PlanPhilly

Bill to allow some PPA Board members to live outside Philadelphia advancing in Harrisburg

A bill that would let two of the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s (PPA) six board members live outside of Philadelphia could come up for a final vote in Harrisburg on Wednesday.

Currently, PPA board members must be residents of Philadelphia. House Bill 1998 would amend the PPA’s governance structure to require only that a majority of the board members reside within the city. It would require all members either live in Philadelphia, or work or maintain a business in Philadelphia. That would allow up to two of the six Board members to live beyond the city limits.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks) and co-sponsored by Rep. Ed Neilson (D-Phila.), Rep. John Taylor (R-Phila.), Rep. Katherine Watson (R-Bucks) Rep. David Millard (R-Columbia), Rep. Dom Costa (D-Allegheny). It passed the Pennsylvania House on June 21st and may come up for a floor vote in the Senate on Wednesday.

Petri said he wants suburban representation on the board because the PPA regulates partial-rights taxis and limos that operate both in Philadelphia and neighboring counties.  

Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Phila.) opposes the bill and questions it’s timing, according to spokesperson Ben Waxman.

“With everything that has happened with the PPA over the last couple of weeks, this is not the time to rush through how PPA governance works,” said Waxman. “There is an audit about to be undertaken by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, and any changes [to the PPA’s governance structure] should wait until—at least—that audit is completed.”

Councilwoman Helen Gym, who has been one of the PPA’s fiercest critics in recent weeks, also questioned the legislative priorities of the bill’s backers. “The Pennsylvania House has to deal with many more serious issues regarding the Parking Authority than passing carve outs to [PPA] board members,” Gym said. “I firmly believe that, no matter where the board members live or work, this Authority belongs under local control.”

Petri scoffed at the idea that the bill was just a sop to some current board members who might want to move to Bucks County. “To Bucks County? How about that,” said Petri. “That’d be OK by me, but I haven’t heard that. I couldn’t even tell you who the PPA Board members are by name.”

PlanPhilly asked Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnetti’s office whether he would put HB 1998 up for a vote during the current legislative session, which ends Wednesday. Scarnetti did not respond.

PlanPhilly also requested comment from Auditor General DePasquale, the PPA, Philadelphia Councilman-At-Large and PPA board member Al Taubenberger, City Commissioner and PPA board member Al Schmidt, and Governor Tom Wolf. None responded. Through a spokesperson, Mayor Jim Kenney declined to comment.

Taubenberger and Schmidt would be unable to take advantage of the bill, should it pass, as their other positions in city government require them to reside in Philadelphia. Besides them, the PPA board is Chairman Joseph Ashdale, attorney Andrew K. Stutzman, accountant Russell Wagner, and optometrist Karen W. Wrigley.

After this week, there is just a single, three-day legislative session left before the election. There is also currently a one-day lame-duck session scheduled on November 16th.


PHILADELPHIA HOUSE DELEGATION ROLL CALL ON HB 1998, July 2016

Yeas: Driscoll (173), Neilson (174), O’Brien (175), Taylor (177), Cruz (180), Keller (184), Brown (190), Acosta (197), Evans (203)

Nays: Boyle (172), Dawkins (179), Thomas (181), Sims (182), Donatucci (185), Harris (186), Roebuck (188), McClinton (191), Savage (192), DeLisso (194), Bullock (195), Youngblood (198), Cook-Attis (200), Kinsey (201), Cohen (202). 

About the author

Jim Saksa, Reporter

Jim Saksa is PlanPhilly's transportation reporter, which means he focuses on how Philly bikes, walks, drives, rolls, and rides around the region. 

Jim lives in Point Breeze and has also written for Slate, Philadelphia City Paper, and Technical.ly Philly. He tweets @Saksappeal and you can reach him at jsaksa@whyy.org.



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