I’m getting back from Harrisburg tonight after a 13-14 hour day

Article posted on July 31, 2012

My apologies to the regular readers of John’s Blog.  I found out today that two or three of my posts over the weekend didn’t make it to the world wide web.  Staff issues coupled with technical difficulties were responsible for the problem.  If we can retrieve what I wrote from our system, we’ll post them, if not, we’ll move on.  I’m getting back from Harrisburg tonight after a 13-14 hour day.  Charlotte wants me to get some supper, Lillie just wants to play.  I’ll report on our Task Force meeting this morning at another time.

-John

The final product is important to help local governments, so we’ll press on

Article posted on July 30, 2012

I met with constituents today and prepared for another trip to Harrisburg tomorrow.  I have three meetings scheduled and will probably end up with four.  The Unfunded Mandate Task Force is reviewing a draft of the final report.  The draft is lengthy and provides a lot of information about the methodology of the study, what other states do, what PA has tried to do in the past, the unfunded and underfunded mandates in effect today and what can be done to reverse existing mandates and stop future ones.  We still have a lot of work to do.  The final product is important to help local governments, so we’ll press on.

-John

We will be asking those questions

Article posted on July 29, 2012

Senator John Blake, minority chair, and myself as majority chair, sent out a news release Friday announcing a future hearing by the Senate Local Government Committee on the financial situation facing the City of Harrisburg including the municipal authority that owns the incinerator.  Our hearing will look at past borrowing arrangements.  After reading a forensic investigation report on the borrowing history of the incinerator, I question whether the state’s current laws pertaining to debt and construction were followed by the many public officials and hired professionals involved or if they had legitimate reasons to appear to go outside of the legal boundaries, in which case the laws may need clarification, or, lastly, if they chose to ignore the laws intentionally, what penalties apply and are they sufficient to stop people from engaging in this activity again.  The bottom line is that the taxpayers of the City of Harrisburg and those of the County of Dauphin and the rate payers of the municipalities involved in the Authority are on the hook for more money than they can possibly pay at this point.  Lots of questions about how multiple borrowings that should have never happened, need to be answered.  We will be asking those questions.

-John

It should pass through the committee easily

Article posted on July 26, 2012

I was in Harrisburg again today, this time for a Finance Committee hearing on SB 1400.  This bill would eliminate school property taxes by increasing and/or broadening the sales and personal income taxes.  This is a very popular bill that I hear about frequently.   The polls, for whatever they are worth, show that the vast majority of people want this legislation signed into law.  The groups that would be forced to start collecting sales tax don’t want it.  The schools also don’t want it, although they testified that they want more money from the state, just not this way.  I expect the Committee to take up the bill for a vote in the fall, it should pass through the committee easily.

-John

They were a lively group with lots of questions

Article posted on July 25, 2012

We had a town hall meeting in Altoona tonight.  It was hosted by YTI and some of their students and teachers attended.  We had 42 people in all.  They were a lively group with lots of questions.  We consequently went a little long.  They asked about Penn State using tax money for legal expenses on the Sandusky, et. al. disaster, about what will happen with the state employees pension program, how we can get more companies to locate in PA, questions about the welfare department and getting long term recipients off of the dole, questions about handling the prison population and reducing recidivism, questions about campaign financing and other questions that I can’t remember off of the top of my head.  It was a good meeting.

-John

Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time to do all of the work needed

Article posted on July 24, 2012

I got more reading done this morning as I’m working through a lot of technical material in preparation for hearings.  One of the things I didn’t anticipate with this job is the amount of reading required to do a thorough job.  You can only bluff your way through so much and you can usually tell who’s prepared at hearings and meetings and who’s not.  Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time to do all of the work needed, but usually you can do most of it if you make the effort.

-John

Senator Eichelberger to Hold Blair County Town Hall

Article posted on July 24, 2012

** NEWS RELEASE**

Senator Eichelberger to Hold Blair County Town Hall

Opportunity for constituents to discuss their views and concerns regarding state issues

Altoona, PA – July 20, 2012 – Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. will host a town hall meeting in Blair County.

These meetings are part of the Senator’s effort to make state government accessible for all people in his district. Town hall meetings are open to the public, providing residents with a chance to speak directly with the Senator about issues important to them.

The meeting will open with a brief video of the “Four-Alarm Fire” press conference Eichelberger and Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Carlisle) held in February. The “four-alarm fire” in Pennsylvania refers to ballooning state debt, corrections costs, public welfare growth and government employee pensions.

“It is important that the citizens are involved in the process as we work to overcome the challenges of today,” said Senator Eichelberger. “I look forward to meeting with people in this open setting.”

WHO: State Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
WHAT: Town Hall Meeting
WHEN: Wednesday, July 25, 6:30 PM–7:30 PM
WHERE: YTI Career Institute
2900 Fairway Drive
Altoona, PA 16602

Please contact Wendy Reitz, Legislative Aide, at 1-866-509-EICH (3424) or email wreitz@pasen.gov for additional information.

It will never be the same

Article posted on July 23, 2012

I have a seat on the Blair Senior Services Advisory Board, but never can make their meetings because of schedule conflicts.  Wendy Reitz from my office goes and reports back to me on what’s happening.  I was able to make the meeting this morning and enjoyed seeing some of the folks I sat with on the board when I was a Commissioner.  We were updated on all of the programs this agency runs including the number of people and dollar amount spent year to date.  It was good for me to hear the info first hand and talk to staff.  I miss not getting to these meetings regularly.  I sit on a lot of boards by virtue of the office I hold.  I get to as many meetings as I can, but staff often has to fill in.  Of course, the big news today was the NCAA decision on the Penn State football program.  The rulings were every bit as punitive as expected.  It is a new day at Penn State, it will never be the same.

-John

Don’t allow the revisionists tell you anything different

Article posted on July 22, 2012

I spoke this morning at the Harmony Church of God.  The topic was God and Country.  I cited many quotes from the founding fathers who frequently and firmly expressed their Christian beliefs.  Their concern of what the Crown was doing to the people in the colonies went beyond the stated objections in the Declaration of Independence, they feared that the Church of England would be forced on the people of this future nation, thereby stripping away the freedom of religion sought by those who risked their lives on the perilous trip to this continent.  The research I did on this message revealed to me the personal relationships these men had with God and their belief that this nation was established through his guidance and direction.  Don’t allow the revisionists tell you anything different.

-John

The folks tonight would be a nice addition to the family

Article posted on July 21, 2012

I was up at 5:00 this morning in order to get to the Lancaster Convention Center to speak to the PA Mayor’s Association.  They asked me to give a 45 minute talk about how the legislature works and an update on local government issues.  I enjoyed meeting a number of the mayors from all across the state.  They have a tougher job than usual these days and most are doing it for all of the right reasons.  I ended the day at Lake Raystown at an Eichelberger reunion.  One of these Eichelbergers, who lives in California, found my name on the internet and wanted to include me at this event.  I took my mother and Charlotte, who both enjoy genealogy.  We put together some connections, but have more research to do to be sure if we come from the same ancestors.  I sat with a family at dinner who lives in Lancaster County, but the lady, who was an Eichelberger, was raised in Saxton.  She explained that these Eichelbergers are all connected to Civil War Capt. Eli Eichelberger from Saxton.  My dad graduated from high school in Bedford County, so the chances of a family connection are pretty good.  I’ll rely on my wife and mother to figure out who we’re related to, but the folks tonight would be a nice addition to the family.

-John