Congressman Dan Meuser visited with members of the Columbia Montour Chamber for the first time since he was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District last November at the Chamber’s annual legislative breakfast held on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at the Greenly Center in downtown Bloomsburg. The event was sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities.
Prior to Congressman Meuser’s remarks, PPL regional affairs director Tracie Witter highlighted PPL’s efforts in the community both directly related to its core business of electricity and power delivery as well as the work of the PPL Foundation, which recently awarded $450,000 in grants to 86 nonprofits throughout its service footprint, including to a quartet of Chamber members. PPL employees also routinely volunteer their time for special community events, including at the upcoming Bloomsburg Fair, for events the Children’s Museum, and is also working behind the scenes at highly visible events such as the Little League World Series and the recent Major League Baseball Little League Classic held in Williamsport, to ensure there are no interruptions to electricity for these nationally-televised events. Its Cover to Cover program purchases books to give to grade school children for summer reading, and that program benefited all students in grades K-3 in the Danville Area School District this summer.
Among the subjects that Congressman Meuser spoke about were federal regulations, promoting entrepreneurship, long-term planning by the government, Opportunity Zones and his vote on the recently passed federal budget.
Although notable legislative action has been tough to come by in this current Congress due to the nature of divided government, Meuser said that one area that he and other colleagues are focusing on is federal regulatory reform, since federal regulations are controlled by the various executive branch cabinet-level departments. He has spent a good portion of his first seven months or so in Congress building and developing relationships with members of President Trump’s cabinet and advisers and they have been open to providing relief from regulations that adversely affect business. One current example of what they’re currently working on are regulations regarding stormwater runoff fees, which are costing farmers and other businesses in the district thousands of dollars.
Congressman Meuser also noted his support for First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s entrepreneurship empowerment initiative, which is aimed by helping 50 million women around the world “realize their economic potential” by 2025. Meuser noted that Ms. Trump’s initial goal was to get 100,000 businesses to sign on to help with this initiative, and already more than 1 million have signaled their support. He also touched on the need for supporting continued job training, and referenced the Central Columbia School District’s Career Pathways program as an example.
He also touched on the subject of Opportunity Zones, of which encouraging development is one of his top priorities in Congress. There are currently 10 Opportunity Zones in the 9th Congressional District, including in Berwick, Bloomsburg and Danville. A tax incentive related to Opportunity Zones was created as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and it includes tax breaks for investments in Opportunity Zones provided the investment stays for at least 10 years. For additional information, see this flyer and contact either of the individuals from Congressman Meuser’s office.
Finally, the recently passed federal budget was discussed. While Congressman Meuser had serious reservations about supporting this proposal – and he noted that only a minority of the Republican caucus ended up voting in favor of it – in the end, he decided to support the legislation, mainly due to the additional funding it provided for the military and for border security. He noted that he did not like the idea of having to again raise the debt ceiling, and implored government in general to do a better job of long-term planning, something he noted is absolutely necessary in business yet is lacking in government. He recently introduced legislation to bring more transparency and accountability to the overall budgeting process.