Kosierowski supports relief to restaurants, bars and clubs to help workers

HARRISBURG, July 28 – State Rep. Bridget M. Kosierowski, D-Lackawanna, today announced her support of a House Democratic legislative package of bills aimed to provide relief to owners and workers of Pennsylvania’s restaurants, bars and clubs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a serious financial blow to an industry that is the backbone of local economies,” Kosierowski said. “There is no doubt that the hardworking staff and owners of these businesses need our help now more than ever to prevent these businesses from facing permanent closure.”

The House Democratic package includes:

  • Earmarking CARES grant funding from the federal government to be directed to small, community restaurants instead of national chains to ensure those dollars are invested back into the region.
  • Earmarking CARES grant funding from the federal government for Pennsylvania breweries, distilleries and wineries forced to reduce capacity to protect patrons. Most of these businesses are small and family operated and help support multiple community efforts, and this funding will help keep them in operation. 
  • Expanding access to outdoor dining for restaurants and diners, including removing limitations concerning public thoroughfares, fees and delays in approval. Scientific evidence is growing that outdoor activity is a much lower risk than indoor dining, and helping restaurants add space outdoors can help them stay open while giving people an opportunity to get out and enjoy themselves.
  • Waiving the liquor license renewal fee for any bar, restaurant or club that suffered more than a 25% downturn in business due to the virus. The state can wait; the people running the local businesses might not be able to.
  • Increasing the discount for restaurants and bars holding liquor licenses when they purchase wholesale alcohol from 10% to 15%, putting more money back in the pockets of operators to keep their doors open and staff employed.
  • Eliminating the $500 off-premise catering permit fee to allow more restaurants to safely cook food in kitchens and deliver it to safe outdoor locations, as well as remove the March deadline to submit an application to do off-premise catering, and end the 52-event-per-year cap.
  • Eliminating sales tax late payment penalties on restaurants and bars purchasing alcohol from wholesalers and allowing for a repayment grace period when the industry has recovered.
  • Requiring business insurance policies to pay damages and benefits when a disaster emergency is declared. An insurance policy that doesn’t pay the holder when emergencies arise is worse than no coverage at all -- it’s money that could have been used to reinvest in the business thrown away. When the pandemic hit, many policies invoked an “Act of God” loophole to not pay damages, and businesses have suffered.
  • Allowing license holders with licenses in safekeeping relief from paying the license renewal or validation fee for a period of one year. Just a few months ago, many of these businesses were making renovations and improvements that would have put them in a position to remove their license from safekeeping and start operating -- the virus delay shouldn’t stop these entrepreneurs from reinvesting in their communities.

Kosierowski is a co-sponsor of all nine bills in the package.