State Capitol Roundup
8/23/2013

House Committee Begins Series of Hearings Focusing on Prevailing Wage Reform

The House Labor and Industry Committee began a series of public hearings in State College on Thursday to address proposed changes to the state’s outdated Prevailing Wage Law.  The Prevailing Wage Law requires municipalities and school districts to pay the “prevailing minimum wage” to those individuals working on public construction projects.  Current law does not clearly spell out how the wage is to be determined, and often high, urban-area union wage rates are used as the basis for calculating the prevailing wage for a given project.  This initial hearing featured testimony from local government officials and union representatives and specifically addressed two prevailing wage reform bills.  House Bill 796 would increase the prevailing wage threshold from $25,000 to $100,000 for public projects, and House Bill 665 would make it clear that the law would not apply to road repair projects.  Additional hearings on prevailing wage reforms will take place around the state over the next month.

House Appropriations Committee Holds Hearings on Economic Development, Transportation

Members of the House Appropriations Committee held two public hearings in western Pennsylvania this week to address the issues of economic development and transportation infrastructure.  The first hearing focused on promoting economic growth through infrastructure investment and featured testimony from western Pennsylvania stakeholders representing infrastructure and business industries.  The second hearing centered on the economic impact of the state’s aging infrastructure.  Testimony was offered by local businesses and interested stakeholders.  Lawmakers aim to continue work on crafting a comprehensive transportation infrastructure funding plan when session resumes in the fall.

Department of Health Reports First West Nile Virus Cases of 2013

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has reported the first probable cases of West Nile virus (WNV) this year in Montgomery and York counties.  The departments of Health and Environmental Protection are urging residents to minimize their exposure to mosquitoes.  The mosquitoes that transmit the virus breed in areas with standing and stagnant water.  These areas can include catch basins, clogged gutters, discarded tires, poorly maintained swimming pools, flower pots and other types of plastic containers.  Simple steps to eliminate standing water around the home include removing tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires or any object that could collect standing water; having roof gutters cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from nearby trees have a tendency to clog the drains; turning over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use; aerating ornamental pools or stocking them with fish; and cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools and removing standing water from pool covers.  The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducts regular surveillance and control to manage mosquito populations around the state.  So far, DEP has detected WNV-infected mosquitoes in 36 counties.  For more information on WNV and how to prevent its spread, visit Rep. Kerry Benninghoff’s (R-Centre/Mifflin) website at www.KerryBenninghoff.com and click on “West Nile Virus Control.”

Motorists Reminded of Travel Alerts Available for Holiday Weekend

With the Labor Day holiday around the corner, Pennsylvania motorists are reminded of travel alerts and road conditions available through Pennsylvania’s 511 website.  Drivers can always check road conditions by calling 511 or visiting www.511PA.com.  The 511PA system, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, average traffic speeds on urban interstates and access to more than 500 traffic cameras.  Regional Twitter alerts are also available on the 511PA website.
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