Attorney General Josh Shapiro highlights his tech-focused vision for region during campaign stop hosted by Pittsburgh Robotics Network – The Business Journals

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro made a campaign stop in Lawrenceville on Wednesday as part of an event aimed at spreading his message — that he hopes to see Pittsburgh help lead the state’s economy forward.
Shapiro, the Democratic Party’s candidate for Pennsylvania governor in the 2022 election, shared policy proposals he’d like to enact should he be elected this November, with many of them touching on tech and innovation that’s occurring in Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Robotics Network (PRN), a local nonprofit robotics advocacy organization, hosted the campaign event at its Field Day co-working space on Butler Street. Boasting more than 100 members, the PRN frequently touts Pittsburgh as the robotics capital of the world given the region’s density of robotics companies that are headquartered here, a declaration Shapiro hopes to make more known should he be elected governor.
“I’m here today as a candidate planting a flag that I will fulfill as governor to make Western Pennsylvania the robotics capital of the world; and to do it with Pennsylvania workers; to do it using the backbone of our Pennsylvania colleges and universities; to do it based on the great leaders that we already have here committed to this,” Shapiro said. “We can do this together.”
Part of that effort, Shapiro said, relies on fostering more investment into education. He spoke of a desire to ensure there’s a workforce that can support the jobs of tomorrow. That work, Shapiro said, starts in the commonwealth’s high schools.
“We’re going to make sure that we put vocational, technical and computer training in our high school classrooms. I want a 10th grader to see the robotics work that’s being done in Pittsburgh, I want them to get excited about it, I want them to see that as part of their future,” Shapiro said. “For thousands of these robotics jobs, you don’t need a Ph.D. from [Carnegie Mellon University] to get that job, you need specialized low-tech training, maybe enhanced with an apprenticeship program to be able to do this work for tomorrow.”
As governor, Shapiro said he’d support increased investment into vocational and technical opportunities for high school students. He said the state would triple its investment in apprenticeship programs as well if elected.
Shapiro also addressed a concern of many in the robotics and autonomous vehicle industries — Pennsylvania allowing AV testing on public roads without a human safety operator in the vehicle. More than a dozen states across the country have waived the human operator requirement and AV companies based in Pittsburgh have since taken this type of testing to other states, given the regulations in Pennsylvania that prohibit it. Legislation in Harrisburg that would amend Pennsylvania law to permit this type of testing has stalled in recent weeks, though Shapiro said he’d make its passage a priority if elected.
“I want to get together with our legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle; we’re going to come up with a comprehensive, legislative solution to [permitting this type of testing] because if you think about it right now, the scenario we have is simply not working,” Shapiro said. “The idea that we’re training people at CMU, the idea we will be training people in our high schools then they’ll be coming to an office here to develop their technology, but then being forced to go to some other state to test the technology. That is unworkable. It’s unacceptable. And we will pass the legislation in a bipartisan manner.”
Shapiro’s broader message was one that Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, who is also a Democrat, could support with enthusiasm.
“There’s no question that today’s city and economy is all about tech and all about robotics,” Gainey said. “There’s no question about the transformation that’s been made for 20, 30 years in this beautiful city, and that’s why I believe that we can lead the nation in innovation of robotics and tech, and we can lead the nation in AI and other things that lead to a tech economy.”
The attorney general also outlined his policy proposals to reduce the state’s corporate tax rate to 4% by 2025 and his desire to create a new Office of Economic Growth and Workforce Development to streamline the state’s permitting and licensing process, among other initiatives.
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