Meeting to consider SB 797 and SB 977

Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee

Wednesday, December 15, 2021 | 10:30 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A


AGENDA

Meeting to consider bills

SCHEDULE

Call to Order and Roll Call.

Consideration of Legislation.

  • Senate Bill 797 (Robinson) – Amends the Neighborhood Improvement District Act of December 20, 2000 (P.L. 949, No. 130).
    • Amendment No. A03241 – Technical amendment delineating allocation of gross revenues.
  • Senate Bill 977 (Boscola/Yudichak/Langerholc) – Amends Title 64 (Public Authorities and Quasi-Public Corporations) of the PA Consolidated Statutes, in Commonwealth Financing Authority, providing for Economic Recovery Grant program, imposing a duty to report to the General Assembly, and making an appropriation.
    • Amendment No. A03182 – Clarifies eligibility standards.

Adjournment.

 

Senator Yudichak and Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee Hold Hearing on Improving Innovation Economy – Invent Penn State

HARRISBURG, November 9, 2021 – Chaired by State Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the  Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee entertained testimony Tuesday on the Invent Penn State program.

After launching six years ago, the initiative – which fosters entrepreneurial ingenuity by helping new businesses develop and launch – has expanded to 21 locations statewide.

Overall, the program has helped create nearly 5,000 entrepreneurs form nearly 220 new companies, as well as leading to the creation of over 300 jobs for Pennsylvanians and nearly 500 internships.

“Invent Penn State is inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit of aspiring business leaders to commercialize innovative new products and create entirely new business ecosystems in communities across Pennsylvania,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

“The Hazleton Launchbox and the Wilkes-Barre Idea Hub, fueled by Penn State ingenuity, are essential economic assets that are delivering on the promise of 21st century jobs for northeastern Pennsylvania.”

The hearing was entitled “Improving Pennsylvania’s Innovation Economy – Invent Penn State.”

Participants included Pennsylvania State University (PSU) President Eric Barron, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia President Rob Wonderling, Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress Executive Director Krista Schneider, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko and Dr. Nina Jenkins, Founder of Condidio Tec LLC among others.

Known as Innovation Hubs and LaunchBoxes, the facilities offer free services to anyone, regardless if they are affiliated with PSU. Today, 96 percent of Pennsylvanians have a LaunchBox or hub within 30 miles of where they live or work.

The $30 million initiative was designed to accelerate the movement of business concepts to the marketplace and make a substantial economic development impact in Pennsylvania, and beyond. Barron noted that the University has invested $3 million annually to supplement the endeavor.

“We have taken a comprehensive approach to economic development that goes from end to end,” said Barron. “We begin with entrepreneurial educational opportunities and then create the path to get the ideas to the marketplace. This involves attracting funding, providing mentoring and legal support, and fostering the partnerships to make investment possible. Seeing our graduates begin and grow Pennsylvania-based businesses has been very gratifying.”

PSU has been partnering with the Grow PA enterprise, under the purview of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Wonderling pointed out that factors such as a shrinking workforce, stagnant population and underperforming economy have resulted in Pennsylvania failing to keep pace with other states. As a result, Grow PA focuses on modernizing all facets of the state’s infrastructure, accelerating health care innovation and transforming post-secondary education.

“We believe boosting support for programs like Invent Penn State, which serves a geographically diverse network, will help grow free enterprise and jobs in areas outside urban centers,” said Rob Wonderling, President and CEO, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.

The Hazleton Launchbox site has supported more than 200 community members and provided a range of services for more than 30 businesses.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Scot Pitzer – spitzer@pasen.gov
Carly Simpson – csimpson@pasen.gov

Public hearing on the Invent Penn State program

Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee

Tuesday, November 9, 2021 | 10 a.m.

North Office Building, Hearing Room #1


AGENDA

Public hearing on the Invent Penn State program

SCHEDULE

10:00 am: Opening Remarks – Senator John Yudichak, Chair – Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee; Senator Amanda Cappelletti, Minority Chair – Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee

10:10 am: Panel # 1 – Penn State Leadership

  • Eric Barron – President, The Pennsylvania State University
  • James Delattre – Associate Vice President for Research and Director of the Office of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization, The Pennsylvania State University

10:35 am: Panel #2 – Statewide Thought and Industry Leaders

  • Rob Wonderling – President & Chief Executive Officer, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia
  • Jim Hoehn – Regional President, PNC Bank of Central Pennsylvania

