Now is the time to address this lapse in the law

Article posted on March 31, 2014

The discussions over the Philadelphia sting operation continue behind the scenes at the Capitol. There is movement on looking into what the four House members have done, as well as changes in the law regarding receiving gifts, especially cash. I reminded people today that I had a bill in last year to tighten the rules on gifts and hospitality. I spent a lot of time on this bill and worked on other language to further define and restrict the broad scope of issues involved in this subject matter. This was part of a 10-bill reform package Senator Mike Stack and I introduced. Timing is everything, and now is the time to address this lapse in the law. Many of us are excited to see the first day of the MLB season. Way to go Bucs on their victory!

-John

Stay tuned for an announcement this week

Article posted on March 30, 2014

I’m not sure of my time in the 5 mile Ken Brumbaugh Memorial Race today. It was about 35:44 and good enough to win my age group. I felt pretty good coming in to the finish. That’s averaging 7:09 a mile, not great, but I’m getting into the older age brackets. I have a half marathon coming up in April in Mercersburg. I’ll have to get a few longer runs in soon, but I’ve been doing 10 once in a while, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to hit 13. I didn’t get my news clips today, so I don’t have any juicy stories to report. It should be an interesting week in Harrisburg with Scott Wagner taking office on Wednesday. I expect to have an announcement about an opportunity for me that I’ll put out by mid-week. Stay tuned for that.

-John

I’m going to carb up

Article posted on March 29, 2014

After my men’s fellowship group this morning, I did office work all day with the exception of buying circus tickets for the Shrine Circus that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m going along with nieces and a nephew this year. We always went when Johnny was younger and we always went when we were kids. So, I’m looking forward to it. There’s nothing like a circus to bring out the kid in all of us. I’m running the Ken Brumbaugh Memorial Race tomorrow. The race is a 5 miler that starts at the bottom of the mountain, goes to the Horseshoe Curve and back. The weather for this race is always unpredictable and tomorrow looks like it could be raining or snowing or both, given the elevation changes. I’m going to carb up tonight, Charlotte made spaghetti and it’s ready. Gotta go.

-John

It’s good to support the area churches and fire companies

Article posted on March 28, 2014

Finally, some warmer weather. It’s far from toasty, but it was much warmer today than earlier in the week. I had an early-morning event, a meeting in the office and a trip to Bedford County today. I was trying to get as much done as possible before heading back to Harrisburg on Monday. I made some headway, but I’m counting on quite a few hours of desk time over the weekend. After being scheduled every night this week, it was nice for Charlotte and I to join some friends at the Geeseytown Fire Hall for fish dinners. The food was excellent and we enjoyed talking to a lot of folks. It’s good to support the area churches and fire companies and, hey, you have to eat!

-John

Check out the facts, the truth will set you free!

Article posted on March 27, 2014

Yesterday’s Altoona Mirror had a letter-to-the-editor that was critical of me personally and an amendment to a bill that I advanced through the committee I chair. The basis of the letter wasn’t factual in any respect. I responded to it yesterday and hope that it appears in the paper soon. My advice to anyone who has a question about a bill or an amendment is to look it up online and read it. Most of the bills and amendments are not difficult to understand. Hearing about a bill through the rumor mill or from someone who is more concerned about advancing their own political agenda than giving you the truth, is simply not a reliable way to keep up with the latest legislation. Don’t be a victim of those who engage in spin and misinformation. Check out the facts, the truth will set you free!

-John

We can only hope

Article posted on March 26, 2014

Last night, I had a town hall meeting in Mill Creek and had a pretty large turnout. You never know who is coming or what subjects are of interest. Last night we had a group of highway construction workers in one corner of the room who weren’t happy with the new unemployment compensation law. Pennsylvania was way out of line compared to other states in this regard and had major problems with the balance in the unemployment compensation fund. This prompted changes to this system to bring us in line and make the fund sustainable. One of the problems was the percentage of income allowed in one quarter compared to the remainder of the year. This essentially defines seasonal employment and unemployment compensation was never meant to cover seasonal workers. Some of the highway construction people fell into that definition this past year and were denied their UC claims. They are angry and want things to go back to the way they used to be. There could be some tweaks to the system, but things won’t ever be the same again. They can help themselves in this situation, at least to some degree, if they choose. I would think that far fewer employees would be affected next year as people watch their earnings more carefully. We can only hope.

