Sen. Mario Scavello (R—Monroe)
No legislator has fought harder for the hospitality and tourism industry this session. Not only did Sen. Scavello, Chairman of the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee, speak vocally about the importance of statewide tourism funding, he is the primary reason that Act 109 (formerly HB 1511) made it across the finish line. With only a few legislative session days left, Sen. Scavello championed the bill in the Senate, dedicated all of the funds to statewide tourism promotion and moved it out of his committee swiftly to ensure the bill got through the Senate and made it to the House before the end of session. Sen. Scavello even made it a point to come over to the House for the concurrence vote to celebrate the victory with the industry he supports so much.
Sen. Tony Williams (D—Philadelphia)
In a divisive time where it seems partisanship is the name of the game, Sen. Tony Williams does not let party affiliation define where he stands on an issue. He has been a passionate advocate for the need to stop nuisance bars across the state of Pennsylvania while understanding the importance and vibrancy proper alcohol licensees can bring to the community. He has been a strong voice for the hospitality and food merchant industry as it pertains to the Philadelphia Beverage Tax and continues to support alternate funding for the City that does not target one or two specific industries. He is a middle-ground voice of reason in a time when the legislature needs it the most.
Rep. Bryan Cutler (R—Lancaster)
You name the event, you name the meeting request, you name pretty much anything—and Bryan Cutler will take the time to be there, talk to you, and be honest about your chances of success. Rep. Cutler won’t mince words and will champion your priorities when you need help the most. For years, he has been a great friend of the industry and we are thrilled at his promotion to Majority Leader of the House. He has a tough legislation session ahead of him, but he will be honest and approach it with energy and enthusiasm, informed by his years of experience as a legislative leader in the House.
Rep. Mark Longietti (D—Mercer)
A sign of success that you have a supporter of the industry is when they memorize and regularly speak to your talking points. Mark Longietti, minority chair of the House Tourism & Recreational Development Committee, at any point in time can do a deep dive on the importance of tourism in Pennsylvania, the need for statewide funding, and the impact the lack of funding has. He has been a tireless advocate of increasing the tourism line-item and bringing to light the number of legislative grants that are included in the line-item and never go towards tourism. PRLA’s legislative win this year was as much a victory for Chairman Longietti as it was for PRLA.
The Moving On Up Award
Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R—Allegheny)
When we dubbed him a “Rising Star” in our last legislative issue, Sen. Reschenthaler took that role very seriously. Not only has he continued to advocate for the association as it pertains to alcohol issues, he was the prime sponsor of the Senate version of the online travel company loophole bill and is literally the only legislator who has called us, not to ask for anything, but to find out what our legislative priorities are. Well, PRLA is not the only one who recognized the commitment the Senator has for service: he recently won in the 14th Congressional district and will begin his first two-year term as a Congressman for the state of Pennsylvania. While we will miss him in Harrisburg, we are thrilled to have a voice of reason and champion of the industry representing us in Washington.
Retirees of Note
Historically, we have highlighted one legislator who either retired or did not win re-election. This year, we lost several great advocates for the industry:
Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R—Bucks)
A question for our hotels and destination marketing organizations—how many years have we been trying to close the online travel company loophole? After almost two decades and numerous sponsors of the legislation, Rep. Marguerite Quinn looked at the issue, realized how important it was and got it passed in the first session of her being the prime sponsor. We had a champion who not only made a complicated issue easy to understand but also did not stop in her efforts to leap over road blocks and challenge those who challenged the bill—and she was successful in sending our bill to the Governor. Rep. Quinn was not successful in her bid for the Pennsylvania state Senate and will be very much missed in the legislature.
Rep. Mark Mustio (R—Allegheny)
If you were to ask any of PRLA’s politically engaged licensees who is the most knowledgeable on the industry and the struggles we face—and supports us? Mark Mustio would make the top three, if not number one. No one else understands the frustrations of the liquor code better, and while he has earned his self-imposed retirement, licensees across the state will miss him.
Rep. Becky Corbin (R—Chester)
Do you know what makes a dream legislator? Someone who listens to your reasoning behind an issue, asks questions and takes the time to know the ins and outs so that when they decide to support you—they are all in. Becky Corbin has always been that type of legislator. In addition, she understands that as a Republican in the southeast part of Pennsylvania she would have to walk the increasingly thin line of being a moderate in a state that is becoming more polarized. She did that with grace and the reasoning and background to justify any vote she made. Unfortunately, voters in her district decided to become more polarized and she lost her re-election bid. We are sad to see yet another moderate legislator lose—especially one who always fought for our industry.