Senator Laughlin Supports Waivers to Reopen PA’s Construction Industry

Citing the sweeping economic impact of the Governor’s COVID-19 business closure order, Senator Dan Laughlin is backing legislation that would allow construction activities to resume if appropriate mitigation measures are taken to prevent exposure to the virus.

The legislation supported by Senator Laughlin 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 recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to protect workers and mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“The Governor’s business closure order has idled thousands of construction workers and adversely impacted the well-being of their families,” said Senator Laughlin. “By its very nature the construction business is one where safe distancing and the other preventative measures can easily be put into practice. The fact that hardware store are open is a prime example of why construction companies play an essential role in our communities. As we move forward, we hope to work with employers to ensure that workers won’t be fired simply because they have someone at home with a pre-existing condition”

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 states provide exemptions for construction personnel and construction activities.

“Unfinished construction projects pose public health and safety hazards,” Senator Laughlin said. “Those dangers increase as those sites are exposed to the elements and inclement weather will also compromise the integrity of the building materials on site and add additional financial costs to all parties involved,”

Senator Laughlin 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:         Matt Azeles       

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