Pennsylvania state Capitol in Harrisburg (Rebecca Droke photo)
Karen Langley reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania legislators return to the Capitol this week to start the new year with plenty of old business — and a fresh dose of political pressure — awaiting them.
There are no shortage of big-ticket issues. Lawmakers are likely to consider bills regulating and taxing online gambling, reducing or even eliminating property taxes and again trying to change the retirement benefits for future state and public school workers.
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And, as it has for successive years, the commonwealth’s billion-dollar budget woes will drive the agenda.
“This is going to be a difficult budget year,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills. “I think we all know that.”
With majorities that will grow even larger with Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremonies, Republican legislative leaders, some of whom have hinted at running for governor, will be an even greater force for Gov. Tom Wolf to reckon with.
For the Democratic governor, it’s his last full year to make an impact before asking voters to reward him with a second term.
Lawmakers’ return on Tuesday will be brief. Votes on legislation aren’t expected right away, and after swearing-in day, they won’t reconvene in the Capitol until Jan. 23.