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FROM THE CHAMBER: Voting pro-business starts at the primary

In case you’ve missed it, 2024 is a presidential election year. Sadly, too many people only focus on that big race and miss the other extremely important races on the ballot. On Tuesday, April 23, each party will select a candidate for the general election this fall. You will also be able to elect a U.S. Senator, a U.S. House member, PA Attorney General, PA Auditor General, PA Treasurer, a PA House member and a PA Senator (if you live in Districts 11 and 13).

Now is the time to make sure you are registered to vote or if you’d like to change your registration. That can easily be done through, the Berks County Election Services Office, your local PennDOT Driver’s License Center or by calling 1-877-VOTESPA (868-3772). The last day to register to vote for the primary is Monday, April 8. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16.

While the primary is based on voting for candidates for a specific party, it’s still very important to vet these candidates and check their positions on issues that affect the Berks County business community. Organizations such as the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce develop scorecards for all state legislative and congressional offices that are based on how they voted on a series of pro-business-related bills.

With the proliferation of social media, candidates have an even greater ability to share their message with a wider audience, often using platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to share their positions on issues and what organizations have endorsed their candidacy. These tools can also perpetuate a lot of misinformation. Be careful that you are getting your information from reputable sources and directly from the candidates.

The key issue at play this year will be, how do we ensure there is an appropriate check on the balances and that we vote for people who will lead in a bipartisan way to get things done, not just to score political points. At the federal level, comprehensive immigration reform coupled with border security is long overdue. That system is broken, but we can’t continue to let politically perfect be the enemy of proactively good. We need leadership to reign in some of the wild interpretations of labor law coming out of the National Labor Relations Board and an extension of business research and development tax credits that help fuel innovation here in the United States We also need to find a cohesive, collaborative and reliable U.S. energy policy that relies on our strengths and existing resources that seeks to bolster the grid and our allies, not just unilateral decisions that overlook long term energy independence.

At the state level, the business community continues to need help in addressing workforce disruption and barriers to growth. The demographic numbers for PA continue to stagnate or trend downward. We need to prioritize childcare access, new housing construction and community building. Most Berks County school districts are predicting declining enrollment. Communities that continue to block pathways to increase available housing options are communities that are slowly and shortsightedly, killing themselves. Pennsylvania also has the fifth oldest population of the U.S., which is leading to concerns over available care and the general workforce. K-12 funding will continue to be an area of concern. While we can all agree that fully funding education is important, how much, who pays, and what reforms are implemented to achieve better outcomes are equally as important topics. Gov. Shapiro has also rolled out the first statewide economic strategic plan in 20 years, but that’s just the start to the conversation. We need a fully-fledged plan to wisely invest our tax dollars in ways that will grow our population and in turn increase tax revenue while also managing the expected, post American Rescue Plan funding budget gap.

The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance will continue to stay engaged with our elected officials and offer members the chance to interact with them at events throughout the year. These people want to hear from their constituents. If there is a bill or a policy that could positively or negatively affect your business, speak up! Your elected officials don’t know this until you say something, and they should position their votes to align with the needs of their constituents, not a party. That takes real leadership, and that’s what the Berks County business community is looking for.

Source: Berkshire mont

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