The longer you’re around these special interest groups, the quicker you spot their spin

Article posted on August 31, 2012

Once school starts, people get back to a regular, busier schedule.  I didn’t have much on my agenda this week, but September and October are packed.  It’s interesting how I have nights with nothing then 3 or 4 invites for the next evening.  I got a rise from some newspaper folks on two of my blog posts this week.  I’m always willing to talk about an idea or an opposing position but, I expect to hear something thought out, not a talking point.  With the power of the internet, advocates for any position these days can receive several bullet points to make their case.  Sometimes they make perfect sense and appear to be accurate, sometimes they’re just a line to bolster their position.  The longer you’re around these special interest groups, the quicker you spot their spin.  It keeps you on your toes.

-John

We had a good time and a good Primanti Brothers sandwich

Article posted on August 30, 2012

After handling a myriad of issues today, I left a little early to pick up my brother, Todd and go to the Steeler preseason game.  We fought the traffic and parking and crowds to get to our seats and see the third stringers play the Carolina Panthers.  But, hey, it’s pre-season.  You don’t sit at Heinz Field in 75 degree temperatures during the playoffs.  We had a good time and a good Primanti Brothers sandwich.

-John

Their argument should end up on the cutting room floor

Article posted on August 29, 2012

Yesterday I read a story about what’s happening with the Harrisburg Patriot newspaper.  The Patriot, one of the state’s largest papers and the paper that covers the state capital, is reducing their print publication from 7 days a week to 3.  They’re converting from paper to the internet.  I’m not critical of their decision.  They have to maintain their business at a time when more people are getting their news on-line and newspaper subscriptions are declining.  They aren’t the only paper to take this path.  In fact, the paper’s announcement said that they are following the demands of their readers and advertisers who are shifting their attention to the internet and away from news print.  This acknowledgment from a major paper echoed what many in the legislature have been saying for years. We’ve seen this documented shift and attempted to change the law requiring government to advertise only in newspapers.  The very industry that understands this issue best, the newspaper industry, fights us at every turn.  Knowing that fewer people will receive public information takes second place to receiving the mandatory advertising dollars.  The papers write editorials saying they’re protecting the public’s right to know by continuing our antiquated advertising requirement while quietly changing their business model to reflect the public’s change from print to the web.  This latest example is proof that their argument should end up on the cutting room floor.

-John

Somehow, we’ll get it all in

Article posted on August 28, 2012

I spent time with staff today planning for a busy fall.  On top of the four major initiatives I have to accomplish in Harrisburg, we have LEAD meetings, town halls, a senior expo, a school board event and possibly, a small games of chance workshop.  These are the things I can think of on top of my regular schedule.   I’ve learned that planning events over the summer is difficult.  People don’t want to attend or are away on vacation, so we pick up the slack primarily over the Fall and Spring.  Somehow, we’ll get it all in.

-John

I joined several other legislators to discuss a pro-growth agenda for Pennsylvania

Article posted on August 27, 2012

I left early this morning for a meeting in York.  I joined several other legislators to discuss a pro-growth agenda for Pennsylvania.  We talked about workers compensation reform, TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) legislation, lawsuit reform, term limits, pension reform, school choice, workforce freedom issues including ending the government collection of union dues, and stopping legislative per diem payments as we know them today.  All of these issues are supported by the majority of Pennsylvanians and would save taxpayers,  business owners and private individuals millions.  I have introduced legislation on several of these topics before and will continue to fight to see these changes become reality.

