Harrisburg Happenings

A report on the Legislative Session Week of November 12, 2013

Senate approves potato packaging bill

The Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that would peel away an unnecessary regulatory burden imposed on Pennsylvania’s potato farmers.

Currently, state law requires potatoes be packaged in containers for sale weighing 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50, 100 and multiples of 100 pounds. Senate Bill 1131 would allow potato packagers to package potatoes without any weight restrictions. This bill was previous approved by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, which I chair.

This is good commonsense legislation that will benefit Pennsylvania’s potato producers. There is no logical reason to restrict the packaging of potatoes to specific weights. We should be working with Pennsylvania’s farmers to promote our fine agricultural products, not enforcing useless regulations.

The premise behind Senate Bill 1131 is similar to that of Act 31 of 2010, legislation I introduced that stopped the Department of Agriculture from citing non-profit community groups such as volunteer fire companies, churches, and school booster clubs for selling non-hazardous home-baked food at fundraisers.  I also believe that the Commonwealth could make better use of its resources than to hinder the livelihood of our farmers. It’s time to restore a little common sense to government.

According to the Pennsylvania Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Pennsylvania’s acreage of fall potatoes harvested in 2012 totaled 8,600 acres, up 800 acres from 2011. The value of production was $36.2 million up from $24.5 million in 2011.

Senate Bill 1131 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Other Bills approved by the Senate this week include:

Senate Bill 935 permits the electronic publishing of Local Government Commission codes. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

House Bill 1128 updates state law regarding the financing of motor vehicle purchases and the purchases of other goods and services. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law.

Senate Bill 1130 repeals a requirement that the General Assembly be furnished with a print copy of an annual report required under the Flood Insurance Education and Information Act of 1996. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.


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