July 2021 Beaver County Chamber of Commerce Monthly Message.
By Harry Kunselman, Chair – Government Affairs Committee
The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee has been hard at work advocating for Beaver County businesses, both during the pandemic and this period of emergence, One of the Committee’s top goals is to keep the lines of communication open with our elected representatives to meet the needs of Beaver County’s businesses and the community at large.
To that end, the Chamber invites its members to attend a Legislative Welcome reception on August 18, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. at Antoline Park in Monaca. (Registration is required. Please see registration information at the end of this article). This is an opportunity for informal dialogue directly with local and state officials about issues and policies impacting Beaver County, and precedes the Beaver County Regional Council of Governments annual Local Government Conference the next day.
Events like the Legislative Welcome enable the Chamber to be a more effective advocate for Beaver County businesses. I wanted to share some examples of recent advocacy efforts by the Chamber.
Coordinated by State Senator Elder Vogel, members of Beaver County’s state legislative delegation attended the Government Affairs Committee’s June 2021 meeting for a dialogue about progress on the Chamber’s 2021 policy priorities. One area of progress is that all levels of government have heightened focus on expanding broadband access in Beaver County. As examples, federal COVID relief and proposed infrastructure plans would make considerable investments in broadband. The Federal Communications Commission has pledged $368 million for improving technology in Pennsylvania, and $9 billion to bring 5G technology to rural areas of the country. At the state level, Representatives Jim Marshall and Rob Matzie co-sponsored the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, which will help provide a path for mobile connectivity build-out. At the local level, the Beaver County Office of Planning and Redevelopment is implementing the Infrastructure Connectivity Project to identify the gap areas of Beaver County for infrastructure expansion. We also acknowledged great progress on examining and improving K-12 education in Beaver County. Led by Senator Camera Bartolotta and Senator Elder Vogel, our state legislators have helped to secure state funding for the Beaver County Partnership’s Future of Education in Beaver County Public Schools Feasibility Study, which is examining what education could look like in Beaver County in the year 2030. At our June meeting, we also acknowledged progress on modernizing Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system, but we wanted to see more progress in supporting and strengthening Beaver County’s human services, whose limits were hyper-tested during the pandemic.
Elsewhere on the advocacy front, the Government Affairs Committee resolved to oppose the pending Break Free From Plastics Pollution Act (SB 984 and HB 2238) in its current form. As part of an effort to address waste and recycling collection systems for a variety of products including plastics, this proposed legislation would make certain producers of products fiscally responsible for collecting, managing, recycling and composting certain products after consumer use, and beginning in 2023, would phase out the use of certain single-use products such as plastic utensils and EPS food service and shipping containers. The Chamber is opposing the current form of this legislation due to its potential adverse impact on local jobs, the restaurant and food service industry, and potential burdens on local municipalities.
The Chamber has also joined the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and other chambers to encourage a phase-out of the federal unemployment enhancement to help address labor shortages that are impacting the ability of small businesses to emerge successfully from the pandemic.
Finally, the Chamber is advocating for strong infrastructure investments, including those focused on railways and waterways, and has advocated with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to support the Mariner East Pipeline permit modification to foster more construction and energy jobs in Pennsylvania.
These are but a few examples of how the Chamber has been advocating for policies that will encourage more jobs and higher standards of living for Beaver County.
If you would like to join in those efforts, please attend the Legislative Welcome reception on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Antoline Park, Allaire Park Road, Monaca, PA 15061. Come and meet with your local legislators. You will find them to be very accessible, and they want to hear our voices. Registration is required. Please register at the Chamber’s Events page.
We hope to see you there. And if you are not a Chamber member, please join. You will not only make new friends, but you will find a wealth of resources for your business or organization. If interested, please contact Membership and Marketing Director Kaitlyn Poleti at email@example.com