Friday, April 16, 2010

Special Legislative Sessions... How Effective?

The special legislative session to address transportation funding will be the third of the Rendell Administration, and tenth since 1967. Governor Rendell said he would call a special session after the U.S. Transportation Department denied a plan by the state to toll Interstate 80. The administration was counting on that to help fund road and bridge repair and operating funds for mass transit.
Previous sessions called by Rendell have focused on renewable energy and property tax relief.
The 2007-2008 session led to two laws, while the 2005 property tax session created one.
Steve MacNett, general counsel for the Senate Republican Caucus, says the most productive session was held during the Ridge Administration.
The 1995 effort led to 37 laws and three proposed constitutional amendments.
MacNett says sessions' results have been varied.

"Only a couple of those have significant achievements. And those achievements came in circumstances where there was a very clear plan, even before the special session began, on what the governor was going to ask to be considered. It's not a broad range of options - it needs to be a specific plan."

So far, no clear solutions have emerged for transportation funding. Rendell says he's willing to consider all options to fill this year's $450 million hole.
MacNett says special legislative sessions had a clearer purpose when the General Assembly only met a few months of the year, and needed to return to Harrisburg to address specific problems or emergencies.

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