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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 6, 2023 03:03 PM
From: Representative Brad Roae
To: All House members
Subject: Allowing Small Businesses to Stay Open During States of Emergency
The Governor may shut down small businesses again and permit large corporate owned stores to stay open to sell the same things as the smaller, closed stores.  If COVID-19 cases rise, the days of red, yellow, and green categories could return.
In March of 2020, Governor Wolf closed bike shops, bookstores, shoe stores, etc., but let big box stores sell bikes, books, shoes, etc.  Customers were banned from shopping nearly alone in small stores but encouraged to shop in larger stores with hundreds of other customers.
I will soon reintroduce legislation that seeks to strike a compromise with the anti-small business Administration.  This legislation is very similar to my HB2376 which passed the 2019-2020 session in the House but was not voted on in the Senate.  It allows one customer to shop at a time in small business stores during a state of emergency.  One customer at a time in a small store makes social distancing easier than hundreds of customers at the same time in a large store.
Governor Wolf also banned these smaller closed stores from offering curbside service, except liquor stores.  He then mandated liquor stores be closed to in-person shoppers but allowed them to offer curbside service.  Vacuum cleaner stores and hot tub supply stores were also banned from offering curbside service, but people could walk into “big box” stores to buy vacuum cleaner bags or hot tub supplies.
Many small mom and pop businesses typically only have one customer at a time.  Even if another person came to their store, they could wait until the first customer leaves or have an employee bring the customer what they need to the curb for pick-up.  This is not ideal, but a compromise attempt to prevent 100% shutdowns of small locally owned businesses.
Permanent changes in buying habits have already occurred from the Wolf shutdown.  “Big box” stores and online sellers now have business that locally owned mom and pop stores will have trouble getting back.  I want to keep that problem from getting worse.  I want small stores to always be permitted to sell the same things that big stores sell.
I would greatly appreciate your co-sponsorship of this legislation.

Introduced as HB70