Any time I can use Schoolhouse Rock to explain a complicated legal issue, I have to jump on it.  Today is one of those days.  On June 9, the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives adopted Concurrent Resolution 836.  The Concurrent Resolution said that the state of disaster emergency due to COVID-19 was over and that the Governor had been directed to issue an order ending the state of emergency.

However, Governor Wolf claimed that the General Assembly did not have the constitutional ability to end the state of emergency.  This argument went very quickly to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for a decision.

Finally, on July 1, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that Concurrent Resolution 836 was not valid.  Why?

Schoolhouse Rock on the Legislative Process

I do not want to discuss any political issues around the Emergency Declaration or the Concurrent Resolution.  It is more important to know the actual legal reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s decision. The best way to understand their reasoning is to think back to the classic Schoolhouse Rock jingle, “I’m Just a Bill“:

I’m just a bill

Yes, I’m only a bill

And if they vote for me on Capitol Hill

Well, then I’m off to the White House

Where I’ll wait in a line

With a lot of other bills

For the president to sign

As this catchy jingle reminds us, once a bill is passed by the legislative branch, it must be passed onto the executive branch to approve or veto.

Presentment: The Power of the Veto

The Supreme Court’s reasoning for invalidating the Concurrent Resolution was that the General Assembly could not “legislate” without giving the Governor a chance to veto their action.  The Court’s decision is wholly based on Constitutional law and the separation of powers between the Governor and the General Assembly.

Justice Wecht’s opinion starts out by saying:

We express no opinion as to whether the Governor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes wise or sound policy. Similarly, we do not opine as to whether the General Assembly, in seeking to limit or terminate the Governor’s exercise of emergency authority, presents a superior approach for advancing the welfare of our Commonwealth’s residents.

The Court decided that the General Assembly could not take any action to legislate without giving the Governor a chance to veto it.  This process is called “presentment.”  The Pennsylvania Constitution (just like the United States Constitution) has a series of checks and balances on the powers of the legislative branch (the General Assembly) and the executive branch (the Governor).  Anytime that the General Assembly passes something, it needs to be presented to the Governor to either sign or veto.  The Pennsylvania Constitution allows the General Assembly to override the Governor’s veto with a two-thirds vote of both chambers.

This process is the system of governmental checks and balances that everyone learned in junior high civics class.  Or if you are my age, during Saturday morning cartoons.

The Supreme Court’s opinion talks about events that happened before the birth of the United States.  It quotes James Madison and discusses the origination of the Federal and State Constitutions in 1790.  If anyone is interested in constitutional law, it is an interesting academic read, especially with the Fourth of July coming up.

But the decision boils down to this: the General Assembly’s Concurrent Resolution is actually a “law.”  Because of this, it has to follow the constitutional requirement of going to the Governor to make it effective. Since it did not, the Concurrent Resolution could not end the Governor’s disaster state of emergency.

Aaron Marines is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas including BusinessCommercial Real EstateLand Use, Land Planning and Zoning matters.

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned every profession upside down, including the law. People are in crisis, and they don’t know what they qualify for or what forms to file. After all, trying to keep up with the government’s many changes is a daunting endeavor.

So what is it like right now being a lawyer in a pandemic?

I had the pleasure of sitting down with kid entrepreneur Bud Leggett, founder of Bud’s Outfitters, to answer that question. Bud is the son of Mandy Leggett, president of the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce.

He wanted to know:

  • Is being a lawyer different in the red phase versus the green phase?
  • How do you go to court virtually?
  • Why do you like being a lawyer in Lancaster?
  • And more!

Find out the answers in Bud’s Interview below:

 

Holly Filius is a partner at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Widener University School of Law and practices in a variety of areas, including Adoption and Family Law.

Soon, most of Pennsylvania will be in the Green Phase of the Governor’s Plan for COVID-19 reopening.  If you are like me, you might be confused about exactly what the Green Phase allows.

It is not a complete return to the good old days of 2019 before we ever heard the words “novel coronavirus.”  There are still restrictions on businesses, gyms, restaurants and public gatherings.  Here is a reminder of what these Green Phase restrictions are, with lots of links to the specific CDC or State requirements.

