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Meanwhile, back in Harrisburg: More of the same

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Sunday, April 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Some thoughts on a few things you might have missed in Harrisburg, the comedy capital of Pennsylvania, during this busy news period:

• Not long after word came down of a House proposal to merge the scandal-riddled Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission into PennDOT, the commission released a statement recognizing “the need for reform in response to the serious allegations in the grand jury presentment” and went on to defend all the great things going on in this alleged cesspool of corruption. Funny, there was no mention that the turnpike is drowning in debt or that it keeps jacking up tolls.

• Shale gas is one of Pennsylvania's great success stories. There's so much of the stuff that flooded markets and led to depressed prices. (They're now on the rise.) But have no fear, the state House wants to offer a multimillion-dollar package of tax credits to identify new natural gas markets. Sorry, but that's not a role for taxpayers. And as the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center notes, the law lording over the industry already mandates that a multimillion-dollar fund be established — by the industry — for such purposes. Tax credits? No.

• A House committee voted out two bills that would nibble around the edges of the Commonwealth of Corruption's onerous prevailing wage law. Road maintenance projects would be exempt and the threshold for the union-coddling measure to be applied to other projects would increase from $25,000 to $75,000. It's small comfort for a law that raises the costs of public projects anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent. The prevailing wage law should be axed.

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