Hutchinson Statement About Commonwealth Court Ruling that RGGI Energy Tax Violates PA Constitution

HARRISBURG – The Commonwealth Court has ruled the effort by the Department of Environmental Protection and state Environmental Quality Board to have Pennsylvania join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) without legislative approval violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. Sen. Scott E. Hutchinson (R-21) issued the following statement in response to the ruling:

“No RGGI Tax legislation will be reported from the Senate Finance Committee,” said Hutchinson, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. 

The court ruling supports the Senate Republican perspective that RGGI would create a tax, which can only be done by the legislature, not by executive order or regulation. In its ruling, the court said, “Stated simply, to pass constitutional muster, the Commonwealth’s participation in RGGI may only be achieved through legislation duly enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly.”

CONTACT: Justin Leventry  

Franklin Mayor Douglas Baker Receives Local Government Excellence Award

HARRISBURG – Franklin Mayor Douglas Baker has been honored for his contributions to local government throughout his career with a 2023 Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence, announced Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) and Rep. R. Lee James (R-64).

“Whether it was as a police officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, a member of city council or mayor, Douglas Baker has lived a life of public service to his community,” Hutchinson said. “This award, recognizing his career contributions, is well deserved.”

“I was happy to be present in Harrisburg for the governor’s recognition ceremony for 28 deserving municipal servants in Pennsylvania, including City of Franklin Mayor Doug Baker,” said James. “To provide real service, you must add sincerity and integrity – which cannot be bought. Those qualities describe Mayor Baker and his approach to his community, and I’m thankful for his relentless dedication to the residents of Franklin.”                                                    

Baker is currently serving his fourth term as mayor of the City of Franklin, but his public service career began more than four decades ago when he became a police officer for the City of Franklin. During his time on the force, he held the rank of patrol officer, public safety officer, detective and lieutenant while maintaining certifications as an emergency medical technician and firefighter. Not long after his retirement from the force in 2003, Baker was appointed to fill a vacancy on city council, on which he served until his election as mayor in 2009. He also serves as the city’s emergency management coordinator and is the first vice president of the Pennsylvania Municipal League, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for Pennsylvania’s 3rd class cities.

Additionally, Baker has participated in numerous local, regional and statewide committees such as the STOP Grant Implementation Plan at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Venango County’s Together We Can Council, DUI Advisory Board, and Elder Abuse Task Force. He also serves as coordinator for Venango County’s STOP Violence Against Women Grant and Police Traffic Services Grant.

The Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence recognize local officials for their successes in undertaking innovative initiatives to improve the quality of life in their communities. The Governor’s Center for Local Government Services, within the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, partners with the multiple local government organizations to sponsor the annual awards.

CONTACT:    Justin Leventry  (Sen. Hutchinson)

                        Nate Temple (Rep. James)

Southwest Butler Stormwater Planning Commission Receives Local Government Excellence Award

HARRISBURG – The Southwest Butler Stormwater Planning Commission has been awarded a 2023 Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence, announced Sens. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) and Elder Vogel, Jr. (R-47), and Reps. Stephenie Scialabba (R-12) and Aaron Bernstine (R-8).

“Flooding threats are nothing new for the Butler County communities located along the Connoquenessing Creek and its tributaries, but for individual municipalities, finding solutions to prevent or limit stormwater-caused damage has proven difficult,” Hutchinson said. “In 2019, following more significant flooding events in the area, the Butler County commissioners called a meeting of all municipalities to encourage municipalities to work together to address regional stormwater issues.”

“The efforts of the Southwest Butler Stormwater Planning Commission to develop a plan to mitigate flooding is truly worthy of recognition,” said Hutchinson of the Innovative Planning and Sound Land Use Practices award given to the commission. “Their work will soon produce tangible benefits for several municipalities throughout southeast Butler County.”

“I offer my congratulations to the Southwest Butler Stormwater Planning Commission for their ability to work together to help tackle the stormwater issues that have been affecting areas of Butler County,” Vogel said. “The discoveries made through their stormwater study is no small feat and the identified projects will greatly help propel these areas forward and better prepare for the future.”

“I had the privilege of attending a Stormwater Planning Group meeting,” said Scialabba. “What I witnessed between these officials was nothing short of remarkable. Their collaboration, dialogue and collegiality are inspiring and have served to accomplish so much for the area. I applaud and encourage them in all their efforts.”

“We have seen time and again the difficulties stormwater management presents for our municipalities,” Bernstine said. “The intergovernmental cooperation these communities have exhibited to address stormwater issues deserves this type of acknowledgment.”

The planning commission is made up of 10 municipalities – Adams, Cranberry, Forward, Jackson, Lancaster and Penn townships, as well as Evans City, Harmony, Seven Fields, and Zelienople – that have been meeting regularly to discuss stormwater and what they could do to mitigate future flooding events. The 10 municipalities, along with Butler County, paid for a stormwater study of the region and identified priority projects in both areas of regulations and future capital projects. Employing a strategic inter-municipal approach, the group has approved the recommendations and begun a process to amend local regulations in each municipality to pursue projects that benefit the region.

The Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence recognize local officials for their successes in undertaking innovative initiatives to improve the quality of life in their communities. The Governor’s Center for Local Government Services, within the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, partners with the multiple local government organizations to sponsor the annual awards.

