By Rep. Anita Kulik
Too often lately it seems that the time we spend in Harrisburg is not as productive as many of us would like. So many times it seems that the House and Senate leadership concentrate on bills with a very narrow scope of impact, ones that in reality will not accomplish much for the people of Pennsylvania.
This was not the case this past session week, where the House passed out some bills that will help residents and businesses.
House Bill 425 came back from the Senate for vote on the house floor. This bill came out of the liquor control committee and was amended in the Senate to include language from several House bills. I was particularly happy that legislation that I had proposed was made part of the final bill.
I had introduced House Bill 738 to provide assistance to small businesses that had their liquor licenses put in safekeeping. When a licensed business that has a liquor license is closed for 15 days or more (for example for renovation or in a time of economic difficulty), they must deactivate their liquor license to be held by Harrisburg for “safekeeping” for up to two years until they’re ready to reopen.
Too many businesses have encountered problems of varying types and degrees, especially during the past year and a half. Many establishments had their liquor licenses in safekeeping for renovations prior to the pandemic, and then faced financial instability and reopening troubles.
The language of my bill, language that is now incorporated into House Bill 425, allows any restaurant, eating place, retail dispenser, hotel, importing distributor and distributor licensee and any club or catering club licensee, an additional year of safekeeping. The additional year of safekeeping will begin at renewal for licensees after December 31, 2021.
During this time of extension, licensees will have an extra year to consider their options, especially in a time when licenses are not easily resold. This extension will be a lifeline to businesses that have had trouble reopening by giving them time to regroup without worry about the viability or status of their liquor licenses.
House Bill 425 was also amended to remove barriers for outdoor dining and expanded off-site catering permits. The bill also allows a licensed business that permanently closes to sell its unused product to another qualified licensee. House Bill 425 is awaiting signature by the Governor.
House Bill 1819 was also passed by the House, and addressed issues with the unemployment compensation system. This bill will require claimants to show good faith efforts in obtaining employment, and not take any action to unreasonably discourage the claimant's hire for suitable work. This would include such things as refusing to show up for an interview.
Several bills have been signed into law by the Governor this past week. Several have to do with professional licensure, and extend the amount of credits that can be available for distance learning, particularly for barber and cosmetology students.
The Governor also signed into law House Bill 184 that provides a sentencing enhancement for a conviction of causing, aiding or soliciting a person to die by suicide when the person is under 18 years of age, has an intellectual disability or has autism spectrum disorder.
I am so proud to be a member of the House Veteran's Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. I recently took part in the USO Trunk or Treat for our area’s military families, and I am looking forward to celebrating Veteran's Day with our many heroes in the district. We must all take the time to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice.
My staff and I continue to remain busy at our district offices addressing many of the constituent issues that had been put by the wayside during the pandemic. Please contact us if you need help with LIHEAP, Connect Cards, PennDOT or other matters.