With the finalization of the 2021-22 State Budget, the Legislature is now on summer recess until mid-September. Bills that would support businesses are therefore on hold. The Chamber will continue to advocate for policy changes to encourage people to return to the workforce.
Legislation of interest to many employers would have ended the $300 per week federal Unemployment Compensation bonus prior to early September. Business leaders and a recent poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce cite this bonus as a significant factor in keeping individuals from returning to work. While bills introduced in both the House and Senate are now moot, the governor also has the ability to end the bonus payments early. The Chamber is joining other chambers of commerce from across the state and the PA Chamber of Business and Industry in calling on Governor Wolf to end the bonus payments as soon as possible.
The PA Department of Labor and Industry will reimplement the requirement that individuals receiving unemployment benefits demonstrate active work search the week of July 11. House Bill 406 would have resumed the requirement sooner. The bill passed the House 187-14 but stalled in the Senate.
With the end of the emergency declaration in early June, several special rules to support the restaurant industry ended. House Bill 1154 would make drinks to go permanent and extend expanded outdoor seating for licensed establishments until the end of 2022. The bill, sponsored by Representative Kurt Masser, passed the House 187-14 but was modified in the Senate. After Governor Wolf threatened to veto the Senate version, the House worked on compromise language but a final concurrence vote has not yet occurred in the Senate. Senator Scott Martin, R-Lancaster County, is asking Senate leadership to call senators into session to vote on the bill before a special rule allowing them to vote remotely expires on June 30th.
Pending finalization of that legislation, the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association is advising that establishments that applied for the temporary expanded premises outdoor seating last year can apply for a permanent extension at PLCB+. Log in, click on “Other License Changes/Amendments” and select “Extension of Premise” from the drop-down menu. There is a $220 fee and an inspection will be required to pursue this option. While the site says establishments cannot operate until you have an inspection, upon completion of your application, the PLCB will send a letter granting temporary operating authority until inspection from the PLCB is received.