Mar. 23, 2021

Bill would enable small businesses to operate during state disasters

– The House Commerce Committee today in Harrisburg approved legislation known as the One Staffer-One Shopper Bill, which was introduced by state Rep. Brad Roae (R-Crawford/Erie) to enable small businesses to continue operating during state disasters.

“My One Staffer-One Shopper Bill would give Pennsylvania customers the ability to make purchases at small retail stores during disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Roae, who serves as chairman of the House Commerce Committee.

Roae’s bill would enable small retail stores to open during future disasters if they limit interaction between customers and employees to one staffer interacting with one shopper in the store at any given time. Roae’s proposal also would allow small retailers to provide curbside pickup service instead of opening their stores to customers. The businesses would have to choose between opening their stores or providing curbside service; they could not offer both.

Roae initially introduced the One Staffer-One Shopper bill last year after Gov. Tom Wolf unilaterally shut down most small businesses across Pennsylvania during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wolf’s order was criticized because it shut down small businesses, but allowed big box stores to continue operating and serving customers. Wolf’s administration also made exemptions for some small businesses, but never fully identified the criteria it used to decide which small businesses could remain open.

“The governor – regardless of whether it’s this one or a future governor – should not have the power to unilaterally pick winners and losers among small businesses during a disaster,” Roae said. “The governor’s rules prevented customers from visiting small retail shops, where they may have only come in contact with one or two other people, and instead pushed them to visit big box stores filled with hundreds of other shoppers and workers.”

Roae initially introduced his One Staffer-One Shopper legislation as House Bill 2376 in the beginning of April 2020. The bill was approved by the full House on April 21, 2020. The Senate failed to act on the bill and, when the legislative session ended last November, all bills that hadn’t been signed into law needed to be reintroduced when the new session started in January.

Roae’s newly reintroduced version of the legislation – House Bill 747 – now heads to the full House of Representatives for consideration.


Representative Brad Roae
6th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives