NEWS & EVENTS
SMC/MBA Government News Brief
March 21, 2019
Details have been eliminated to keep this brief. MBA stands for the Manufacturer and Business Association, Erie. SMC merged with MBA on 3/1/2019. If you require more info on any item please reply on this email. If you wish to be removed from this email update reply on this email. No questions asked!
PA House & Senate from 30,000 Feet – The budget hearings concluded on March 7th. One of the more notable features was the number of times an increase in the minimum wage was mentioned by department heads during the hearings. At the hearings secretaries of the various departments such as Community and Economic Development, Labor and Industry, and Corrections explain their budget for the new year and field questions from lawmakers. During this time of year lawmakers are introducing new legislation and re-introducing legislation from the past session that did not make it to the finish line. Among some of the hot issues are minimum wage, workforce development, the shale tax, Corporate Net Income tax rate reduction and nuclear power and UPMC/Highmark.
Harrisburg Grassroots Lobbying Trip, Tuesday, May 14 7:00 AM- 8:45 PM – We are very fortunate this year to have Auditor General Eugene DePasquale as our guest luncheon speaker. Registration deadline is 4/19. If you have not attended in the past make 2019 the year. 2019 Harrisburg Lobbying Trip Flyer-I
SMC Government Relations Committee Conference Calls – Members have met on conference calls several times since December and assembled a proposed 2019 legislative agenda which is now under review. It has a strong focus on members’ top two concerns, workforce and health care costs, along with taxes/labor/regulations and energy. This agenda will be the source of our talking points with lawmakers on the Harrisburg Grassroots Lobbying trip on May 14.
Meeting with Senator Jay, Costa Jr., Democratic Floor Leader, PA Senate – WHY IMPORTANT TO BUSINESS: It is important to maintain relationships with lawmakers in both houses of the general assembly and on both sides of the aisle. ACTION: The purpose was to have a brief discussion about some of issues proposed in our 2019 agenda. (WORKFORCE 1) The Senator thought a possible solution was to create programs that embed learning skills at an early age. He alluded to the need for an increase in the minimum wage, i.e. if wages were increased from $12.00/hour for a landscape worker to a higher amount then unemployment would be less attractive. He also cited a need for investment in labor groups and trades unions. (ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT) Sen. Costa noted there would be a big conversation about nuclear power this session. $300-$400 million is needed to keep several facilities open. The question is whether or not to provide support for the industry. That decision will impact air quality. He is aware that it is not possible to switch immediately from fossil fuels to renewables. (WORKFORCE 2) He thought it seemed like a reasonable idea to move all workforce programs into one agency, noting that the programs are too fragmented and it is hard to quantify program success.
Pittsburgh Innovation Series – Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber – Guest speakers were U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb and PA House of Representatives, Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Turzai. When Lamb was questioned about “Medicare for All” he noted that he has read the bill and there is no indications of what it will cost. He indicated it has some support. When Rep.Turzai was asked about placing all of the PA’s workforce programs under one agency, he replied he does not have details yet.
Breakfast with Allegheny County Commissioner Rich Fitzgerald – When asked about transportation he commented that he does not have the ability to use taxpayer dollars to fund transportation. Funding has to come from the federal government. What would really help is if state lawmakers would give him the tools to raise transportation funds. Now all he has access to is a $5.00 head tax.
PA House Labor & Industry Committee – We had a call with the research analyst for the committee who was interested in hearing our thoughts on workforce. Likewise we heard what the committee has on its agenda. We submitted workforce comments the day before an important vote to help push out legislation that would expose youths in middle school and high school to high priority occupations including trades.
Opportunities for You
Greater Pittsburgh Chamber, First Friday, April 5, 2019, 11 Stanwix Street, 8:00 AM-9:30 AM. Speaker is Senator Robert Casey, Jr. RSVP required by April 1. No fee. https://alleghenyconference.formstack.com/forms/gpcc_first_friday
“An Evening to Connect” – Thursday, September 26th, 2019, The Rivers Club, Downtown Pittsburgh, Business Issues Forum 5:00-6:00 PM, Panel and networking 6:00-8:00 PM.
Read All About It! Look for Next Week’s SMC Newsletter!
- Representative Mike Puskaric – minimum wage increase
- Lenny McAllister, Commonwealth Foundation – Criminal justice reform
- SMC Member testifies before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Eileen Anderson, Director, Government Relations
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