HARRISBURG – Citing the sweeping economic impact of the Governor’s COVID-19 business closure order, Senator Dave Arnold (R-48) is backing legislation that would allow for waivers for construction activities that use appropriate mitigation measures to prevent exposure to the virus.
The legislation, sponsored by Senator Arnold and Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), the Chairwoman of the Senate Labor & Industry Committee, would require the Department of Community and Economic Development to issue waivers for public and private construction activities that adhere to social distancing practices and other mitigation measures set by the Centers for Disease Control to protect workers and mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Governor’s order has idled thousands of construction workers and adversely impacted the wellbeing of their families.
In fact, Pennsylvania is the only state to shut down all active public and private construction sites as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. While New Jersey, California, Illinois and New York have issued shelter in place orders, those state provide exemptions for construction personnel and construction activities. “The health, safety and well-being of every single person is of the utmost importance” Arnold said. “I have immense compassion for those who are sick. I think we all do. But, I also have compassion for that family who has never relied on the government to put food on their table. Why is Pennsylvania is only state to ban these activities?
The Department of Homeland Security recently designated residential construction as ‘essential infrastructure business’, and I feel the state should adopt their guidance. We are simply asking for parity with what has been deemed essential business in all other states, and by the federal government.” Unfinished construction projects create public health and safety hazards that will increase as the sites are exposed to the elements while also compromising the integrity of building materials and adding additional financial costs to all parties involved.
Senator Arnold also said the closure order not only impacts construction companies, but could also have long-term impacts on state funds, as hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ dollars may be required to cover the costs of “delay claims” that PennDOT will be contractually obligated to pay idled construction companies.
Contact: Greg Moreland, Chief of Staff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-215-5036