Pennsylvania state Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, plans to introduce legislation that would block local governments from making certain decisions about workplace safety.
The bill is a direct response to a measure passed in Philadelphia City Council Thursday that could eventually bar some convenience stores from having bulletproof glass dividers separating employees and customers.
The measure, passed 14-3, gives the city more power to crack down on nuisance stop-and-gos, the shops that sell takeout beer and shots of liquor in many low-income, high-crime neighborhoods in Philadelphia, usually through windows in plexiglass partitions.
Stephens said business owners should create the policies that protect their employees from violence while they’re on the clock.
“We’re gonna really follow what the federal government and state government already have in place as it relates to these guidelines for what businesses can do. It’s not just going to be the Wild West,” said Stephens.
The former prosecutor is currently shopping for co-sponsors.
In a memo to his potential legislative partners, Stephens wrote that his legislation would give business owners the ability to “voluntarily create workplace violence prevention policies and/or implement safeguards for their employees.”
“No employer,” he continues, “wants their employees to be injured or killed as a result of workplace violence, and it’s absurd that any municipality would want to prevent employers from taking steps to prevent and protect their employees.”
Under the legislation passed in Philadelphia, these businesses would be required to get a new category of restaurant license if they want to stay compliant with the city and state, which issues their restaurant liquor licenses.
City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who introduced the bill, called Stephens’ measure “misguided and a “waste of time.”
“It would be great if he actually worked on behalf of his constituents and the folks that actually elected him rather than what’s happening in Philadelphia neighborhoods that he really has no knowledge of,” said Bass. “If he likes this business model, then he should find ways to embrace and support it and have it in his community where he lives and works and where his constituents are.”
Mayor Jim Kenney, who plans to sign Bass’ bill, declined comment through a spokesman, saying “we have not seen [Stephens’] proposal.”