-John

It’s time to stop this practice with our public sector unions

Article posted on March 25, 2014

The Blair County Commissioners today passed a resolution endorsing the “Paycheck Protection” legislation I and representative Brian Cutler have introduced. The Resolution explains the ethical problem of using taxpayer-funded resources to collect political money for a private organization. It lists a specific piece of information that debunks one of the union’s standard talking points. It says that an employee in the payroll office spends one full day every pay period to calculate and account for the dues and PAC money for the unions. The unions consistently say that there is no cost for this service. The county has an automated payroll system, but still has manual work involved for this union function. Smaller municipalities tell me that they also do this accounting manually at a cost to the taxpayers. Various public officials have recently gone to prison for mixing public resources with political activity. It’s time to stop this practice with our public sector unions.

-John

County Commissioners Announce Support for Paycheck Protection Legislation

Article posted on March 25, 2014

HOLLIDAYSBURG (March 25, 2014) – Blair County Commissioners at their weekly meeting this morning approved a Resolution to support Paycheck Protection legislation currently under consideration in the state Senate and House.  Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. is the primary sponsor Senate Bill 1034, which would end the use of taxpayer resources to collect union dues and campaign contributions from public employee union members.

Blair County Commissioners provided this copy of their Resolution:

Blair County Commissioners Resolution 032514

If nobody is prosecuted, I guess it’s all for naught

Article posted on March 24, 2014

There were plenty of new stories concerning the Philadelphia sting operation again today and more talk of what the House will do to conduct their own investigation into the 4 House members that allegedly took money. There were also 2 bills being circulated in the Senate to prohibit cash gifts from lobbyists, vendors, etc. I introduced legislation a while ago which would set a $50 limit on any form of gift. This took into account the typical tee shirt and coffee cup gifts offered by service organizations, schools and businesses after a speech or tour of their facility. I agree with the cash prohibition and would be willing to include that in my bill. As much as you may try, it’s tough to think of every possible scenario that could unfold. A new zero prohibition would help to eliminate any chance of doing the wrong thing, but that’s if you’re trying to follow the law. In the Philly case, multiple existing laws were allegedly broken. But, if no one is prosecuted, I guess it’s all for naught.

-John

That would be worth the price of admission

Article posted on March 23, 2014

There were lots of stories today about the sting investigation in Philadelphia that AG Kathleen Kane scuttled. I read a long chronology of the investigation that included quotes from taped conversations with the State House members involved. To a layman, it sure looked like there were some pretty incriminating statements made by these officials. The two big bombshells that precipitated additional stories were Op-Ed pieces by the Philadelphia DA, Seth Williams, and the former Deputy AG who handled this case, Frank Fina. Both pieces blasted Kathleen Kane and brought up some new information about how this investigation was handled. Kane’s version of the situation purported that she had to make a tough call on this case after it was given to her from previous AG’s when she came into office and that the Feds chose not to prosecute, making it look like she made the right call. According to Williams, the case was sent to the Feds before she took office and was still being reviewed by them when she demanded that it be returned to her jurisdiction and then promptly killed it. He also refuted the allegation that the case was driven by race. He explained that he is black and has seen racism and that this wasn’t racism. In fact, the lead investigator on the ground in this case was also black and had the same view. Fina offered to take the stage anywhere with Kane and answer questions about the investigation. (That would be worth the price of admission.) The question now is what Kathleen Kane will say next on this matter. What’s she’s said, so far, hasn’t been acceptable.

-John