Major Jobs Bills Head to Governor’s Desk This Week
BRADFORD WOODS, Allegheny County – Actions in the state House this week will help pave the way for private sector job creation in the Commonwealth, Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) said today.

“Bills that passed the House this week will have direct, positive impacts on Pennsylvania’s economy and will result in new jobs,” Turzai said. “Once again, Pennsylvania will be competitive, thanks in large part to the efforts of Republicans in Harrisburg.”

The state House adopted three jobs-related bills to help boost job creation, even as the nation struggles to break out of these recessionary times, according to Turzai. The three bills were aimed at helping utilities undertake and finance, without tax dollars, necessary infrastructure upgrades and improvements; attracting job creators to underused or abandoned sites; and streamlining the licensing and permitting process in the state.

House Bill 1294 (Rep. Bob Godshall, R-Montgomery County) encourages utilities to upgrade their electric, natural gas and wastewater infrastructure that is severely aged, which presents significant reliability and safety concerns. Economists project that for every $10 million invested in the natural gas infrastructure alone, approximately 120 total jobs are created in the Commonwealth; these are family-sustaining jobs and will likely continue for at least 20 years as the 11,000 miles of older gas pipes get replaced, according to the Public Utility Commission. Similar numbers can be expected as underground electric lines are replaced as well. Many of the gas companies are further using Pennsylvania-manufactured pipe, meaning manufacturing job growth as well.

In the 20 states which have undertaken an infrastructure replacement program like this, paving, hardware, equipment rental, transportation and hospitality industries have all experienced some benefit.

Note: Click here for a list of contractors and utilities that have contacted the leader’s office explaining their anticipated efforts and job growth.

“The infrastructure repair and upgrade-related jobs will be created by the private sector, NOT supported by government subsidies but by investments of Pennsylvania utilities,” Turzai said.

Senate Bill 1237 (Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County) expands Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZs), special designated areas granting employers broad tax cuts, credits and exemptions to spur job growth. Employers that invest at least $1 billion and create at least 400 permanent, full-time jobs would get an extra five years of tax breaks, 15 years in all, with more breaks for manufacturing and processing businesses. KOZs encourage the use of unoccupied or under-developed parcels and old industrial sites. This legislation would allow up to 15 additional Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zones for which there was no designation by Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

KOZs have been used in Pennsylvania since 1999. In fact, Business Facilities magazine has called KOZs “the number one economic development strategy in the nation.”

Turzai said this legislation could play a critical role in Pennsylvania’s bid for a Royal Dutch Shell plc petrochemicals plant. Shell plans to spend as much as $4 billion to build an “ethane cracker” in the Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio area. The plant itself would create several hundred jobs but mean thousands more in related businesses.
The KOZ expansion bill could also help restart two idled refineries in Delaware County and a third in Philadelphia.

NOTE: Click here for a sheet showing the impact KOZs have had in the Commonwealth; the data was compiled by DCED.

“As we work to enhance and maintain Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industries, having KOZs in our toolbox really helps to attract industry and provide good paying jobs here,” Turzai said.

House Bill 2022 (Rep. Mike Peifer, R-Monroe/Pike/Wayne) would create a state “One Stop Shop Business Permit and License Portal.” The online portal for businesses creates personal accounts to submit and track permits and licenses, offers opportunities to make payments on licenses and permits, and tracks the status of applied-for permits. HB 2022 heads to the Senate for consideration. Gov. Tom Corbett supports this idea and mentioned it during his budget address on Tuesday.

Improving the state’s jobs climate has been a top priority for House Republicans, Turzai noted. Already this session, under Republican leadership, the House and Senate passed legislation aimed at making Pennsylvania once again competitive. Those efforts include: 

        • Protecting employers from unfair lawsuit abuse through passage of the Fair 
          Share Act. 
        • Bringing equity to the Unemployment Compensation system through a number of 
          reforms, such as requiring recipients to at least look for a job and creating an 
          offset for severance pay. 
        • Helping smaller employers by adopting Workers’ Compensation reforms for sole 
        • Giving small business a voice by requiring economic impact statements on state 
          regulations affecting employers and offering regulatory flexibility. 
        • Helping the housing industry by repealing the mandatory residential sprinkler 

Turzai noted various reports and business groups show Pennsylvania has one of the highest costs of doing business in the country when combining state and local taxes, fees, regulatory requirements and health care. Improvements will lead to higher employment and economic growth.

State Representative Mike Turzai
28th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Stephen Miskin
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