11:00 am: Panel #3 – Local Leaders

  • Jacqueline Edmondson – Chancellor & Chief Executive Officer, Penn State Greater Allegheny
  • Michael Cherepko – Mayor, McKeesport

11:25 am: Panel #4 – Entrepreneurs

  • Nina Jenkins – Founder & CTO, CondidioTech LLC and Research Professor, Penn State University
  • Kenneth Keitt – Founder and CEO, ParaPer4mance
  • Krista Snyder, RLA, LEEDAP: Founder, Shared Roots and Executive Director Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress

12:00 pm: Final Remarks and Adjournment

YUDICHAK: Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee approves Safe Exchange Zone legislation

HARRISBURG, October 27, 2021 – Chaired by Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee took action on a bill today that would create a grant program to establish Safe Exchange Zones throughout Pennsylvania.

Introduced by Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), Senate Bill 881 encourages municipal and police cooperation – via a new Safe Exchange Zone grant program – to enhance public safety.

The zones, typically located near a police facility, are utilized by citizens to exchange merchandise purchased online, as well as child custody exchanges, among other practices.

“In the 14th Senate District, the City of Wilkes-Barre has a Safe Exchange Zone in place, and it has been a complete success,” said State Senator Yudichak. “I applaud Senator Langerholc for his vision in setting the structure for this grant program to be successful.”

“I would highly recommend encouraging other police departments and municipalities to move forward with Safe Exchange Zones,” said Wilkes-Barre City Police Community Policing Officer Kirk Merchel. “It has been a complete success.”

Grants could be used for surveillance equipment, signage or other program necessities.

Langerholc explained that the legislation is a result of a tragedy that occurred earlier this year in Cambria County, part of the 35th Senate District. He noted that Safe Exchange Zones will make Pennsylvania communities safer and prevent future tragedy.

“Senate Bill 881 will ensure individuals in our community are safe and prevent future tragedies from occurring,” said State Senator Langerholc. “This legislation codifies the hard work of the District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement in Cambria County and expands the safety net for all Commonwealth residents.”

As a result of Wednesday’s vote, the legislation advances to the full Senate for consideration. The bill is supported by the PA Sheriff’s Association, as well as police departments throughout the state.

WATCH: The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee considers SB881.

Meeting to consider SB 881

Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 | 11:30 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B


Agenda

Meeting to consider SB 881

Schedule

Call to Order and Roll Call

Consideration of Legislation

Senate Bill 881 (Langerholc) – Amends Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the Safe Exchange Zone Program.

Amendment No. A02770 – Clarifies eligibility, application standards, municipal responsibility, guidelines and procedures, and liability.

Adjournment

YUDICHAK: Senate Panels Examine PA’s Natural Gas Infrastructure

HARRISBURG – Chaired by State Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee held a joint hearing today on Pennsylvania’s natural gas infrastructure, and discussed how neglecting an investment in energy infrastructure negatively impacts consumers and the economy.

The hearing was held at the Capitol in conjunction with the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee, chaired by Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).

Yudichak noted that over the past three years in the Keystone State, four cancelled natural gas and manufacturing projects have resulted in a direct economic loss of over $4 billion, millions of work hours for construction trade workers, and thousands of jobs.

“A radical environmental agenda driven by blind ideology over good science is promoting a false premise that the only climate solution is to end natural gas production in the United States. Pennsylvania is a world leader in natural gas production which has bolstered our economy and enhanced our ability to reduce carbon emissions by 34% over the last decade,” said Senator Yudichak. “Failing to invest in modern energy infrastructure, like state-of-the art pipelines and manufacturing technologies, will devastate Pennsylvania’s economy, increase utility bills on consumers, and weaken our efforts to address climate change.”

Philadelphia Energy Solutions recently quelled a refinery project, US Steel shut down a $1.5 billion manufacturing endeavor in Allegheny County, a northeast supply enhancement project was halted in 2020, and just recently, UGI and its partners announced the suspension of a $1 billion PennEast pipeline project, adversely impacting thousands of northeastern Pennsylvania building trades jobs.

Regulatory permitting procedures, frivolous lawsuits and radical ideology perpetuated by environmental extremists were cited as rationale for putting the brakes on the projects.

“Lack of pipeline infrastructure in the Northeast has resulted in some of the highest electric rates in the United States for families and businesses,” said Senator Yaw. “It’s only going to get worse, thanks to restrictive energy policies and foreign-funded anti fossil fuel groups pushing to ‘keep it in the ground’.”

