|Posted:||March 11, 2021 12:29 PM|
|From:||Representative Brett R. Miller|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Business Waiver and Denial Disclosure Act|
|In the near future, I plan to re-introduce legislation (formerly HB 2465 from 2019-'20) that will amend Section 7301 (f) of Title 35 (Health and Safety) to require that in the context of an Emergency Declaration, all records granting or denying any waiver, exclusion or other exception to a governor’s executive order shall be posted on a publicly accessible internet website within 24 hours of the grant or denial. The bill passed out of the House State Government Committee last session but did not advance by the end of session.
Over the past year, members of the public, the business community, the press, and the General Assembly have all asked the Executive Branch for information related to how decisions were made, what businesses were granted or denied waivers to remain open, what criteria was used to determine who could or could not open, why some businesses were allowed to open while their competitors were forced to remain shut down, etc. The Administration repeatedly denied the many Right to Know requests that were submitted and thus prevented the public from obtaining any information related their many questions.
Under growing public pressure, the Administration eventually released a confusing and unsearchable list of businesses that received waivers but concealed information related to what criteria they used to grant or deny a business waiver. Also, prior to releasing the list of businesses that received waivers, the Administration, with no explanation, abruptly suspended the waivers that they had previously granted to multiple businesses throughout the Commonwealth. They gave no explanation and released no scientific evidence showing the basis for the new suspensions.
Transparency in government is always essential and is a critical component of the checks and balances system within our government. Citizens have a right to know why the Executive Branch is forcing the closure of certain businesses and what criteria is being used to do so. The press has a right to this information so it can carry out its reporting, and the General Assembly, as a co-equal branch of government, has a right to know every detail related to forced closures of businesses and waivers that are granted or denied so it can exercise its oversight responsibility of the Executive Branch and advocate on behalf of the business owners throughout the Commonwealth.
Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation that will increase transparency in our government and keep the citizens aware of every aspect of the decisions that are being made in regard to government edicts that impact their lives and livelihoods.
Co-Sponsors from last session include: B. MILLER, ECKER, ROTHMAN, ROAE, DIAMOND, BERNSTINE, RYAN, WARNER, ZIMMERMAN, MACKENZIE, SCHEMEL, RADER, MOUL, MASSER, DONATUCCI, POLINCHOCK, KEEFER, OWLETT, FRITZ, THOMAS, STEPHENS, HICKERNELL, TOOHIL, LEWIS, SCHMITT, SAYLOR, ROWE, SIMMONS, EMRICK, COOK, TOPPER, KLUNK, EVERETT AND MIZGORSKI.
Introduced as HB1481