Government Affairs & General Updates
September 25, 2023
1. Pa. chambers eye impact of special election Lindsay Powell’s victory in Tuesday’s special election allowed Pennsylvania Democrats to retain their razor-thin 102-101 majority in the state’s House of Representatives. While the election was decided by voters in Pittsburgh, its impact will be felt far beyond the boundaries of Allegheny County. Alex Halper, vice president, Government Affairs Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, said state residents are fortunate that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to see a strong Pennsylvania economy. “Many are passionate about supporting their local businesses,” he said. “We’re confident that lawmakers will think about the economy and jobs and their local employers when they’re considering public policy.” Halper remarked that many of the Pennsylvania Chamber’s top priorities – improvements to Pennsylvania’s tax code, for instance – have broad bipartisan support. “We’ve seen our top priorities get passed with unanimous support out of the Senate Finance Committee, for example,” he said. “We have a Democrat in the House who’s introduced important business tax reform legislation, permitting reform passed with bipartisan support in the senate. “When we think about top priority issues for Pennsylvania employers, I think lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have embraced those as important steps to make Pennsylvania more competitive.” Read More
2. State announces agreement to add another daily roundtrip train route serving western PA. Amtrak will offer trains traveling roundtrip between New York City and Pittsburgh twice a day, under an agreement announced by the Department of Transportation on Friday. Currently, Amtrak trains only travel that route once a day. "This agreement lays the groundwork for expanded passenger rail service in Western Pennsylvania while simultaneously preserving a critical freight rail corridor," said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. To support these expanded passenger operations, the Commonwealth will invest more than $200 million in infrastructure and safety improvements that will be constructed and maintained by Norfolk Southern. PennDOT has applied for grant funds through the Federal Railroad Administration to help pay for these improvements.
3. Another credit rating agency has boosted outlook for PA. S&P Global Ratings improved Pennsylvania's outlook to 'positive' from stable on Friday and affirmed its A+ long-term rating on the Commonwealth's general obligation bonds in the second affirmation of the Commonwealth's strong economy and sound budgeting practices from a credit rating agency this month. In its affirmation, S&P applauded how the "Commonwealth has improved its financial position and demonstrated an ability to build reserves over multiple years, while also making progress in attaining structural budgetary balance" as factors that helped to improve Pennsylvania's rating outlook to positive, in addition to the Commonwealth's budget management framework. This assessment is a positive measurement and affirmation that Pennsylvania is fiscally stable, but is only one of many important metrics of our economy's health and stability. "Multiple credit rating agencies have now affirmed that our commonsense investments and sound fiscal management are setting the Commonwealth up for continued success as we work to create an economy that works for all," said Gov. Josh Shapiro in a statement released Friday. Earlier this month, Moody's upgraded the state's credit rating as well.
4. Capitol All-Stars charity softball game set for Tuesday evening. The state House returns to the Capitol for the first time in months on Tuesday, but lawmakers are not expected to be spending a long day legislating - the seventh annual Capitol All-Stars charity softball game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. The Yinz and the Youse teams play a doubleheader this year in the seventh annual Capitol All-Stars Game, a slow pitch softball game for members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly that mixes Democrats and Republicans, House Members and Senators, and men and women who are assigned randomly to their teams. The Youse Team won in 2019 and again in last year's game in dramatic late inning play, but the Yinzers have notched four games in this intense rivalry and are hungry to regain the trophy, organizers say. Earlier this year, the team captains -- President Pro Tempore Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, and House Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, (Youse) and Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, and House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, (Yinz) - issued a fundraising challenge. The winner of that challenge will be announced on Tuesday morning and will play as the home team. Since its launch in 2013 the Capitol All-Stars Game has raised more than $400,000 and donates the net proceeds to its charitable partners, the two statewide food security organizations, Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania. Details about the game can be found online at www.CapitolAllStars.org. The game is aired live statewide on PCN.
5. Nurses with multi-state licenses can now practice in Pa. Pennsylvania is dealing with a severe nursing shortage. As of September 5th, nurses who hold multi-state licenses through the interstate Nurse Licensure Compact can now practice in Pennsylvania without obtaining a Pennsylvania License. “It helps with our critical nurse shortage. It helps to bring more nurses into Pennsylvania, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses to work actually in Pennsylvania or work through a telehealth platform, if that would be available as well. So, we’re able to pull more nurses into Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania State Nurses Association President Dr. Deb Cardenas. The compact is administered by the National Council for State Boards of Nursing, it is an agreement with 41 states and U.S. territories. “Those nurses who live in a bordering state, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, they don’t want to have to pay for, you know, to licenses to practice. So having the ability to only pay for one license in the state, which is their primary state and be able to practice in Pennsylvania without getting an additional license is a very is a is a positive,” said Dr. Cardenas. Dr. Cardenas says she personally has not noticed a difference since the agreement began earlier this month. “So, I’ve been receiving many comments that the nurses from other states are happy that they do not have to pay the different licensure fees. So, they’re very excited about that to be able to have just one licensure fee and still be able to practice in Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Cardenas. The compact is only partially implemented. Pennsylvania nurses don’t have the ability to receive multi-state licenses. But it is something the department of state is working on. Read More