I will do my best to find answers to their problems

Article posted on August 31, 2015

Meadow Grounds Lake road project 8-31-15I spent the day in Fulton County. I met the Conservation District staff at my office and travelled to Meadow Grounds Lake where we met up with the Game Commission and two of the Friends of Meadows Grounds support group to look at the Dirt and Gravel Road project under construction. We were all impressed with the work done to date. The existing dirt road was graded and three different types of water channelling were done to minimize erosion and control sediments entering the lake. I look forward to seeing the completed project this Fall. Our Open House was a hit with about 40 visitors over lunch. We covered a lot of topics in conversation and I met some very nice people for the first time, including several home schoolers. I visited a business in McConnellsburg this afternoon to hear about problems they are experiencing and see if I can help. Things are difficult for many small employers these days and heavily regulated businesses have additional costs that often aren’t predictable. I will do my best to find answers to their problems.

-John

It’s Day 61 without a major tax increase!

Article posted on August 30, 2015

The papers were full of stories on the Kathleen Kane Disciplinary Board issue, a distant second were the usual budget pieces. The only news there was about an attempt from a House Republican to push a temporary, July to October, budget. His plan would continue last year’s spending levels for each budget line until the new budget was signed into law. This would get money flowing to the social service agencies and schools. Interestingly, the Governor’s spokesman said the Governor would not support it. As liberal as many of the administrators of these institutions are, they’re hard-pressed to blame Republicans for their lack of 2015-16 state funding. And for the rest of us, it’s Day 61 without a major tax increase!

-John

He has a bright future ahead

Article posted on August 29, 2015

I had three things scheduled today plus the Lighthouse and a haircut. I attended the Open House at ACCO Brands in Alexandria. They were celebrating 50 years at that location. The plant was originally 166,400 sq. ft. and has expanded to 594,960. They produce 50,000 tons of paper products and are now working extra shifts to keep up with demand. I had a plant tour and spent time with some of the employees and their families. It was a first class event. I had an Eagle Scout ceremony this afternoon at Ft. Roberdeau. The Eagle did his project at the fort, building benches and interpretive signage. It was neat to be at this ceremony with the fort director, Glen Nelson. Glen and I were in scouts together and have kept in touch over the years. I made several lifelong friends in scouts, as do many boys. The young man honored today is very accomplished; he has a bright future ahead. Congrats to him and his family.

-John

Her days have to be numbered

Article posted on August 28, 2015

I attended my 6th and final livestock sale this evening in Williamsburg. I bought the 3rd place pig from a young man and spoke with a lot of people, including a “girl” I went to high school with who was there with her granddaughters; time flies. There is a story out today about the Supreme Court Disciplinary Board possibly taking action against Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Her license to practice law could be suspended or revoked. The story said that she could remain in office if her license was suspended, because she only has to be a member of the bar to be the AG, and that she would still be a member of the bar under suspension, but would not be able to sign, at least certain legal papers or try any cases. Her situation has gotten considerably worse over the past couple of weeks. I don’t know what will trigger a House vote on impeachment, but if she can’t perform her job, her days have to be numbered.

-John

Thanks to all who have served or serve today

Article posted on August 27, 2015

apache for webI spent most of the day at Fort Indiantown Gap touring and being briefed on the Army and Air National Guard facility. This is a 17,500 acre base that should be ranked this year as the busiest National Guard training base in the country; last year it was second. We had a fascinating experience with some of the 2,200 staff on base and got up close and personal with Blackhawk, Apache, and Chinook helicopters, Strykers, tanks and a backhoe that goes 75 miles per hour. I got to fly, so to speak, in the Chinook training simulator. It was fun until I crashed and burned. The instructor said I gave her too much power after clearing a ridge top. Fortunately, they just reset the computer and start again. Our last stop was their medical training facility. They also have a form of simulation training. They have areas set up for evacuation of injured personnel in collapsed structures, inside buildings, on a street, or in the battlefield. I have a better appreciation of the work these men and women do for our state and country. Thanks to all who have served or serve today.

