Republicans call for appeal process for businesses hit by Wolf’s shutdown order

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Hours after Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses statewide to close their doors or face enforcement action if they don’t, Republicans in the state House and Senate voiced concerns about that order.

In a joint statement, Republicans who control the state Senate said they understood Pennsylvania was in “uncharted territory” as officials try to contain the spread of the outbreak.

“At the same time, we know that every business is life-sustaining to someone – whether employers or employees. The economic devastation that is being caused will last long into the future, especially for small-business owners. Because of the manner in which the governor released this information, we have more questions about his unilateral decision than there are answers,” the statement reads.

Senate Republicans called on Wolf “to provide a process for the state’s employers to appeal this decree. Further, the Governor and the Secretaries of Labor and Industry and Community and Economic Development need to become transparent about their decision-making process and publicly answer the many questions this has raised.”

They continued:

“In the meantime, we strongly encourage employers and workers to learn more about resources that may be available to help them cope with the challenges that lie ahead. We will continue to do our part in ensuring every effort is made to help employers and our communities emerge from this crisis stronger than ever,” the statement reads.

In the House, GOP leaders accused the Democratic administration of sparking “a panic …with its edict to shut down employers. The ill-prepared actions, announced after normal business hours, are not only an economic blow to every worker in the state right now but will have ramifications long into the future.

“Any announcement in an emergency event such as this calls for clear and efficient lines of communication, but the open-ended and short-noticed announcement today is the complete opposite and only adds to the sense of chaos many Pennsylvanians are struggling with tonight,’ the joint statement issued by House GOP leadership reads.

They continued:

“These actions will shut down many small, family-owned shops and businesses, not only for the duration of this event, but possibly, and probably, forever.

“The sprawling and confusing list provided by the governor is provided with no explanation, and we will explore all avenues available to us to determine whether the action he’s taken is allowed within our state Constitution.

“It is incumbent upon all state leaders to recognize that long after we have defeated this public health threat, we must have the ability to create economic opportunities for all Pennsylvanians.

“Therefore, we are compelled to raise our voice on behalf of millions of hard-working Pennsylvanians who are already making enormous sacrifices in the face of this worldwide event, none of which was of their own choosing.”

“We remain committed to working cooperatively with the Governor and state agencies to slow the spread of this dangerous virus and ease the impact of this crisis on individuals, families and employers. While at the same time, we will stand with our small-business owners who now face challenges that seemed unfathomable just a few weeks ago.”

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press