Sustaining and creating jobs for working families is the most important issue that Carbon County and the entire nation currently faces. In today's economic recession, families are still struggling to hold on, and we must work hard to increase job opportunities in all sectors of the economy to get people back to work.

In order to emerge from this recession with an economy that is stronger than the one we entered it with, we must take steps to create sustainable new industries and economic priorities. That means focusing on retraining workers for the next generation of jobs and creating a solid infrastructure from which our economy can prosper. It also means creating an environment that is supportive of our small businesses and spearheading new initiatives designed to attract manufactures to the Commonwealth. Now is the time to focus on the strengths of Pennsylvania's economy for the next generation, not the previous one.

As of June 30, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, which fell below the national rate of 8.2 percent. Although there's still a lot of work to be done to curb our state's unemployment rate, our falling unemployment rates are proof that our current policies are helping to put more folks back to work and create a better business climate.

In this current legislative session, the House approved several pieces of legislation to level that field for our businesses, including a bipartisan bill to close the "Delaware Loophole" and implement vital business tax reforms in Pennsylvania. In order to succeed in attracting and retaining employers, we must implement reforms to our burdensome tax structure and create fair practices for all job creators by closing the loophole.

Similar legislation has been enacted in 23 other states, including Ohio, New Jersey and Maryland. Under this legislation, the revenue captured through closing the loophole would reduce Pennsylvania's overall business tax burden.

Our state also improved its jobs climate by approving the Fair Share Act, a significant victory for product manufacturers and other businesses that are often hauled into frivolous lawsuits even if they are not liable. This law is a win for working families, consumers and businesses, which all carry the financial burdens of unjust lawsuits.

Reactions from these groups have been overwhelmingly positive, and the state Chamber of Business and Industry President and C.E.O. Gene Barr commented that the Fair Share Act restores fairness and predictability to the state's legal system, encouraging business investment and job growth.

Along with these two measures, we've also passed E-Verify legislation to make sure that only legal citizens obtain state government contracts. We made further pro-jobs strides, as the House passed significant legislation to expedite regulatory and permitting processes, while still ensuring that environmental safe guards remain in place.

As my colleagues and I return to Harrisburg this fall, we will continue working to introduce and pass pro-jobs legislation. Next month, I plan to host a House Majority Policy Committee hearing focused on job creation here in Carbon County. I look forward to speaking with lawmakers and local business owners regarding ways to improve our county and state's business climate.

State Rep. Doyle Heffley

122nd District