Health - October 7, 2016

Legislators Face Full and Frivolous Fall Agenda

With lawmakers in their districts frantically chasing votes, at least a few are quietly adding new ingredients to the legislative stew in Harrisburg.

This week, 9 new bills and 19 new resolutions were introduced into the House alone. This, despite the fact that only a handful of days remain in the 2016-17 legislative session.

Resolutions, of course, tend to be non-controversial. Among the current offerings are resolutions raising awareness of COPD and breast cancer. There is also one to name November as “Hunters’ Recognition Month” (just in time to pander to 2 million Pennsylvania voters with hunting licenses). And, in a burst of patriotism, the House may recognize October 13 as the 241st birthday of the United States Navy.

Legislation can be weighty. One legislator has waited for this late date in the session to resuscitate the property reform debate. His bill would raise income and sales taxes to reduce or eliminate property taxes. This subject has been thrashed about for at least 25 years and it is likely that it remains a topic whose time has not yet come.

Other legislation related to telecommunications and further expansion of gaming has appeared. Typically sponsors of substantial measures like that are seeking only to mark their territory for the upcoming session.

Meanwhile in the clock-ticking world of real public policy needs, the House and Senate will attempt to address some complicated matters like pension reform, education policy, and revenue vehicles to avert a budget shortfall.

Let’s just hope that priorities like “Love Your Avenue Week” and “Kappa Alpha Psi Day” do not prevent legislators from getting to the real business at hand.