WCC Chamber hosts Legislative Panel Discussion for Business Owners
Chester County leaders alongside stat
e lawmakers partook in a legislative question-and-an
swer forum with the public Friday morning at Pope John Paul II Regional Catholic Elementary School.
Organized by the Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce, based in the City of Coatesville, topics at the 15th annual Legislative Roundtable ranged from safe drinking water, open space pres
ervation and charter school funding to transit infrastructure, speeding tickets and property taxes.
Dignitaries on the open-panel included state Rep. John Lawrence, R-13th of Franklin, state Rep. Dan Williams, D-74th of Sadsbury, state Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26th, of North Coventry, and Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz and Josh Maxwell.
“The Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce is proud to host signature events such as our annual Legislative Roundtable,” said Alissa Griffith, chamber president. “This coincides with our mission of connecting our members to new ideas, resources and relationships to achieve their goals.”
As for open space, Moskowitz told the audience that the Chester County Board of Commissioners work with municipalities on zoning issues, but don't create nor control them.
The commissioner who chairs the county board, said she would like to sit down
with municipalities to talk about the growth.
"One of the things we can do is all work together," Moskowitz said.
She said the government, both county and municipalities, can keep the county great by working together.
She also forecast that growth — development — in Chester County within the next decade will be “substantial.” Hence, the need for all levels of government to work together now to preserve the county’s open space.
As for funding of transportation and infrastructure, Hennessey said he seeks input from the Transportation Management Association of Chester County and the Chester County Planning Commission.
In terms of Chester County’s representatives at the State Capitol, everyone works together especially with supporting the best interests of the region, he said.
"We're a cohesive unit,” Hennessey said. “We’ve always been able to get unanimous support from our delegation with regard to trying to get a unified voice in Harrisburg.” He noted that there are 67 counties in Pennsylvania all vying for attention concurrently at the Legislature.
"We’ve been fortunate to be able to speak with a unified voice and present Chester County’s needs to the Legislature,” he added.
Hennessey recognized past commissioners who created the county’s open space commission 30 years ago. Places that did not do so have seen tremendous development; he cited King of Prussia as a point of reference. Past commissioners had the foresight to prevent this from happening in Chester County, so far, he said.
“We’ve been blessed to be able to work together,” Hennessey said.
Inequality in education regarding the resources available for some public schools was also raised at the breakfast.
“We have to go back and investigate the communities … to bring them up with economic development that empowers the people,” Williams said.
Per the funding for transportation infrastructure, Lawrence cited funding misuse as the crux of the issue.
"We're robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said.
Lawrence said the commonwealth transferred $750 million out of the gas tax, originally created to fund transportation infrastructure, to fund the Pennsylvania State Police last year.
“We need the state police,” Lawrence said. “We need a serious conversation in Harrisburg."
He added that Pennsylvania should allow the state police to keep some money collected from traffic violations for funding.
Additional panelists on Wednesday morning included: Don Vymazal from the office of Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19th; Kurtis Miller from the office of U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th; Amber Little-Turner from the office of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; and Beth Brindle from the office of state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-155th, Lara Flynn from Senator Casey's Office.
The event brought together western Chester County elected officials with business owners and was well-attended by community members.
Griffith said the forum was not only for chamber members and area residents but also served as an opportunity for elected officials to become more aware of the concerns of their constituents.
“The platform provides a venue for open discussions and analysis of current events and topics,” said Alissa Griffith, who owns Quik-Stop Pharmacy on East Lincoln Highway in Thorndale. She added, “The Legislative Roundtable continues to grow each year and is always a great opportunity to make new connections and reconnect with previous ones.”
Next, the Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce is hosting an event on cool tips for websites from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on March 9 at the Courtyard by Marriott, 600 Manor Rd., in Coatesville.
On March 27, the chamber will host its annual Municipal Update event from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Coatesville regional business G.A. Vietri Inc., 105 Independence Way in Valley Township.