Open at 50% Capacity

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Hair salons, barbershops, etc. (and by appointment only)
  • Indoor recreation like gyms and spas (appointments are strongly encouraged)
  • Indoor entertainment like theaters, casinos and malls
  • Businesses that were not permitted to be open with in-person operations in the Yellow Phase can have 50% occupancy in the Green Phase

Open with Restrictions

  • Construction
  • Child Care
  • Businesses that were permitted to be open with 50% occupancy in the Yellow Phase are allowed to operate at 75% occupancy in the Green Phase
  • Schools (subject to CDC Guidance)

Other Restrictions

Everyone should supplement these rules for the Green Phase with common sense.  If you feel sick, stay at home.  If you show symptoms of COVID-19, get tested.  If you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, get tested. If you have the virus or had close contact with someone who has, self-quarantine for at least 14 days. Make sure that all of your employees and visitors understand these rules.

For more information on rules for aquatic facilities, check out my recent blog post here.

Hopefully we will continue to move in the right direction to protect our families and ourselves while we slowly get back to normal.

Aaron Marines is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas including BusinessCommercial Real EstateLand Use, Land Planning and Zoning matters.

COVID-19-related laws and regulations continue to remain a moving target.  The President signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (the “Act”) on June 5, 2020, and we posted the highlights on June 9, 2020.  A mere ten days after the passage of that Act, things have already changed, largely due to the U.S. Treasury issuing regulations on June 11th.

Here is a summary of some of the Paycheck Protection Program changes as of June 18, 2020, with the caveat that things will likely change again.

Extension to Apply?  Not so Fast

The Act appeared to extend the application deadline for PPP loans from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020.  However, in a joint statement issued on June 8, 2020 by the Small Business Administration (the “SBA”) Administrator Jovita Carranza and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, June 30, 2020 will remain the last date the SBA will approve a PPP loan application.

The Use Period is Not Optional

The Act also changed the time period for borrowers to use PPP loan funds from eight weeks to twenty-four weeks.  Experts initially interpreted the Act as permitting borrowers to elect either the eight-week period or the twenty-four-week period.  This understanding has since changed.

Borrowers who received their loans prior to June 5, 2020 are permitted to use either the eight-week or twenty-four-week period. However, borrowers who received their loans after June 5, 2020 are required to use the twenty-four week period.  This restriction is perhaps an error that will be later corrected as it seems contrary to Congressional intent to provide more flexibility to borrowers (not to mention entirely arbitrary).

Additionally, the requirement that the borrowers use the funds by December 31, 2020 remains.  Some borrowers will then have a use period of longer than eight weeks but shorter than twenty-four weeks, depending on when their loan funds.

The New 60% Use Rule is Apparently Not a Cliff

of the funds for payroll-related expenses to qualify for full forgiveness of their loan.  The forgiveness was reduced, but not eliminated, if the borrower utilized less than 75% of funds for said payroll costs.  The Act changed that requirement to 60%, but early interpretations of the Act concluded that it was now a cliff (meaning that there was no availability of partial forgiveness).

This is apparently not the case.  Instead, the First Interim Final Rule provides that a borrower will still qualify for partial forgiveness if they use less than 60% of their loan funds for payroll-related expenses.

Spin the Wheel, Get a Maturity Date!

In another turn of events, also hopefully in error, there are now two minimum maturity dates for PPP loans.  The Act extended the minimum maturity from two years to five years,  apparently for all borrowers.  Unfortunately, this appears to not be the case anymore.

The First Interim Final Rule issued guidance to lenders that loans approved

  • before June 5, 2020 will have a two-year maturity
  • on or after June 5, 2020 will have a five-year maturity.
  • Note: The approval is based on the date SBA assigns a loan number to the loan.

For borrowers who do not qualify for the new five-year minimum maturity date, banks and borrowers can agree to extend the maturity date on the loans to a period longer than two years.  However, it is counterintuitive to permit two different maturity dates for the same loan program and, of course, puts all the power in the hands of the banks who already are anxious to get these loans off their books.

