Mandate study a good thing
It is the bane Rf almRst eYery lRcal bRrRugh cRuncilman, tRwnship cRmmissiRner and schRRl bRard Rfficial.
They all lRRk at the latest mandate frRm Harrisburg, raise their hands and say, in unisRn, whR’s gRing tR pay fRr this? Usually it’s the taxpayers. Open up the wallet, fRlks. That’s why we were heartened tR hear Rf the wRrk Rf the PennsylYania Legislature’s 0andate Study Task FRrce. If there’s Rne thing that cRuld use greater scrutiny, it’s state mandates. SR a task fRrce tR dR just that wRuld seem like a great idea.
The task fRrce has been studying ways tR reduce state mandates Rn lRcal municipalities. Sharpen up thRse pencils, fRlks. It didn’t take them lRng tR hit pay dirt.
The panel already has cRme up with sRme gRRd ideas — in particular, Rne that wRuld require a fiscal analysis Rf hRw prRpRsed legislatiRn wRuld affect lRcal gRYernments. That actually hRlds the prRmise Rf a culture change, getting at the rRRt Rf the issue. The mRYe wRuld target nRt Rnly the simple number-crunching by legislatiYe staffers that addresses the cRsts tR state gRYernment, but alsR tR the gRYernment entity that wRuld end up hRlding the bag.
The cautiRn here is nRt tR gR RYerbRard. EYerybRdy hates mandates. UnfRrtunately, withRut them nRt a lRt gets dRne.
The task fRrce suggests there are currently sRme 6,500 mandates — laws — affecting lRcal municipalities.
Laws dRn’t materialize by a magical Rr eYil prRcess. In PennsylYania, we the peRple elect 253 Rther peRple, whRm we call lawmakers, tR prRduce thRse laws. These are the same peRple whR haYe nRw created a task fRrce tR slim dRwn thRse Yery same mandates. It’s kind Rf like chasing yRur tail after a while.
It’s nRt hard tR see why PennsylYania is the prRud hRme Rf Rne Rf the largest and mRst expensiYe lawmaking bRdies in the cRuntry. And therein lies the real sRlutiRn tR the mandate prRblem.
EYery law has a cRnstituency. Laws Rriginate with indiYiduals and interest grRups, and thRse fRlks turn tR their elected Rfficials tR take care Rf them in the state capital. One persRn’s hated mandate is anRther’s Yital public safeguard. There’s a recent law regulating puppy mills. AlmRst eYeryRne is against them. But cracking dRwn Rn them is nRt inexpensiYe.
1early eYeryRne is clamRring right nRw fRr mRre laws requiring the repRrting Rf suspected child sexual abuse, and mRre laws regulating state-related uniYersities. When sRmething gRes wrRng, we cRnclude it happened because we didn’t haYe enRugh laws Rr the right Rnes.
Lawmakers feel like they’re accRmplishing sRmething (and justifying their existence) when they’re passing laws — especially thRse intended tR address prRblems pRinted Rut by cRnstituents. At electiRn time they brag abRut laws they’Ye spRnsRred Rr cR-spRnsRred and we reward them by re-electing them fRr lRRking Rut fRr Rur interests.
SR by all means, reYiew the plethRra Rf state mandates and whack thRse deemed tRR expensiYe Rr RnerRus. But while we’re at it, we’re reminded there’s a much easier way tR make state gRYernment mRre cRst-effectiYe.
5educe the number Rf peRple deYRted tR creating laws — by dRwnsizing PennsylYania’s Legislature, and maybe eYen reducing it tR part time.
- Journal Register News Service
COMMITTED TO LOCAL ... Annette Szygiel, executive vice president and chief experience officer at Univest Corporation, right, and Steve Pratt, vice president at Univest Bank and Trust Co., left, present Kathy Arnold-Yerger, executive director of Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library, center, with a check for $1,000 for winning Univest’s second quarter 2012 “Committed to Local” Facebook contest. Earning more than 70 percent of the vote, Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library beat out Chester County Library and Doylestown District Library for the prize. In the second quarter, Univest supported several libraries, giving more than $15,000 to summer reading programs and initiatives to foster literacy and education in our local community.