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Senate Votes to Reduce the Size of the Legislature
When I recently invited community residents to share their suggestions to help reduce state government costs, several individuals proposed reducing the size of the state legislature. Pennsylvania’s legislature is among the largest and most expensive in the country, so this suggestion is absolutely worth pursuing. This simple change holds the potential to save millions of taxpayer dollars.
Last week, I was proud to join my colleagues in voting to reduce the size of the House of Representatives from 203 members to 151. Under the plan, House districts would increase in population from approximately 62,000 to 84,500. I have also cosponsored legislation that was approved by the Senate State Government Committee last month to reduce the number of state Senators from 50 to 45.
The measures would require an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, which requires passage by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions and approval by voters at the ballot box. If approved by lawmakers and state voters via referendum, the changes could take effect as part of the redistricting process in 2020.
I am hopeful we can pass similar legislation next year in order to give taxpayers the final say regarding the size and cost of the state legislature.
Senate Panel Examines Transportation Project Delays
Interruptions in road and bridge construction projects can create serious problems for contractors and motorists. These delays often waste precious tax dollars that would be better spent on other vital transportation projects. This week, I joined members of the Senate Transportation Committee for a public hearing to examine the causes and costs of transportation project delays often created due to utility line relocation.
The hearing included the perspectives of state officials, contractors, utility companies and other stakeholders in the construction process. The testimony provided by experts was extremely useful in framing the issue, and this feedback will help form the basis of legislation I plan to introduce in the near future in order to minimize or prevent these costly, prolonged interruptions.
Video and written testimony from the hearing is available here.
Legislation Could Better Regulate Prescription of Controlled Substances in Emergency Rooms
Prescription drug addiction and abuse is one of the fastest-growing problems in southwestern Pennsylvania. In the near future, I plan to join Senators Gene Yaw and John Wozniak in introducing legislation that would limit and regulate discharge prescriptions provided by emergency rooms and help identify patients who could benefit from a referral for treatment for addiction. The goal is to ensure patients can receive the relief they need while minimizing the harmful consequences of addiction.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Medical Society and state agencies adopted new guidelines for pain treatment in emergency rooms. While these guidelines are a crucial step in fighting prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth, it is important to ensure they are being implemented in all Pennsylvania emergency rooms.
Drug abuse and addiction-related deaths have created deep, irreparable scars on families throughout our region. It is critical to fight back against this dangerous epidemic while remaining cognizant of the needs of patients. I am hopeful that this measure will play a role in helping more individuals get the help they need.
State Grant Supports Washington Park Improvements
A state grant recently awarded by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will support a number of improvements at Washington Park. The grant will help finance the construction of a pedestrian walkway and the installation of playground equipment, safety surfacing, lighting and fencing. The project will also include landscaping, improved access for individuals with disabilities and other site improvements.
Washington Park is a fantastic place for individuals and families to enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities. These improvements will ensure more local families can join in on the fun.
Governor Wolf to Deliver Second Budget Address February 9
Although a number of issues pertaining to the 2015-16 state budget remain unresolved, Governor Wolf will lay out his vision for the 2016-17 budget on February 9. I am hopeful that the Governor will propose a realistic budget that spends responsibly, rather than asking working families to contribute more in burdensome broad-based taxes to grow government.
I look forward to reviewing Governor Wolf’s budget proposal and sharing my perspective on the plan next week. Stay tuned for details on my website and social media outlets.
For more information on issues of importance to southwestern Pennsylvania, please visit my website at www.senatorbartolotta.com and connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/senatorbartolotta) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/senbartolotta).
SouthPointe District Office
Greene County Office Building