The Montrose Area Chamber of Commerce and Endless Mountains Business Association joined together to host the 2019 Legislative Luncheon on Friday, Oct. 11 at the Susquehanna County Library in Montrose.
Local legislators taking part included Senator Gene Yaw (23rd District); Senator Lisa Baker (20th District); Rep. Jonathan Fritz (111th) and Rep. Tina Pickett (110th).
In her remarks, Sen. Baker spoke about recent crime victims’ legislation; and noted that Marsy’s Law – which would add specific rights for crime victims to the state constitution – appears as a ballot question in the November election.
Sen. Yaw spoke about the various committees he serves on in the senate, as well as his work as chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. Through the years, the bipartisan/bicameral group has looked at issues such as broadband access and the opioid crisis. He said the group will be now looking at vaping.
Rep. Fritz spoke about his PIPE grant expansion bill recently signed into law which will help move local gas distribution forward.
Rep. Pickett, who chairs the house insurance committee, spoke about efforts to alleviate “surprise” medical costs – bills for out-of-network care patients receive without their knowledge often after emergency room visits or air ambulance transports. She said a solution looks to have providers and insurance companies work out those billing issues without saddling patients with those costs.
She also said issues in the forefront for her office include broadband and potholes.
Pickett said the entire panel was “on a mission to do something to make these roads better.”
“I hope we’ve reached rock bottom,” she said of the local road conditions. “These roads matter, not only to residents’ daily lives, they matter to business.”
Congressman Fred Keller (PA-12th) also made an appearance and offered some remarks to the 70+ attendees. Keller, a former PA House member who represented Snyder and Union counties, was elected in May to fill the 12th district congressional seat vacated by Tom Marino early this year.
Keller said Susquehanna County’s two senators and two representatives are a “tight delegation” in Harrisburg.
At the federal level, Keller also spoke about bipartisan efforts taking on the issue of “surprise” medical bills Keller also touched on the topics of infrastructure, broadband, and natural gas pipelines. He said Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. is the fourth largest producer of dry gas in the nation but that gas from Russia was shipped to Boston last year “because we can’t get a pipeline (through New York).”
In the question and answer period, Rick Ainey of New Milford asked about the planned changes in medical transportation.
Baker said a study on the matter is due by the end of the year, but also noted a preliminary report that had been due Sept. 30 was delayed 30 days.
Legislators on the panel agreed that the brokered model proposed would be an “absolute failure” in the rural area.
“It doesn’t make sense for people (to be dispatching rides) who do not know the difference between Milford and New Milford,” Baker said.
Commissioner Alan Hall said that none of the counties that are part of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) want to go with the proposed brokerage model.