I will not be a vote for tax increases

Article posted on June 30, 2016

Tonight, the House concurred with the amendment to the General Appropriations bill, commonly referred to as the budget, and sent it to the Governor for his signature. Reports are that he said he would not sign it until the revenue package is agreed to. The Governor also received the Human Services Code today. The Senate approved the statute of limitations bill by a vote of 49 to 0. The bill will go to the House for concurrence since it was amended in committee. There are a number of budget items remaining including the Tax Code, Fiscal Code, School Code, Non Preferreds, and the revenue bill. Both chambers will be in session tomorrow working on different pieces of the final deal. A variety of taxes are up for discussion, but none are broad-based like sales or income. As I mentioned some time ago, there will be taxes increased to match the high spending number in the GA bill. I will not be a vote for tax increases.

-John

I was a no vote on this bill

Article posted on June 29, 2016

We worked through the spending side of the budget today, including various budget items that are not part of the General Fund, and the non preferreds, which are allocations to the state-related universities and Penn’s veterinary school.  The General Appropriations bill is the item that receives all of the press attention.  We amended it to change some lines up and some down, with a net reduction of the $31.55 billion House version, ending up at $31.533 billion.  It is a little difficult to get the true amount of increase from last year because some of the budget lines may include or not include spending for things that were accounted for differently last year, but the increase is somewhere close to 4%. The TABOR figure, inflation and growth, is only 1.02%.  I was a no vote on this bill.

-John

Eichelberger Earns 100% Rating from American Conservative Union

Article posted on June 29, 2016

HARRISBURG (June 29, 2016) – Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. once again earned a perfect score in the American Conservative Union Foundation’s annual state ratings. ACU presented Eichelberger with its top honor – the Conservative Excellence Award – at a ceremony for legislators Monday evening in the Capitol Rotunda.

“I appreciate ACU’s recognition,” said Senator Eichelberger. “It’s an honor to receive the 100% score, but upholding my commitment to protecting and advancing conservative values has been at the core of everything I’ve done since the day I was elected to the Senate.”

Eichelberger has been recognized as a highest-ranking conservative every year since ACU started rating Pennsylvania legislators and his cumulative rating for that time period is tops among all state senators.

“State Senator John Eichelberger has a proven track record of standing for the principles conservatives believe in: economic opportunity, government integrity, and strong families based on our shared traditions. His 2015 ACU score of 100% reflects the strength and courage our country needs at this critical moment in history, and he is a much-needed voice in the fight to preserve individual sovereignty and freedom,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp.

The organization annually researches and selects a range of bills before the General Assembly that determine a member’s adherence to conservative principles. For 2015, ACU focused on issues including: taxes, spending, 2nd Amendment, religion, education, voting, and transparency. The wide range of bills is designed to give citizens an accurate assessment that conveys which of Pennsylvania’s elected leaders best defend the principles of a free society.

 

CLICK HERE to read the entire ACU’s 2015 Ratings of Pennsylvania

 

For additional information, please contact Patrick Schurr, Executive Assistant, at 1-866-509-3424 or email pschurr@pasen.gov.

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ACU Board Member Charlie Gerow (l.) and ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp (r.) present Sen. John H. Eichelberger, Jr. with the Conservative Excellence Award on Monday at the state capitol.

ACU Board Member Charlie Gerow (l.) and ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp (r.) present Sen. John H. Eichelberger, Jr. with the Conservative Excellence Award on Monday at the state capitol.

A constitutionally sound means of civil and criminal punishment

Article posted on June 28, 2016

The Senate Judiciary Committee this morning passed HB 1947, the bill changing the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases. After the hearing held on June 13, it was clear that an amendment would need to be offered to remove the retroactivity language in the bill. An amendment was approved today that accomplished that and went further to strengthen several other provisions. The bill from the House simply raised the statute of limitations on civil actions from 12 years past the age of 18 to 32 years. The amendment abolishes that statute, it changed the standard that needed to be met in actions against a government entity from “gross negligence” to just “negligence,” and it brought in other people who can be included in civil actions for conspiracy or failure to report. This bill, as amended, provides a constitutionally sound means of civil and criminal punishment for the perpetrators of the most heinous acts imaginable, the sexual molestation of children.