Ex-Felons May Now Apply

Prior to June 12, 2020, individuals who had felony convictions within the past five years did not qualify for a PPP loan.  Now individuals with felony convictions can apply so long as the conviction was not within the past year.

However, the five-year restriction remains for those individuals who were charged for certain types of financial crimes, including, but not limited to, robbery, embezzlement, fraud, making a false statement on a loan application, or making a false statement on an application for federal financial assistance.  If the borrower is an entity, the prohibition applies if an ex-felon owns more than 20% of the entity.

Although these may not be the last of the Paycheck Protection Program changes, rest assured that we will continue updating you with what you need to know.

Nichole Baer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Stetson University, College of Law and practices in several areas, including BusinessCommercial Real EstateEstate Planning, and Estate Administration.

The popular Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP”) created by the CARES Act is coming to an end.  Time is running out to take advantage of this program. The upcoming deadline to apply for a PPP loan is June 30, 2020. However, many banks are requiring applicants to submit their application prior to the June 30th deadline.

  • Citizens Bank is requiring applications for the PPP to be submitted by 4 p.m. on June 17th.
  • Bank of America, N.A. told customers to submit PPP applications by 5 p.m. on June 15th.
  • Ephrata National Bank has not set a deadline but is suggesting that customers submit applications by June 23rd to allow sufficient time for processing.
  • According to PNC Bank’s website, they are no longer taking any additional applications.

Around $130 billion remains available for PPP loans.  Congress has had some limited discussion on what will occur if there are funds still available when the program ends.  Congress may even extend the program until the funds are depleted.  As of the date of this blog post, though, nothing has been determined.

If you have not already applied for a PPP loan and still wish to do so, contact your local bank as soon as possible. Search the Lancaster Law Blog for more information about the Paycheck Protection Program to see if it can help your business.

Nichole Baer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Stetson University, College of Law and practices in several areas, including BusinessCommercial Real EstateEstate Planning, and Estate Administration.

This post is part of our ongoing series translating the lawyer-gibberish of Pennsylvania lawsuits into something understandable. For the definitions of the terms in bold, check out the post that launched this series. A list of the posts in the series is also at the end of this article.

So, we’ve made it to the final countdown: trial. It’s time for winners (and losers) to be decided. Only a small fraction of cases make it this far. For example, in 2018 here in Lancaster County, only 72 of the 4,306 civil cases on the docket (1.6%) were tried. And the majority of those were handled by an arbitration board. Most cases are settled or are resolved through dispositive motions.

But even if your case is not one of those that makes it this far, what might happen at the end will impact your case and settlement strategy. So it’s worth thinking about this final step.

Arbitration

The most common form of trial is not truly a trial at all. For cases with less than $50,000 in dispute, the case is submitted to a panel of three arbitrators. (This amount varies from county to county, but this is Lancaster County’s line.) The arbitrators are experienced lawyers who hear testimony and evidence from all sides then reach a collective decision. No judge will be present for the arbitration.

The advantage to arbitration is that you get a decision much faster than waiting for a Court of Common Pleas judge to be available.

Trial (Jury and Non-Jury)

The traditional Law and Order style trial is another alternative. Cases worth more than the arbitration limit or which ask for injunctive relief go here. Injunctive relief is when you ask the Court to issue an order forcing someone to do something (like getting off your property) or to not do something (like coming back without your permission).

There are two flavors of trial.

A jury trial is when a group of citizens act as the decision-makers. The judge is in the courtroom to rule on objections and control the proceedings, but the jurors make the ultimate decision. You will not always have a jury with 12 members like you see in the movies.

A non-jury trial is when the judge acts both to control the proceedings AND makes the final decision. There are strategic reasons to ask for a jury or non-jury trial, so talk with your lawyer about this at the very beginning of your case (you have to ask when you file your first documents).

The Big Decision

Whether you are in an arbitration or a trial, typically, the plaintiff must prove each claim by “a preponderance of the evidence.” This standard is lower than you will see in criminal cases (which are decided “beyond a reasonable doubt”).

