PA Senate 1: Larry Farnese Response to 5th Square Questionnaire - 2020

Candidate Name:

Larry Farnese

 


What office are you seeking?

State Senate

Candidate Introduction:

I was born in Drexel Hill, my grandfather, Andrew M. Farnese, served as president of the Philadelphia Board of Education and chairman of the Philadelphia Gas Commission. I received a Juris Doctor from Temple University School of Law in 1994, after earning my Bachelor’s degree at Villanova University. After being admitted to the bar in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

In 2006, I challenged 10-term incumbent Babette Josephs in the Democratic primary for the 182nd District in the State House, losing by just 237 votes.

In 2008, following the retirement of Vince Fumo, I ran for the Pennsylvania Senate in the 1st District, against union leader Johnny Dougherty and community activist Anne Dicker. This time I won the election with 43%, receiving 30,879 votes. In that year, I faced Republican Republican businessman Jack Morley, who I beat by a margin of 81%-19%. And have proudly served as the State Senator for the first district for the past decade.


Question 1

Some of Philadelphia’s most dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists based on injury statistics are PennDOT-owned arterials, many of which are major downtown streets and commercial corridors running through densely-populated parts of Philadelphia. So far, PennDOT has been indifferent to calls from safety advocates for the kinds of engineering changes to these roads that would calm traffic. Would you use your position to support advocates' calls for safer urban arterials? What types of legislative and policy changes are needed to correct this problem at PennDOT? (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/philadelphia-traffic-fatalities-penndot-20190208.html)

Yes, I would use my position to support the advocates’ call for safer urban arterials. I have been working with pedestrian and bicycle advocates to allow for the construction of parking-protected bike lanes on state roads using state funding. The bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously on February 5, 2020.

The key to getting more of these measures passed is for advocates to meet with state legislators, the City Streets Department, and PennDOT to define what is needed, how we can fund it, and what we need to do to implement it.


Question 2

Pennsylvania recently passed legislation enabling automated speed enforcement on Roosevelt Blvd and highway work zones. Do you support the expansion of automated speed enforcement cameras to School Zones and on other High Injury Network streets throughout Philadelphia? (https://whyy.org/articles/roosevelt-boulevard-speed-cameras-represent-rare-bipartisan-win/)

☒ Yes
☐ No

Comment:

Automated speed enforcement cameras are good tools that have been shown to slow traffic, save lives, and reduce accidents in Maryland, Arizona, and other states that have implemented traffic cameras. I was proud to support legislation in Harrisburg to implement the speed enforcement cameras. Once this program is up and running and we see the benefits of the program, I am confident that legislators, PennDOT, and municipalities will use more automated enforcement cameras to save lives and reduce accidents.

Question 3

Pennsylvania is the only state in the U.S. that bans local law enforcement from using radar for vehicle speed enforcement. Do you support lifting this ban? (https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/06/is-2019-the-year-local-cops-in-pa-will-get-radar.html)

☒ Yes
☐ No

Comment:

I voted for legislation to allow municipal law enforcement to use radar for vehicle speed enforcement. I am confident that we can get this legislation passed this year. Pennsylvania is an outlier. We are the only state that does not allow local enforcement to use radar. That needs to change in order for us to help our municipalities to slow down vehicles, prevent property damage, and to save lives.

Question 4

Do you support state enabling legislation to allow Philadelphia and other cities to use cameras for congestion-related enforcement? Areas that should be enforced by camera include bus zones, travel lanes, corner clearances, crosswalks, delivery zones, and non-curb pickups and drop-offs by ride-hailing drivers. Currently, the law allows for enforcement only upon the observation of an officer. Cameras allow a more cost-efficient alternative and are less subject to human and systemic biases. (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/traffic-congestion-philadelphia-parking-tickets-ppa-20191211.html)

☒ Yes
☐ No

Comment:

I support giving the city of Philadelphia and other municipalities more tools to enforce congestion-related policies and ordinances that improve residents’ quality of life.

Question 5

Act 89 transportation funds have historically been diverted to pay the state police budget, reducing the funds available to pay for public transit and road projects. What is the best way to safeguard this revenue to ensure that Commonwealth residents see all the transportation improvements they were promised when state lawmakers raised the gas tax? (https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/can-you-pay-for-infrastructure-repairs-without-raising-state-taxes-in-new-plan-house-gop-says-yes/)

I think we can do a couple of things. One we can pass a bill I have cosponsored, Senate Bill 858 to end transfers from the motor license fund to the state police. Second, to replace the funding for the state police we should pass a bill to require municipalities to pay fees municipal policing services that they currently receive from the state police.

Question 6

What are some of your own ideas for enhancing mobility and improving road safety in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?

We can do a couple of things. We can pass my legislation to create parking-protected bike lanes on state roads and to use state funding to enhance bicyclist and pedestrian safety. Creating these safer bike lanes will encourage more people to bike which enhances mobility and prince safety and reduce congestion. I also support the installation of more countdown clocks so more pedestrians can safely cross streets and intersections. I am also in favor of redesigning high volume intersections to make sure we are using the best technology and materials to enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Question 7

Act 44, which transfers $450 million a year from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to public transit agencies, is set to expire in 2022. What is your plan to safeguard and expand the state revenue dedicated to public transit after this law expires? (https://wskg.org/news/pa-turnpike-escapes-catastrophic-lawsuit-but-remains-heavily-in-debt/)

The state senate passed SB 778 unanimously in June to create a public transportation fund by dedicating the motor vehicle sales and use tax proceeds to the public transportation fund. This will give mass transit agencies $450 million in funding each year.

Other issues that we should consider and are supported by mass transit agencies include:

We could monetize the SB 778 revenue to create bonds to fund more mass transit capital projects.

We could put a fee on TNC rides to create more money for mass transit. A .50 cent or $1 surcharge would create hundreds of millions for mass transit.

We need to look at statewide zoning laws to consider putting housing near public transit sites. This will encourage people to take public transit, boosting ridership, and revenues for transit agencies.  

Question 8

Do you support dedicated transit lanes and legislation enabling “Automated Transit Lane Enforcement” cameras mounted on transit vehicles and on roadsides to deter other vehicles from using these lanes? (https://mobilitylab.org/2018/09/17/automated-bus-lane-enforcement-is-more-effective-than-police-among-other-findings/)

☒ Yes
☐ No

Comment:

Yes, I support dedicated transit lanes as long as they improve traffic flow and safety. I would support automated transit lane enforcement so we use advances in technology to improve safety.

Question 9

Do you support state enabling legislation for congestion pricing, permitting municipalities and regions to institute tolls on automobiles entering into the most congested areas, and using the funds for improvements to transit, and for infrastructure for walking and bicycling? (https://www.inquirer.com/transportation/congestion-pricing-new-york-philadelphia-traffic-20190402.html)

☒ Yes
☐ No

Comment:

Yes, I could support these initiatives. I would like to see pilot programs set up before full implementation to make sure that the initiatives have their intended effect of limiting congestion and improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. These initiatives will also require significant public input, discussion and coordination with PennDOT, SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia, RCOs and citizens.

Question 10

SEPTA has the capability to expand its rapid transit service by simply running its commuter rail lines more frequently and integrating its fares with subways and buses. But to do so, the agency will need to prioritize certain capital improvements and implement some operational reforms. Do you support such an expansion for our city's train service? (https://whyy.org/articles/analysis-how-septa-can-turn-regional-rail-in-philly-into-high-frequency-rapid-transit/)

☒ Yes
☐ No

As a legislator, how would you use the power of your office to advance those changes, instead of retaining the current structure which caters more to professional-class suburban commuters?

I would set up meetings with SEPTA GM Leslie Richards, PennDOT, the City Managing Director and others to discuss this issue, to form a consensus, develop coalitions to push these necessary changes.

Question 11

What are some of your own ideas for solutions to improve the quality (frequency, speed, and accessibility) of transit service in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?

I rely on constituent input and the input of RCOs. My office staff and I keep in regular communications with my constituents on their transportation needs. That is why I am fighting for the passage of Senate Bill 565 to create and enhance the ability to construct more parking-protected bike lanes in Philadelphia and the first senatorial district.

