Ross to chair house Liquor Control committee


State Rep. Chris Ross

HARRISBURG — Rep. Chris Ross (R-158), who was recently elected to his 10th term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, has been named chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee for the 2015-16 legislative session. The House made history last session when it passed liquor privatization legislation, but the Senate failed to act on the measure.  Ross expects privatization to come up again this session.

“I am enthusiastic about my new assignment and the work to determine how beverage alcohol will be marketed and sold in the Commonwealth,” said Ross.  “For the first time in its history, the House passed a liquor privatization bill last session.  I am hopeful we can bring the Senate on board and put wine and liquor sales in the hands of private retailers.”

Ross said the Pennsylvania Liquor Code is outdated, confusing and difficult to follow.  As chairman, he said he is intent on rewriting the code to update and clarify language, eliminate discrepancies and make it easier to use.

In addition to his chairmanship, Ross was reappointed to the House Urban Affairs Committee, on which he has served four terms, including one term as chairman.  An ardent supporter of land banks and measures to improve the delinquent real estate tax sale process, Ross co-sponsored legislation to establish land banks, which help clear titles to abandoned, under-used and vacant properties to enable them to be returned to productive use.

“Blight is a public health and safety concern, and it reduces property values and local tax revenue that is used to provide police, fire and other vital municipal services,” said Ross.  “As a member of the Urban Affairs Committee, I have worked on the preservation of open space and the prevention of sprawl through the redevelopment of older, industrial buildings.”

Ross also led efforts to overhaul and strengthen Act 47 − Pennsylvania’s Financially Distressed Municipalities Act.  In doing so, Act 199 of 2014, sponsored by Ross, provides procedures and options to help distressed communities get on the road to financial recovery and stability. It establishes an early intervention program to help municipalities avoid Act 47 status, and gives them priority for economic development matching funds to help improve their financial condition.

“It is gratifying to know these measures are working and giving distressed municipalities the tools to regain their financial footing,” said Ross, who has also taken a lead role in helping to find a solution to the state’s public pension crisis, which is expected to be addressed this session.

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