As the chairman of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, the recovery of our state’s economy is my top priority.
The committee’s role is important to set the stage for economic development in Pennsylvania by assisting struggling communities and businesses recover from the challenges of the COVID pandemic. The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee is focused on boosting our economy by getting state residents back to work, safely reopening our state for business; holding state agencies accountable for their actions.
Over the past several months, the committee has passed bipartisan pieces of legislation that will create new grant programs to fund non-profit service agencies, facilitate manufacturing partnerships between private agencies and universities, and help fire departments bounce back.
Moving forward, we’ll continue to focus on strengthening our communities and creating jobs.
Pennsylvanians deserve nothing less.
To learn more about legislation and topics that are under consideration by the committee, visit the panel’s website for details: https://community.pasenategop.com/
During the summer, the committee visited Lancaster County where we discussed the economic impacts of the ongoing workforce shortage.
We received important testimony from employers, economic development specialists and local business leaders.
Businesses across Pennsylvania have been forced to curtail hours of operation – or even close – because of the workforce shortage.
Moving forward, we will continue to analyze reform measures that will help our businesses, communities and statewide residents in an effort to rebuild our economy.
Testimony is received from business owners during a July hearing in downtown Lancaster on the Economic Impacts of the Workforce Shortage. The hearing was hosted by Senators Ryan Aument and Scott Martin.
SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE
Along with Senator Wayne Langerholc, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I sponsored a legislative measure calling upon Congress to address the nationwide famine of school bus drivers.
Senate Resolution 172 seeks assistance from federal lawmakers – as well as the US Department of Transportation – to improve the process of obtaining and maintaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Federal and state clearances can take up to 12 weeks to complete and are burdensome at a time when the industry is experiencing the lowest number of school bus drivers in 100 years.
The resolution received a unanimous vote on the Senate floor.
A recent Associated Press report cited a national survey showing that 80 percent of school districts are having difficulty finding bus drivers. There are 500 school districts in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko speaks to members of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee about how lottery games are regulated.
One of the foremost oversight responsibilities of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee is gaming.
Nearly two decades have passed since Act 71 of 2004 authorized legal gaming in Pennsylvania.
The landscape of the industry has evolved over time, so it is necessary to engage in comprehensive conversations about the sustainability of gaming.
Just like any other business, the pandemic challenged our brick-and-mortar casinos, which the state has invested ample time and resources into developing.
Additionally, casinos are facing challenges from industry market changes, such as the rise in popularity of online gaming, and the proliferation of unregulated gaming.
I look forward to having every voice heard in this debate, including Pennsylvania taxpayers, who want to be assured that gambling in their communities is safe, legal and appropriately taxed.
CONSUMER & ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF FAILING TO INVEST IN PENNSYLVANIA’S NATURAL GAS INFRASTRUCTURE
Senator John Yudichak, left, and Senator Gene Yaw preside over a public hearing exploring the Consumer and Economic Impacts of Failing to Invest in PA’s Natural Gas Infrastructure.
Over the last three years, five economic development projects tied to Pennsylvania’s robust natural resources have been shut down by environmental extremists, and their allies in the legislature.
As a result, Pennsylvania communities have lost over $5 billion in economic development opportunities, and millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue.
The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee recently partnered with the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee to vet these concerns. A joint hearing was held Monday, Oct. 4th, where testimony was received from labor officials, consumer protection advocates and economic development leaders.
Sadly, the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trade Unions have been denied millions of work hours that would have provided good-paying jobs to thousands of union families.
Why is Pennsylvania losing out on these historic economic opportunities that take advantage of our natural prominence in natural gas production?
We are not being beat by economic competitors – we are being defeated from within by environmental extremists and their legislative allies, who oppose natural gas projects. Through a barrage of frivolous lawsuits, billions of dollars in private investment and thousands of jobs are being driven out of Pennsylvania.
Tony Seiwell, right, Business Manager for the Laborers’ District Council of Eastern PA, speaks during a joint hearing of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development and the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy committees. Jim Snell, Business Manager of the Steamfitters Local Union 420 looks on.
IRON MOUNTAIN DATA CENTER
As part of a state budget package that was signed into law, the General Assembly passed a sales and use tax exemption for computer data centers. The new bipartisan incentive was advanced by a unique coalition of organized labor and private business enterprises, working jointly to encourage billions of dollars in private investment, and the creation of thousands of jobs.
As a result of the new tax policy, technological innovators will now be welcomed and encouraged to make considerable investments in Pennsylvania. Previously, Pennsylvania was losing out to neighboring states, who were already offering this type of economic development incentive.
Pennsylvania has all the assets to compete for these technology jobs—a highly skilled workforce, diverse energy resources, and talented building trade unions who can build and maintain these marvels of modern technology.
In fact, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association, in the Pittsburgh area alone, the technology industry directly employs over 60,000 workers, with another 60,000 technical workers employed in industries across the economy.
Along with the Senate Finance Committee, we recently toured the Iron Mountain Data Center in Boyers, an underground facility that occupies approximately 200 acres, within a 1,500-acre mine complex. In the past seven years, Iron Mountain has invested over $100 million of capital in the data center and related businesses at the facility.
Members of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and the Senate Finance Committee recently toured the Iron Mountain Data Center in northwest Pennsylvania. The facility employs 275 people in support of business, while Iron Mountain’s customers employ about 2,500 people at the site.
Committee members toured the Steamfitters Local Union 420 training center as part of a visit to Philadelphia and the southeast, in April of 2020. The tour included classrooms, as well as a welding and soldering presentation.
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