September 8, 2014

PLS: House Democrats Outline Fall Legislative Priorities

PA Legislative Services Monday published the first in a series of articles outlining the Fall legislative priorities for each of the Senate and House Caucuses.  They have scheduled 11 voting days in September and October before the November 4 election and Republican leaders have said there will be no lame duck voting session after the election.
The Senate and House return to session September 15.
-- Philadelphia Cigarette Tax Authorization: In July the Senate amended House Bill 1177 (Lucas-R-Crawford), which would authorize Philadelphia to adopt a $2/pack tax on cigarettes to help fund its schools, to include language the House dropped from the Fiscal Code bill relating to the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone Program and sent it back to the House for its concurrence.  House Republicans scheduled and then canceled House session a few weeks later to deal with the issue.
-- Education Funding Reform: Charter school funding reform and providing more money for public education has been a priority for House Democrats for some time.  Basic education funding reform, however, might have to wait until the Basic Education Funding Commission wraps up its work.
-- CRIZ Expansion: As noted earlier, the expansion for City Revitalization and Improvement Zone Program was left hanging in the House along with the Philadelphia cigarette tax credit issue.
-- Natural Gas Severance Tax: This has been on the wishlist for House Democrats, but is not likely to happen unless there is a new Governor. Gov. Corbett has not ruled out a severance tax, but not until after issues like pensions have been deal with by the General Assembly.
-- Minimum Wage Increase: Again, another long-time wishlist item for House Democrats, but not likely to happen.  House Democrats would raise the minimum wage to $10.10/hour.
-- Pension Reform and Liquor Reform: House Democrats dismissed the idea of liquor reform getting any Democratic votes.  On pensions, House Majority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) told PLS he would be willing to talk to Republicans, but “we are not about to surrender certain issues we believe in.  We need to maintain retirement security; we need to maintain our promise to workers who have done their job of paying into the pension system throughout their careers.”
PLS Caucus Priority Articles:
House Democrats