Businesses to Lawmakers: Prioritize COVID Recovery Over Ballot Challenges

Keystone State News Connection

May 12, 2022

Emily Scott

More than 60 businesses across Pennsylvania signed a letter to legislative leaders, calling on them to focus on improving the economic climate and abandon efforts making it harder for people to vote.

The letter calls attention to the state’s no-excuse mail voting law passed in 2019. It has faced legal challenges after a Commonwealth Court judge sided earlier this year with some Republican lawmakers, who believe it violates the state Constitution.

Richard Eidlin, national policy director at Business for America, said some businesses feel there’s been an unnecessary amount of attention on relitigating the 2020 election.

“We feel that the Legislature has failed to address more important problems like recovering from the pandemic,” Eidlin asserted. “So our intent with the letter was to make it known that the business community really expects Democrats and Republicans to find ways to work together.”

The voting law is awaiting a decision by the state Supreme Court and is in place for next Tuesday’s primary election. Eidlin pointed out Business for America has brought together Republican and Democratic leaders for a series of dialogues to find common ground on voting rights and election integrity and security.

Jabari Jones, president of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, a business association, said 92% of its businesses temporarily closed during the pandemic. He added he would like to see the state ensure more American Rescue Plan dollars reach businesses.

“We did a survey of about 100 companies in our district and found that the average business had about $9,000 in unpaid back-due expenses that are wrapped up from the pandemic,” Jones observed. “So there was an opportunity to invest some of the disaster relief money to helping businesses get caught up.”

Dennis Guy, CEO of First Sip Brew Box, a craft beer media company in Pittsburgh, said allocating funds for programs to drive revenue is key for businesses still recovering from the pandemic.

“Our electric bill needs to be paid at the end of the month,” Guy stressed. “I need to be able to be a part of a program where you’re actually creating assets, a tangible result for that business so that they can be around six months from now.”

Pennsylvania has $1.7 billion in unused American Rescue Plan dollars to spend by 2024.