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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 5, 2020 03:46 PM
From: Representative Daniel J. Deasy
To: All House members
Subject: Resolution Regarding Utility Rate Hikes
As we navigate unchartered territory as a result of the global pandemic that plagues our state and country, we are seeing record unemployment rates.    To give a clear picture of the impact, the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis is forecasting that our great Nation's unemployment rate could rise to 30% during this pandemic. The national unemployment rate was 25% during the Great Depression.   The national number of those on unemployment currently exceeds 22 million.  Pennsylvania alone has over 1.7 million unemployed and as of April 30, over $3.6 billion in unemployment benefits have been distributed. 
During this crisis we are all witnessing economic devastation that few have ever experienced.   Families and businesses are struggling and are not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel.  Steps have been taken to try and soften the blow.  Pennsylvania has distributed over $61 million in small business loans in addition to the federal small business loans and payroll protection loans.  Even still, these funds are only a drop in the bucket to what is needed to help small businesses sustain in Pennsylvania.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, Pennsylvania is home to the nearly 1.1 million small businesses in Pennsylvania who employ over 2.5 million workers.  These workers account for 46.6% of the private sector workforce (U.S. SBA – 2016 report).
As we look at how Pennsylvania can possibly recover from this crisis, we have to think about steps we can take now to help our residents that are unemployed and struggling as well as how we can help small businesses to give them a fighting chance of being able to survive.  Now is not the time to be raising expenses on what is the backbone of our Commonwealth. 
To that end, I am surprised and disappointed in utility companies who are looking to increase rates (some proposals as high as 24%) at a time when families are struggling to stay in their homes and small businesses, not to mention non-profit organizations, educational institutions, etc., are fighting to survive. 
I am, therefore, introducing a resolution urging the Public Utility Commission to put a freeze on all requests for utility rate hikes through 2020.  Our state and country cannot recover if families and small businesses file bankruptcy. 

Please join me as a co-sponsor and in this fight for our residents and communities.

Introduced as HR869