Bill would change plans for lieutenant governor’s residence

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman visits with people attending a Democratic Party event for candidates to meet and collect signatures for ballot petitions for the upcoming Pennsylvania primary election, at the Steamfitters Technology Center in Harmony, Pa., March 4, 2022.
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

A Pennsylvania government agency would get more flexibility about what to do with the former official residence of the lieutenant governor, located on a military facility, under a bill passed unanimously Tuesday by the state House.

Lawmakers previously voted to transfer the home at Fort Indiantown Gap to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for use as a veterans’ outreach center.

But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Lebanon, said that use isn’t practical because it would take about $3 million to renovate it to make it accessible to people with disabilities, and because it’s located within a National Guard base.

The current lieutenant governor, Democrat John Fetterman, declined to move into the 1940s-era limestone State House when he took office about three years ago, instead proposing it be used for some public good.

The property about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Harrisburg includes a pool. Staff and maintenance costs had been running about $400,000 a year when it was the lieutenant governor’s residence.

Diamond, who is running for lieutenant governor in the May 17 GOP primary, said the department expects to establish a veterans’ outreach center in a more accessible location and find a use for the State House that “will not ruin the historic nature of that fine building.”

The bill was sent to the state Senate for its consideration.

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