Anything is possible in both of these cases

Article posted on September 30, 2012

There wasn’t much in the papers today. A number of stories speculating about the Voter ID case, which is back in the Commonwealth Court and there still hasn’t been a decision on redistricting from the Supreme Court. Anything is possible in both of these cases. We’ll be back in session tomorrow and I have a full schedule of hearings and meetings as well. Tomorrow morning is another hearing on SB 1400 and HB 1776, the bills to do away with school property taxes. The schools don’t like it and any group that would have to start collecting sales tax doesn’t like it. But, it’s very popular with everyone else. I’m a co-sponsor on the Senate bill. These taxes have gotten to be so high that people, particularly some of our elderly, have to give up their homes. That’s just not right.


I’ll sleep good tonight

Article posted on September 29, 2012

I always run past the suggested 3,000 miles for the oil changes on the truck. I was about 600 miles over this morning and know how much traveling I have to do this week so I headed to Jiffy Lube after the Lighthouse. Once there, they noticed a screw in one of my tires. I was close to replacing two tires anyway, but wasn’t ready to bite that bullet this morning. When you have 291,000 miles on a pick-up, you’ll have situations like this. I was in a trap tournament this afternoon for United Cerebral Palsy. It was a 75 shot contest and I didn’t do as well as I should of with a score of 40. I had a good time and helped to raise some money for a good cause. I was in Huntingdon County twice, once for Heritage Fair at Camp Blue Diamond this morning and Charlotte and I ended the day at a barn party with friends. I’ll sleep good tonight.


It was a privilege to be a part of this commemoration

Article posted on September 28, 2012

This morning I attended a commemoration service of the Loyal Governor’s Conference also known as the War Governor’s Conference. It was 150 years ago in Altoona. The meeting was called by Pennsylvania’s Governor Andrew Curtain to firm up support for a beleaguered Union Army under the command of President Abraham Lincoln, who was losing support for his war effort. The Governors met at the railroad town in the Logan House, a “mansion in the wilderness”, known for it’s fine food and accommodations. The Governors agreed to support the President and provide an additional 100,000 troops, at their expense. Ultimately, the decisions reached at this meeting preserved the Union and bolstered the troops. After the ceremony this morning, I was invited to sit at the table used by the Governors in 1862. It was a privilege to be a part of this commemoration.


With over 300 people in attendance, it was a big success

Article posted on September 27, 2012

Today was one of those days where I ran from one event to the other. I had lunch with Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch in Bedford. It was a Chamber event that included a panel discussion on roads and bridges. I couldn’t stay for the presentation because I had a commitment in Huntingdon. I just heard the Secretary’s presentation two weeks ago at a Huntingdon Chamber luncheon anyway and appreciated the one on one time. I went to a ribbon cutting and a Tyrone Chamber reception then ended the day at a Friends of the NRA dinner in Altoona. It was the first time in many years that this dinner was held in Blair County. With over 300 people in attendance, it was a big success.


ABC”- Accountability, Best Practices and Choice

Article posted on September 26, 2012

I drove back to Harrisburg this morning for a symposium on education reform co-sponsored by The Heritage Foundation, the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth Education Organization. I learned more about the federal government’s over reach in establishing standards and assessment, then curriculum for our schools. This is constitutionally speaking, a state’s responsibility. The feds have lured states into their trap by tying funding to compliance, an often used tactic. Our lunch speaker was Maine’s Governor Paul LePage. He told us about his education reform effort, “ABC”- Accountability, Best Practices and Choice. Those fundamentals pretty much nail it.


The Committee Chair promised to reconvene the hearing for a second look at this issue

Article posted on September 25, 2012

With the few session days remaining, we have committee meetings and hearings stacked up, often at the same time. This morning, I had a Local Government Commission meeting, two committee meetings, a hearing and another meeting that I scheduled to start work on legislation to address an issue. I made all of the votes, but had to miss part of the hearing on the PA Turnpike Commission. A contradiction was presented at the hearing. Auditor General Jack Wagner testified about the $7 billion debt the Turnpike has racked up and how negative the outlook is as the debt grows at about $450 million a year. He pointed out that one value set for the entire Turnpike system is $12 billion and that it won’t be too long before their debt is more than their worth. The Turnpike Commission and Penndot testified that the debt obligation is not at a high enough level to affect their ability to borrow money or pay their bills. The members I spoke to expressed concern about how even the current debt could be paid. The Committee Chair promised to reconvene the hearing for a second look at this issue.


They don’t call him “The Ragin’ Cagun” for nothing

Article posted on September 24, 2012

We’re back in Harrisburg. There are only 8 session days this fall and lots to do. Although the press will focus on 3 or so headline issues, there will be about 40 bills to make it to the Governor’s desk, we hope. These will be good bills, for the most part, that won’t get much attention. Any of the 3 that don’t make it will get all of the ink. I went to the PA Chamber’s annual dinner this evening. They always have a big time program and tonight’s was as good as advertised, a debate between Karl Rove and James Carville. The huge crowd was captivated. I spoke to Mr. Rove briefly before the program about Johnny’s work in the Bush White House. It was nice to see him again and hear his comments on the state of our nation. I have never met his opponent. I did get a kick out of his remarks though. They don’t call him “The Ragin’ Cagun” for nothing.


It was a privilege to know her

Article posted on September 23, 2012

Charlotte and I traveled to Wallingford, CT over the weekend for a memorial service for her Aunt Eileen Dickinson.  She was a great lady who was a positive force in the lives of her extended family.  A great cook, a musician with perfect pitch and a devoted Christian.  She was always pleasant and often very funny.  The preacher remarked at her service that she was someone that everyone wanted to be around.  Her good humor and inviting smile stayed with her until her death at the age of 93.  It was a privilege to know her.


The hearings will provide the opportunity to delve deeper into the particulars

Article posted on September 22, 2012

Yesterday we announced the new date for the first hearing on the City of Harrisburg’s financial problems.  After obtaining additional information and conducting more interviews, we will be better prepared to receive testimony on October 4th.  We didn’t get everything we asked for from several potential witnesses.  Apparently, taking a close look at how the city got into that much debt is not very comforting to all involved.  We sent notification yesterday, as well, to the witnesses scheduled to appear.  There is still a lot of ground work yet to do, but we have learned a lot about the situation in general.  The hearings will provide the opportunity to delve deeper into the particulars.


My guess is that the law will stand, we’ll see

Article posted on September 21, 2012

We still don’t have a decision from the PA Supreme Court on redistricting.  The court did make a ruling of sorts on Voter ID.  They referred it back to the judge on the Commonwealth Court who upheld the law and asked him to verify that the law was being followed by the state.  A final decision should be reached by early October.  In the meantime, poll workers across the state are being trained to comply with the new rules and the state is spending about $5 million to educate voters about what is expected of them on election day and how to prepare for it.  My guess is that the law will stand, we’ll see.