-John

It detracted from an otherwise positive op-ed

Article posted on August 26, 2012

I was generally pleased to read the editorial in the Altoona Mirror today. Their point was a good one, we can’t spend more money in Harrisburg than we have. It sounds simple, but the libs still can’t comprehend it. I noticed that they followed the Four Alarm Fire video’s outline of the four structural deficiencies in our budget. I didn’t notice any credit, however, for the Commonwealth Foundation. The part that needs clarification (meaning correction) was their reason for the pension funding shortfall. They cited the public union line that the state didn’t pay their share years ago. To set the record straight, this happened twice during the Ridge administration when the earnings were higher than what the contribution amount was supposed to be. There are several significant reasons the pension program is underfunded, the stock market fell, the pension benefits became richer and the annual return rate to fund the plan is set at a percentage too high to realistically match. The two years of missed contributions are way down on the blame list. What the union bosses don’t want to admit is that the pension plan is unsustainable. It’s too bad the Mirror didn’t check on the pension issue further, it detracted from an otherwise positive op-ed.

-John

The custody laws in this state are a mess to start with

Article posted on August 25, 2012

Charlotte and I attended another wedding this weekend.  This time it was in Altoona with a reception in Scotch Valley.  Everything was perfect, including the weather and the food.  Regardless of where I go, people talk to me about issues that are of concern to them.   Outside of the number one topic, the Presidential race, I’ve learned that local people are hearing about the Harrisburg financial disaster.  We haven’t had much of anything in our local papers, even when I speak publicly about it, but television is covering the story and people here are interested.  I also had a man raise an issue that I wasn’t aware was a problem, the custody of mentally challenged children after they turn 18 years of age.  Assuredly there are conflicts in these situations and from what I heard today, the law is silent on this matter since the child has reached the legal age of adulthood.  I asked the man to contact me for an appointment to discuss his situation in more detail.  The custody laws in this state are a mess to start with, this adds to the list of problems.  I’ll see what I can do to make things more equitable.

-John

We’re trying to squeeze out a few more memories out of the remaining summer nights

Article posted on August 24, 2012

As a neighbor said to me this morning, “summer is about shot”.  The days, even with the higher temps, feel a little like fall.  I spent part of this morning weeding and pruning at home, things are at that point where I need one more good cleaning for the season and I didn’t have an early appointment.  The flowers are well past their prime.  Before you know it, mums will be at all of the stores.  I bought yet another pig tonight.  I went to the Williamsburg Jr. Livestock Sale and got the Reserve Grand Champion.  I knew the family of the young lady who owned it.  The sale got us to the Curve game a little late.  Charlotte, Johnny, a friend of his and I enjoyed the game.  Johnny goes back to school very early Monday.  So, we’re trying to squeeze out a few more memories out of the remaining summer nights.

-John

It can be very useful for planning purposes, but it really keeps you on your toes

Article posted on August 23, 2012

I forget how the phrase goes, something about using figures to say anything you want them to say.  Well, I went to a meeting today and reviewed pages and pages of employment numbers and census data.  The information came from different sources and occasionally portrayed a different final statistic.  Generally speaking, the locally obtained info was the most accurate with the state and federal data becoming a little confusing primarily because of the category definitions.  If what one agency includes in a category differs from what another includes, even slightly, the results are different.  Breaking down the data into subgroups provides the best information, but in some cases was difficult to do.  I have a little more respect for the people who dig through this stuff after today.  It can be very useful for planning purposes, but it really keeps you on your toes.

-John

Changes like these make sense, but still aren’t givens in the legislative process

Article posted on August 22, 2012

I met with constituents most of the day.  Part of this job is listening to people’s problems.  Some come to you with ideas on how to solve them, others need help and just don’t know where to turn.  Unfortunately, I hear about some pretty gruesome circumstances.  Lately, I’ve had a series of criminal issues brought to my attention.  I obviously can’t prosecute anyone, but I can refer them to the correct agency and as in a meeting like I had this morning, try to address their concerns about existing state law.  Laws usually aren’t updated for decades.  So, for example, a hefty fine in 1968, doesn’t have the same punch to a law breaker in today’s economy.  Changes like these make sense, but still aren’t givens in the legislative process.  I’ll start on this legislation before we get back in session, but the process takes a lot of time.

-John