An easy way to remember “a preponderance of the evidence” is that it means more likely than not or 51% sure. So if more than half of the arbitrators or jurors agree with you, you win! And they do not have to be absolutely certain you are right; just that it is more likely you are right.

There are a handful of claims where the burden shifts between the parties or a higher burden applies, so confirm with your lawyer what the standard is for your case.

The decision, whether by an arbitration panel, judge, or jury, is converted to a judgment. This judgment is filed of public record in the courthouse.

Appeal

What if you (or the other side) don’t like the outcome? If you think a mistake was made, you can take an appeal to a higher authority.

From an arbitration, you appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.

From a trial, you appeal to one of Pennsylvania’s intermediate appellate courts, the Pennsylvania Superior Court or the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

Examples of errors might be that the arbitrators or judge did not let you use a certain witness or piece of evidence. Or that the wrong legal standard was read to the jury.

Just remember that “I think they got it wrong” is not a reason for an appeal. You get only one bite at the apple. So put your best foot forward at the arbitration or trial. And if you are worried the case is not going well for you? You can always agree to a settlement even after the trial starts…

Check out the rest of our series “Explaining PA Lawsuits Using Plain Language”:

Brandon Harter is a litigator and technology guru at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from William & Mary Law School and advises clients on issues of Civil Litigation & Dispute ResolutionMunicipal Law, and chairs the firm’s Tech Law Group.

More small business relief has arrived! On Monday, June 8, 2020, Governor Wolf announced additional relief for small businesses in Pennsylvania.  The relief funding consists of $225 million of the $4 billion provided to the Commonwealth through the CARES Act. In addition, the Lancaster County Small Business Recovery and Sustainability Fund is also launching grants to local businesses.

State Relief

The state relief from Governor Wolf will not consist of loans; instead, the fund will consist of grants to applicants.  However, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (the “PA DCED”) will not administer it.  Instead, a series of non-profit lenders known as community development financial institutions (the “CDFI”), such as Community First Fund, will be handling the funds.

The Governor announced in a press conference on Monday that the goal of the program is to help small businesses that have not been helped from earlier efforts, including the Paycheck Protection Program.  There will be a common application created for the CDFIs to use, and it should be ready by the end of June.

The state will divide the relief into three programs:

Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program

This program offers $100 million for small businesses:

  • that have experienced a loss as a result of the order to close all non-life sustaining businesses
  • that have or will incur additional costs in order to adapt to new business operations due to COVID-19, and
  • where socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the company and control management and daily operations.

Main Street Business Revitalization Program

The next program offers $100 million for small businesses that realized a loss as a result of the order to close all non-life sustaining businesses and have or will incur additional costs in order to adapt business operations due to COVID-19.

Loan Payment Deferment and Loss Reserve Program

The final program will provide $25 million to the CDFI, which will allow the CDFI’s to offer forbearance and payment relief to existing borrowers of the CDFI.  The intention is that these funds are for borrowers of the CDFI who are struggling due to COVID but also to provide support to the CDFI’s who are experiencing increased borrower defaults.

Grants will be capped at $50,000 per applicant.  The Governor has not yet announced the priority of awards but has stated that they will not be on a first-come, first-serve basis.  To qualify, businesses must have less than 25 employees and less than $1 million in annual sales plus have been in operation as of February 15, 2020.  All applicants must submit a recent tax return.

Recipients should use the grant funds to cover operating expenses during the shutdown and to transition a small business for re-opening.  They may also use grant funds for technical assistance, such as training and guidance for business owners.

Local Relief

In addition to the CDFI’s management of these new state programs, Lancaster County launched a new website for local businesses to apply for free personal protective equipment (“PPE”).  Businesses must have less than 100 employees to apply.

Lancaster County also received $25 million of federal aid, which the Lancaster County Small Business Recovery and Sustainability Fund (the “Fund”) will administer as grants to local businesses.

Phase I

Phase I of the Fund will provide $10 million to small Lancaster County businesses who have a demonstrated need for working capital or retrofit. To qualify, the business must have 20 or fewer employees.

