ABC Keystone Merit Shop Advocacy Blog


On March 15, the legislature returned from the “budget break” that allowed the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to hold public hearings on the governor’s proposed budget. In the months ahead, the state budget will be negotiated, along with many other priority bills. ABC of Pennsylvania will be pushing to get our priorities added to that list.

As the session rolls along, a few items to bring to your attention that will require robust advocacy action on your part, as ABC members. First, ABC continues the push to modernize our state apprenticeship system – which has not been updated in 60 years. Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) introduced House Bill 536, which would create jobs and deliver on workforce development by setting the journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratio based on a hazard scale; provide flexibility in the ratios to allow small businesses to grow; and bring parity to the system by ensuring joint (union) apprenticeship programs and non-joint (merit shop) apprenticeship programs are following the same rules.

ABC was invited to brief a small group of legislators appointed by the House Majority Leader to serve on an economic recovery subcommittee on workforce development. The meeting went well, and good questions were asked about Rep. Gleim’s bill. She knows the construction industry and has put together a solid piece of legislation that addresses the needs of the industry while taking into consideration the concerns of all interested stakeholders. We believe House Bill 536 has the potential to safely create over 56,000 jobs through parity.

Second, ABC of Pennsylvania has partnered with stakeholders to advance legislation that would require construction contracting entities to be responsible for their own negligence. In other words, the legislation would prohibit indemnification clauses in construction contracts. This legislation would align with 41 other states that have similar laws. The stakeholder group plans to meet with the new chairman of the House Commerce Committee in the coming weeks to brief him on the legislation. Our goal is to get the bill (House Bill 424) moving in the House during the spring session with the goal of sending it over to the Senate as quickly as possible.

Lastly, while not an ABC legislative priority, we believe it important to educate ABC members on two ballot questions pertaining to the governor’s emergency declaration powers because the questions are lengthy and confusing. The questions will ask voters if they approve of changes to the emergency declaration process, which currently allows the governor to declare an emergency for 90 days with an unlimited number of extensions. Under the proposed constitutional amendments, if the governor declares an emergency, that declaration will expire in 21 days unless extended by the General Assembly. The ballot questions are as follows:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration—and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration—through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?

ABC has been hard at work advancing our mission in Harrisburg. If you have any questions about legislation or ABC’s position on an issue, please contact David Greineder, IOM, at or Austin Cawley at

If you are not signed-up to receive email alerts, please download the “ABC Action App” from the app store on your mobile device or at

ABC PA’s Virtual Legislative Week
(Virtual meetings held during the week of 4/12)

Be a Part of ABC PA’s Advocacy Efforts!

Join ABC Members in virtual lobbying on behalf of the merit shop. Through Zoom, you will have the opportunity to connect with members of the House Labor & Industry Committee to talk about your role as a job creator and employer.  This event is FREE and open to all ABC members!

Learn more/Register

Posted March 26, 2021