It was a good morning

Article posted on April 30, 2011

Most of my staff joined Charlotte and I this morning to help with a shoreline cleanup at Lake Raystown. There was quite a group of volunteers assembled by The Friends of Lake Raystown and quite a bit of garbage brought back to the dumpster. It was an interesting project. They took us in groups of 3 to 5 by boat to our assigned cleanup areas. We worked for a few hours then met at the boat with our bags of debris. We piled the garbage in the boat then climbed on board for a ride back to Tatman Run Recreation Area where we started. They had hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone after we finished. We had great weather and met a lot of nice people. It was a good morning.


Comments like this are really editorials have no place in hard news

Article posted on April 29, 2011

News broke yesterday that a member of the Senate was charged with disorderly conduct. Bob Mensch, a Republican from Montgomery County, was alleged to have held up a handgun while driving on an Interstate Highway in southeastern PA. From the reports I read, the motorist that was said to be intimidated by the gun was, according to Bob, following him even during a stop for gasoline. The report indicated that the gun was not pointed at anyone. A court date is scheduled for May. Of course, some of the media commented that Bob is a supporter of the “Castle Doctrine”, a law that would allow people to defend themselves against attack without fear of prosecution or lawsuit. Comments like this in a story are really editorials and have no place in hard news.



Article posted on April 29, 2011



Altoona, PA – April 29, 2011, Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. will host select high school juniors at Penn State Altoona for his 2011 William Penn Leadership Program on Friday, May 6, 2011.

Students representing 15 high schools from Bedford, Blair, Fulton, and Huntingdon counties will roll up their sleeves and experience government up close and personal. Students will debate legislation they have researched, hear from experts in technology, and interact with their peers and Senator Eichelberger.

Students will debate two bills introduced in the 2011 Legislative Session. Senate Bill 635 limits the number of passengers a junior driver may transport in a motor vehicle at one time. Senate Bill 365 amends the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act by adding a subclause to include Salvia Divinorum, Salvinorin A, Divinorin A, a synthetic marijuana and synthetic cocaine/heroin as Schedule I controlled substances.

“I look forward to this event each year. The William Penn Leadership Program is a terrific way for students to experience the legislative process, going beyond the textbook,” John said. “This is designed as a non-partisan event that allows students to learn how to articulate a position and how to move a bill through the legislative process. The goal is to help students develop an interest in good citizenship and to give them a better understanding of their government.”

WHO: State Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
WHAT: 2011 William Penn Leadership Program
WHEN: Friday, May 6, 2011, 7:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Penn State Altoona
Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts and Port Sky Café

Media RSVP is appreciated.

*See attached list of participating schools.


William Penn Leadership Program
Participating Schools

Bedford County
• Bedford
• Chestnut Ridge
• Everett
• Hyndman
• Northern Bedford
• Tussey Mountain
Blair County
• Bellwood
• Claysburg-Kimmel
• Hollidaysburg
• Tyrone
Fulton County
• Forbes Road
• Southern Fulton
Huntingdon County
• Huntingdon
• Mount Union
• Southern Huntingdon

Please contact school directly for names of students.

They leave out the interests of the students and the taxpayers

Article posted on April 28, 2011

We got word yesterday that the Governor is happy with and now enthusiastically supports Senate Bill 1 with a proposed amendment. This agreement between the Governor and the Senate should clear the way for this bill to pass our chamber. After hearing how desperate the PSEA official was last night in his outrageous attacks on this bill, I better understand how much affected special interest groups want this look at public schools to go away. How afraid they are of reasonable discussions about the existing system and what could be done to make it better. It’s easier to deflect the debate onto other topics or spread misinformation. They leave out the interests of the students and the taxpayers. I won’t and neither will the Governor.


Saying things like that is just plain wrong

Article posted on April 27, 2011

I was part of a panel discussion on education tonight at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. There was a pretty big crowd. We fielded questions from the audience for most of the program after opening remarks and a greeting from the President of UPJ. The panel was intentionally diverse and there was back and forth between us as we answered questions. The PSEA official who sat on the panel astonished me with his comments about Senate Bill 1. I knew that he would be against competition and accountability, but he said that the bill was racially discriminatory and would cost $500,000 in the third year. Both statements are patently false. I understand differences of opinion, but saying things like that is just plain wrong.


