If we do, we will make things worse

Article posted on January 31, 2009

After my men’s fellowship group this morning, I hit the office for most of the day. I did get a 3 mile run in this afternoon and shoveled a little snow at home. With being away as much as I am in the winter, the snow and ice builds up. If I could just train the dogs to shovel, I’d have it made. The news of late has been almost entirely about the state budget and the federal “stimulus” package. The Governor is planning on getting some of the federal money to balance the state’s budget. The amount of this money has yet to be determined as has the purpose of it. It is dangerous at this point to plan our budget around these funds but that is what we are doing. The Governor’s budget address this year will be his most watched. He is going out of office under very difficult times but let us not forget that many of our problems were created by our over spending and over taxing. I hope that we don’t ramp up these same mistakes to get us through things now. If we do, we will make things worse rather than better.

– John

We will see next Wednesday

Article posted on January 30, 2009

I spent the day doing paperwork. I got done with an important project that took the bulk of the day. Sometimes you need time to just work without too many interruptions. I see in the news today that the Governor is still talking about just taxes on tobacco and the gas from Marsellas shale. I am willing to bet that we will see another budget presented next week that leaves out some pretty core elements that he knows the legislature will try to restore (like funding for District Attorneys) and that he’ll blend in some new initiatives (albeit less than he has presented in previous years). He’ll continue to set the “crises” mode with pending layoffs and dismal projections into next year and succumb to a broader tax increase by June that he will be “forced” into. He’ll still want some expanded universal health care program and have some other pet projects that he’ll insist on, probably in education. We will see next Wednesday.

– John

We have really been busy lately

Article posted on January 29, 2009

I had some office appointments in Huntingdon this morning and then went to a news conference for the District Attorney at the Huntingdon County Court House. Huntingdon has enrolled in a state-wide program called PASAVIN. This program allows victims of crimes to register and be notified if a county prisoner is released from jail or his or her status changes in any way including being moved to another facility. There have been some cases where a prisoner got out of jail and went directly to the person’s home who pressed charges against them and either threatened them or worse. I did my Christian radio show with Gary Dull this afternoon and met with another constituent in the Hollidaysburg office. We have really been busy lately.

– John

He is welcome in my office anytime

Article posted on January 28, 2009

I ran 6 miles this morning in Harrisburg; it was one of the toughest runs I have ever done. We got about 3 or 4 inches of snow and there was a thick crust on top. Each step felt like a combination of running in the deep sand at the beach and breaking through a layer of ice. I am sore tonight. I met with the Acting Secretary of Health, Everett James this morning; we had a great conversation about a number of issues. I don’t think that he will have any problems in his confirmation process. Gary Dull came down to the capitol this afternoon and did a 2 hour radio show live from my office. We lined up a few Senators, a staffer from the appropriations office, the Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, two State Reps and the Deputy Secretary of DCED. The program went fast with the number of guests we had. Gary is a good man and I always enjoy his company and his perspective on the issues. He is welcome in my office anytime.

– John

We need to take advantage of opportunities

Article posted on January 28, 2009

I had a full day of meetings and one reception this evening then hit the office until about 9:30. Most people cleared out early because of the pending bad weather. We made the session tomorrow “non-voting”, which means that we still have session but that no recorded votes will be taken. I will be here anyway since I am staying overnight and have meetings and other things scheduled for tomorrow. I am continuing to meet with local government groups and some other interesting folks to set up an agenda for the Local Government Committee. There are a lot of great bills that could have or should have been done by now but weren’t. There has always been a need for local governments (all governments for that matter) to be much more efficient and with the money problems we are now suffering, it is imperative to cut waste and allow them to operate smarter. We have many opportunities with this fiscal down turn, we need to take advantage of them.

– John

Time will tell

Article posted on January 26, 2009

I’m back in Harrisburg for three days. We don’t have much on the session schedule, nothing but resolutions, since no bills have made it through the committee process yet. We did have a caucus meeting and I went over a number of issues with some members and my staff. I had a couple of meetings today and some tomorrow with various associations that deal with the Local Government Committee. I am trying to understand their priorities and then build some consensus to get some obtainable things accomplished. Hopefully this game plan will work, time will tell.

– John

Always something to do and not enough time to do it

Article posted on January 25, 2009

I went to a firearms training course this afternoon. The course focused on the legal issues surrounding Permits to Carry and the practical issues of carrying a gun, like what kind of gun is best for you, what ammo to use and what holster is best. It was a four hour program that was very well done. I learned a lot and might sign up for another course if my schedule permits. I worked the remainder of the evening and am getting ready to go back to Harrisburg tomorrow. We don’t have much legislation moving yet so I can’t imagine that our sessions will be long. I have a number of meetings lined up this week and also need to get some work done in the Harrisburg office including reorganizing my files since we started a new session. There is always something to do and not enough time to do it.

– John

We need to lead by example

Article posted on January 24, 2009

After my men’s fellowship group this morning, I worked at the office all day with the exception of going home for a 4 mile run at 2:00. I was gone all week, including last Sunday, so I really got behind. I am going to a gun instruction course tomorrow afternoon so I won’t have as much time tomorrow to work either. It’s tough to get caught up these days. I saw in the news where only about one third of the legislature is returning their cost of living increases. I was surprised that the figure was that low given the fact that the leadership of both chambers came out publicly and said that they were returning their increases. As I said before, this is a drop in the bucket compared to what we really should be doing but I don’t see any interest from members about giving up some of the “incumbent protection program” perks. I never took those perks and I am giving back the increase, these are difficult times for the people of this state. We need to lead by example.

– John

I have some catching up to do

Article posted on January 23, 2009

I traveled to Lancaster today to the VFW Mid-Winter’s Conference. I was one of the speakers at the conference along with Deputy Adjutant General Scott Wagner and Auditor General Jack Wagner. It was an honor to be asked to address this group. I have worked with the State Commander, Larry Wade on some issues over the past year, he represents his organization well. I have some catching up to do over the weekend since I was out of town this entire week. Tomorrow is going to be a full work day, I really need it.

– John

We must speak for those that can’t speak for themselves

Article posted on January 23, 2009

Jason High, my Chief of Staff and I traveled to the March For Life in Washington today. We went on a bus from Huntingdon with some of the Most Holy Trinity Church folks, they were very kind to us. It was my third March and another rewarding experience. Since the Roe v Wade decision in 1972, almost 50 million abortions have been performed in this country. It was a very long and emotional day, but the effort to protect the unborn is critical at this time in our history because we must speak for those that can’t speak for themselves.

– John