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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Set Agendas For 2018

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- Lawmakers won't truly start their 2018 session until late this month. But they're already laying out legislative agendas for the new year.

Many of the top priorities aren't much different from last year's. Democrats and Republicans all named job creation among their primary goals.

House Democratic Spokesman Bill Patton also said his caucus is particularly focused on raising the minimum wage.

"Pennsylvania is an outlier," he said. "Certainly, in the northeastern part of the country, we are the only state that has not raised a minimum wage."

Both House and Senate Democrats also say a natural gas severance tax remains a priority, though it's still unclear if they'll change legislative strategies after repeatedly failing to pass a modest tax last year.

"There continues to be building support coalescing among Republicans and Democrats to finish that conversation and bring the issue to a vote," Patton said.

Republicans are focused on fixing what they call "dysfunction" in state government, according to House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin.

He said that potentially includes reviving longstanding efforts to shrink the size of the legislature, as well as pushing bills introduced last year that would give the governor less autonomy in the state budget process.

Many Democrats oppose those bills. Patton called them a distraction from Republicans' reluctance to fully fund state budgets.

Miskin also said House Republicans are waiting for a report on how to modernize Pennsylvania's tax system from the nonprofit Tax Foundation--typically considered a pro-business group.