An op-ed column by Senator Bob Mensch
24th Senatorial District
We are now half way through the 2011-12 Legislative Session, and it has been a busy and productive time for the state Senate.
Over all we passed a substantial number of bills, approved an on-time budget that reflects Pennsylvania’s economy and held the line on taxes, and tackled a number of issues to promote job creation and make our communities safer.
We set the stage for 2011 with the quick passage and enactment of Act 1 of 2011, a bill that eliminated an onerous burden on new home construction that would have added thousands of dollars to the cost of a new house and ultimately would have meant the loss of more jobs.
As co-chairman of the Senate Economy, Jobs and Business Caucus, I am acutely aware of conditions across our great state and this mandate, if it had been left unaddressed, would have a negative impact on our economy and would have put more hard-working Pennsylvanians on the unemployment rolls.
All told, more than 110 bills have been approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
Many of these new laws are intended to promote economic development and job growth. That is and must be our top priority as we move into the second half of this two-year Legislative Session.
We can build upon the measures we’ve already enacted such as the First Industries Program, which assists with the financing of economic development projects primarily related to agriculture and tourism.
Recognizing the impact that spurious legal actions have on economic development and our attractiveness for business growth, we passed an important liability reform measure that will ensure local businesses will be subjected to fewer frivolous lawsuits.
This complemented the steps we took during consideration of the state budget to protect both businesses and taxpayers by reducing government spending and avoiding painful tax increases.
We have also heard to voices of constituents who want more transparency and accountability on the part of state government. This led to the enactment of legislation creating a new Independent Fiscal Office to provide greater public access to state government spending information and to take some of the politics out of the budget process.
In addition, we are continuously working to reduce fraud and waste in government spending. This led to major reforms for the Department of Public Welfare as part of the adoption of the state budget and a new law that addresses transportation reimbursements for those receiving methadone treatments.
Two new laws will help protect public safety for motorists by limiting the number of young passengers who may ride in a vehicle with a junior driver and banning the use of handheld wireless communications devices while driving.
A new law enacted earlier this year banned the sale of synthetically produced drugs, including concentrated bath salts, designed to mimic the effects of other drugs.
These new laws are all intended to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians and form a solid basis for our efforts in 2012. In fact, there’s every reason to believe that the second half of the two-year legislative session will be even more productive than the first.
Contact: Tim Hennessey