With protestors afoot outside the Capitol building in Harrisburg, Governor Wolf provided additional information on the Commonwealth’s plans to begin reopening businesses, including construction sites, within Pennsylvania.  Per the Governor, “limited construction” activities will be permitted to resume on May 8, to the extent such activities can occur in compliance with job site regulations the

Thank you to our friends at Capitol Buzz and the McNees Government Relations Group (MSSG) for a great update on bills working their way through the PA General Assembly, which affect public meetings and hearings, construction activities and more.  A few highlights are below, but you should read the entire Capitol Buzz post.

On Tuesday, along strict party lines, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a Republican-sponsored proposal to allow many businesses impacted by Gov. Tom Wolf’s business shutdown order to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House passed Senate Bill 613, which includes language introduced by House Republicans last week to reopen the state’s workforce while practicing social distancing and other mitigation efforts outlined by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The legislation was sent
Continue Reading Updates On Public Meetings & Hearings, Construction Activities, and More from the General Assembly

Here is a headline most developers and builders would not want to see associated with their project: “’Life-sustaining’ casino? Construction continued in South Philly despite Gov. Wolf’s coronavirus shutdown. At least two workers have tested positive.”  Per the above Philadelphia Inquirer article, what has made matters worse for the developer are claims from many trades that the developer, a very large international development company, “wasn’t doing enough to protect them from being infected.”  Moreover, the developer’s “waiver” from the Governor’s Order, that essentially closed all non-life-sustaining businesses (more information available throughout this blog) to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus, is now at risk.

The story provides a great example of what not to do to if you want your business to avoid bad public relations, sick and upset employees and contractors, potential related lawsuits, and putting your waiver at risk.  Below are three short lessons pulled from the article:
Continue Reading A Story of Warning for Developers & Builders Operating in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of State has issued new guidelines for real estate transactions initiated on or before March 5, 2020.  Under the new guidelines, a real estate transaction for the sale of an existing home may proceed with in-person inspections, appraisals, final walk-throughs and title insurance activities if the home was under a signed contract as of March 5, 2020.  For new construction, the same in-person activities are permitted if a contract entered on or before March 5, 2020, provides for closing and delivery of the home to the purchaser on or after March 6, 2020.  The new guidelines reiterate that all remote real estate business is permissible, including virtual or telework operation for desktop appraisals and any appraisal that does not require entrance into a physical location.
Continue Reading New Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions from PA Department of State

If your head hurts, it might be because you are one of the many who have been thrown off the Life-Sustaining Business Roller Coaster, which has had more ups, downs, loops, and spin-arounds than any coaster at Hershey Park.

At 4:00 P.M. yesterday, Governor Wolf released an updated FAQ for Life-Sustaining Business (“Updated FAQ”).  Perhaps the most glaring change is that “[a]ll exemption requests MUST be submitted no later than 5:00 P.M. on Friday, April 3, 2020.”  (Emphasis added.) We have heard the more than 32,000 waiver applications have understandably overwhelmed the Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”), which is charged with reviewing waiver applications.

The Updated FAQ has been revised significantly
Continue Reading WAIVER DEADLINE & New FAQ Updates for Life-Sustaining Businesses

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”), which executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s authorities to secure critical infrastructure, updated its guidance on “what is” and “what is not” essential critical infrastructure to include housing construction.  The addition is significant because Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations, including housing construction job sites, to slow the spread of COVID-19 (“Governor’s Order”).  Interestingly, the Commonwealth’s webpage that provides information on the Governor’s Order specifically references CISA.  It states: “Business guidance has been updated after conversations with businesses, stakeholders, and individuals and has been aligned with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency advisory released.” 
Continue Reading Housing Construction: “Essential Critical Infrastructure” Says U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

During the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate professionals have struggled to get documents notarized while respecting social distancing requirements. The Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), after all, requires an individual making a statement or executing a document to “appear personally” before the notarial officer. Recent direction issued by the Department of State which can be found here, however, indicates that the physical presence requirement in RULONA will be relaxed on a temporary basis for certain types of real estate transactions.

For personal residential real estate transactions
Continue Reading **UPDATE: In-Person Notary Requirements Relaxed for Real Estate Transactions**

From my colleagues with our Government Relations Group and Capitol Buzz:

During the daily COVID-19 update provided by the administration, Gov. Tom Wolf instituted a “shelter-in-place” order for seven counties in the Commonwealth, including those in the Philadelphia region and Allegheny County in western Pennsylvania.

The order, which came 24 hours after the city of Philadelphia announced action of its own to order its residents to stay home, will go into effect starting at 8:00 p.m. Monday, March 23.

Specifically, the “shelter-in-place” order will apply to
Continue Reading **Update 3/23/2020; COVID-19: Shelter in Place for 7 Pennsylvania Counties**

Overview of Force Majeure
With COVID-19 headlines dominating the news cycle, and with no end in sight to the uncertainty that the virus brings, affected businesses are wise to consider whether the current pandemic qualifies as a “force majeure.”  In the last few weeks, the Chinese government has issued “force majeure certificates” to domestic businesses as a way of shielding companies from breach of contract claims, American businesses are sending mass e-mails to customers explaining that the virus prevents the company’s performance or operations, and businesses in an array of industries have sent formal inquiries to their service providers seeking confirmation of continued performance.

What is “Force Majeure”
The defense of force majeure will excuse a party’s performance under a contract if
Continue Reading Force Majeure Provisions and the Impacts of COVID-19

Please see below regarding the Governor’s order from our Government Relations and Labor & Employment Groups.  Do not hesitate to contact anyone at McNees with questions, including how this order might apply to your job site, project approvals or your office.  McNees is a full service law firm that remains operational, remotely and in compliance with the Governor’s order.  We are ready and able to continue to support our clients’ needs during this trying time.

UPDATE: Latest on Gov. Wolf’s Closure Order amid COVID-19 Outbreak

 As detailed in a special edition of Capitol Buzz sent on Thursday evening, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all “non-life-sustaining” businesses throughout Pennsylvania to physically close their operations in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. The new directive, which went into effect at 8 p.m. on Thursday evening, contains the threat of enforcement action
Continue Reading Governor Wolf’s Closure Order