The application for this phase will go live on Monday, June 15, 2020 at 7 a.m.   The grants provided will not be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Phase II

The Fund has not yet finalized details for Phase II, but there should be an additional $10 million aimed at small businesses with 100 or less employees.

To find out more information regarding the Lancaster County Small Business Recovery and Sustainability Fund, click  .

To find out more about Phase I application, click and   for their summary sheet.

To read other news about more small business relief during COVID, click here for my blog post on recent updates to the Paycheck Protection Program.

Nichole Baer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Stetson University, College of Law and practices in several areas, including BusinessCommercial Real EstateEstate Planning, and Estate Administration.

On June 3, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (the “Act”).  President Trump then signed it into law 2 days later.  The Act makes significant changes and updates to the Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP”).

Such changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased Time to Use Funds: The Act has modified the time allowed by borrowers to use PPP loan funds from eight weeks to twenty-four weeks. Borrowers can still elect to use the eight-week period.  [June 16, 2020 Updated – based on new guidance from the U.S. Treasury only borrowers who received funds prior to June 5, 2020 may elect between the two use periods. Borrowers who receive funds on or after June 5, 2020 must use the twenty-four week period].
  • Lowered Payroll Funds Amount – Prior to the Act, PPP borrowers had to use at least seventy-five percent (75%) of the funds for payroll-related expenses as discussed prior (to qualify for forgiveness). The Act changed that to sixty percent (60%).
    • There is a catch here. The prior law permitted partial forgiveness if a borrower used than 75% of funds for payroll costs. Now under the Act, forgiveness is eliminated entirely if less than 60% of funds are used for payroll-related expenses. [June 16, 2020 Updated – based on new guidance from the U.S. Treasury, partial forgiveness will be permitted for those who use less than 60% of loan funds for payroll-related expenses].
  • Two New Ways to Get Forgiveness – The Act provides two new exceptions for borrowers looking to obtain full forgiveness of their PPP loan aimed specifically at borrowers who have not been able to restore their workforce numbers.  The amount of loan forgiveness under these exceptions will be determined without a reduction in the number of full-time equivalent employees (the “FTE”) if the borrower, in good faith, can document:
    • An inability to rehire individuals who were employees of the borrower on February 14, 2020 and an inability to hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions on or before December 31, 2020; or
    • An inability to return to the same level of business operations at or before February 15, 2020 due to compliance with guidance issued by HHS, CDC, or OSHA between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. This guidance must relate to maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirements because of COVID-19. Please note, this exception does not appear to take into account state restrictions and guidance that reduced business operations.
    • Note: Prior guidance also allowed borrowers to exclude from their forgiveness calculations those FTE who turned down “good faith” offers to be rehired at the same hours and wages as prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • An Extended Repayment Period – The maturity of the PPP loans were extended from two years to five years. The interest rate remains at 1%. [Updated June 16, 2020 – Based on new guidance from the U.S. Treasury, only Borrowers who received funds on or after June 5, 2020 will receive the new maturity term of five years].
  • An Extension to the 6-Month Deferral Period – The six-month deferral in payment has been extended as well. Now the deferral period is either (1) until the date on which the amount of forgiveness determined under the CARES Act is remitted to the lender or (2) for borrowers who are not asking for forgiveness, ten months.
  • Changed Deadline to Restore Pre-COVID Levels of Labor and Wages – Borrowers can restore their workforce levels and wages to pre-COVID levels over a twenty-four-week period, another component for full forgiveness of the PPP loan. Prior law required borrowers to restore workforce levels and wages by June 30, 2020; it is now December 31, 2020.
  • Permitted Delay in Paying Payroll Taxes – Borrowers can use a PPP loan and delay paying their payroll taxes.

Laws and regulations remain a moving target for COVID-19-related relief.  As such, the laws and regulations discussed today may change soon.  Please consult with a legal professional regarding the updates to the Paycheck Protection Program if you have any legal concerns.

Nichole Baer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Stetson University, College of Law and practices in several areas, including BusinessCommercial Real EstateEstate Planning, and Estate Administration.

With the entire state in at least the Yellow Phase of reopening as of this Friday, bars, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and others in the food and beverage services are gearing up to reopen for dine-in services in some capacity.