-John

Who is responsible for this mess

Article posted on August 26, 2015

There wasn’t any news coming from the Capitol today about the budget. There was a meeting with the Governor, but apparently no substantive progress. I have been impressed with the level of understanding from those affected during this stalemate, but for those who haven’t paid close attention, the fact that absolutely no money is flowing from Harrisburg to local governments, schools and social service agencies is because the Governor chose to veto the budget in its entirety, the first time this has happened in over 40 years. The budget passed by the legislature included 274 of 401 expenditure lines that were as much, if not more, than what the Governor asked for. He could have lined out what he didn’t like and allowed most of the state’s funding of programs to continue, but he didn’t. Equally troubling is his unwillingness to legitimately work out a new budget. Regular readers are well aware of what has happened, but it is important for everyone to understand clearly, who is responsible for this mess.

-John

That isn’t going to happen

Article posted on August 25, 2015

Well, the Governor didn’t answer the Republican leadership today and the House tried line item vetoes despite his protest. He asked for an extra day to respond, so there’s hope. But given the straightforward nature of the proposal, his delay doesn’t look like it will lead to acceptance. The House votes today were along party lines; the D’s held together and blocked any agreed-to money from flowing to nonprofits and schools. Tomorrow’s meeting with the Governor will tell us if we’re back to square one or somewhere in between. The Republicans have tried to settle this thing with everything but a $4.5 billion tax increase, and that isn’t going to happen.

-John

His actions are indefensible

Article posted on August 24, 2015

I was at the Capitol this morning for several meetings. I’m on the road most of the week with things scheduled in Harrisburg, Ft. Indiantown Gap, Huntingdon, and plenty of other places. This afternoon, the members of the General Assembly received a letter from the Governor saying that there has been progress with the budget talks (his words), and that he needs more time to consider the offer from the Republican leadership offered last week. He is waiting for actuarial information on the pension proposal and will decide then. He asked us to not vote on line item veto overrides, saying it would be unconstitutional to do so. He also made a case that he is trying to negotiate in good faith, but the Republicans are trying the overrides and making public statements that are not helpful to the process. This from a man who voiced commercials attacking Republican legislators for not supporting his budget. He went on to argue for his original tax and spend proposal and wants others to compromise. The letter is evidence of just how out of touch he is with this situation. He is still saying the same things he said in March, pushing for the largest tax increase in the country, and trying to increase spending by over $3 billion. The legislature is trying to free up funding for the social service agencies and schools and he’s doing his best to stop the effort. Since he is the first Governor in over 40 years to veto the entire budget, he is solely responsible for what’s happening. After spending a half million dollars beating up Republicans, he wants to play nice. He’s refusing to compromise as things get worse for people depending on services purchased with budget dollars and criticizes the legislature for even attempting to free up the agreed upon funding. His actions are indefensible.

-John

Tough to explain back home

Article posted on August 23, 2015

The papers today focused on two main subjects: the budget and Kathleen Kane. The AG has a preliminary hearing on Monday, which will generate press tomorrow, but probably won’t provide any legal surprises. The budget stories were all over the board. One story talked about the House’s upcoming attempt on Tuesday to do line-by-line veto overrides. They need 17 D’s to vote with the Republican majority for the required two-thirds. The story interviewed two Democratic Rep’s who said they wouldn’t vote for any single line, but we’ll see. That caucus has several problems holding together, they don’t like the Governor’s budget, their caucus is running out of money, and their constituencies are more dependent on social services than the average Republican’s. Voting against getting these agencies funding will be tough to explain back home.

-John

The bidding showed it

Article posted on August 22, 2015

imageI spoke this morning at a pro-life rally in front of the Planned Parenthood facility in Harrisburg. The director of the facility organized a pro-PP group, but they didn’t interfere with our rally and were outnumbered by about 10 to 1. There were several very good speakers with different backgrounds who brought their own perspectives to this battle for the sanctity of life. This was one of 16 rallies across the Commonwealth today. They will bring added attention to the illegal and immoral actions of PP, including the growing opposition to any tax dollars reaching this organization. I drove the firetruck in the East Freedom parade and then Charlotte and I headed to McConnellsburg for the livestock sale at the Fulton County Fair. I bought another pig and met with several of the kids who sold their animals. They did a great job and the bidding showed it.

-John