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Session Daze - March 4, 2011

80 House members to Corbett: No more drilling leases in our forests
This week 80 members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives sent a letter to Governor Corbett urging him not to lease additional state forest land for natural gas drilling. Governor Rendell's executive order banning further leasing of state land for drilling is now in place, but could be felled with one swoop of Corbett's pen.

See if your legislator signed the letter.

A world of hurt for our forest products industry?
The independent certification of Pennsylvania's state forests by the Forest Stewardship Council as sustainably managed is as good as gold for our state's forest products industry. This certification gives our $5.5 billion forest products industry access to markets across the globe, and helps support 90,000 Pennsylvania jobs.

Last year the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) conducted an exhaustive, scientific analysis of the impacts of further leasing on our state forests. The agency concluded that further leasing would not only jeopardize the ecological integrity and wild character of the forest, but also risk this sustainable certification.

Check out former DCNR Secretary John Quigley's take on this looming threat to our forests and forest product jobs.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce disses Pennsylvania's good job growth
Pennsylvania was third in the nation in job creation in 2010, and 30,000 more people in the state found jobs and unemployment dropped by 12,000 people in January. Despite this, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Pennsylvania a poor rating for employment policies because the state is home to strong unions. The Chamber has a habit of not letting facts get in the way of ideology.

Budget choices - build jobs and economy, or stifle both
Pennsylvania's state budget, which Governor Corbett proposes next week, must grow jobs and the economy. PennFuture and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center released a report this week, "Principles for a Better Budget." which lays out the six principles to grow Pennsylvania.

The governor and the General Assembly have two choices - either they can pursue a "cuts only" approach to closing the estimated $2.5 to $5 billion budget deficit - killing jobs in the process -- or choose another course that includes raising new revenues from a drilling tax, a tax on tobacco products and closing some tax loopholes. The report also offers ideas on cutting costs and making government more efficient and transparent.

Some bills that we're watching
Well over 1,600 bills have already been introduced in just the first two months of the 2011-12 session of the General Assembly (and our Policy Director Steve Stroman takes at least a quick look at each one). Here are just a few of the bills we're watching.

Hi-ho, the derry-o, a-blogging we will go
We know you can't get enough of PennFuture's solid information and opinion on growing Pennsylvania's economy and protecting our environment, but we also know you don't necessarily want more email. (Who does?)

That's why PennFuture's blog is perfect. Short and sweet, and covering a range of issues. Want to learn more about the budget? It's on the blog. Is Range Resources going bankrupt? You'll find the answer there. How can you protect yourself against SLAPP suit? See the blog again. How do the voters feel about attacks on clean air in DC? The blog, again.

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