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Legislative update: Creating a better business climate
June 2012

Hello. And welcome to At the Center.

This time of year always brings a flurry of legislative activity in Harrisburg and this year is certainly no exception. Items that may have languished for years can suddenly come into focus and begin to move, while other items that had been moving may just as quickly stop their progress. The stops and starts are so much so that I can’t rule out changes from the day I am taping this to the day you see it!

On the whole in Pennsylvania, I am pleased to note that some progress is being made in creating a better business climate. Recent legislative successes involving unemployment compensation reform, legal reforms in the form of the Fair Share Act and a continued emphasis on maintaining and even lowering business taxes are all making Pennsylvania more competitive. And, as such cause for some celebration.

Yet, before we pop the champagne and declare victory, let’s be clear that some critical issues still remain. Issues that The Chamber has prioritized for action.

Tops among those issues is transportation. From our roads and bridges to our mass transit, rail and air, Pennsylvania continues to operate without a comprehensive plan for funding our infrastructure needs, while the needs for improvements continue to mount. Make no mistake about it, this is a pay-for-it-now or pay-more-for-it later issue that really needs to be addressed quickly and comprehensively by our elected officials. We look forward to working with our local delegation to advance the cause.

Another issue that can’t quite get over the finish line –and needs to-- is prevailing wage reform. While The Chamber is on record backing repeal of prevailing wage altogether, there have been some compromise measures that we support which would bring the 50-year old law more in-line with today’s realities. As currently implemented, this one law creates a bureaucratic nightmare for businesses, while at the same time causing our local governments and educational systems to pay more for projects. We believe change is long overdue to assist on both sides of that equation.

Education reforms can’t be left off our wish either as reduced funding makes the need for reduction of state mandates all that more critical. We believe in the quality of our local districts and our local school boards and we believe they have the talent to effectively run our schools without strangling regulation and mandates from the state. If less money is to be expected, then less mandates are essential if we are interested in meeting our children’s –our future workforce’s—needs.

Finally, as we have been talking about all year, The Lancaster Chamber is part of a growing statewide coalition aimed at creating a better environment for our local governments. From pension reform to removing purchasing mandates; from collective bargaining revisions to more flexible governance, our state officials need to continue their work with local governments to give them the flexibility they need to operate efficiently without the overreach of state rules and mandates.

So in a nutshell, I remain hopeful that progress is being made toward making Pennsylvania a more competitive, business-friendly state. Recent meetings with our state delegation and our County Commissioners make me even more optimistic for the future. Yet there is much work to be done. Stay plugged in to The Chamber for how you can help.

Until next time, stay informed, stay engaged and stay with us…At the Center.

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