Idea of Special Legislative Session on Transportation Floated in Harrisburg

Mark Nootbaar May 29, 2012

A group of state Senators has launched an effort to call Pennsylvania lawmakers back to Harrisburg this summer to grapple with transportation issues. State Sen. Mike Stack (D- Philadelphia) is circulating petitions calling for a special session this summer focused only on transportation issues.

To convene the session, half of the members of both the House and the Senate must sign the petitions.

“I know if folks are being realistic about this issue we can get those signatures,” said Stack.

Governor Tom Corbett must also sign off on the idea before legislators need to start changing their summer plans.

“Let’s earn our money,” cried Stack at a recent event. “Let’s work through the summer if we have to to get this job done. No one says we have to head to the beach on June 30th.”

The House and Senate usually adjourn for the summer shortly after the state budget is finalized. The deadline for the budget is June 30th.

“The public’s safety on our roads and bridges is paramount,” said Sen. John Yudichak (D- Luzerne) who supports the idea of a special session. “We cannot wait another year, we cannot wait for another commission or another session of the general assembly.”

The governor convened a special task force on transportation shortly after taking office in 2011. The legislature has not acted on the panel’s recommendations that are now nearly a year old.

In May 2010, then Governor Ed Rendell called a special legislative session on transportation funding a month after the Federal Highway Administration rejected the commonwealth’s plan to toll I-80 to help generate funds for roads, bridges and mass transit. During that special session, lawmakers discussed turnpike privatization as well as raising the gasoline tax and driver’s license and vehicle registration fees, but did not approve any major legislation.