Home Divided Divided Pennsylvania Senate committee narrowly advances USMCA resolution, strongly backs board elimination...

Divided Pennsylvania Senate committee narrowly advances USMCA resolution, strongly backs board elimination bill


The Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee advanced a resolution by a vote of 7-4 along party lines encouraging Congress to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Democrats Anthony Williams, Maria Collett, Katie Muth and Lindsey Williams voted no last week to Senate Resolution 153 sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York.

“Until those changes relative to ensuring labor standards, certain environmental provisions as well as enforcement of the deal itself. … I will be a ‘no’ vote,” Muth said.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin County, countered Muth’s statements with support of the bill.

“Once it passes, I believe we’ll see a boom for our industry and agriculture here across Pennsylvania and then maybe once again Pennsylvania will be open for business.”

Congress is still ironing out details with the Trump administration on the deal, which would replace the North American Free Trade Act.

The committee was unanimous in supporting House Bill 57, which would eliminate public boards that have not met in years and in some cases decades, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jonathan Fritz, R-Honesdale, who said the bill equated to “cleaning out the closet.” The bill passed the House in May and is currently in the Senate.

The legislation is part of a seven-bill package called “reinventing government.” Fritz’s bill is the only one that has passed out of the House, with the remaining bills still in the House State Government Committee. The other bills are:

• House Bill 52 which would merge the Budget Office, the Department of General Services, the Office of Administration and the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning into the newly created Office of Management and Budget.

• House Bill 53, which would merge the Department of Labor and Industry with functions from the Department of Community and Economic Development and Department of State into the newly created Department of Business, Tourism and Workforce Development.

• House Bill 54, sponsored by Rep. Matt Dowling, would create the Department of Local Government and Community Affairs to handle tasks now assigned to the Department of State and the Department of Community and Economic Development. A cabinet position, the Department of the Commonwealth would oversee the department.

• Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed merging the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services into one department. House Bill 55, sponsored by Rep. Paul Schemel, would accomplish that by merging the departments into a newly-formed Department of Health and Human Services.

• House Bill 56 consolidates the state’s IT departments. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Ortitay, would require regular testing of the state’s cybersecurity capabilities, Grove said.

• House Bill 58 consolidates the workforce system programs currently under the Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Department of Human Services into one agency.