Take a moment to remember those who are suffering

Article posted on December 31, 2016

At the Lighthouse this morning we had a message that included being prepared for death.  Although we all understand that it can happen to any of us at any moment, we don’t always prepare for it.  The news about another PA State Trooper being killed last evening was mentioned.  It appears that the killer has a troubled past and no regard for our legal system, including our police officers.  He will be brought to justice, but the life he took and the suffering he caused will never be repaid.  As we look forward to a better year ahead, please appreciate the blessings we’ve been given, make the most of the opportunities presented, and prepare spiritually and in other ways for what will happen to all of us at some point: death.  Enjoy yourself this evening, but take a moment to remember those who are suffering.

-John

What’s best for the students and the taxpayers

Article posted on December 30, 2016

I didn’t mention last night that the committee chairmanship list was released yesterday by the Pro Tem.  I am the new chair of the Education Committee.  I didn’t realize the AP and others put out stories talking about a few of the changes in what most people consider the more important committees.  So, I ended up with a couple of interviews today about my new assignment.  I told the papers that I plan to do a news conference in the near future to lay out an agenda for the committee and will have more to say at that time.  Generally speaking, the education budget is one of the largest we deal with and continues to grow.  My priorities have been, and will continue to be as Chair, what’s best for the students and the taxpayers.  We will be looking at performance-based results and bringing accountability to the system.

-John

It’s cheaper to keep her there

Article posted on December 29, 2016

There was a story today about the current Attorney General “resisting” paying a bill for outside legal services.  The services were authorized by Kathleen Kane for the firm’s work on the emails she made famous.  Her decision to hire outside legal counsel in this case and others was expensive.  The state paid $385,000 so far to this firm, and they’re asking for the remainder on their $1.5 million invoice.  The final outcome of this witch hunt was a few notable resignations, but none due to legal implications from the emails.  Surely one of the hundreds of lawyers that worked for the AG could have done a comparable review, but she never seemed to care how tax money was spent, in fact, asking for more with each new budget.  As expensive as it is to keep someone in prison, it’s cheaper to keep her there than working as our chief law enforcement officer.

-John

We should know more Thursday

Article posted on December 28, 2016

I had an appointment today in the office and worked on letters, scheduling, and legislation with staff.  I answered a few calls and worked on plans for the upcoming session.  The committee chairmanships were not announced yet, so I guess tomorrow is the day.  Most of us know what we’re getting, but we don’t know who the other Committee chairs are.  We also don’t know what committees we’ll serve on; maybe that will be part of the same announcement.  I’ve had very good committee assignments since I joined the Senate and hope that continues through this session.  We should know more tomorrow.

-John

I’m not holding my breath waiting for statements

Article posted on December 27, 2016

There wasn’t much news today and I don’t expect there will be the remainder of the week.  The committee chairmanships in the Senate are supposed to be announced this week, probably tomorrow, and many people are anxiously awaiting that information.  There were a couple of stories today about college enrollment being down nationally and in PA.  It was down statewide this year by more than 18,000 students, making the decline the fourth largest in the country.  It was the fifth consecutive year of decline.  I saw another story today about the Governor’s announcement last week that his budget won’t include broad based tax increases.  That sounds great, and is better than what he proposed in his first two budgets; however, he left the door open for targeted tax increases.  He has been willing to tax specific industry sectors and raise “sin” taxes on tobacco, vape products, etc.  We’ll hear more about what he wants as we get closer to his address, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for statements about reshaping government or cutting waste, fraud and abuse.

I anticipate a slow week

Article posted on December 26, 2016

Johnny and I took Oakley hunting this morning at Trophy Mountain in Huntingdon County.  They put 3 chukars out for us and Oakley flushed all of them.  Johnny was handling the shotgun and got 2 of them cleanly, one got away and we followed him out to where we thought he landed and Oakley flushed him out again.  His retrieves were excellent and he listened well in general.  We were happy with his progress.  There wasn’t much in the news today.  The Senate offices were closed, we’ll be back open tomorrow and closed Friday for the New Year’s holiday.  I got some office work done this afternoon and hope to catch up with things over what I anticipate being a slow week.

-John

May the blessings of Christmas be with you all year

Article posted on December 25, 2016

I hope that everyone had time with family and friends today, and got to church if they were able.  We had a great day starting with church this morning and lunch at my sister, Gail’s, home in Bedford County.  The Steelers provided an additional thrill this evening; what a finish!  May the blessings of Christmas be with you all year.

-John

Merry Christmas everyone!

Article posted on December 24, 2016

I got some work done today, including breaking up ice around the house; I didn’t keep up with the snow last week.  I also got a few last-minute shopping items taken care of and helped Charlotte get ready for tomorrow.  We’re headed to church tonight and look forward to time together later.  It’s good to be able to spend Christmas with family.  Merry Christmas everyone!

-John

An opportunity for substantial change

Article posted on December 23, 2016

I was in Greencastle this morning for a meeting, but that was my only appointment for the day.  Things pretty well slowed down with many offices closing for at least this afternoon.  We’re continuing to get ready for the new session and have had many calls and meetings about legislation.  I don’t remember having as many people involved with the legislative process this early; it’s exciting.  I think everyone in Harrisburg sees an opportunity for substantial change, especially after the Governor said this week that he doesn’t want broad-based tax increases.  Johnny got home from Texas this afternoon; it’s good to have him back.

-John

Hope you can stop by sometime

Article posted on December 22, 2016

I took a tour of the new addition at Whitetail Ski Resort this morning.  They put in two restaurants on the first floor and a large table service restaurant on the second floor.  The second floor space can also be rented for dinners, weddings, etc.  They did a great job, as expected.  I got a lot of work done at the Capitol this afternoon.  I got everything out of the boxes, made arrangements for all of the pictures to be hung, rearranged some furniture, and began an extensive filing process.  I have to close out all of my files from this session and make room for two more years of committee work.  It looks like we’ll have to reconfigure some of the staff space, and then finalize the furniture arrangement in that room.  At least I’m presentable at this point and don’t pose any trip and fall hazards to visitors.  Hope you can stop by sometime.

-John