What is happening with the state budget process? What can we expect from the Congressional elections? Are we going to see a gas tax increase vote in lame duck? These were some of the questions raised in the two concurrent sessions that featured the League's legislative staff. The sessions started off with a short 20 minute powerpoint on some key issues. First, we discussed how the legislature resolved the FY 2010 state budget and the role revenue sharing played in that process. In the end, no cuts to revenue sharing were enacted! Then we talked about the current FY 2011 budget and how currently the proposal is not to cut revenue sharing again. However, even today there is a possibility that can change as the House has been struggling to pass a bill regarding state employees and retirement changes. If that doesn't pass...revenue sharing could be on the hook.
In transportation news, the legislature is cobbling together the funding for the budget to get the federal match...but that is a short term solution that doesn't get us to long term transportation sustainability. The League is part of a coalition that will be making a big push to get a gas tax increase in lame duck. We have also been working on some brownfield reforms that will provide our members with access to funding for brownfield projects and sewer projects and we hope to have this completed by the end of the year. The other major proactive piece we talked about is legislation that would reinstate the two inch rule, which deals with municipal liability in sidewalks. We will be having a hearing in the Senate on that after the elections, we believe.
We spent most of the sessions with an aggressive Q&A about what happened to the PA 312 expansion bill (it is sitting on the Senate floor still and if the Senate doesn't vote to give it immediate effect - it dies at the end of December), allowing locals the option to post online public notices (we expect to see movement on that after the election), and many other election questions like the Con Con. We all agree - the question isn't whether you should bet if it passes - it's a function of the margin of defeat. Too many opponents and no organized support.
We enjoyed having a different format that provided the legislative staff with more opportunity to answer questions of members and really get into what is happening behind the scenes. I think we may try this again in the future! As always, if you have any questions about what's happening in Lansing or in DC do not hesitate to contact us!
Summer Minnick is the Director of State Affairs. She can be reached at email@example.com or 517-908-0301.