Pennsylvania lawmaker calls gov's business shutdown orders 'arbitrary and capricious' amid protests

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Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., told "Fox & Friends First" Monday that many commonwealth residents feel their freedoms and livelihood "are being taken from them" and said Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's restrictions on establishments that don't support "life-sustaining business" had been "an arbitrary and capricious choosing [of] who stays open based upon what products they make or what services they provide."

"I completely understand our governor’s intent but the results are far different," Meuser said. "What things should be based upon is safe working conditions, and any business, regardless of what they make or produce or the service they provide, should be able to stay viable as long as they follow very safe working standards."

The CDC has put in place social distancing guidelines for the nation to follow in order to stop the spread of the virus. Officials urge people to stay at least six feet from other people, not to gather in groups, stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.

PROTESTERS, LAWMAKERS DEMONSTRATION IN PENNSYLVANIA CAPITAL AGAINST STAY-AT-HOME ORDER

Meuser, the former president of a company that manufactures motorized wheelchairs who was elected to Congress in 2018, added that the private sector needs a say in setting policy.

"People don’t feel as if they’ve got any say in this and, you know what, the private sector, if they’re asked, has a lot of answers on how to accomplish this because they want to look after their employees and keep them in a safe environment while their businesses can survive," he said.

Wolf said Friday that Pennsylvania needs to focus on ways to be productive and save lives, while giving critics some hope of a gradual reopening.

"Unfortunately, we cannot flip a switch... So let’s focus on things that are productive to save lives and get our economy back on track when the time is right in a measured way," he said. On Monday, Wolf set May 8 as a "target date" for gradual reopening of the state.

Republicans, who hold majorities in both the Pennsylvania House and Senate, have widely objected to Wolf's handling of the economy during the pandemic, and put forward two bills to that effect which the governor said he plans to veto.

Meuser joined "Fox & Friends First" hours before demonstrators, may in pro-Trump garb, lined the steps of the State Capitol in Harrisburg as vehicles clogged nearby intersections honking horns and displaying signs that called on Wolf to "reopen" Pennsylvania. Other signs slammed Wolf and his handling of the situation.

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According to PennLive, Wolf's "Plan for Pennsylvania" calls for a $15 minimum wage, stronger unemployment and workers comp programs, and rapid re-employment programs among other initiatives.

Republican Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai said the governor's plan is more "ideological map" than not, the outlet reported.

“It was not what Pennsylvanians wanted to hear. We have got to come out of this beating COVID and saving our economy and they are not mutually exclusive," the Pittsburgh-area Republican said.

On the other side of the aisle, House Minority Leader Frank Dermody applauded Wolf for showing "strong leadership" and "following the science and the hard data" with his plan. "We all want to reopen the state’s economy but only when it can be done safely," the Pittsburgh-area Democrat said, according to PennLive.

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"Fox & Friends First" host Rob Schmitt noted to Meuser that the state government "took [guidelines] further than the federal" government.

Meuser agreed and called the guidelines a "bad move," adding that while the state's intent was valid, going to "some undefined interpretation of what 'life-sustaining' is versus 'essential' left everyone in a very precarious position -- 'everyone' meaning small business."

On the federal level, Meuser said the delay in re-appropriating funds to the Paycheck Protection Program has hindered small businesses' ability to recover.

"Just when banks and small businesses were accessing [it], this is when the government once again comes in and causes undue, unnecessary [pain]," he said.