Speakers included Steamfitters Local 420 Business Manager Jim Snell, who pointed out that his group services Pennsylvania’s entire gas pipeline distribution system and “demand for clean-burning natural gas remains high.” He cited a forecast predicting that industrial consumption of natural gas will increase 35 percent between now and 2050.

“If we want to meet these clean energy goals, then we will need new infrastructure and a skilled workforce,” explained Snell. “The pipeline constraints that currently limit market access – affecting consumers, businesses and manufacturers – will only grow worse without projects like PennEast and enhanced investments in pipeline infrastructure.”

Additionally, Snell pointed out that pipelines are “critical to the fight against climate change.”

“With the safe, efficient transport of natural gas…to wider markets, electric sector-related emissions greatly decreased since 2005 as natural gas production and use has increased,” Said Snell. “This has led to cleaner air across the Commonwealth.”

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday told committee members that expanded natural gas infrastructure is necessary to provide reliable energy to the region, power the economy and meet climate goals.

“Unfortunately, at the behest of activists, the governments of New York and New Jersey have attempted to obstruct several pipeline projects that would have delivered additional gas to New England,” said Sunday, while explaining that annual electricity bills could rise by more than $150 million per year in that area.

“Instead, these residents will have to use more expensive and less efficient space heating options,” said Sunday.

Other testifiers included Marcellus Shale Coalition President Dave Callahan, Laborers District Council of Eastern PA Business Manager Tony Seiwell, PA Manufacturers Association President Dave Taylor, Consumer Energy Alliance Mid Atlantic Executive Director Mike Butler, New Jersey Business & Industry Association Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor, and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Interim Acting Consumer Advocate Christine Maloni Hoover.

Currently, the United States generates 80 percent of its energy from coal, petroleum and natural gas. Despite that reliance on fossil fuels, the country leads the world in reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, since 2005, emissions have declined in the U.S. by 758 million metric tons, more than any country in the world.

“Cleaner burning fuel, energy efficiencies, a smarter electric grid and countless technological advances in the energy industry have all been sparked by legislative policies in Pennsylvania that have supported a robust portfolio of natural resources, nuclear power and renewable energy sources,” said Yudichak. “Our energy portfolio is the envy of other states and most nations of the world. It represents billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs, but radical environmentalists want to put the PA energy industry and building trade unions out of business.”

The hearing was streamed live at https://community.pasenategop.com/.

 

CONTACT: Scot Pitzer – Executive Director; spitzer@pasen.gov

*** Media Advisory *** Senate Committees to Examine Impacts of Failing to Invest in Natural Gas Infrastructure

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development (CERD) Committee and the Environmental Resources & Energy (ERE) Committee will hold a joint hearing Monday to examine the consumer and economic impacts of failing to invest in the state’s natural gas infrastructure.

Committee members will hear testimony from labor officials, economic development and business leaders, and consumer advocates, said CERD Chairman Senator John Yudichak (I-14) and ERE Chairman Senator Gene Yaw (R-23).

Who:                Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and the Environmental Resources & Energy Committee

What:              Public hearing on the consumer and economic impacts of failing to invest in the state’s natural gas infrastructure.

When:              2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4

Where:            PA Capitol, Room 8-EA. Watch online at pasenategop.com or streaming live on the PA Senate Republicans Facebook page.

Contact:           Scot Pitzer (Yudichak)
                          Nick Troutman (Yaw)

Joint Hearing on Consumer and economic impacts of failing to invest in Pennsylvania’s natural gas infrastructure

JOINT HEARING
Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee

AND Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee

Monday, October 4, 2021 | 2:00 p.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-A


Agenda

Consumer & Economic Impacts of Failing to Invest in Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Infrastructure

SCHEDULE

2:00 pm: Opening Remarks

  • Senator John Yudichak, Majority Chair, Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee
  • Senator Gene Yaw; Majority Chair, Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
  • Senator Amanda Cappelletti; Minority Chair, Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee
  • Senator Carolyn Comitta; Minority Chair, Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee

Panel #1: Labor 2:15PM-2:45PM

  • Tony Seiwell – Business Manager for the Laborers’ District Council of Eastern PA  – Testimony
  • Jim Snell – Business Manager, Steamfitters Local Union 420  – Testimony

Panel #2: Economic Development 2:45PM-3:15PM

  • Kevin Sunday – Director, Government Affairs, PA Chamber  – Testimony
  • Dave Taylor – President & CEO, PA Manufacturers’ Association  – Testimony
  • Dave Callahan, President – Marcellus Shale Coalition  – Testimony

Panel #3: Consumer Protection 3:15PM-3:45PM

  • Christine Maloni Hoover – Interim Acting Consumer Advocate  – Testimony
  • Ray Cantor – Vice President, Government Affairs, New Jersey Business & Industry Association (remote)
  • Mike Butler – Executive Director, Consumer Energy Alliance – Testimony

Final Remarks & Adjournment

  • Senator Carolyn Comitta; Minority Chair, Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
  • Senator Amanda Cappelletti; Minority Chair, Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee
  • Senator Gene Yaw; Majority Chair, Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
  • Senator John Yudichak, Majority Chair, Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee

Written Testimony
Clean Air Council  – Testimony
Penn Environment  – Testimony
PennFuture  – Testimony

YUDICHAK: Committee Approves Loan Program for Veteran-Owned Businesses and Enhancements for Clean Energy Program

HARRISBURG – Chaired by Senator John Yudichak (I-14), the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee took action on a pair of bills today that would establish a guaranteed loan program for veteran-owned businesses, and update an existing property-assessed clean energy program to include a number of new provisions.

Yudichak introduced both legislative measures.

Loan guarantees of up to $250,000 would be authorized out of a $5 million allotment designated for the new veteran-owned business endeavor, as part of Senate Bill 830.

“There are more than 700,000 veterans residing in Pennsylvania, and this legislation represents an opportunity for the General Assembly to thank those American heroes for their service,” said Yudichak. “I can think of no better way to honor our veterans than by helping them launch a prosperous and productive civilian life.”

Eligibility requirements for the statewide Property-Assessed Clean Energy Program (C-PACE) would be updated as part of Senate Bill 635. Originally enacted in 2018, C-PACE enables property owners to take advantage of private capital and long-term financing to implement energy efficiency, water conservation and clean energy for agricultural, commercial and industrial properties. New program enhancements would include eligibility for multi-family commercial buildings, indoor air upgrades, and resiliency improvements.

“Nationwide, C-PACE programs have led to over $2 billion in investments, more than 2,500 commercial projects, and 24,000 new jobs,” said Yudichak.

The bipartisan pieces of legislation advance to the full Senate for consideration.

MEDIA CONTACTS
Scot Pitzer – spitzer@pasen.gov

YUDICHAK: Senate Approves Measure Addressing School Bus Driver Shortage.

HARRISBURG – The ongoing statewide and national school bus driver shortage prompted action today by the Pennsylvania State Senate, which passed a legislative measure calling upon Congress to address the workforce famine.

Introduced by Senator John Yudichak (I-14) and Senator Wayne Langerholc, Jr. (R-35), Senate Resolution 172 seeks assistance from federal lawmakers – as well as the US Department of Transportation – to improve the process of obtaining and maintaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Federal and state clearances can take up to 12 weeks to complete and are burdensome at a time when the industry is experiencing the lowest number of school bus drivers in 100 years.

“We have reached a crisis point,” said Yudichak, who chairs the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee. “If anyone wants to become a school bus driver, the process is time-consuming and unwieldy. As a father of four, the safety of our children is paramount, but we can do this in a way that does not impose irrelevant training requirements or barriers on Pennsylvanians seeking this line of work.”

A recent Associated Press report cited a national survey showing that 80 percent of school districts are having difficulty finding bus drivers. There are 500 school districts in Pennsylvania.

“The school bus driver shortage is uprooting school and personal schedules across this Commonwealth, from delaying bus schedules to cancelling an entire day of school,” said Senator Langerholc, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. “After hearing from school districts and school bus companies, a major impediment is securing a CDL. The CDL law is governed by strict federal regulations, which is why our resolution urges Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation to re-evaluate the CDL for school bus drivers, while maintaining the safe transport of 1.5 million children in this Commonwealth.”

Across the state, school districts and school bus companies have been struggling to hire and retain an adequate number of qualified school bus drivers. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the shortage, and at times resulted in schools attempting to borrow bus drivers from neighboring districts, modifying or delaying bus schedules, or ultimately canceling an entire day of school. State and federal laws and regulations require school bus operators to pass knowledge and driving tests, and demonstrate their capability to safely operate a loaded school bus.

CONTACT:

Senator Yudichak’s Office:  spitzer@pasen.gov;

Senator Langerholc’s Office:  nritchie@pasen.gov.