By Rep. Anita Kulik
While State Representatives are appointed, by their leadership, to certain committees, we do certainly try to get particular assignments. For example, since I have worked closely with our local police and fire departments over the years, I truly appreciate the experiences I have had while being asked to serve on the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees. The committees to which I am assigned are ones that actually get things done and that actually get good bills passed.
I have had many opportunities over my tenure to explore different parts of our Commonwealth through the work of my different assigned committees. As a member of the Liquor Committee, for example, I have visited various business operations in the state to discuss their needs and concerns. By learning of the problems they face I have been able to introduce legislation that addresses those problems, such as my bill with regard to liquor licenses, which was adopted last year.
I recently had the opportunity to join my colleagues from the Game and Fisheries Committee on a bear trip. On a brisk morning, we hiked through the woods in a northeast section of the state to a bear den. We joined members of the Pennsylvania Game Commission on their research project as they surveyed bear dens and the cubs found in the dens. The cubs are counted and tagged so that they can be tracked. The Game Commission keeps track of the wildlife population in the state and keeps tabs on the health and locations of the animals.
The most interesting part of the day was getting to hold bear cubs as they were prepared for tagging.
These small cubs cuddled up to you as you held them, and it is hard to believe that in a very short time they will grow substantially in size. A small black bear can grow from the size of a can of pop to a creature weighing over 100 pounds in its first year if food sources are plentiful.
Those employed by the Game Commission are very serious and dedicated to their jobs. Pennsylvania is filled with all manner of wildlife animals, and it is important to protect the populations and preserve their habitats.
The experience of being in the woods and learning how bears den, care for their cubs and live in our woods was an experience like no other.
I have also had the opportunity to take part in policy events here in Allegheny County. At one such meeting, I joined my colleagues on a bus with Port Authority representatives to discuss public transportation issues. Public transportation needs to be a priority, especially in our district.
Adjustments must be made as the needs of our citizens and our businesses change.
A vast number of people work in the suburbs as businesses transition from the city. The hub system we have now, where to get from one part of the County to another a person must connect through downtown Pittsburgh, is no longer a workable plan.
The airport area is growing. The towns that make up the 45th District have growing home and business populations that place new demands on public transportation. I continue to advocate for the southwestern suburbs. While the Carnegie Busway expansion is vital to our region, there must be consideration for transporting people from these suburban areas through the busway to the airport corridor.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to provide a reminder that the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, through Allegheny County, has announced changes. Originally meant to help prevent evictions due to the pandemic, more than 12,000 households have been helped by this program. There has also been substantial utility assistance.
New applications must be received by March 31 to be considered for the program. Residents who have been financially impacted by the pandemic can apply online at covidrentrelief.alleghenycounty.us. The program is administered through the county’s Department of Human Services.