Friday, December 26, 2014

Hunting for progress in Legislature

As an annual budget deadline looms again, there's little sign of real progress on major issues. But maybe some hunting issues can be resolved.

Hunting for progress in Legislature

The online news service capitolwire.com offers an interesting take on the state's still-growing pension problem, a fiscal nightmare that the Legislature continues to kick down the road.

The news service's Monday piece says even as the Corbett administration offers reform plans to reduce long-term costs of pensions for state workers and teachers, it appears such plans are going nowhere.

With a June 30 state budget deadline in sight and issues such as transportation funding and liquor privatization getting more push and attention -- in a legislature not known for doing more than one major thing at a time -- pension reform could be left in the dust.

"Unlike transportation funding, the Senate isn’t driving this issue forward. Unlike liquor privatization, the House GOP and governor aren’t wild-eyed to make it happen," capitolwire.com suggests.

This even as the administration is set to roll out specifics expected to include plans to put new employees into a 401-k system and change (read:reduce) benefits for current employees.

Ah, well, the beat goes on. Or, rather, doesn't.

Still, as someone always looking for silver linings, I can report some headway on other vital topics.

On Tuesday, for example, the House is scheduled to consider two measures that I know have been on lots of citizen to-do lists.

Votes are planned on HB 451 sponsored by Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Armstrong County, which would finally allow the use of leashed tracking dogs to recover legally-wounded white-tail deer and black bear.

Votes also are planned on HB 577 sponsored by Rep. Gary Haluska, D-Cambria County, to make sure that at least one resident of the Elk Management Area has an opportunity to buy an elk hunting license each year.

So, for those who think our Legislature's just sitting around, avoiding tough issues while collecting pay, perks and per diems let it be known your tax dollars are at work, um, hunting down solutions to PA's pressing problems.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected