Rep. Mike Turzai is sitting in the catbird seat when it comes to the 2012 election.
The ballot for Tuesday's primary tells it succinctly: No one is challenging the incumbent for the Republican spot on the ballot for the 28th Legislative District seat and the Democrats are running no one for the seat either.
Unless something extraordinary happens, Turzai (R-Bradford Woods) will be re-elected in November to the seat he has held since 2001.
He currently represents the citizens of Pine, Richland, Marshall, McCandless, Bradford Woods and Franklin Park.
The House Republican Caucus elected Turzai to serve as the majority leader for the 2011-12 session.
In that role, he speaks on behalf of his caucus on the House floor, leads discussion and debate on major issues, plans the voting calendar and promotes the legislative agenda of his caucus, according to his website.
Asked about his accomplishments and priorities for the future, Turzai ticks them off quickly.
"We've gotten a lot accomplished," he said.
Budget, Spending, Debt and Jobs
Passing a state budget on time is one of the first things he mentions, along with reducing spending and debt.
“Our priority has always been improving Pennsylvania’s jobs climate,” Turzai said in a press conference announcing the House Republicans' EmployPA initiative.
“The key to doing that is private-sector job growth. EmployPA will make the Commonwealth more economically competitive, enticing more businesses to locate and stay in Pennsylvania.”
He said they want to focus on two primary themes —fiscal responsibility and private-sector job creation—and concentrate on legislation that supports those themes.
When he talks about Marcellus Shale drilling, Turzai refers to it as creating thousands of job, lowering natural gas prices and providing a cleaner energy alternative.
He promoted Act 13—the state's new Marcellus Shale law—and said statewide regulations were needed for consistency in laws.
However, the law is not fully enforced yet because it has been challenged in court, by a Opponents to the law argued that it pre-empts municipalities' zoning authority.
Privatizing Wine and Spirits Sales
In July, Turzai introduced House Bill 11 to privatize wine and spirits sales on the wholesale and retail levels.
Turzai said Pennsylvania should not be in the business of selling alcohol. Sales should be handled by the private sector, he said.
"We need to move Pennsylvania into the 21st century," he said at a press conference about the bill. He noted that only two states, Pennsylvania and Utah, have complete control of all aspects of wine and spirits distribution.
Although his efforts to privatize the sale of wine and spirit did not pass the Legislature, he said he will continue to fight for privatization.
When he talks about cutting $1 billiion in spending from the 2011-12 budget, Turzai specifically mentions education funding: "Spending on (kindergarten) through 12 actually increased in terms of state dollars because we knew the federal stimulus money was gone."
For the future, the state needs to adjust its funding formula for growing school districts, he said.
Turzai lives in Bradford Woods with his wife, Lidia, and their three children.