Pashinski, Yaw, Moul & Schwank unveil Rural Population Revitalization Commission proposal for PA
HARRISBURG, April 30 – State Reps. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, and Dan Moul, R-Adams, alongside state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-23, hosted a news conference today unveiling their legislative efforts to establish a Rural Population Revitalization Commission. 

The commission would report on rural population changes and make recommendations for attracting and retaining residents in rural Pennsylvania. State Sen. Judy Schwank, D-11, has also supported these efforts, but was unable to attend the press conference.

The proposal is in response to an October 2023 population projection report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania showing a “continuing divergence of population in Pennsylvania’s rural and urban counties, with urban areas projected to grow 4.1%, while rural areas face a 5.8% decline.” All four legislators serve on the center’s board of directors and began working on this project shortly after the report was published late last fall.

“As members of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors, we’ve heard at hearings across the Commonwealth that our rural leaders are already taking action to maintain and enhance their quality of life – but they need more help to meet the unique challenges they face,” Pashinski said. “That’s why we are acting in bipartisan fashion to establish a Rural Population Revitalization Commission to develop solutions that ensure our rural communities not only survive but thrive in the decades to come.”

Members of the commission would include state and local officials, as well as appointees from organizations specializing in issues like education, health care and business development.

The commission would put forward a report every two years with updates on population shifts as well as best practices and new policy recommendations for retaining and attracting residents.

“By establishing a Rural Population Revitalization Commission, we will be able to connect policymakers, local officials, industry leaders and others to examine policy solutions and offer recommendations aimed at addressing challenges facing rural Pennsylvania,” Yaw said. “The commission will monitor population changes and ensure Pennsylvania is being proactive in retaining, attracting, and revitalizing our rural communities.”

While the details are being finalized, the legislators said that the commission will examine ways the Commonwealth may be able to improve policies and assistance in a wide range of areas including but not limited to: attracting and retaining residents in rural Pennsylvania; education and career opportunities; access to health care; affordable housing; statutory and regulatory costs and their impacts on rural municipal governments; businesses and organizations; access to social services including child care; and grant awards and tax credit opportunities for rural Pennsylvania residents and businesses.

“Many people choose not to live in rural communities because they often lack the amenities that exist in more urban and suburban settings,” said Moul. “The Commission would work to change that by closely monitoring rural growth and assessing the needs in these areas. It is important to ensure that our rural communities have hospitals, emergency services and schools within a reasonable distance. The commission would also work to attract employers and promote job creation, as well as to ensure access to affordable housing and grant opportunities that promote growth and enhance services in rural areas.”

"Rural communities are the bedrock of our Commonwealth, but they have unique challenges that require specialized solutions,” Schwank said. “Creating the Rural Population Revitalization Commission is a prudent approach that will help address the issues highlighted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's population projections. By bringing together diverse stakeholders and experts, we can develop comprehensive strategies to support rural communities and ensure they thrive for years to come in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

The legislators noted that, to their knowledge, this is a first-of-its-kind commission and hope to be able to move forward soon to make Pennsylvania a national leader when it comes to retaining, attracting and revitalizing the population of the state’s rural communities – and the commonwealth at-large.

Video from today’s press conference is available for viewing and download here and photos are available here.

Representative Dan Moul
91st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Donna Pinkham