Strike Two for Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Days Act

An appellate court has affirmed a lower court’s decision that Pittsburgh did not have the authority to enact its Paid Sick Days Act and invalidating that law.

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In its 6-1 decision, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania rejected the City’s argument that the City had the authority to enact the law under the Disease Prevention and Control Law because that law applies only to municipalities with boards or departments of health. The City of Pittsburgh has neither.

Also, the court rejected the argument that the City had the authority to enact the Paid Sick Days Act under the Second Class City Code because that code did not impose any affirmative obligation on the city to enact such law.

The dissenting judge stated that Pittsburgh has the right to protect the health and safety of its residents and that the Paid Sick Days Act was an exercise of that right.

The City and Local 32 BJ must decide whether to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia: A Tale of Two Paid Sick Leave Laws

Why was Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Days Act struck down by a court yet the Philadelphia PSL law has not even been challenged in court?  An Allegheny County judge struck down the Pittsburgh PSL ordinance in December pgh-america-2053302_12802015 after finding that the city did not have the authority to enact it under the Pennsylvania Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans law. That law prohibits Home Rule Charter municipalities from determining “duties, responsibilities or requirements placed upon business, occupations and employers,” with limited exceptions.  An appeal of the judge’s decision is pending.

The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a non-profit research and education organization, recently issued a “Policy Brief” entitled “Time for Pennsylvania to Rein Muliberty-bell-656871_1280nicipal Regulations on Business.” It notes that the Home Rule Charter law specifically exempts Philadelphia from its prohibitions and recommends that the Commonwealth remove that exemption and bar municipalities “from enacting regulations not expressly permitted by the state,” i.e., a type of preemption law.

The Policy Brief notes that the Senate is considering a preemption bill, SB 128, as I had noted here.  The Policy Brief opined, as did I in my post, that even if both chambers of the legislature were to pass SB 128,  the Republicans do not have sufficient numbers in the House to overturn Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s likely veto.