We might be a little optimistic about staying up

Article posted on May 30, 2015

Johnny got home for a visit late last night, so I cleared my schedule for the weekend to spend time with him. We ran a few errands this morning and I had some office paperwork that I brought home to finish this afternoon, but tonight we went to a Curve game, it was Star Wars night and the place was packed. We figured that we could catch the Curve game at 6:00, then get home to watch the Pirates on the left coast at 10:00. We might be a little optimistic about staying up for the Buccos, but we’ll try.

-John

What does not work needs to change

Article posted on May 29, 2015

I had a Governor’s Advisory Committee on Probation meeting this morning in Harrisburg. The big topic of conversation was how the proposal to combine the Dept. of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole into the Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation would affect county and state parole operations. Many states have switched to this new model, but there are degrees of how much authority remains within each division of the new department. There are different areas of expertise, which when combined, can be used to strengthen the whole operation and bring about efficiencies. But, the roles each department currently has are different from one another, and there exists a chance that trying to mesh them together could weaken the core strengths of both and produce a much less effective system. The language in the bill must reasonably accommodate the issues I listed and the people who organize the transition must recognize what works and structure the department accordingly. There should not be a cookie cutter approach to this new entity. Every state has a different criminal justice methodology, different correctional and parole facilities, and different legal system. What works for PA needs to be made better, what does not work needs to change.

-John

It’s only a rental

Article posted on May 28, 2015

An interesting thing happened to me on the way to a speaking engagement in State College today; my truck stopped running on I-99, about 13 miles short of my destination. A lady from the PA Clubhouse Coalition, the group I was to address, was kind enough to rescue me. I started out early, so their schedule wasn’t interrupted, but my plan to participate in Pastor Gary Dull’s radio program by phone before the speech didn’t happen. So, if you see me in a new silver Nissan Altima, it’s only a rental.

-John

Congratulations to all who are celebrating a new chapter in their lives

Article posted on May 27, 2015

In addition to the daily work and scheduled appointments we all have, Spring is filled with milestone events for many people. I attended a wedding last Saturday and am attending school graduation events throughout our area. I spoke with a friend today who is traveling in June with his son to look at colleges, another friend whose son is graduating from medical school and starting his residency, and another friend whose wedding I attended just two years ago is expecting their first baby in about two weeks. As we experience the cycle of life on this earth, we should take a moment and appreciate the new beginnings given to us and the blessings that come with them. Congratulations to all of the graduates and all who are celebrating a new chapter in their lives.

-John

What do you think?

Article posted on May 26, 2015

I am trying over the two weeks we aren’t in session to get as many personal items taken care of as possible. This is on top of my usual work schedule. I worked all day yesterday and skipped getting together with any family. I did get a haircut last week and got the oil changed in the truck. Today, I had to take my lawn mower to the shop again, the third time in three weeks, and get tires for the truck. Two of them were really bad and two, I thought, were passable. As it turned out, I needed all four tires replaced, new tie rods, etc, and a realignment. Wow! I did get out some office work, including a stack of letters, and had several appointments in the office. As we close in on June, I am putting together several hearings on the proposed taxes in the Wolf budget. The Senate had one on the bank shares tax, we have one scheduled on the severance tax, we hope to have one on the tobacco taxes (I might have lined up a witness for that today), the income taxes, and the corporate taxes. We are discussing what to do with the sales tax swap for school property taxes. The only way I see that working is to totally eliminate the property tax, not just reduce it temporarily like the House Bill did. What do you think?

-John

The very first Memorial Day

Article posted on May 25, 2015

I hope that everyone took time today to remember our fallen heroes. I spoke at the Union Cemetery in Claysburg for their service this morning, then drove to Duncansville for their parade. Both events were very well done and well attended. It takes a lot of work to pull these things together so kudos to those who did all of the work. Although several states claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, the Boalsburg story of the daughter of a Union surgeon and the mother of a Union Private meeting at a country cemetery and forging a bond as they decorated the graves of their loved ones, is my favorite and the one I use in speeches on Memorial Day. The people from the town of Boalsburg heard about the chance meeting of the teenage girl and the mother and decided to establish a time for everyone to gather and walk to the cemetery with flowers and flags for the graves. This was in 1864 and is believed to be the very first Memorial Day.

-John

These employees would do much better

Article posted on May 24, 2015

There wasn’t too much in the Sunday papers worth noting. I was quoted in a lengthy Allentown Morning Call piece about how public sector unions for police and firefighters are treated better than other unions. The writer argued that since the members of these unions are predominately male and the other unions are not, by treating them differently, the legislature is discriminating against women. I have been consistent in saying that all unions should be treated the same. The writer failed to mention, and I told him, that SB 1 would actually help women who most frequently come and go from the workforce. With a portable retirement account and a shorter vesting period, these employees would do much better.

-John

Another issue has surfaced

Article posted on May 23, 2015

When I left the house for my men’s fellowship group this morning, I had to scrape the frost off of my windshield. It’s Memorial Day weekend, for goodness sake! Charlotte and I had a wedding to attend this afternoon/evening, so I didn’t have anything else scheduled. I did some office work, got an overdue haircut, picked up my mower from the shop, hit a couple of hardware stores for items I needed, and cleaned up a few things at home. I have been in touch with various people over the past week concerning the confirmation of Pedro Cortes. In addition to him mishandling the Kermit Gosnell matter, another issue has surfaced. I will have more on this soon.

-John

That would be a game changer

Article posted on May 22, 2015

Representatives McGinnis and Ward joined me at the Tyrone Elementary School this morning to discuss education issues with the board and administration followed by a tour of their preschool program and metal shop. We had a good exchange and look forward to reforming the pension program and working on other problems that affect our students and taxpayers. I had several other meetings throughout the day and a rare evening at home with Charlotte. I did a number of media interviews this week including one today with the Philadelphia Inquirer concerning Act 47. A borough from Delaware County just entered the program this week and we discussed their timeline and the expectations of them working their way out of distress. Things are tough for many of the municipalities in this state. We might be at a point this year where one files for bankruptcy. That would be a game changer in many respects.

-John

There’s nothing like a small town parade!

Article posted on May 21, 2015

I left early for Williamsport to serve on a panel for Senator Gene Yaw’s student program. It’s always interesting to talk legislation with high school students. I caught up with a few other Senators on an issue of importance, and talked to several different industry representatives about questions on legislation. I got back in time to get an oil change for the truck; it was 2,000 miles overdue. I then drove to the 26th Annual Three Springs Firemen and Lions Parade. I got to ride in their Tactical Service Unit. Despite the rain showers, the parade-goers still came out in force. There’s nothing like a small town parade!

-John