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Last Week in the Legislature

Source: PA Chamber of Business and Industry

Both the state House and Senate were in session last week, considering proposals related to unemployment compensation, energy efficiency requirements, workplace regulation, and more. Here is a rundown of some of the action that occurred last week in the Legislature relevant to employers.

Discouraging ‘Ghosting’ Interviews/Jobs (S.B. 1109)

The Senate voted 31-19 to pass Senate Bill 1109 last Wednesday.

This legislation clarifies existing Unemployment Compensation eligibility standards to codify that an individual is not eligible for benefits if they discourage their own employment.

Under current law, UC claimants are generally required to engage in an active search for work, including applying for open positions in their field, engaging in other work search activities, and interviewing for jobs.

Unfortunately, employers report interviewing job candidates who admit they are only applying to comply with the work search requirement and often fail to show up for job interviews or work, known as “ghosting.” This bill would clarify the law to disqualify claimants who discourage their own employment. It would not create any additional requirements for claimants who are searching or applying for work in good faith.

We supported this legislation (CLICK HERE for PA Chamber of Business and Industry memo), which now heads to the House Labor and Industry Committee for consideration.

Unemployment Benefit Eligibility for Striking Workers (amendment to S.B. 1109)

During consideration of Senate Bill 1109 last Wednesday, the Senate voted 23-27 to defeat an amendment to grant unemployment compensation (UC) benefits to individuals who voluntarily go on strike.

The PA Chamber opposed this amendment and expressed a number of concerns:

Competitiveness: Currently only two states pay benefits to striking workers and California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsome recently vetoed similar legislation. This proposal makes Pennsylvania a less attractive place to do business.

Tax increases: This proposal unfairly tilts the playing field and means higher taxes on employers.

Cost: Pennsylvania’s UC trust fund remains below a healthy solvency level under federal standards and is not prepared to withstand a potential recession. Employers are already paying an additional tax as a result and this proposal will exacerbate the current strain on the fund.

The federal government and states have considered criteria for UC eligibility during work-stoppages – for example, providing eligibility in the event of a lockout or during a strike if the working conditions or terms of employment have changed. Additionally, unions establish funds to pay workers if they voluntarily go on strike. This proposal would reverse a precedent that has been agreed to for nearly 90 years.

PA Human Relations Act Expansion (H.B. 2105)

The House voted 102-99 to pass House Bill 2105 last Wednesday along party lines.

H.B. 2105 proposes to lower the threshold for an employer to be subject to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act from four to two employees, which could trigger unintended consequences for these extremely small businesses, many of which may be just getting started.

Both federal and state anti-discrimination laws have always included a small business exemption, recognizing the unique impact to these businesses, including on those just getting started that may be particularly susceptible to unfounded or frivolous claims but lack the resources to defend themselves. Additionally, employers often defend against an allegation of discrimination by citing their hiring and workforce history – an employer hiring their first employees does not have that option. We opposed this bill, which now goes to the Senate.

PA Human Relations Act Policy and Posting Requirements (H.B. 2104)

The House voted 102-99 to pass House Bill 2104 last Wednesday along party lines.

This legislation would require employers to adopt and post written policies and procedures for preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against employees.

The bill imposes new requirements on employers to adopt specific policies as eventually outlined by the PA Human Relations Commission and post those policies in the workplace. Employers who are found to have violated any of these requirements of this act may be subject to penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

The PA Chamber has suggested several modest amendments that were ultimately incorporated into the bill, including requiring the PHRC to create model policies and to notify employers of any changes to the model policies, requiring the waiver of penalties for first violations in most cases, and allowing employers the flexibility to post their policies on a website available to employees.

Rural Population Revitalization (H.B. 2225)

The House Agriculture Committee voted 22-3 to advance House Bill 2225 out of committee last Tuesday.

This legislation would establish a Rural Population Revitalization Commission to connect policymakers, local officials, and subject experts to examine what programs and services are currently in place and to develop a revitalization plan for rural Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s rural areas are projected to lose 5.8 percent of their population by 2050. These communities will face increased challenges meeting their workforce needs, providing education opportunities, maintaining access to local healthcare, providing emergency and other critical services, and more.

We supported this legislation, which is now eligible for a final vote in the full House.

Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards (H.B. 1615)

The House Consumer Protection, Technology, and Utilities Committee voted 17-8 to advance House Bill 1615 out of committee last Tuesday.

This legislation would require energy efficiency and water conservation standards for commercial and residential appliances sold in the Commonwealth. The bill would also authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to set energy efficiency and water conservation standards for any appliance used in a commercial or residential setting. Any appliance not in compliance will be prohibited from being sold or installed.

We urged lawmakers to hold off on considering this bill until they could engage with stakeholders to understand their concerns before proceeding (CLICK HERE for the PA Chamber of Business and Industry memo). The bill is now eligible for a final vote in the full House.

Overregulating Food Processing Industry (H.B. 2235)

The House Labor & Industry Committee voted 14-11 to advance House Bill 2235 out of committee last Tuesday.

This legislation proposes numerous mandates and a comprehensive regulatory framework specifically targeting the food processing industry.

The bill would create mandates on the food processing and meatpacking industries, addressing a wide range of employment and workplace policies, including related to safety standards; dictating new employee orientation and training; time off; workplace safety committees; and response to a public health emergency, among other areas.

The mandates in this bill are generally duplicative with mandates that exist under other state or federal laws, and are therefore likely to create compliance complications and expose employers to the penalties and civil actions outlined in the bill.

We opposed this legislation (CLICK HERE for the PA Chamber of Business and Industry memo), which is now eligible for a final vote in the full House.


Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.

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