You must plan carefully before June 5th to maximize your outdoor seating, offer dine-in services safely and have guest experiences that are positive.

Yellow Phase

In the Yellow Phase, outdoor dining, subject to occupancy restrictions below, is permitted.  Guests must be seated at tables.  Bar seating or service is not permitted in any capacity.

Indoor areas must be closed to customers, except for through-traffic or restroom use.

Green Phase

In the Green Phase, indoor or outdoor seating and service is permitted, as is bar seating, subject to certain limitations.  For bar service, customers must be 6 feet apart or have physical barriers between them.

You can have up to 4 customers seated together at a bar if they have a common relationship (i.e., same family).

Occupancy Limits

Under both the Green and Yellow Phases, there are occupancy restrictions in place for how many seats or persons you may have inside or outside.  Right now, the guidance issued by the Governor’s Office provides 2 methods to calculate your maximum occupancy.

You must adhere to the smaller of these two calculations:

Method 1

50% of permitted fire occupancy or 12 people per 1,000 square feet if there is no fire code number available.  For many outdoor seating areas, there will not be a fire code available, which currently means that you are limited to 12 people per 1,000 square feet.

This requirement is VERY limiting, so plan accordingly.

Method 2

Arrange the restaurant or food service area so that customers seated at tables are not within 6 feet of one another in any direction.  Calculate the number of customers that can be accommodated using this layout.

There is a push to have this occupancy restriction relaxed to allow for you to use either of the above calculations. But right now, you are to use whichever method provides for fewer people.

The Governor’s guide to reopening for businesses in the restaurant industry includes additional detail and guidance for dine-in service.

Word is that the Department of Agriculture and the State Police – Bureau of Liquor Enforcement will be monitoring and inspecting to ensure compliance.  How they will do that is anyone’s guess, but you should presume they will inspect you and plan accordingly.

Liquor License Expansions: PLCB’s Streamlined Application

Earlier today, the PLCB announced a streamlined application process to expand your licensed premises, including additional outdoor seating areas.  To complete the application, you should log onto your PLCB+ account and select the option to add an “Emergency Temporary Extension of Premises.”

Please also remember to print the confirmation page once you submit the application.  That confirmation acts as your temporary approval.

The PLCB has said they will permit the use of parking lots, yards, and other non-traditional areas to be licensed.  Please beware that the areas you wish to add have to be “immediate, abutting and adjacent” to your current licensed areas.  This means you could not license a parking area or yard that is across the street or down the block from your facility.

This is a temporary approval that will expire at some point later in the year and the PLCB has waived any fees associated with this emergency application.

If you are going to be using municipal-owned space (public sidewalks, parks, streets) as your serving areas, you will also need to upload with your application a letter from the municipality indicating its approval.  That letter does not have to be specifically addressed to you but can be in the form of an ordinance or generic approval to all restaurants in the municipality.

Other Approvals You May Need

Municipal Approval

Please also beware that just because you get approval from the PLCB, that does NOT mean that you are automatically able to use that space.  For example, if you are considering using your parking lot for outdoor seating, you may need to speak with your local zoning officer or another municipal official to see how that impacts your parking requirements.

Typically, the required number of spaces is calculated based on the number of seats plus a certain number of employee spaces.  Consider how many spaces you are taking away and how that will impact your parking needs.

Lancaster City’s Temporary Sidewalk Café Permit Authorization

Some municipalities are being proactive about the need for expanded outdoor seating.  Lancaster City just announced that on Friday morning, they will approve an ordinance permitting all restaurants to temporarily use sidewalks, certain parking areas, and in some cases streets for outdoor dining.  Here’s a link to their Temporary Sidewalk Café Permit application.

Please understand, there are still some limitations, and the City may still require some type of barrier.  They will also make sure that there is still sufficient room for pedestrians to pass.

The City is also requiring applicants to sign an indemnification agreement holding the City harmless from the activities occurring in these areas.

Landlord Approval

You may also need to seek approval from your landlord to expand your seating areas.  You should review your lease and consider whether you need any additional approvals from your landlord.