CONTACT:    Justin Leventry  (Sen. Hutchinson)

                        Abby E. Chiumento (Sen. Vogel)

                        Nate Temple (Rep. Scialabba)

                        Rick Leiner (Rep. Bernstine)

Clarion County Receives More Than $2.5 Million in Grants

HARRISBURG – Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) and Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-63) announced more than $2.5 million in grants have been awarded by the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) for various purposes in Clarion County.

“It is great to hear that these very worthwhile local projects will receive a boost from state funding,” said Hutchinson. “These investments will help keep Clarion County a great place to live and visit.”

“There were a large number of grant applications, many of which were very worthy of funding,” said Oberlander. “I’m pleased that the projects that were selected will have a direct impact on our local communities. I look forward to working with those that weren’t funded to try again in future rounds.”

The largest of the awards – a $750,000 grant – will be used by New Bethlehem Borough for its Penn Street Bridge replacement project. These funds were provided through the Multimodal Transportation Fund, which provides grants to encourage economic development and ensure that a safe and reliable system of transportation is available to the residents of the commonwealth.

Also provided through the multimodal fund is a $230,888 grant to Perry Township for its Lime Plant Road resurfacing project.

The remainder of the awards come from Local Share Account (LSA) funding that was created by the PA Race Horse Development and Gaming Act (Act 71 of 2004). The act provides for the distribution of gaming revenues through the CFA to support projects in the public interest within Pennsylvania.

The Clarion Redevelopment Authority received the largest of the LSA grants – $400,000 – to assist the Clarion Blueprint Community in making improvements to Clarion Second Avenue Park, with the work to include constructions of two basketball courts, two tennis/pickleball courts and a retaining wall at the park.

The other grants include:

  • $268,100 for Clarion Hospital to purchase two emergency vehicles – a squad unit and an ambulance – that will allow a paramedic to supplement coverage by responding to scenes and calls that require Advance Life Support;
  • $258,800 for Knox Township to purchase a Caterpillar Grader to replace the road department’s current vehicle, which was made in 1952, to ensure a properly operating vehicle is available for road maintenance throughout the township;
  • $198,425 for Hawthorn Borough to purchase a new backhoe and a new truck with a plow, dump bed and tailgate spreader;
  • $195,260 for Redbank Township to purchase a new plow truck with spreader, replacing the township’s worn-out plow and ash truck, truck to provide safe and proper winter maintenance to township roads;
  • $107,448 for Foxburg Area Water and Sewer Authority to install an emergency generator at its Foxburg Borough water treatment plant, which provides water to customers in Foxburg Borough and Richland Township; and
  • $100,000 for Foxburg Borough, on behalf of the Allegheny River Trail, to construct a parking lot and fence at the north end of a planned bike trail and park within the borough.

CONTACT: Justin Leventry  

Sen. Hutchinson: Pennsylvanians Deserve Responsible State Budget

HARRISBURG – In response to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s first budget address today, Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) called for a more responsible approach to solve the financial challenges facing Pennsylvania.

While the governor’s support for Senate Republican priorities such as workforce development, infrastructure advancement, safe communities and mental/behavioral health are appreciated, Hutchinson said the plan still boosts state government spending to unsustainable levels.

“The message we heard today is that there’s a lot of money being spent,” said Hutchinson. “I’m always concerned about living beyond our means. That being said, we’re going to look closely over the next several months at the governor’s priorities and new programs. I have a funny feeling there won’t be enough money for everything.”

Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget, including hundreds of millions of dollars that backfill federal funding that was cut by the Biden Administration at the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

In addition to the many spending proposals that are cause for concern, the budget appears to assume Pennsylvania will remain in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will burden all Pennsylvanians with an annual tax on electricity of nearly $670 million.

Hutchinson noted Shapiro questioned RGGI a year ago when he was a gubernatorial candidate, but the proposed budget is moving forward with a policy that the people of this state can’t afford as inflation is hurting everyone.

Shapiro’s spending plan would also nearly erase Rainy Day reserves by the end of his first term in office, which would mean the state would face higher borrowing costs and be in a much worse position to weather any potential downturns in the economy.

Although Senate Republicans fought to build up the Rainy Day Fund over the past two years to more than $5 billion, the fund’s reserves still remain below the national average.

Hutchinson expressed his disappointment that Shapiro’s budget plans to close the Polk State Center, something the governor is doing without having any conversations with the affected community.

Though the governor spoke of accelerating the reduction of Pennsylvania Corporate Net Income Tax, something Hutchinson said he is interested in doing, the senator observed, “He only paid it lip service as it’s not in his budget proposal.”

“We need to reach out to job creators, we need to keep Polk Center open and we need to get rid of RGGI, which is going to hurt every single family in Pennsylvania,” said Hutchinson.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin a series of public hearings on Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget plan on March 20.


CONTACT: Justin Leventry  

Articles for Senate Bills

2 STATE GOVERNMENT Liquor Store Privatization
3 JUDICIARY State Police Education
4 JUDICIARY Ammo Permits
5 EDUCATION Digital Education
6 EDUCATION PA Health Aptitude Test
7 TRANSPORTATION All-Electric Vehicles
8 TRANSPORTATION Mileage-Based User-Fee
9 COMM. & TECH. Contact Tracing App
10 COMM. & TECH. Screen-Time Limits