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Legislators just itching to do more

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Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Here we go again.

With the deadline looming next week for a state budget, legislators are being unfairly lambasted for their perceived inaction on several key bills.

The proposed privatization of the state liquor store system appears to have a future as bright as that of a shell-up turtle in the sunlight, its legs coming as close to flailing as a turtle's extremities can get.

The Senate approved a much-discussed plan to provide at least $2.5 billion annually to address the state's crumbling roads and bridges, but it's as stalled in the House as a Toyota on the turnpike with a faulty intake system.

Overlooked in the discussion of important legislation the General Assembly has failed to enact are the various vital measures that it adopted. They involve issues that are every bit as critical as keeping our bridges from collapsing — but for some reason, they don't get nearly the attention they should.

Take the Nelson Mandela resolution, for example.

Didn't hear anything about that, did you?

The House last week honored the former South African president for his dedication to building a more equitable and united world. Being 94, in declining health and living half a world away, Mandela was unable to accept the kudos in person. But the thoughtful gesture likely will improve what, until now, have been mostly tepid relations between Pennsylvania and South Africa.

Don't be surprised if the Keystone State eventually sends an ambassador over there.

With its international implications, the Mandela initiative was the most significant measure the House approved that, for some reason, failed to attract attention. Yet, it was far from the only one. Some others:

• Libraries across the state were recognized for summer reading programs, an extremely controversial piece of legislation said to have infuriated the powerful video game lobby.

• Charles Warren Scott was lauded for his contributions to the state, although he, like Mandela, couldn't be at the Capitol in person. The former Pennsylvania congressman from Warren County died in 1912, but lawmakers with long memories decided the 170th anniversary of his birth was noteworthy.

• Thinking ahead, lawmakers designated Oct. 29 as Psoriasis Day in Pennsylvania. That's probably because it's never too soon to begin planning for that annual day of statewide festivals and parades centered around the irritating dermatological condition.

I could cite additional examples, but you get the idea. Contrary to popular belief, our lawmakers have been busy on matters of utmost importance.

Don't let their supposed inactivity get under your skin — you know, like psoriasis.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or

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