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With Recess Over, Frankel Foresees Minimal Progression of Controversial Legislation

Monday marks the end of summer’s legislative recess – but with elections in less than two months, can much be accomplished?

State Representative Dan Frankel (D – Allegheny) is not optimistic, saying he finds it “doubtful” they will be successful with getting any significant bill passed.

“I don’t think you’ll see any legislation that is ‘big idea’ legislation,” he said. “I think you’ll see mostly legislation that is not controversial – I’m hoping most of it won’t be controversial.”

The legislative calendar only shows 12 voting days remaining this session.

He said with the limited time, it’s difficult to see any overarching, dramatic legislation moving forward before the November 4th election, and many of his colleagues who are in competitive races for reelection are more focused on that.

That’s why Frankel doesn’t predict any forward movement on pension reform – an issue that caused Governor Tom Corbett to line item veto $65 million in General Assembly spending when he signed the new budget.

According to Frankel, there’s no support in the Senate for the pension proposal being pushed by House Republicans, and he doesn’t think the majority of his chamber will pass it, either.

“The proposal that we have seen I think actually creates a higher unfunded liability and in the pension system in the long run,” Frankel said. “And it’s quite controversial, and I don’t think that…there is consensus certainly within the House itself, and there certainly isn’t consensus with the other chamber.”

The state faces a $50 billion pension debt.

He believes a better investment climate and Act 120 will significantly help the pension issue over time.

Act 120, a package of reforms passed in 2010, refinanced Pennsylvania’s existing pension debt and reduced benefits for future employees.

Frankel also doesn’t foresee liquor privatization or Medicaid expansion legislation moving forward.

“I have a piece of legislation that’s been in the docket for a number of months that would expand Medicaid to the uninsured in this state – 600,000 people – in a way that the rest of the country is moving, heading into it instead of the HealthyPA proposal that the governor has,” Frankel said.

Corbett’s plan called for using federal dollars to subsidize private health insurance and – along with some adjustments – was approved by the federal government in August.

Frankel believes gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolfe supports his Medicaid legislation over what he called the “watered down” version.

But again, he doesn’t expect his proposal to get considered on the House floor before election, so he hopes to see it reinitiated afterwards.

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.
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