A New Year – Time for a New Legislative Session

Tuesday, January 1, not only marked the start of a new year as we rang in 2019, it also kicked off the 2019-20 Legislative Session with swearing in ceremonies in the State Capitol for the newly elected senators and state representatives.

The State Constitution requires the General Assembly to reconvene on the first Tuesday of the year, which much to the chagrin of more than a few legislators meant they had to forgo a trip to the Citrus Bowl in Florida for the game between Penn State and Kentucky.

While swearing in day is the ceremonial start of session, the real work of the legislature won’t begin in earnest until later this month. At that time we will be completely starting over.

Absolutely nothing carries over from the 2017-18 Legislation Session. Every measure that failed to make it through the legislative process by November 30 must now be reintroduced and start the process all over again – regardless of how far it made it during the last session.

I am preparing to reintroduce three bills I sponsored during the last session: Senate Bill 663 amends the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code to require municipalities to contract with at least three third-party agencies to handle building inspections; Senate Bill 1046 allows the sale of antlerless deer hunting licenses through the Game Commission’s Automated Licensing System; and Senate Bill 1202 authorizes the Game Commission to allow Sunday hunting.

I am also planning to introduce legislation to amend the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act to allow club licensees to retain 50 percent of their proceeds from small games of chance while maintaining charitable donation requirements for the other 50 percent.

Another bill I plan to introduce would ensure that citizens are expeditiously notified if their personal information in state databases is compromised. This measure was introduced last session as Senate Bill 308 by former Senator Randy Vulakovich.

In addition to these legislative initiatives I remain committed to promoting economic development and bringing new jobs to Erie. We must promote the Keystone State as an attractive place to do business. We should aggressively market Pennsylvania — and especially Erie and all that it offers — to top national and international businesses and industries.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania tendered $4.5 billion in grants and credits to bolster the incentive packages Pittsburgh and Philadelphia offered to Amazon for its East Coast headquarters. That seems like a big chunk of money to put on the table for an estimated 50,000 jobs – which are now being split between suburban Washington D.C. and New York City.

The aggressive pitch to Amazon is fine, but I would like to see the state support similar economic development efforts here in Erie. Specifically, I continue to push for us to receive a City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (CRIZ) designation.  State and local taxes collected within a CRIZ (up to 130 acres) would be directly returned to the community for reinvestment.  State law allows for up to two new CRIZ designations each year, but there have been no new zones created under the Wolf Administration. 

In closing, I encourage local residents to visit my website, www.senatorlaughlin.com, and my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/senatorlaughlin/, to keep up to date with state government news – including the state budget — and learn more about state services and agencies.

Contact:         Matt Azeles                 mazeles@pasen.gov

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