You can’t be two places at the same time

Article posted on April 26, 2011

Our usual schedule during session is to go onto the floor and go through all of the opening rituals then go to caucus for a while then come back onto the floor to vote on the calendar. Today, we went to caucus, as did the Democrats, finished caucus and then waited for a couple of additional hours for the Democrats to finish their caucus. I had appointments scheduled for late in the afternoon, thinking that we would be done on the floor by that time. As it turned out, I was able to meet with all of those folks before returning to the floor to vote. I’ve learned that a schedule on session days is not something you can count on. Fortunately, people who work or regularly visit the capitol understand how things develop and don’t get upset when you aren’t in your office. Unfortunately, people from back home don’t always understand how things go and expect you to be there when they visit, but, you can’t be two places at the same time.


Things are starting to shape up

Article posted on April 25, 2011

Because of the Easter holiday, I was in the district today. Tomorrow and Wednesday we’re back in session. We will be getting into the budget in more detail over the next few weeks. To date, for the rank and file members, our discussions have been more conceptual in nature. The Senate is voting on the confirmation of cabinet members each week. These have gone relatively smoothly so far, and there is no reason that cooperation shouldn’t continue. Both the House and Senate are working on, or recently finished, major legislation like the sprinkler mandate relief bill, the Castle Doctrine, School Choice and Law Suit Abuse reform. There are, of course, many other bills moving through the legislature. Things are starting to shape up then they’ll move quickly. It is a much different environment this year with the Republican majorities in the legislature and our new Governor. Hopefully, this bodes well for a productive process.


Happy Easter!

Article posted on April 24, 2011

Happy Easter! I hope that all Christians got to church today and had time with family and friends. We had a cantata this morning at my church and I was, once again, a narrator. My mother is having work done at her house so our family went to my sister Wendy’s this afternoon for dinner. We all gathered around my cell phone, put it on “speaker”, and called Johnny, who couldn’t get home from school. We had a great meal and a good time with some new friends who joined us. The AP came out with another story on the legislature today. I saw the Altoona Mirror’s version, which was a little hard to follow even for a member of the legislature. One of the central points they brought up concerned consolidating internal functions of the legislature like IT, communications and some administrative functions. The separation of these tasks was a surprise to me when I was elected. This separation not only adds to cost, it makes transparency and accountability more difficult as well as feeds into the partisanship so evident in the legislature. The one thing that I, again, noticed about the local information in the story is the comparative staffing figure inaccuracies. The numbers of staff should be clarified so that district staff, Harrisburg staff and any committee staff for committee chairs are all identified. The number I gave the reporter, 8, included all three categories. This information was not consistent in the article.


Good luck to you, John, in your retirement

Article posted on April 23, 2011

We got a big break with the weather today. I heard about a flood watch on the radio this morning, and it was raining when I got up at 5:30, but by mid-morning, it was nice. I mowed the yard for the first time this year. The grass was still wet, but you make hay while the sun shines. This evening I attended a retirement party for Freedom Twp. Police Chief John Riley. I’ve known John for many years and seen his good work in the community. You will never know how many people John has helped over his 25 year career in law enforcement, how many kids he set straight or how many crimes he prevented from occurring. What we do know is that he is a nice guy that took his job seriously and was someone that you could always count on. Good luck to you, John, in your retirement.


The office was closed today for Good Friday

Article posted on April 22, 2011

The office was closed today for Good Friday. I needed to get at least one more thing out yesterday, but that is the way it always goes. I was in the office for a little while today and took care of some other errands. I was surprised how busy everything seemed. Most businesses were open and the place where I got a haircut was packed. Maybe the economy really is picking up. Another one of the questions I get about Senate Bill #1 concerns whether or not including private schools into a public education system is constitutional. In a word, yes. Voucher programs are not new and have been tested in the courts. In fact, the United States Supreme Court ruled on this issue in the 90’s. This is not a legitimate concern.