An editorial written by the leaders of the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus
Citizens who are actively involved in government absolutely improve their communities. Often, legislation is driven by the concerns or needs of residents who are involved in the legislative process. These men, women, and even sometimes children, share their personal experiences and problems with us, and that information is used to better the Commonwealth.
A package of bills passed by the House this week is the perfect example. For years, we have heard from Pennsylvanians about the financial losses and problems they experience as a result of overregulation.
They told us countless stories about how they were forced to abandon plans to open a business in the Commonwealth because they had to wait so long – a year and a half, sometimes two – for their permits to be approved while still having to pay on substantial loans. They wanted to hire Pennsylvanians and grow our economy, but government has tied their hands.
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate continues to sit higher than the national average and, for the last year, has remained mostly unchanged due to the poor business climate we’re experiencing. It is unacceptable that we’re passing on economic growth and jobs because of our own slow processes. We must do better.
This week, we took the first step to giving Pennsylvania and everyone who calls it home the opportunity they deserve. In the House, we passed a package of bills that would address the economic impact delayed permit processing is having on the Commonwealth.
House Bill 1959
would establish the Pennsylvania Permit Act, which would apply to all state agencies but specifically the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). It would direct DEP to contract with a third party to review permits that have been delayed and issue them in accordance with DEP’s Permit Decision Guarantee Program or 30 days following submission if a deadline is not specified.
This bill would expedite jobs when companies pay construction workers to build and employees to serve the community. Then, it would infuse our state with revenue when companies are able to start doing business.
Another bill in the package would control the creation of additional regulations, particularly those with a hefty price tag. House Bill 1237
would require that any state agency wishing to impose a regulation with an annual fiscal impact of $1 million or more point to the law that gives it the authority to propose a regulation. Then, the General Assembly would vote to approve or deny the regulation.
Because so many regulations are already in effect, another common frustration faced by Pennsylvanians is the confusion of multiple, conflicting regulations. Based on who is enforcing the regulations on a particular day, people have been cited and fined for following a different, though equally valid, regulation. That makes no sense, and two bills in the package would work to resolve that issue.
House Bill 209
would establish the Independent Office of the Repealer to review statutes and regulations for possible revision and repeal, and House Bill 1792 would allow the General Assembly to initiate the repeal of any state regulation by a concurrent resolution.
Of course, while these bills are absolutely a step in the right direction, they will not have the impact in the Commonwealth that they should if they are ignored. It’s important that there are people responding to both violations and new regulations, and House Bill 1960
would address that need. It would require each state agency to appoint a regulatory compliance officer to fulfill those roles while working cooperatively with the business community.
We are grateful that our constituents gave us the opportunity and information to affect the problems they have been experiencing. Without their involvement, this package of bills that has the power to simplify regulations in the Commonwealth, speed the permit approval process and control the costs association with regulations may not exist.
We look forward to the Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf also responding to these constituent concerns as these bills advance through the legislative process.
Speaker of the House Mike Turzai
Majority Leader Dave Reed
Majority Whip Bryan Cutler
Caucus Chairman Marcy Toepel
Caucus Secretary Donna Oberlander
Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor
Caucus Administrator Kurt Masser
Policy Committee Chairman Kerry Benninghoff
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
House Republican Caucus