revenue collections of the personal income tax, the sales and use tax, and the corporate net income tax.

Governor Wolf Extends RGGI Regulation Deadline

In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf issued an executive order requiring the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to draft a regulation by July 31, 2020 to allow Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a coalition of 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that mandate a market-based program to cap and reduce CO2 emissions.

This week, the Governor announced that the DEP would have an extra six weeks to develop the regulation because the proposal failed to receive the approval of the agency’s advisory bodies – the Citizens Advisory Council and the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee.

On Tuesday, the state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a hearing to examine RGGI and how joining the coalition would affect Pennsylvania.

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

Local: Updates from Philadelphia’s City Hall

COVID-19 Case Data

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced 275 additional confirmed cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Philadelphia since June 19. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 25,116. The Department of Public Health confirmed four additional fatalities in Philadelphia. This brings the number of residents who have succumbed to the virus in Philadelphia to 1,526. Of the total deaths, 781 (51%) were long-term care facility residents.

With the total number of cases in Philadelphia crossing the 25,000 threshold, Mayor Jim Kenney offered a note of caution: “Some may think that the pandemic is no longer a big deal,” said the Mayor. “But passing this 25,000 mark is a sobering reminder that COVID-19 remains a serious threat…so as we approach the Green Phase, Philadelphia residents must consistently adhere to safety precautions — wear a mask, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands.”

Because the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has fallen substantially from the peak in late April and hospitals are gradually returning to normal operations, as such the City is no longer including totals of hospitalizations in the weekday press releases. It is available to reporters on request.

Restore and Reopen Program 

The City announced two new funding options for businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest—the Restore and Reopen Program and the Restart PHL Loan Fund.

The Restore and Reopen Program will provide $1.4 million in grant funding to help small, independently-owned businesses that experienced damage or inventory loss from the recent civil unrest, focusing on businesses in historically disadvantaged communities. The Merchants Fund is administering this program; visit their website to view eligibility requirements and to complete an application. Applications will be evaluated beginning Monday, June 29, not as they are received. The application for the $3 million Restart PHL Loan Fund from PIDC is expected to be available by the end of the month.

Reopening with Care (Green Phase)

Last week, the City released Reopening with Care, Philadelphia’s Strategy for Moving to the Green Phase of reopening from the COVID-19 stay at home order. While the Governor authorized Philadelphia County to move to “Green” effective June 26, based on local targets for progress, City officials will not allow Green Phase activities to begin until at least July 3. A limited number of activities will be able to resume on June 26, while the city is still in the Yellow Phase, including: residential swimming pools and private swim clubs; zoos (outside only); personal services such as salons, barbers, and spas; small indoor social and religious gatherings (up to 25 people).

The following activities are newly allowed in the Green Phase beginning July 3 in Philadelphia if targets are met:

  • Outdoor group recreational and sports activities for youth and adults
  • Gyms and indoor exercise classes
  • Schools and colleges
  • Libraries and museums
  • Indoor shopping malls
  • Outdoor performances and small outdoor events (up to 50 people)
  • Restaurants with indoor seating (with occupancy restrictions)

City Council Committee Hearings

On June 22, 2020 at 2:30 p.m., City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Services held a hearing on Councilmember Kendra Brooks’ Emergency Paid Sick Leave Bill 200303.  The Bill, as introduced, proposed to mandate that businesses provide 14 days of paid sick leave pursuant to emergency declarations like the COVID-19 pandemic.

In preparation for the hearing, the Chamber’s Local Legislative team, Council Connectors, and other stakeholder organizations further engaged Committee Members, including participation on a Zoom call arranged by Councilmember Brooks and a Chamber City Hall Connectors call with Chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee, Councilmember Cindy Bass. Additionally, the Chamber offered testimony during the hearing, as did other stakeholder organizations.

Due to these, and other efforts, Bill 200303 was voted out of committee with several amendments, including exempting businesses with under 500 employees from its purview and adding a sunset for the legislation of December 31, 2020.  As there are is only one Council Session remaining in the Spring term – June 25 – the earliest the bill can be finalized will be September 10, 2020 when Council returns from summer recess.

City Council Stated Meetings

City Council’s latest Stated Meeting took place on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 10 a.m. The next stated meeting of Council will take place on Thursday, September 10, 2020. View confirmed meeting dates and agendas »

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.

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

Bills Recently Introduced in City Council

Bill #StatusDate IntroducedDescription

200382

IN COMMITTEE

6/18/2020

Amending Chapter 17-500 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Goals for the Participation of Disadvantaged Owned Business Enterprises in City Contracts,” by adding a new requirement that City Council be notified of certain changes to existing City contracts valued over $1 million to ensure expansions adhere to participation goals and standards, all under certain terms and conditions.

