The Pennsylvania House achieved many important legislative goals last session, such as promoting more job growth across Pennsylvania and investing more money in public education.
However, the state still faces many challenges and some of the most pressing issues remain unresolved.
With the 2013-14 session now under way, it is time for us to start tackling these issues.
While we continue to focus on policies that create jobs and improve the education in our commonwealth, I am eager to share my expertise and work with all of my colleagues to address the many challenges our state faces.
Some of the issues include pension reform, regulatory reform, workers compensation, transportation funding and liquor privatization.
With my broad policy background in the state's labor and industry field, I will continue pushing for legislation that improves Pennsylvania's business climate and promotes career readiness for our students so that we have a skilled workforce in the future.
I am currently working on a workforce development and job readiness initiative that I hope will be included as part of this year's state budget.
Another key issue that we plan to focus on this session is reforming the regulatory and permitting process for businesses in communities across the commonwealth.
Over the summer, the House Majority Policy Committee held several public hearings across the state to hear from local business owners.
One of the major concerns expressed at each meeting was the complicated, expensive and lengthy periods of time it takes to obtain permits to build, expand, or start up a business.
Because it is our duty to make Pennsylvania a desirable location to start a business and create jobs, it is unacceptable to have these burdens.
Since state revenues are not growing as much as we would like, the state will face another tough budget this year.
Therefore, pension reform is needed to help adequately fund our state's programs.
The House Republican Leadership team recently formed a Pension Reform Task Force to help gather information and put forth suggested solutions concerning pension reform.
This group's goal is to develop responsible and workable pension solutions and report back to all members of the House with its findings.
In addition to the suggestions from the task force, any proposed solution must protect individuals who have earned their pensions – a requirement spelled out in our state's Constitution– but also make meaningful reforms to the system so that it is sustainable going forward.
As my colleagues and I work toward accomplishing these long-term issues, I will not ignore other issues important to Pennsylvanians.
Within my first six months of taking office during the 2011-12 legislative term, I was quick to introduce and pass my first piece of legislation, now Act 169 of 2012.
This law streamlines state government, reduces unnecessary regulations, and protects consumers by making changes relating to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Weights and Measures Division.
I have also reintroduced my legislation to exempt volunteer fire companies from realty transfer taxes as defined under Act 2 of 1971, known as the Tax Reform Code.
Many in-state volunteer fire companies are merging or consolidating to save on resources and better serve their communities. However, volunteer fire companies that merge together are not exempt from the realty transfer tax, which imposes an expensive burden on these nonprofit organizations.
I believe it is both fitting and appropriate to give volunteer fire companies and volunteer rescue companies exemption status.
Our fire companies are a vital part of our communities and deserve support in their efforts to combine resources to better serve our communities.
Lastly, I plan to reintroduce a resolution in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to recognize a designated week as "Child Identity Theft Awareness Week" in Pennsylvania.
I am hopeful it will raise awareness and help to protect the identity of our children.
I am honored to have been chosen to serve the residents of the 134th Legislative District and I look forward to hearing from residents of our district about issues important to them.
For more legislative information or to contact one of my district offices, visit my website at RepMackenzie.com or Facebook.com/RepMackenzie.