The 2019-20 session was a busy and challenging time. We dealt with the passage of state budgets and the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to the passage of three of my bills that were signed into law, along with countless others.
As part of our efforts to address the pandemic and its ongoing impact on the state level, we had legislation signed into law that provided $50 million to purchase medical equipment and supplies for hospitals, nursing facilities, and emergency medical services. This was in addition to passing the Senior Protection Act, a collaborative effort to bring our teaching hospitals and nursing homes together; working on legislation to support the business community; and acting to ensure students would successfully finish the school year.
After adopting a partial budget to carry the Commonwealth through the first five months of the 2020-21 fiscal year, we completed the second half in November. We opted to approve a partial budget in May because of the unknown impacts of COVID-19 mitigation efforts on the state’s revenue collections and the delay until July of the federal and state income tax deadlines. The final budget continues to fully fund schools and education, as well as public health and community safety. It includes no new taxes or borrowing and modest reductions in state government operating costs.
Topton Land Swap
The first of my bills signed into law during the 2019-20 session was House Bill 18, now Act 2 of 2019
, which authorized a land swap in Topton Borough. Specifically, it allowed the Borough of Topton and a private landowner to swap two parcels of land along Toad Creek. This already agreed-to land swap allows both property owners to more easily care for their land and also allows the borough to rebuild the deteriorating stream bed and establish a recreational trail.
Construction Industry Employee Verification Act
One of the bills I authored this past session and was signed into law at the end of last year is known as the Construction Industry Employee Verification Act, or Act 75 of 2019
. This law requires employers in the construction industry to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure their new hires do not include individuals not authorized to work in the United States.
Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous employers who hire individuals not authorized to work in the U.S. and their unfair business practices hurt workers by driving down wages, create an unlevel playing field for other employers to compete against, and deprive government of revenue that could be used to fund programs like unemployment compensation. Construction employers who fail to use E-Verify when hiring new employees will have action taken against the company’s licenses that are required to do business. This will hold employers accountable for any hiring practices that take jobs away from legal citizens. While this new law makes the use of E-Verify mandatory only for construction industry employers, I support the use of E-Verify for new hires in all industries.
Permitting for Advanced Technology Businesses
One of the biggest hurdles I hear about from business owners: the state permitting process. To address this issue for new and advanced technology businesses, I authored legislation to improve the process of gaining approval for establishing facilities here in the Commonwealth. One industry in particular – advanced recycling – was the impetus for a bill.
Advanced recycling is an emerging industry that allows for the recycling of ALL
plastics – many that are currently hard to recycle or not recycled at all. Advanced recycling and recovery facilities can process post-use plastics into new plastics and chemicals, raw materials for manufacturing, and transportation fuels that have lower emissions than conventional fuels. Converting these resources into new materials and fuels complements existing mechanical recycling and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. This is a business that is a win-win for both the environment and economy.
My House Bill 1808
addressed this issue and was recently signed into law as Act 127 of 2020
. The new law allows for simpler permitting from the state and enables new and advanced technology businesses to put down roots in the Commonwealth and provide more jobs for Pennsylvanians. By updating our permitting processes to keep up to date with developing industries, we are better able to support this type of continued innovation in the marketplace.
As the 2021 session gets underway in the state House, I will continue to focus on protecting taxpayers, reforming government, strengthening education, and creating jobs.
Representative Ryan Mackenzie
134th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Matthew Deegan