Too much office work to do

Article posted on September 30, 2007

After church I went to the charity football game at Mansion Park in Altoona to perform the coin toss.  The game was between the police and the fire fighters.  I couldn’t stay for the whole game but from the first few plays I saw, these guys looked pretty competitive.  I spent the remainder of the day in the office.  I again had so much scheduled this week that I couldn’t get enough work done.  With being back in session Monday through Wednesday, I have work backed up in the district.  The new offices still require a lot of work and I am still moving furniture between offices as well as adjusting things in Hollidaysburg.  We probably really won’t be completely set up until about the end of November.  This will be a really busy week in Harrisburg and I have an open house in Bedford and a town meeting in Altoona.  I hope to find some time to do paperwork and answer emails.  We’ll see if it goes any smoother than last week; keep your fingers crossed.

– John

Most booked day?

Article posted on September 29, 2007

Today was perhaps the “most booked” day I have had so far in the Senate.  I had 9 things on my schedule plus work at the office.  I got to 4 events and did some of the office work that needed to be done.  I was in a :Homecoming parade in Roaring Spring this morning representing my class of ’76 from Central High School.  I ended the evening at the home of Dr. Randy and Diane Stuart in Bedford County at a Chamber of Commerce dinner.  The company was gracious and the food was fantastic.  Randy is a great Thai chef.  I truly appreciate the opportunities I have to meet people and discuss issues.  We have an incredible group here in the fighting 30th.

– John

Our office passed inspection

Article posted on September 28, 2007

Ran 4 miles this morning then hit the office for just about the entire day.  I had a number of appointments including the contractor for the Hollidaysburg office and the attorney for the Senate who reviews district offices. Our office passed his inspection today.  I have an event in Bedford tonight, better go! 

– John

Will Act 44 be repealed?

Article posted on September 27, 2007

I spent most of the day, from 8:30 this morning until 2:00 this afternoon, at Penn State on an Agriculture Council event. A group of legislators and other invited guests went to six presentations along with a luncheon.  We learned a lot about many topics related to food.  Penn State is the number one ag school in the country and the ag engineering department has some of the best research facilities and staff in the world.  The things we learned about today were not only interesting but gave me a sense of how important some of the research done there is to our health and the nation’s economy.  It looks like the ill conceived transportation legislation known as Act 44 hit a major bump in the road today. Stay tuned! 

– John

Increasing bid limits

Article posted on September 26, 2007

Got up early today so I could get a 6 mile run in.  I met with one of the State Police’s liquor control detail officers this morning and talked about some issues in the district.  We had a Local Government Committee meeting this morning where we passed a package of bills. These bills will raise the bidding limit requirements for all government entities.  I sponsored the bill addressing counties.  The law now requires counties and others to advertise, in a newspaper of daily circulation, requests for bids on items over 10,000 dollars in value.  They can get more informal quotations on items over 4,000 dollars in value but less than 10,000.  These ads cost local government 10’s of millions each year.  The bills passed today increase the bid limits to 25,000 dollars and the quote limits to 7,000 dollars.  These limits have not been raised in 17 years.  Almost all of our surrounding states have done this.  Everyone involved thinks that this is a good idea except the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association; their members will loose money. 

– John

Retired PHEAA chief pulls in $369K a year

Article posted on September 26, 2007

A retired Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency chief draws a six-figure salary while collecting a $222,173 yearly state pension, state and federal records show.Michael Hershock, 62, who retired from PHEAA at the end of 2002, collected a $147,000 salary from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Foundation last year and $21,500 in benefits. The nonprofit agency is a group he founded six months before retiring.

Although ostensibly separate from PHEAA, the foundation has obtained millions of dollars in seed money and services from PHEAA and shares offices — and some board directors — with the multibillion-dollar student loan organization, records show.

Read the full Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story here.

Short on specifics and long on fluff

Article posted on September 25, 2007

I had a typical day in Harrisburg with a number of constituent meetings, session, caucus, a reception and a dinner with staff.  I met another Airedale owner on the street today in front of the capitol, her dog’s name was Chelsea; it was nice to see a friendly face.  We had some discussions today about looking at privatization and more discussions about the fallacies of the Governor’s energy plan.  We need to stay focused on the facts and the administration’s arguments will not hold up.  Everyone is in favor of a better environment.  Some of us believe in having proven scientific facts guide our decisions, not rhetoric that sounds good in a bite on the evening news.  The Governor’s address yesterday was short on specifics and long on fluff.  This has been the mantra for his energy initiative, if it feels good do it, or at least propose it. 

– John

Cooperate with probe on bonuses

Article posted on September 25, 2007

Efforts by House Democratic leaders to block a probe into bonuses given to legislative employees shows the need for a thorough investigation.

According to published reports, House Democratic leaders last week attempted to keep seven caucus staffers from being called to testify before a statewide grand jury looking into the bonuses. That’s unacceptable.

Attorney General Tom Corbett is investigating whether any of the nearly $4 million awarded in bonuses during the 2005-06 session was for campaign work, which would be illegal. Some of the bonuses were $20,000 or more.

Sen. John Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, is among those who have called for the investigation.

Read the full Altoona Mirror story here.

Truck Drivers And Politicians Protest I-80 Tolls

Article posted on September 25, 2007

At the Capitol in Harrisburg Monday, independent truck drivers and local lawmakers teamed up to protest Act 44, which would turn Interstate 80 into a toll road. One congressman calls already existing and proposed tolls in Pennsylvania the highest in the country.”We’ll be 600 percent higher than Ohio, 1.5 times higher than New York, and we’ll be the only state that has two parallel roads at the highest cost in America,” said Congressman John Peterson (R-5th District).

Read the full WJACT-TV story here.

Lots happening in Harrisburg

Article posted on September 24, 2007

I started to Harrisburg earlier than usual this morning..  I dropped off a coat rack at the Huntingdon office and did a radio show (Steve Clark) on the way down.  I had a class from Great Commission School visit me for a tour at 10:30, a luncheon with the County Commissioners Association at 11:30 and a press conference with Congressman John Peterson on the embattled transportation bill at noon on the front steps of the capitol.  I went to session then to the Special Joint Session called by the Governor in the House Chamber.  The Governor didn’t have anything new to say.  He started his remarks on the energy special session by talking about how many military people have died since February who are from Pennsylvania.  Many in the audience thought this to be inappropriate to say the least.  He didn’t put out any new information as far as I could tell;  It looks like a long fall.  This evening I attended the PA Chamber dinner with General Colin Powell present.  He gave a great speech..  I am glad I was there.  Tomorrow will be interesting with some issues like transportion being discussed. 

– John