Question 12

California’s legislature recently introduced a pro-housing bill SB 50, which would preempt local zoning restrictions on dense housing construction near high-quality transit, and in high-opportunity areas with large concentrations of jobs or in-demand school districts. Similar bills have also been introduced by progressive lawmakers in Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and Virginia to preempt local exclusionary zoning policies like apartment bans, parking quotas, and minimum lot size rules from the state level. Do you support amending Pennsylvania’s Municipal Planning Code to preempt local exclusionary zoning policies in this way, with the goal of allowing transit-oriented housing near state-funded transit and commuter rail stations? (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/sb50-california/604786/)

☒ Yes
☐ No

Comment:

This legislation has failed twice in the California state senate. We need to study why it failed to ensure that it does not face a similar fate in PA. I would also like to work with SEPTA and PennDOT leadership to ensure that this legislation will help grow revenue and ridership for SEPTA in a comprehensive and strategic manner.

Question 13

The century-old Separations Act requires multiple bids for all different parts of public construction projects in Pennsylvania, which some state officials believe makes public works projects unnecessarily expensive and inefficient, and precluding Design-Build firms from bidding on public construction projects. Will you support and advocate for repeal of the Separations Act? (https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/03/07/oped-s-time-repeal-separations-act-pa/98857412/)

☐ Yes
☒ No

Comment:

I have seen data and studies from the PA Department of Labor and Industry and other groups that the separations act is a benefit for the residents of Pennsylvania. In order to consider supporting the repeal of the separations act, I would need to see hard data that shows that it would benefit taxpayers, create quality construction projects, and would not harm the skilled and hard working members of organized labor.

Question 14

Governor Tom Wolf has announced his intentions for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative—a regional cap and trade program that could push PA to cut emissions more aggressively, while generating revenue for public transit, clean energy, and other priorities. Joining RGGI would likely require an act of the state legislature, and different interest groups within the Democratic Party have taken different positions on this, with some building trades unions on one side and environmental groups on the other. If elected, would you support legislation to join RGGI?(https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2019/10/03/gov-wolf-pennsylvania-regional-greenhouse-gas-initiative/)

☒ Yes
☐ No

Comment:

I support Governor Wolf’s proposal to have Pennsylvania join the multi-state regional carbon cap and trade program called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Republicans and their special interest supporters in the fossil fuel industry are going to fight this proposal and we have to fight back. This is a way for us to join our neighboring states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to address Climate Change in PA.

I have co-sponsored Pennsylvania’s version of the Green New Deal - Senate Bill 630 - to move Pennsylvania energy production to 100% renewable energy by 2050. This is the major goal of the Green New Deal.

I have also co-sponsored Senate Bill 600 that would require 30% of all energy produced in PA to come from renewable sources by 2030.

By moving away from fossil fuels and into large scale renewable energy production, we can help to address climate change in a substantial way. I also recently voted against HB 1100 that would provide a $450 million tax credit for the building of a cracker plant in Northeastern PA. We do not need to build or provide state money to build more cracker plants.

We can get cars off the road and their associated greenhouse gas pollution by adopting forward-thinking transportation bills. The Senate transportation committee also recently passed my bill to create parking-protected bike lanes. When this bill is passed by the General Assembly, it will ensure that city’s can use state funding to create parking-protected bike lanes, which will create more safe spaces for cyclists and encourage people to get rid of their cars and to use bicycles.

Question 15

Tell us more about what you bring to the table as an ally for urbanist politics in Harrisburg. What makes you the right person to advance the urbanist movement’s goals politically or substantively at the state level? How would you build support for pro-urbanist policies among your colleagues from outside our region?

I am the person to advance the urbanism movements goals politically and substantively because I have been doing the work for many years. I supported the use of speed cameras in Philadelphia and in active work zones, I support the use of municipal police radar and other technologies to control speeding and increase safety, and I am the lead sponsor of legislation to create more parking-protected bike lanes.

I am confident that I can build support for pro-urbanism policies in the same way I helped build statewide coalitions for parking-protected bike lanes. I will work with advocates, cities, and state governments like I did to build support with my colleagues for the pro-urbanism parking-protected bike lane bill. For that bill, I worked with a broad and diverse coalition of groups and folks including the greater Philadelphia bicycle coalition, Bike Pittsburgh, the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Altoona, Harrisburg, and York, and government agencies like PennDOT and Philadelphia’s Streets Department to build support among legislators for this bill. The parking-protected bike lane bill has a bipartisan and broad geographic list of cosponsors.