log in
All Articles | Back

Member Articles


2020 Pennsylvania Legislative Update 

by Annmarie Kaiser

Published: December, 2020

Submission: December, 2020

 



The Pennsylvania General Assembly has concluded the legislative session. COVID-19 significantly changed the format and content of the legislative session. The operating rules were amended to permit remote voting, and the legislative focus centered on the impact of COVID-19 on schools, communities, businesses and the Pennsylvania budget for the FY 2020-2021.

Below is a snapshot of some of the key areas addressed during this session.

Budget
The budget for the FY 2020-2021 passed in two phases. In June 2020, the General Assembly enacted a budget, 1A of 2020, that provided 12 months of funding for education and five months of funding for the remaining items. This permitted additional time to ascertain the amount of federal funding and state revenues that would be available later in the year. In November 2020, 2A of 2020 passed and was approved by Governor Wolf. This provided the spending plan for the remaining seven months. It did not contain any tax increases.

Vetoed Legislation
There were a number of bills vetoed by Governor Wolf pertaining to COVID-19.
  • HB 2388: Granting of waivers to businesses such as car sales, law and garden centers, barber shops and animal grooming;
  • HB 2412: Legal services and residential and commercial real estate;
  • SB 237: COVID-19 Creation of a Cost and Recovery Task Force;
  • HR 836 termination of the disaster emergency;
  • HB 2787 school sports;
  • HB 2513 increasing the capacity limits for food and beverage establishments;
  • SB 1164 changes to the county code pertaining to coroners' investigations; and
  • HB 2440 designating shooting ranges, sportsman clubs, ammunition and firearm manufacturers and retailers as life-sustaining.
 
  • COVID-19 Related Liability: HB1737, as introduced, provided environmental liability protections for land banks, but was amended to include temporary safe harbor provisions against unwarranted COVID-19 related lawsuits for employers and organizations who comply with public health guidelines. The bill provides business, nonprofit, education, child-care facilities and healthcare organizations with protection if they do not act with gross negligence, recklessness, willful misconduct or intentionally inflict harm. Governor Wolf vetoed the bill noting concerns with the scope of the liability protections. 
On November 23, 2020, Governor Wolf noted that his order provides certain individuals and entities (businesses, Commonwealth employees and agents, personnel of local health departments, state and local law enforcement personnel and other authorized government agency personnel) with immunity from civil liability when such entities enforce the Secretary of Health's universal face covering order.

Commerce Courts
Act 111 of 2020 made changes to problem-solving courts, seeking to provide greater access to veterans' courts. In addition, the legislation allowed for the creation of a commerce court program by the Pennsylvania Superior Court and the Court of Common Pleas. This specialized court handles disputes between businesses or the internal affairs, governance or other business matters as set forth in the legislation.

Teacher Certification Requirements
SB 1216 amends the Public School Code to provide the Pennsylvania Department of Education temporary flexibility with respect to teacher certification requirements and was approved by Governor Wolf on November 30, 2020 as ACT 136.

Certification of Nurse Aides
SB 1268 provides for the certification of temporary nurse aides hired during the COVID-19 pandemic and was signed by Governor Wolf on November 25, 2020 as Act 138.

Next Session
The Pennsylvania legislature will return in January 2021 with new members and some changes to the leadership teams. Republicans have maintained majorities in both the Pennsylvania House and the Pennsylvania Senate. The response to COVID-19 and the Commonwealth's fiscal picture will continue to be a primary focus of the Legislature.

If you have any questions for our Government Relations Practice Group, please contact us.



 

 



Link to article

 

MEMBER COMMENTS

 

 

WSG Member: Please login to add your comment.

    Disclaimer

WSG's members are independent firms and are not affiliated in the joint practice of professional services. Each member exercises its own individual judgments on all client matters.

HOME | SITE MAP | GLANCE | PRIVACY POLICY | DISCLAIMER |  © World Services Group, 2021