I hope you all have a fantastic New Year’s Eve!

Article posted on December 31, 2013

I met with constituents for the last day of 2013. A fitting way to finish the year. I also got in the Hollidaysburg Y’s Twilight Run. I did the 5K with a time of about 19:17. I don’t know how I placed because I left to get home and help Charlotte with dinner before the results were posted. We’re having friends over for the evening and looking forward to ringing in the new year. I hope you all have a fantastic New Year’s Eve!

-John

Advocate for local government will be missed

Article posted on December 30, 2013

Today is somewhat of a normal work day, as far as the past two weeks go. It’s very difficult to reach people for answers at this time of the year. We have several issues that remain unanswered because the person who can help is off. Sometimes the best you can do is leave messages and try another extension. We got news this afternoon that Senator Bob Robbins decided not to seek another term. Bob is a Republican from the 50th District and is the Caucus Secretary. For the PCN viewers, he is the Senator who makes the motion for confirmation of nominees. Bob is a Vietnam combat vet and has spoken to many visiting ROTC students or military guests over the years. He is the fifth Senator to announce that he won’t be running again. In addition to his other interests, he is a real advocate for local government. Bob will be missed.

-John

One can only hope

Article posted on December 29, 2013

It was a cold 8 miles in the rain this morning. We got more precip than predicted; at least it wasn’t snow. There wasn’t much in the way of importance in the state-related stories I saw today. There were a couple about the projected budget shortfall for 2014-15. It’s reported to be in the neighborhood of $1.4 billion and comes about primarily from federal cuts and an increased pension payment. Add in the sluggish Obama economy, and you can see how difficult this year’s budget will be. Some of the speculation is that these problems will force liquor privatization and pension reform. One can only hope.

-John

It isn’t that I believe everything I see in the papers

Article posted on December 28, 2013

I didn’t have any appointments today so after my men’s fellowship at 7:00, I did office work and lots of things at home. I have plenty to catch up on and few weekend days without somewhere to go. I’ve learned to appreciate the time I have and make good use of it. I didn’t see much in the newspapers today. (We are regularly getting our clips again.) Although you can’t read everything, it’s important to scan the stories to see what’s of interest. It isn’t that I believe everything I see in the papers, but it’s good to understand their position.

-John

Both parties will have to work through the process

Article posted on December 27, 2013

This morning I attended the funeral of Rob Schrack in Huntingdon. He was an instrumental person in that community for decades and very special to his family and friends. My prayers are with his loved ones through this difficult time. We’re getting a lot of calls, emails and visits from Penelec employees asking about the pending decision from Labor and Industry on their unemployment compensation claims. We double-checked again today and nothing has changed from what we have been telling people. There will be a decision made sometime in the next few weeks that will apply to all employees. A legislator’s request will not speed up the decision from the Department. Both parties will have to work through the process.

-John

There is lots to do

Article posted on December 26, 2013

The banner headline story in the Altoona Mirror on Thursday morning was a PA Independent piece about gifts to legislators. Although I am appreciative of attention brought to laws that need reform, I’m not always happy with the impression some of the stories leave. In this case, that virtually everyone receives expensive gifts and that no one is doing anything to change the law or the culture. Most legislators don’t receive much in the way of expensive gifts. We all get our share of coffee mugs, tee shirts and ball caps when we visit a school or a business in our district, but the cited trips to foreign lands or Super Bowl games are very rare. For the record, I’ve never even been offered anything close to that. The other category under this general provision is hospitality. Again, the meal at the fire company’s annual banquet or dinner with a lobbyist doesn’t approach the reportable limit of $650. I introduced Senate Bill 750 earlier in the year to tighten up the dollar limits of gifts and hospitality. I worked with Senator Mike Stack on a package of lobbying reform bills of which this was one. There is lots to do, maybe this story will generate the necessary interest to get my bill signed into law.

-John

It’s always special to spend time with family

Article posted on December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! The Eichelbergers gathered at my sister Lisa’s house for dinner. The food was great, as I knew it would be. Everyone was happy to see Johnny and catch up with how his new job is going, his apartment, etc. It’s always special to spend time with family. I hope everyone who has family enjoyed them today and stopped to give thanks for the many blessings they’ve received on this earth.

-John

Remember that Christmas blessings come from God

Article posted on December 24, 2013

It’s Christmas Eve. I hope that everyone has a blessed time with family and friends and remembers that the “holiday” is Christ’s birthday. We can all be thankful for many things in our lives regardless of what our personal circumstances are at present. Please take the time to give thanks for the blessings of your life and remember that these blessings come from God. Merry Christmas from Charlotte, Johnny and me.

-John

That’s an important part of this season of love and giving

Article posted on December 23, 2013

Despite Charlotte’s admonition, I did my 8 mile run in shorts again this morning. I think I’ll have the winter running gear on tomorrow. We’re still handling constituent issues including a couple of problems that people spoke to me about over the weekend. I know that many offices close for multiple days this week, but we’re always open except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It’s tough to find the right person in Harrisburg sometimes, but my staff has persevered and eventually gotten results. Hope that everyone has a little extra time with friends and family. That’s an important part of this season of love and giving.

-John

Keep your fingers crossed for the playoffs

Article posted on December 22, 2013

It’s December 22nd and I wore shorts for my 8 mile run this morning. I won’t be doing that all week, but it was a treat today. I helped Charlotte with the cantata she was playing at the Juniata United Methodist Church. I was her official page turner. She did a great job, as did the choir. The stories in the papers today covered a lot of ground. They ranged from the ongoing Jerry Sandusky mess, to the upcoming $1.4 billion budget deficit, to pros and cons about the Healthy PA plan, to this week’s PA Supreme Court decision to strike provisions from the gas drilling law. I didn’t see anything new. The Steelers had a big win tonight and got a few breaks with what happened to other teams. Keep your fingers crossed for the playoffs.

-John