During the past six months, dozens of Monroe County citizens have come together to discuss the regulatory problems hampering our local economy. These discussions led to the development of The Monroe Action Plan, (The MAP, for short). The MAP offers potential solutions to the regulatory challenges our community is facing and presents a framework for how Monroe CARE will work to bring about those solutions.
Monroe CARE marks first year with progress at Commonwealth level
When PMEDC Board Chairman Michael Baxter and PMEDC Executive Director Chuck Leonard conceived and founded Monroe Citizens Against Regulatory Excess (Monroe CARE) in early 2010, the idea was warmly received by also greeted by skepticism that the group could gain real ground in the fight to achieve sensible regulatory reform.
In addition to opening discussions with municipal officials and establishing regular dialogue with the Monroe County Conservation District, Monroe CARE also took its message to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and candidates in the 2010 Pennsylvania Gubernatorial race, including eventual winner Tom Corbett.
Monroe CARE’s effectiveness at communicating the need for sensible regulatory reform was underscored by two announcements just before the organization celebrated its first anniversary on April 1.
Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Corbett met with Monroe CARE's leadership in one-on-one meetings and (bottom) State Rep Mike Carroll (D-118). Both indicated support for Monroe CARE's goals.
The first came in the form of an policy change announced by Governor Corbett intended to speed the permitting process. Championing the need for “friction-free” regulation, the Governor announced that he would empower the Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to expedite any permit and permit our action pending where the creation of jobs may be impacted.
It is important to note that the DCED Secretary will not be able to override an agency’s permitting decision, so this does not dilute the strength of the Commonwealth’s regulations. Rather, this ensures expeditious and timely reviews in any case where needed jobs may be brought to Pennsylvania.
The other exciting development came from new PADEP Secretary Michael Krancer. During his confirmation hearings, Secretary Krancer noted the need for regulatory consistency, saying, “We are not seven DEPs (six regional offices and the central office). We are one DEP. We owe it to the the citizens of Pennsylvania to strive all the time for consistency in decision making.”
Given the experience of local municipalities, engineers, and developers – that state agencies sometimes apply different (and more stringent) standards to projects in Monroe County – Secretary Krancer’s comments were welcome news to a group trying to create conditions that will bring more jobs and an improved economy to Monroe County.