HARRISBURG, January 15, 2015 – State Senator Wayne Fontana has been named Democratic Chair of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.

“I am pleased with this committee assignment and will use my position to help cities like Pittsburgh and its outlying communities grow and thrive,” Fontana said.

The Brookline lawmaker said he will help mold and promote a comprehensive plan aimed at helping smaller urban centers and their outlying suburban communities. He said the plan would focus on issues ranging from affordable housing to curbing urban crime and blight.

“There are numerous statewide issues plaguing urban communities that need addressed,” Fontana said. “We need to reform local tax systems and find innovative ways to help towns obtain the revenue they need — without deterring economic investment or discouraging residential interest.

“We also need to devise ways to help cities and neighborhoods capitalize on their many assets, reinvigorate their infrastructure and revitalize aging business corridors. Also, as a realtor, I am keenly interested in working with community leaders, developers and investors on ways we can accelerate efforts aimed at building attractive and affordable housing.”

Fontana replaces Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport), who served as the committee’s Democratic chair since 2010.

Fontana will also serve on the senate committees on Communications and Technology; Community, Economic and Recreational Development; Law and Justice; Rules and Executive Nominations; and Policy.

“I am pleased with all of my committee assignments, and look forward to taking a more active role on economic development and law and justice issues,” he added.

First elected to the state senate in 2005, the Brookline lawmaker also serves as Democratic caucus chairman, a key leadership position that empowers him to set the daily caucus agenda and lead the discussion on bills that are under consideration on the Senate floor. From 2000 to 2005, Fontana was a member of the Allegheny County Council, where he served as its vice president.

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