Suggested COVID-19 Municipal Government Plan
In an effort to be pro-active, our office has put together some suggested actions for our municipal clients in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our suggestions are based upon information pulled from other government agencies as well as some common sense ideas. Please consider the following measures:
– If your municipality is continuing to hold public meetings, disinfect and clean public meeting space including tables, chairs, desks and doors before and after the meeting. At such public meeting, consider announcing that future meetings might be cancelled, postponed, or held earlier in the day, and might be limited to municipal staff and officials only in order to conduct limited municipal functions which are necessary to conduct business – such as authorizing the paying of bills. Consider options for residents to participate in the public meeting via a social media platform such as Facebook Live or other remote means.
– Update your municipality’s website to reflect any schedule changes and/or any updates from the County.
– Cancel all unnecessary public meetings scheduled to be held in your municipal buildings for the month of March – if historical commission, parks and recreation, and planning commission meetings can wait until a future monthly meeting, it might be best to cancel these meetings.
– Cancel all public meetings from outside groups that are scheduled to be held in your municipal buildings for the next two months.
– Be certain to receive any necessary extension of times from applicants or developers that are needed due to cancellation of meetings where action was slated to take place.
– Personal travel anywhere (domestic or international) where there has been confirmed cases of the coronavirus is not recommended. Municipal employees traveling to such locations should be required to undergo screening and possible quarantine before returning to work.
– Persons who have health problems, compromised or weak immune systems, recently visited foreign countries with confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, and the elderly should avoid visiting the municipal offices and attending public meetings.
This Municipal Alert is intended to update our municipal clients on safety concerns and is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions please contact attorneys Kim Venzie, firstname.lastname@example.org, Kristin Camp, email@example.com and Tom Oeste, firstname.lastname@example.org.
PA Commonwealth Court rules certain Fireworks Law (Act 43) provisions as unconstitutional in recent Phantom Fireworks Case (Case No. 21 M.D. 2018 filed on December 4, 2018)
The new PA Fireworks Law, which took effect on October 30, 2017, unleashed new regulations addressing the sale, use and storage of both consumer and display fireworks in Pennsylvania. The regulations loosen the restrictions on the sale and use of consumer fireworks and localities across the Commonwealth have voiced safety concerns. The recent 2018 Commonwealth Court case has the effect of removing “temporary structures” as locations from which consumer fireworks may be sold in Pennsylvania. Hence, consumer fireworks would need to be sold from traditional brick and mortar establishments. The Commonwealth Court held that all references and provisions related to “temporary structures” in Act 43 are unconstitutional and enjoin their enforcement. It is of interest to note that the Act 43 provisions were deemed unconstitutional on a procedural basis and not based upon any general health, safety or welfare concerns. It seems likely that vendors benefiting from the sale of consumer fireworks from temporary structures will rush to rectify this exclusionary action by seeking to amend the laws in place. For more information about this case or the implications of the Fireworks Law, please contact Kim Venzie at email@example.com or at (610) 235-0238.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – Unlawful Drone Use is a Criminal Offense & Not Within Municipalities’ Authority to Regulate by Local Ordinance
On October 12, 2018, the Governor of Pennsylvania signed into law Act 78 of 2018 (former House Bill 1346) which will become effective January 10, 2019. As related to unmanned aircrafts, Act 78 makes it a criminal offense to intentionally or knowingly conduct surveillance of another person in a private place, operate in a manner which places another person in reasonable fear of bodily injury, or to deliver contraband to inmates. The Act also provides that a municipality shall not regulate the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft unless expressly authorized by statute, and provides that Act 78 preempts any local regulations. Thus, an unlawful use of unmanned aircrafts should be handled by law enforcement according to the regulations of state law. If you have any questions, please contact Kim Venzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (610) 235-0238.