Welcome back. The General Assembly returned to Harrisburg this week after a month-long recess for its annual budget hearings. Overshadowing their return to the capitol building was the court mandated March 28 filing date for all state House and Senate candidates to be placed on the upcoming May 17 Primary ballot. What’s significant about this event is that candidates are now filing to seek office in newly drawn districts which the PA Supreme Court approved a few weeks ago. Over 35 current incumbents decided to call it a career and not seek re-election. One thing is for certain…the halls of the capitol will certainly have many new faces come next year.

A holiday not worth celebrating. Last week, Senate Bill 10, was introduced by Senator Jake Corman (R-Centre) to establish a “Gas Tax Holiday” through the end of the year. Corman, who is the current Senate Pro Tempore and candidate for Governor, seeks to reduce the state’s gasoline tax by 1/3 and backfill that lost funding with COVID relief funds and a $650 million bond issuance against the state’s Motor License Fund. While we understand the need to provide financial relief to consumers in the Commonwealth, the floating of a 20- to 30-year bond against the future highway construction program for a possible short-term temporary reduction in the gasoline tax rate doesn’t seem to be sound fiscal policy. APC’s Executive Committee adopted the following position regarding such “holiday.” Go here to view it.

Other items of note. Both the House and Senate adopted resolutions extending the official disaster declaration of emergency through March 31 in response to the Forbes Avenue/Fern Hollow Bridge collapse in Pittsburgh. This would continue to provide flexibility to state and local agencies in dealing with bridge and the rebuilding process. Also, the House transportation committee voted a bill that would require the PA Turnpike Commission to notify a toll collection account holder if the toll was unable to be collected due to a malfunctioning or unreadable electronic toll collection device. It would also require account statements to note when someone receives a V-toll, requiring V-toll information to be posted online, requiring an appeals process, establishing reporting requirements for uncollected tolls, and establishing a feasibility study of third-party processing for tolls.

Upcoming schedule. The Senate will return next week for voting session, but the House isn’t scheduled to return until Monday, April 11.