Updating Your Insurance

Please also be sure to notify your insurance carrier of any additional outdoor seating areas.  Especially for those with Liquor Liability Coverage, your policy typically requires you to notify your carrier of the areas where you provide alcohol service.

It is good practice for everyone to notify their carriers.  At worst, they will tell you they don’t care.

If you need help navigating any of these issues, contact your attorney, and they can guide you through the process.

Aaron Zeamer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He practices in a variety of areas, including Business Law and Liquor License matters. Aaron works frequently with commercial real estate agents, brokers, restaurant and bar owners, breweries, distilleries, and wineries to facilitate the sale and transfer of PA liquor licenses.

Senior year is a rite of passage for high school students and is typically filled with special memories like prom, celebrations with friends, and of course, that walk across the stage signifying the culmination of 12 years of hard work.  For the 2020 graduates, though, this year has been anything but typical.

Front yards are filled with signs congratulating graduates. Social media is stuffed with pictures of graduates in their cap and gowns donning masks. And even graduations are being held virtually.  I’m sure we’ve all seen the advertisements selling special mementos to commemorate the unusual times we are currently in.  My personal favorite is the t-shirt crowning the graduating class of 2020 as Senior Skip Day Champions. That they are!

Russell, Krafft & Gruber is proud to celebrate five very special seniors in the firm’s family.

Mataya Chap, 2020 graduate

Mataya Chap is the daughter of Kathleen Krafft Miller, an associate attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber.  Mataya is graduating from Hempfield High School and will be moving to North Carolina, where she will attend Cape Fear for a year and then the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.  She plans to study Physical Therapy and hopes to focus on sports medicine.

Jimmy Hickey, 2020 graduate

Jimmy Hickey is the son of Nancy Hickey, a paralegal at Russell, Krafft & Gruber. Jimmy is graduating from Gettysburg College with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics and Spanish. He is currently relocating to Boulder, Colorado to secure employment.

Ben Marines, 2020 graduate

Ben Marines is the son of Aaron Marines, a partner of Russell, Krafft & Gruber.  Ben is graduating from Hempfield High School and was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist.  He will be attending Penn State University, where he will be majoring in Engineering.

Gabriella Peiffer, 2020 graduate

Gabriella Peiffer is the daughter of Doug Peiffer, a paralegal at Russell, Krafft & Gruber. Gabriella is graduating from Donegal High School. She will be attending Millersville University, where she will majoring in Respiratory Therapy.

Elizabeth Vanasse, 2020 graduate

Elizabeth Vanasse is the daughter of Julie Vanasse, an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber.  Elizabeth graduated summa cum laude from the College of William and Mary with a dual degree in English and French and Francophone Studies. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and will be attending the University of Richmond School of Law in the Fall.

A Graduation Story

We all have a special memory from our own graduations.  I’ll share a unique tidbit from mine.  As the President of the School Board for Ephrata Area School District, my dad and Russell, Krafft & Gruber attorney, Gary Krafft, would give a speech and hand out diplomas at graduation.

Each year, he embedded a few inspirational lines from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin songs into his speech.  Not many knew he did this, but I did, and it made it all the more special to listen to the message he was relaying to me and my classmates.

The year of my graduation (and I won’t tell you what year that was!), his message was to not just be “another brick in the wall.” “There are two paths you can go by,” he continued, “but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you are on.”  Having gone back to law school in my thirties, I am proud to say that I have lived by these words!

We at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, would like to take this opportunity to send a special message to all the 2020 graduates. While you have been faced with obstacles and have been deprived of so many special memories during your senior year, you have persevered and handled these unusual times with grace and determination.   Best of luck to all the graduating seniors of 2020!  We wish you all success and happiness as you start this next phase of your life.

To follow in my dad’s footsteps, Led Zeppelin says it best,

though the course may change sometimes, rivers always lead to the sea

Despite the obstacles and curveballs you encounter along the way, keep moving forward and never give up!

Kathleen Krafft Miller is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Widener University and regularly advises individuals on legal matters related to family law and domestic relations issues.