Let’s check in with one of the candidates whose campaigns I supported this past November. State Rep Bryan Lentz (D-161) has introduced five bills and has two more in the works, and has cosponsored 15 others. A few patterns I see are in keeping with areas he talked about before the election.
Reform – He has cosponsored HB 552 which prohibits private vehicle leases for state house representatives, and HB 443 on open records. He has introduced a bill (number not available yet) on the penalties for violating the state’s sunshine laws. In this excerpt from the house’s press release on the proposed legislation:
The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act requires public agencies to take all official actions and conduct all deliberations leading up to official actions at public meetings – allowing the public to witness agency decisions and, with limited exceptions, the discussions leading up to those decisions.
Last week a statewide investigative grand jury looking into corruption in Haverford Township issued its report detailing how township commissioners mishandled the sale and redevelopment of former state hospital property. One commissioner has been charged with bribery and other offenses.
The grand jury concluded the Haverford investigation by adding a series of recommendations for improving Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act. Those recommendations are included in Lentz’s legislation.
“The Sunshine Act should be strengthened,” Lentz said. “The public is fed up with a lack of transparency in local government. It is my hope that this proposal would end the practice of informing the public as an afterthought. To protect the public interest, we need rules in place to effectively enforce this law.”
Daddy Democrat looked up the URL for the existing sunshine law.
According to the Inquirer:
But the grand jury said there were no effective penalties for violating the law, given that it has a top fine of $100. A revised Sunshine Law should specifically address "intentional misrepresentations" and failure to publicly disclose facts about official business.
The grand jury suggested a toughened act patterned after Pennsylvania's Ethics Act, which forbids officials from using their office for personal financial gain. Penalties can riseup to $10,000 and five years in prison. Source: “Haverford was in the dark about sunshine act,” by Mari A. Schaefer, 4/27
Another area of interest, both at the state and federal level, is management of the Philadelphia airport. This past Wednesday Lentz introduced a bill to create a Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Airport Authority. It must be a really hot topic because three local publications covered the story.
“Authority proposed to run Phila airport,” by William Bender, Philadelphia Inquirer 4/26
Lentz’s regional airport bill meets some resistance,” by John M. Roman, Delaware County Times, 4/27
“Regional airport authority proposed,” Philadelphia Business Journal 4/27
On environmental issues, the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action both endorsed Lentz . He has kept the faith with them by cosponsoring the following bills:
HB 110 requires study to be performed on the impact of greenhouse gases
HB 551 making 50% of all state vehicles “fuel-efficient” by 2010
HB 857 & 858 eliminate sales tax on qualifying hybrid vehicles
You can check out the man himself at his next town hall meeting: Join State Rep. Bryan R. Lentz for a discussion on the Governor’s health care plan, Prescription for Pennsylvania7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 17th in the Brookhaven Borough Hall, 2 Cambridge Road Brookhaven, PA 19015.