ABC Keystone Looks for Big Legislative Wins in 2017

By: Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs, ABC Keystone

Part of any successful game plan is self-evaluation, so when a group of ABC members spend the afternoon in November looking back on the 2015-2016 legislative session, there is plenty to consider.

Robust increases in the Advocacy department paid off, establishing ABC as a leader in pro-business reform in Harrisburg throughout the legislative session. Putting a stop to massive tax increases and reforming labor/management laws highlighted the successful session, in addition to adding an Advocacy Coordinator staff position and the establishment of a permanent Harrisburg-based Legislative Office. Given the legislative successes, the strategic planning session focused on maintaining momentum, focusing on reform of apprenticeship and training laws, and combating Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). 

ABC Keystone also played a heavy role in political affairs in 2016, taking the lead in ousting one of Harrisburg’s top Democrats, who consistently voted against pro-business legislation and defended some of Pennsylvania’s most violent labor unions. The establishment of the Independent Expenditure effort, which became a powerful political tool because of the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, allowed ABC to reach out directly to voters, educating them on the votes that legislators cast in Harrisburg. This new, effective tool, coupled with support of pro-business candidates through the ABC Political Action Committee (PAC), led to sweeping and stronger Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Senate Republicans now control 34 seats of the 50-member Senate, providing enough votes to override a legislative veto by Governor Tom Wolf.

In addition to ABC’s legislative goals in 2017, members involved in legislative and advocacy affairs will see a heightened push to spread the message of ABC’s activity throughout the membership. Highlighting ongoing successes like Act 159 of 2015, putting an end to union violence and stalking, and ABC’s push to stop a broad-based personal income tax increase that would have crippled small businesses and families, will be crucial in 2017. Other goals include a broader focus on political affairs, encouraging ABC members to run for local offices such as school board and township supervisor. Frequently, issues affecting ABC members, such as PLAs and Responsible Contractor Ordinances (RCOs), begin at the local level and as such, a vital investment in the merit shop philosophy at the local level will reap rewards for ABC and free enterprise in general.