House transportation chairman in critical condition

UPDATE: House Rep. Dick Hess died on Friday from complications relating to his leg surgery. House Speaker Sam Smith released a statement saying Hess died at UPMC Shadyside in PIttsburgh surrounded by his family.  Funeral arrangements were still being finalized. A spokesman for Smith said he did not yet know who would be named to the transportation committee chairmanship role.

The House GOP point man on transportation policy is in a Pittsburgh hospital in critical but stable condition following complications after leg surgery.

Rep. Dick Hess (R., Bedford), 74, had undergone an operation on his legs last month, but medical issues arose and his condition worsened over the weekend, said House Republican caucus spokesman Steve Miskin.

Miskin said he had no additional details about Hess' surgery or his condition.

Hess, who was elected in 1986, was elevated to chairman of the powerful House Transportation Committee this year after the committee's longtime chairman Rep. Rick Geist (R., Blair) was ousted from office last year.

In his committee role, Hess has led efforts to secure funding for roads, bridges and mass transit, although an agreement on more than $1 billion in new funding to repair aging infrastructure has remained elusive.

Gov. Corbett has made transportation funding a priority this session and lawmakers are expected to resume talks on the issue when they return to session on Sept. 23.






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