Enough is enough. These words are becoming more and more common in the halls of the capitol this week. In the first sign of perhaps a “breaking of the partisan walls,” House Republicans AND Democrats joined together in calling for the governor to reopen retail stores under some safety conditions. It was reported by PLS (a legislative reporting service) that, “In separate letters sent to Wolf on Wednesday, lawmakers asked the governor to alter his COVID-19 restrictions to allow curbside pickup at all retail stores throughout the state. Both letters said the move could help reverse the economic throes that many business owners and workers have found themselves in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” It is unknown how the governor will respond but these letters are perhaps showing a sign that legislators are willing to work together as we move into the budget season.
And speaking of the budget. The House and Senate met in open session sparingly this week as many believe serious budget negotiations are underway among the legislative leaders of both parties in both chambers. The task is herculean in that the state is expected to face an unexpected $4 billion (if not more) shortfall in revenues. How to close this gap remains the question. Leaders from both parties are expected to pass a shorter-term budget to get the Commonwealth through November. The General Assembly will then have to pick up the pieces to finish and pass another budget for the remainder of the state’s fiscal year which runs through June 2021. Leaders believe that taking this approach will allow the economy to recover and tax revenues to come in longer. It is also hoped that the federal government may respond with legislation to aid the states in their fiscal woes.
APC is continuing its lobbying efforts during these budget negotiations. As part of the process, is the anticipated continuation of the 4% phase down of money going from the state’s Motor License Fund for State Police operations. We may be calling upon the industry to help advocate via a grassroots campaign for this continuation of the phase down that was enacted a few years ago. The MLF is the lifeblood of the state’s highway construction program and every dollar preserved is essential to the industry.
Memorial Day. While not a legislative matter per se, we want to take a short moment to acknowledge that we are heading into Memorial Day Weekend. Much in our world is turned upside down right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. But, we at APC want to take a moment to pause in remembrance of all those that have fallen in service to our great nation. We humbly thank them for their ultimate sacrifice.