In this email edition:
Hamburg Center: Vacant for how much longer?
The Hamburg Center closed in 2018 – hundreds of acres of prime real estate in northern Berks County. Why is it still sitting vacant and how soon can it be repurposed? How much of your tax money is being wasted while this property decays?
In Allentown, a similar property has sat vacant and decaying for many years. None of us want this to happen again!
Representative Jerry Knowles and I have hosted a series of public meetings to seek advice from the neighbors, the county and local government, the Greater Reading Chamber and Economic Development Corporation, the Berks Community Foundation, and the entire local community on future uses for this valuable site.
Now, we’re working in a bipartisan manner with the Secretary of General Services and my neighbor, Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks), to take the next steps to transform the vacant and decaying Hamburg Center into something our entire community can utilize…. before it’s too late.
To learn more, here’s some additional information: https://pasen.wistia.com/medias/78v43cw2em
Bipartisan Group of State Legislatures Aim to Curb Emergency Powers of Governors
Many Pennsylvania residents, and many members of our state legislature, have been voicing their concerns with Governor Wolf’s unilateral use of power throughout the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voters will go to the polls in less than a month to decide on two constitutional amendments that would protect local communities by allowing the Senate and the House to have more input in future emergency declarations.
Pennsylvania is not the only state where state legislatures have moved to strengthen their system of checks and balances. As this article from Politico states, there is a bipartisan, nationwide reckoning taking place about how much power the governor should wield. The article mentions examples such as Arkansas, where a Republican Governor signed a bill passed by a Republican legislature to reduce executive power, and New York, where a Democratic Legislature limited the emergency powers of Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Curbing the power of the governor is not a Republican or a Democratic issue, but an attempt to restore our system of checks and balances and ensure that no one person has the power to dramatically affect the lives of millions.
Senate Committee Passes Bill Requiring Legislative Approval of New Carbon Taxes
This week, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee passed Senate Bill 119, which would require the Senate and the House to approve any proposals that would impose a carbon tax in Pennsylvania.
Governor Wolf and his administration have insisted they can unilaterally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by executive order and force this new tax on employers, including our local mineworkers who have made incredible progress in cleaning up many of the old coal pits in Schuylkill County, as pictured above.
A recent letter from Thomas Melcher, the business manager of the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council, highlighted the potential economic impacts RGGI could have on our state’s employers.
“Governor Wolf and DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell claim joining RGGI is the will of the people,” said Melcher. “If they are so convinced of this then why do they fear going through the legally proper process of putting this question to the legislature – the body that represents the people and is far better equipped than the Governor or Secretary McDonnell to understand the true and devastating local impacts of this unilateral decision.” I could not agree more! Read more here.
Pennsylvania Loses Seat in U.S. House of Representatives
The release of U.S. Census data this week confirmed projections that Pennsylvania would lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the Associated Press, our state’s population growth, which was 2.4%, continues to lag significantly behind the national average of 7.4%.
This news has huge implications for the congressional redistricting process, which I will lead as the new Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, because there are now 18 incumbent Congressman and 17 available seats. Read more here.
To learn more about the Census, watch a hearing I chaired of the Senate State Government Committee on the topic above.
Senate Passes my Bipartisan Lieutenant Governor Reform Bill
By a bipartisan vote of 43-4, the Senate passed my bill to amend the state constitution to change how the lieutenant governor is selected in Pennsylvania. This legislation would more closely align the current process of selecting the lieutenant governor with how the Vice President is selected during federal elections.
We have seen in the past how our current system can create conflict, such as the embarrassing public rift between Governor Wolf and former Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack that saw both individuals openly admitting that they didn’t speak to each other for weeks at a time. This is unacceptable. Pennsylvania taxpayers deserve better.
My church wouldn’t be able to function with the two top leaders clashing over the direction of the congregation. My son’s old Scout Troop didn’t operate like that. My daughter’s soccer team couldn’t have won any games with that kind of leadership.
To learn more about this bill, watch the most recent edition of my tv show, The Argall Report, above.
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