Sunday, April 20, 2008

State Capitol Roundup

This week's State Capitol ROUNDUP courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch, R-147:

House Gaming Oversight Committee to Hold Hearings on Reform Bills

House Republicans are pleased by the recent announcement that the Democrat-led House Gaming Oversight Committee will finally hold public hearings on legislation to restore integrity to the state's gaming industry. The first hearing, on April 29, will feature three key pieces of legislation. House Bill 1450, sponsored by Rep. Doug Reichley (R-Berks/Lehigh), clarifies and strengthens the attorney general's role in background investigations for gaming licensees. House Bill 2389, sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin), transfers the duties of the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement to the Pennsylvania State Police. House Bill 2396, sponsored by Rep. Craig Dally (R-Northampton), prohibits gaming licenses from being awarded to people convicted of racketeering. For more information on gaming initiatives, visit

House GOP Takes On Souring Economy

Pennsylvanians are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, and House Republicans are urging action on an economic stimulus plan that eases the negative effects of the sagging national economy. The Economic Stimulus Tax Cut proposal, House Bill 2270, would make the state more competitive in retaining and attracting businesses and jobs by lowering the state Personal Income Tax (PIT) to 2.9 percent, reducing various business taxes and lowering the electricity gross receipts tax. The Department of Labor estimates the state has lost more than 79,000 manufacturing jobs over the last five years. If enacted, the economic stimulus plan would inject the economy with an estimated $500 million.

Unknown Turnpike Lease Proposal Being Pushed by Administration

The Rendell administration is soliciting bids from companies interested in leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but the General Assembly will not get to review and compare the bids. Instead, the administration will select which bid to forward to lawmakers by the end of this month. The governor expects the Legislature to approve a deal by mid-June. Although open to the option of a lease, Republican Leader Sam Smith and Transportation Committee Chairman Rick Geist believe this timeline is rushed given the fact that no information on the proposals has been shared with the public or lawmakers. Republican members are hoping to have public input for a lease agreement. The lease is being considered as previous plans to toll I-80 continue to be debated at the federal level. Last December, the Federal Highway Administration returned the state's initial application to toll the highway due to insufficient information.

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