Lebanon County legislators state Rep. Russ Diamond (R-102) and state Sen. Chris Gebhard (R-48) have been tapped to serve in leadership positions for the GOP on the committees that oversee the commonwealth’s Gaming Control Board.

In the state Senate, Gebhard will serve on seven standing committees during the 2023-24 legislative session, including a role as chairman of the Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee (CERD), which oversees the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Gaming Control Board.

Gebhard will also serve on the following committees: Aging and Youth, Banking and Insurance, Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, Environmental Resources and Energy, Law and Justice, and Rules and Executive Nominations.

In a press release, Gebhard referenced his past experience as a voluntary chairman of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“A key focus of mine before I became an elected official was on improving businesses regulations, finding ways to make Pennsylvania more attractive for economic development and promoting our Commonwealth’s great tourism industry,” said Gebhard.

CERD’s purview includes workforce education, economic development finance programs, and tourism promotion.

The minority chair of the committee for this session will be state Sen. Anthony H. Williams of Philadephia.

Diamond was similarly recognized by the GOP for a leadership role on the House’s Gaming Oversight Committee and tapped as party chair. However, due to the ongoing deadlock in the chamber, the appointment is tentative, as the House has not yet been able to adopt a House rules package stipulating committee structure.

Nonetheless, Diamond said via email that he was pleased that Republican leader Bryan Cutler recognized the experience and knowledge that the Lebanon County legislator had gained serving on the Gaming Oversight Committee for the last eight years.

“Going forward, I anticipate the Committee addressing issues surrounding the regulation of skill game machines, as well as issues which currently impact revenue streams for many volunteer fire companies,” said Diamond.

“The Commonwealth is essentially a majority stakeholder in the casino industry and has come to depend on gaming revenue to bolster the General Fund,” he added. “Local communities have also come to rely on annual local share revenue from gaming.”

Diamond noted that the county received an additional share of gaming revenue via a 2017 amendment he pushed for that saw that local share assessments linked to Hollywood Casino be split with Lebanon County, which contains a portion of the casino property. The revenue share also helped reflect the aid provided by local emergency services for incidents that stem from the casino’s popularity.

On Feb. 7, three House districts in traditionally blue territory will be filled via special election. It is likely that through those special elections, the Democrats will take the majority in the chamber.

The Democrat’s top spot on the house Gaming Oversight committee will be held by Rep. Patrick Harkins of Erie, according to the party’s website.

Diamond said he looks forward to working with the Democrat chair of the committee, as well as Gebhard in his position of chair on the corresponding committee, in addressing any gaming related issues during the upcoming legislative season.

In addition to Gebhard’s chairman role on CERD, he will also serve as the vice chair of the Banking and Insurance Committee.

“I am looking forward to bringing my business experience to the committee to help Pennsylvanians better navigate the banking and insurance landscape,” said Gebhard.

In November, Gebhard won his first full four-year term as senator for the 48th district, which includes Lebanon County and portions of Berks and Lancaster counties.

In the same election, Diamond was re-elected for a fifth two-year term serving the 102nd district, which includes Annville, Bethel, East Hanover, Heidelberg, Jackson, Millcreek, North Annville, North Londonderry, Swatara and Union townships and Cleona, Jonestown, Myerstown, Palmyra and Richland boroughs.

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