Public Hearings Held on Drought

The House Democratic Policy Committee held two days of public hearings this week focused on the Commonwealth's lingering drought and its effect on farmers in particular. Democrats lead by Committee Chairman Vic Lescovitz (D-Washington), accused the Ridge Administration lacking in leadership on drought issues. Specifically, the partisan body attacked Gov. Ridge for not proposing a massive state grant program to bail out the state's farm community. For his part, Ridge's spokesman says the federal government should take the lead since PA taxpayers have been paying to bail out victims of natural disasters in other states. There were no great revelations after two days of testimony, although everyone agreed that "something" should be done. Rep. Bud George (D-Clearfield) used the occasion to ask every witness whether they would support his legislation requiring permits for large water users and penalties for excessive usage. Considering the lineup of witnesses, which did not include any large water users, George received a lot of support for his bill.

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