HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - State Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) is looking forward to representing the people of Pennsylvania’s 49th Senatorial District in a session where he’ll be taking on a new leadership position in Harrisburg.

Laughlin was first elected to serve the 49th District in 2016. Since then, he's championed several bills for the people of Erie County. Some that became law this year include his Data Breach bill, the Clean Streams Fund and his Fire and Panic bill.  

“We also got the Fire and Panic bill done. That puts smoke detectors into all our daycares across Pennsylvania. Hard to believe that there were ones that didn't have them already, but we did get that done,” said Laughlin. 

Laughlin, like many others, was also excited to see the creation of the Whole Home Repairs Program. 

“The reason that one was important to me was early on when I was running in 2016, I talked about a lot of the blight issues that we have within the city of Erie, and a lot of places across Pennsylvania that are very similar to Erie have blight. That should at least help alleviate some of that,” said Laughlin. “If you have two people that own their homes, and the house between you is blighted, that's dragging all three property values down,” he added. 

In the next session, Laughlin hopes to build support for several of his bills that did not make it across the finish line, like his $10 per hour minimum wage bill.  

“I was disappointed that we didn't get my minimum wage bill pushed through. I think given the rate of inflation that we've seen the last couple of years, we're going to take another pass at that and hopefully get that pushed through,” said Laughlin. 

Another bill he’s looking to push, SB 690 – his Open Primary legislation.  

“I think it's a bill that's good government. I think most of the citizens are for that,” said Laughlin, who will also be taking on a new leadership role in the 2023-24 session as Chairman of the Senate Majority Policy Committee.  

“My goal with it is really to get out and interact with both the citizens and the stakeholders in Pennsylvania and actually try and steer the policy of the state,” said Laughlin.  

Other priorities for Laughlin include making the state's business environment more appealing and keeping younger generations in Pennsylvania. 

“We've been losing population as a state for a while now. And one of the reasons that I feel pretty strongly that that is happening is our business environment within Pennsylvania is not what I would call very conducive to trying to attract new businesses,” said Laughlin. “If we have good paying jobs when our children graduate from high school and college, hopefully there'll be a reason for them to stay,” he added. 

Additionally, he says he’ll continue advocating for his recreational marijuana bill, drug pricing transparency, and energy production. 

“With our port, I think we could probably liquefy natural gas and send it out the St. Lawrence Seaway if we needed to. But we'll see, that's going to take some infrastructure to get that done, but we're pushing forward with that,” said Laughlin.  

Laughlin also says that he will continue to fight for Erie to become a City Revitalization Improvement Zone (CRIZ). 

“I knocked heads with Governor Wolf for six years over that and couldn't quite get him there. But we'll see if the new administration has a difference of opinion on these tax credit programs,” said Laughlin.