According to the state constitution, the new Pennsylvania General Assembly meets on a biennial basis on the first Tuesday in January to swear in the members for the upcoming legislative session. This year, the occasion falls on New Year’s Day. This timing provides me with a great opportunity to express my priorities on what issues myself and the Pennsylvania General Assembly will hopefully address during the 2013-14 session.
Since 2005, I have worked hard to craft legislation aimed at helping abused and underprivileged children and families. Last year Governor Corbett signed into law a bill I wrote that creates a homeless children task force that studies the educational needs of children facing homelessness throughout Pennsylvania. Furthermore, I have fought for and authored legislation that would toughen child abuse reporting requirements for school personnel many years before the Jerry Sandusky scandal. This New Year will be no different. I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner and turning into law my previous bill and many of the recommendations the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection released.
Because of my real estate background, protecting homeowners has been an area I have focused on since becoming a senator. Last year, I successfully led the Senate Democrats when I asked the Pennsylvania Attorney General to allocate designated funding to re-start the Homeowners' Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) that assists families in preventing foreclosure. But my fight hasn’t stopped there. Knowing what a crushing burden property taxes are to working families, I have introduced a series of bills to cut and control local taxes over the past few years and plan to do so again during this upcoming legislative session.
I have also fought to bring new jobs and revitalization to many of the struggling industrial communities I represent. To that end, I have sponsored and co-sponsored a legislative package this year that would invest in statewide job creation and economic development incentives—without raising taxes.
In the coming months, I hope that the Pennsylvania General Assembly can work together to address transportation funding, education, and child abuse reporting reforms to name a few. During this same time period, I too will be developing and focusing on key areas including the priorities I have mentioned as well as easier access for voters, senior and veterans’ issues, legislative process reform, and health and environmental protection legislation. And as always, I will continue to advocate for property tax and assessment system reform.
In closing, I wish a very happy and healthy new year for all of my constituents and look forward to serving your needs in the future!
—Senator Wayne D. Fontana
42nd Senatorial District