200381

IN COMMITTEE

6/18/2020

Amending Chapter 9-800 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Landlord and Tenant,” requiring landlords to give tenants notice of alternative ways to meet tenant obligations to make security deposits; and by providing for certain landlord and tenant responsibilities related to the payment of rent and security deposits; all under certain terms and conditions.

200380

IN COMMITTEE

6/18/2020

Amending Chapter 22-800, entitled “Purchase of Credited Service,” of Title 22 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Public Employees Retirement Code,” to allow certain employees to purchase credited service for prior military service without the payment of certain interest for a certain time period, and to make technical amendments; all under certain terms and conditions.

200375

IN COMMITTEE

6/11/2020

Authorizing the overnight truck parking for the commercial vehicle of Vincent Cappello, owner and operator of Vinny’s Fruit and Produce, located in the right-of-way on the north side of Dickinson Street between 9th and 10th Street, and excepting Mr. Cappello from certain provisions of Section 9-203 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Street Vendors,” and certain provisions of Section 12-901 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Stopping, Standing or Parking Prohibited at Certain Places,” all under certain terms and conditions.

200374

IN COMMITTEE

6/11/2020

Renaming and designating Chalfont Playground in Northeast Philadelphia as the “Corporal Jimmy O’Connor Memorial Playground”.

200373

IN COMMITTEE

6/11/2020

Authorizing Gojjo Incorporated (“Owner”) to install, own, and maintain a proposed sidewalk café at 4536-40 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143 (“Property”), all under certain terms and conditions.

200372

IN COMMITTEE

6/11/2020

Amending Chapter 19-1300 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Real Estate Taxes,” by providing for the termination of real estate tax abatements for certain improvements to, or construction of, certain residential, commercial, industrial or other business properties; all under certain terms and conditions.

200371

IN COMMITTEE

6/11/2020

Amending Chapter 19-1100 of The Philadelphia Code (“Personal Property Taxes”) to impose an annual tax on certain intangible personal property, all under certain terms and conditions.

200369

IN COMMITTEE

6/11/2020

Authorizing City Officials to file Articles of Incorporation to establish a Non-Profit Corporation that shall be called The Philadelphia Poverty Action Fund for the purpose of reducing poverty in Philadelphia.

200368

REPORTED FAVORABLY, SUSPENSION

6/11/2020

Amending Title 10 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Regulation of Individual Conduct and Activity,” by adding a new Chapter 10-2500, entitled “Prohibited Physical Contact by Peace Officers,” to prevent unnecessary death or injury via asphyxiation by prohibiting certain physical contact by peace officers, all under certain terms and conditions.

200366

IN COMMITTEE

6/11/2020

Amending Section 19-1303(4) of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Authorization to Offer Exemption from Real Estate Taxes on New Construction of Residential Properties,” by modifying the start date of certain changes to tax abatements with respect to new residential construction, all under certain terms and conditions.

200365

REPORTED FAVORABLY, SUSPENSION

6/11/2020

Amending Chapter 9-2500 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Fire Suppression System Workers,” to provide for additional licensing requirements for fire suppression system workers, all under certain terms and conditions.

200364

REPORTED FAVORABLY, SUSPENSION

6/11/2020

Amending Title 17 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Contracts and Procurement,” by adding a new Chapter 17-2300, entitled “Public Hearing Required Prior to Execution of a Labor Agreement with City Workers Represented by the Fraternal Order Of Police With Respect To The Workers’ Terms And Conditions Of Employment,” by establishing certain definitions; and requiring a public hearing within thirty (30) days prior to the City entering into or amending a labor agreement with City workers represented by the Fraternal Order of Police, all under certain terms and conditions.

200370

IN COUNCIL – SECOND READING

6/11/2020

Authorizing the Procurement Commissioner, on behalf of the City, to enter into a concession agreement with Bicycle Transit Systems, Inc. for the operation, maintenance and expansion of a bicycle sharing system, an essential service during the COVID-19 period, under certain terms and conditions.

200367

IN COUNCIL – SECOND READING

6/11/2020

Providing for the submission to the qualified electors of the City of Philadelphia of the proposal set forth in a Resolution approved by Council proposing an amendment to The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter relating to the creation of the Citizens Police Oversight Commission; and authorizing the appropriate officers to publish notice and to make arrangements for the special election; all under certain terms and conditions.

200363

IN COUNCIL – SECOND READING

6/11/2020

Amending Section 20-101 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Residence Requirements,” by restoring the requirement that no person shall be appointed as an employee in the civil service, including but not limited to police officers, unless he or she has been a bona fide resident of the City for at least one year prior to appointment.

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.