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Top Issues Remain Going into Fall Session

The state legislature returns to the capitol city on September 23 for the first of eight scheduled weeks of the fall legislative session. Top issues that were not resolved prior to summer recess will continue to simmer in the legislature and Corbett administration until agreements can be reached.
Transportation funding, liquor privatization, pension reform, and more remain in queue, but how much the legislature is truly willing to tackle is yet to be decided. Historically, fall sessions are not as productive as spring sessions which conclude with the down-to-the-wire push of passing an on-time budget.
With the announcement of major bridge restrictions, transportation funding has shot to the top spot of must-dos for many. In June the Senate has passed a $2.5 billion spending plan that would increase gas taxes along with several licensing and registration fees. However, a portion of the House feels that SB 1 is overreaching and a lower level spending plan is needed.
Since PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch’s bridge restriction announcement, members have introduced more narrowly focused transportation funding bills that include only bridge or road and bridges projects. From opening up additional state forest lands for natural gas exploration to raise revenue for the repair of bridges to creating a priority repair list for the most structurally deficient bridges, this still does not solve the state’s long term comprehensive transportation funding needs.
Mass transit funding will continue to be a priority for Democrats and those elected officials whose constituents are directly impacted.  And those votes will be needed to pass any larger funding initiative. To support business and industry, other key transportation necessities including railroads, ports, and airports can’t be left out of the discussion either.