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Pointless appeals: Business-diktat insanity

| Friday, May 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
James Knox | Trib Total Media
Julie Curry (far left) of Bentleyville, Pa., holds a sign as Barney Oursler (at podium), executive director of Pittsburgh UNITED, speaks during the public-comment period before Pittsburgh City Council passed a paid sick days ordinance in August 2015. (Trib photo)

If repeatedly trying the same thing and expecting different results constitutes insanity, Pittsburgh City Council, Mayor Bill Peduto and all who've backed two ordinances that plainly violate the city's Home Rule Charter should seek counseling. Taxpayers must hope the city comes to its senses and avoids squandering more money on yet another appeal.

As has Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, Commonwealth Court has ruled that two 2015 ordinances aimed at helping low-wage workers — one requiring businesses to provide them with paid sick leave, the other requiring particular training for security guards at buildings exceeding 100,000 square feet — exceeded council's purview under the charter. The appellate court said such power “rests with our General Assembly” — in other words, these are matters for the Legislature to address on a statewide basis.

Challenged by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association and five businesses, these ordinances were bad ideas from the start, usurping what's rightly businesses' authority to decide such matters and discouraging business formation and investment. Yet the mayor and council enacted them, despite warnings from city lawyers about their legal vulnerability.

The mayor's spokesman says the city will further appeal its thus far losing case to the state Supreme Court. It might as well just flush the money that will cost taxpayers down a toilet — which would be just as effective as this appeal is likely to be.

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