Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler

Recognizing that an overly regulated Pennsylvania cannot rebuild and recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler voted with the majority of his colleagues to extend dozens of regulatory suspensions across state government.

“The House Republican Caucus has argued for years that the state is burdened by an over-regulated state government,” Cutler said. “If there is one thing the pandemic has shown us, it is that those concerns are warranted, and countless industries can operate safely, effectively and to benefit all Pennsylvanians without dealing with unneeded regulations.”

Some examples of suspended regulations included in House Bill 1861 would be allowing flexibility in the unemployment compensation process, such as allowing hearings and decisions to be made more quickly; allowing for certain flexibility in facility and licensure certifications for health care providers to ensure as many qualified professionals can be on hand and more efficiently distribute vaccinations; plus nearly a dozen more suspensions.

“Extending these temporary provisions is the right move at this time, but this cannot and should not be a regular act by the Legislature every six months,” Cutler added. “Now that it is proven these regulations can be put on hold, I look forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to make many of these suspensions permanent.”

The legislation passed the Senate earlier in the day and now awaits the governor’s signature.

Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff said that House Bill 1861, legislation sponsored by Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) that deals with the nearly 500 regulations waived and suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, is heading to the governor.

Wednesday’s action follows an extension of the waivers and suspensions when the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration expired in June until Sept. 30.

“Back in June, when these regulatory waivers and suspensions were continued, it was done so we could have additional time to review the impact of the waivers and suspensions, whether the regulations were still needed, and what—if any—needed to be modified. This bill reflects the first major effort at tackling this massive change,” Benninghoff said.

While a number of regulations were reinstated in the legislation, the bill does extend waivers and extensions in a number of areas for an additional six months, including for tele-health and medical care, while the General Assembly continues to review the waived and suspended regulations.

“When looking at a massive upset of our traditional regulatory scheme and forging a path forward, especially while still navigating a global pandemic, the priority must be: First, do no harm. While this bill does bring back online a number of needed waived and suspended regulations, it keeps in place critical waivers for tele-health, the provision of medical and mental health services, and important provisions to help government and business operate during the pandemic,” Benninghoff added.

“This bill takes several positive steps in reforming our regulatory framework, continuing to respond to and responsibly manage this pandemic, and keep an eye toward future reforms,” he concluded.