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Pa. legislators hear from Volvo: Cut the red tape

Written by Jim Hook, Public Opinion Online | Apr 24, 2015 8:54 AM
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Members of the Pennsylvania house legislative manufacturing caucus including Eli Evankovich, chairman of the manufacturing caucus, Rep. Rob Kauffman, and Rep. Paul Schemel tour the Volvo construction equipment facility Thursday in Shippensburg. (Public Opinion -- Ryan Blackwell)

SHIPPENSBURG >> Members of the House Legislative Manufacturing Caucus on Thursday got an earful about the convoluted levels of Pennsylvania government.

Eight members of the bipartisan caucus toured Volvo Construction Equipment in Shippensburg and Manitowoc in Shady Grove.

Lawmakers and company officials said they talked a bit about workforce development and tax policy, but a frank discussion opened up about Pennsylvania's homegrown government.

Reporters were invited to tour the plants, but were not allowed in the closed door discussions.

"Really it's about the red tape," said Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg. "The layers and layers of bureaucracy that prevents business from thriving in the commonwealth."

"One of the challenges that many manufacturers have in Pennsylvania is having a government that moves at the speed of business," said Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Westmoreland/Allegheny and co-chair of the manufacturing caucus.

It's important for government agencies to cooperate, he said. The state cannot respond so slowly to a company's decision that it prevents the company from carrying out the decision.

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Members of the Pennsylvania house legislative manufacturing caucus including Rep. Rob Kauffman, Eli Evankovich, chairman of the manufacturing caucus, and Rep. Paul Schemel tour the Volvo construction equipment facility Thursday in Shippensburg. (Public Opinion -- Ryan Blackwell)

Rep. Paul Schemel, R-Greencastle, said that the layers of Pennsylvania's local and state governments impede business. He said the process needs to be streamlined. Virginia, another commonwealth, "seems to do a better job."

The issues -- streamlining the permitting processes and making the state more responsive on compliance reporting -- seem simple, but can be very costly, according to L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.

The recent state law to better protect children from abuse has had unintended consequences in the workplace, he said.

Volvo cancelled its Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day because all employees would have been required to get clearances under the child protection law. The process is expensive and time consuming.

The cancellation hurts employee morale, Ross said. Ultimately the impact can be felt on workforce development a generation later as children do not see what their parents do at work.

Volvo employs more than 1,000 workers at Shippensburg, its North American headquarters. The plant makes road graders, pavers, loaders, milling machines and compactors and has an annual economic impact of $2 billion. Volvo statewide has an impact of $4.6 billion.

Manitowoc manufactures hydraulic cranes for the construction industry.

The manufacturing caucus aims to educate lawmakers about manufacturers and their issues.

Hit play on these videos to hear directly from some of the people in this story:

Jim Hook can be reached at 717-262-4759.


This article comes to us through a partnership between Public Opinion Online and WITF.

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