Bipartisan committees review economic development tools and permitting issue in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG – The Senate Majority and Senate Democratic Policy Committees held a joint public hearing on Monday in Harrisburg to take a closer look at Pennsylvania’s burdensome permitting process and lack of economic development incentives compared to neighboring states.

Senate Majority Policy Committee Chairman David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chair Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton/Lehigh) invited testimony and recommendations from a number of state offices and organizations regarding Pennsylvania’s regulatory climate and permitting process. Leaders of the Pennsylvania Economic Development Association (PEDA), Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, National Federation of Independent Business and the Pennsylvania Business Council testified about the lengthy and non-uniform process necessary to receive state permits.

Pam Shupp, President of PEDA, who also serves as Vice President of the Greater Reading Economic Partnership, emphasized that permitting reform is a key priority for many in the economic development community.

“Streamlining the process and expediting collaborative inter-agency review for high priority economic development projects raises the level of economic prosperity in all our communities,” Shupp testified. “It keeps us competitive – no incentive money involved.”

The committees also heard from state agencies including the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Independent Fiscal Office.

DEP Secretary John Quigley noted that in order to expedite permitting processes, his department needs more staff and better technology as well as better applications from developers.

“This hearing provided both committees with valuable information and insight into ways that we can improve and expand economic development in Pennsylvania in order to preserve and create jobs, attract potential employers and businesses to the area, and remain competitive with neighboring states such as New Jersey and New York,” Argall said. “The goal is to create more jobs in Pennsylvania and I think that is a priority that is shared no matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat.”

“I think we can agree that the permitting process is necessary, but perhaps there are ways we can streamline, and in some ways expedite our efforts,” Boscola said. “In dealing with this issue, I think we also need to not only examine state permitting, but also take a good look at local permitting and its interaction and impact as well.”

More information, including an agenda and testimonies, is available on Senator Argall’s website at www.SenatorArgall.com

The Senate Majority and Democratic Policy Committees team up to review suggestions from the private and public sector on ways to improve the state’s economic development efforts during a public hearing at the state Capitol