-John

This has not been the case in other states

Article posted on June 27, 2016

The budget agreement is close, but not assured. There are still details to work out on both sides of the ledger and the clock is ticking. If we don’t see movement in the House on the budget soon, we won’t have the time needed to get it through the process by Friday. The rules in the legislature prohibit any bill from moving immediately. There are time periods for every step designed to protect the public against deals done before they have time to weigh in. Although these rules are necessary, they are challenging at this time of the year. There was a huge rally in the rotunda today against the “Bathroom Bill.” I saw friends from Blair County who made the trip. The bill in the Senate, SB1307, was sent to the Rules Committee today until further hearings are held by senate committees on the issues surrounding the bill. This move should keep the bill there until Fall. The committees now have the opportunity to see the many legal issues involved with what is being characterized as a simple fairness change to our laws. As we heard at the rally today, this has not been the case in other states.

-John

Before Friday at midnight

Article posted on June 26, 2016

News circulated yesterday that Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart Greenleaf was recusing himself from handling and voting on the statute of limitations bill because the law firm where he is a partner is handling a case involving the Catholic Church. Although he is not involved in that case, he considers the circumstances to be a conflict of interest and will step away. This decision may not affect the outcome of the bill. The discussions surrounding a possible amendment continue. We go back to session tomorrow and have a host of committee meetings scheduled. It’s crunch time with the budget and we’ll see early in the week if there is time to move the necessary bills through the legislature before Friday at midnight.

-John

Not surprised if some are part of the final deal

Article posted on June 25, 2016

We’re getting some of our schedule in for next week and there’s a lot on the agenda. In addition to the financial pieces of the budget, any bill that is part of a deal is being pushed through the General Assembly; that means additional committee meetings. In the Senate, we also have nominees for various positions that are going through the confirmation process, which means committee hearings, caucus presentations, and votes on the floor. The emphasis is still on the budget, however. Hopefully, we can get through another year without tax increases, but as I said before, I would not be surprised if some are part of the final deal.

-John

Doesn’t mean that it was unfair

Article posted on June 24, 2016

I have seen misleading information about the hearing held on the statute of limitations bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing has been characterized as being stacked against the retroactivity provision in the bill. This was not the case. It has also been said that all of the people testifying against the provision have ties to or were being paid for by the Catholic Church, again, not true. The hearing was balanced with two independent witnesses, the Solicitor General from the Attorney General’s Office, and a law professor who was contracted by the Senate to provide his expert opinion as to the constitutionality of the bill’s retroactivity language. Both independent witnesses made clear that the language in question would not pass constitutional muster. There was testimony from witnesses supplied by the Catholic Conference and insurance industry, and from the folks who wanted the retroactivity language to remain in the bill. So, one set of witnesses against the language, one set for the language, and two independent witnesses. That is a textbook example of a balanced hearing. The fact that both independent witnesses provided testimony the advocates didn’t like doesn’t mean that it was unfair.

-John

Increases will be passed on to consumers

Article posted on June 23, 2016

The House and Senate members drove home today as leadership and staff work through issues surrounding the budget. It appears that we’re close to an agreement, but until we’re there, anything can happen. As costs increase from year to year, due primarily to the pension, health insurance, and pay increases, either cuts or additional revenue is needed to fill the gap. With this administration, cuts are tough to come by, so additional revenue sources are considered including everything from the new liquor laws, which produce over $100 million, to gambling expansion. And although the Governor said that he agreed to not ask for increased broad-based taxes, a few of the things he is gladly accepting include taxes on bank shares, insurance companies, cigarettes, and taking money from retailers in the sales tax collection process. So, unless more cuts are agreed to, there will be tax increases. And make no mistake, increases that may be placed on a business, will be passed on to consumers.

-John

Unless leadership stops it now

Article posted on June 22, 2016

The Senate Housing and Urban Affairs Committee passed the “Bathroom Bill” pertaining to housing today, and amended it in committee to include the provisions of the employment bill, which is still in the Labor and Industry Committee. This has not gone over well with most of the members of the Senate Republican Caucus. First of all, bills are assigned to a committee based on the issues addressed in the bill. That committee is charged with reviewing the language and deciding to move the bill as is, amend it, or allow it to die. By adding the employment language to the housing bill and bypassing the Labor and Industry Committee’s review process, the bill is considered by many to not be properly vetted. The move has also been characterized as disrespectful to the chair of the L & I Committee. In addition, there are 22 of the 31 members of the Republican Caucus that do not want these bills to pass. The unofficial rule has been since before I got here, that no bill will move to the floor without support from the majority of the caucus. Today’s action does not violate that rule, but any further movement of the bill would. Having this situation unfold in the middle of the budget negotiations is particularly problematic. There will be internal ramifications from this unless leadership stops it now.

-John