Thanks to law enforcement for their solid work on this case

Article posted on July 31, 2017

Monday evening at the Shade Gap Picnic Parade

Although we’re not sure of our schedule and remain on call, my office is scheduling me like I’m not in session till Fall; we’ll apologize and reschedule things as needed if we’re called back.  So, today I had some office appointments with constituents, attended a news conference with the Attorney General in Hollidaysburg, and was in the Shade Gap Picnic Parade.

AG Shapiro was in town to announce a very large drug bust that included the kingpin dealer from the Philadelphia area whose operatives sold almost $10 million of drugs in the Altoona-Johnstown area over a 13 month period.  Thanks to the various state and local law enforcement officials for their solid work on this case.

-John

Yum

Article posted on July 30, 2017

There were a few stories about the budget in the Sunday papers, mostly questioning what the House will do next.  There were mixed comments from various members about their own thoughts on the current language and how they thought the chamber would proceed.  The Tribune-Review editorialized about the conflict of interest the head of the teachers union would have as Labor & Industry Secretary switching from his advocacy role to being an impartial administrator.  Maybe they read my blog post last week.  I attended an Eagle Scout ceremony this afternoon and was able to be home this evening for supper, fresh sweet corn, yum.

-John

A lot of work getting them to market

Article posted on July 29, 2017

Fair season is here and I bought my first pig of the year at the Shippensburg Community Fair this afternoon.  Charlotte went with me this morning for the drive down.  They had lunch for the past buyers, then the sale.  We also got around the fair a little.  The fairs and livestock sales in the other counties of the 30th will be every week for a while.  Congrats to the 4-H and FFA kids who sold animals today.  I know they put a lot of work getting them to market.  Hopefully it was a good experience for them and they made some money.

-John

Greg would be pleased

Article posted on July 28, 2017

I was on the road most of the day.  This afternoon I attended the Change of Command Ceremony at the U.S. Army War College, which was followed by a Retirement Ceremony for Major General William Rapp, the outgoing Commandant.  Both services were very impressive.  I had a chance to welcome the new Commandant, Major General John Kem and his family to the Carlisle area and look forward to interacting with him at the college.  I got back to Blair County, through a rain storm, in time to attend the Griffith Family’s Sideline Cancer dinner in Altoona.  Greg Griffith was a friend of mine who died in 2011 from Pancreatic Cancer.  His wife runs a foundation dedicated to finding a cure for this terrible disease.  The dinner was crowded, as usual; Greg would be pleased.

-John

Unacceptable to many of us

Article posted on July 27, 2017

Well, the five Code bills passed today with help from the Democrats, since this was an agreed to plan among all of the caucuses (except the House R’s) and the Governor.  Each bill passed pretty easily with the exception of the Tax Code that squeaked by 26-24.  The Human Services Code vote was on concurrence, so it goes to the Governor for signature, the other bills go to the House for their concurrence votes.  The borrowing, tax increases, and a few of the provisions in the bills made some of them unacceptable to many of us.  There is no telling what the House will do with them and when that might be.  Rumors are all over the board from coming back soon and doing a supplemental General Appropriations bill that would cut spending, to running what we sent over.  Some say they won’t do anything until September, I just don’t know.  I did not vote for three of the five bills today: the Tax, Fiscal, and Administrative codes.

-John

I cannot support these measures

Article posted on July 26, 2017

After a marathon caucus meeting we went to the floor this evening to vote on one bill on the calendar then, more importantly, we had a Rules Committee meeting and a late Appropriations Committee meeting to load the Code Bills language into 5 different bills.  The language contains a severance tax, restores a gross receipts tax on natural gas, and increases taxes on electricity and cable television.  They also establish borrowing $1.225 billion.  I understand the situation we face, but I cannot support these measures.

-John

When we hit the caucus room

Article posted on July 25, 2017

After I posted my blog last night I received notice that the Senate will be back in session on Wednesday at 3:00 and Thursday at 11:00.  I haven’t heard any updates on what we will do, but the discussions when we left were about advancing the deal the 3 caucuses (minus the House R’s) agreed to with the Governor.  I am not supportive of the borrowing or the tax increases, but many members on both sides of the aisle will make those votes.  After more discussion we may change direction, or we may move the code bills that are pretty much agreed to and wait for the negotiations to work out another plan.  We’ll know a lot more when we hit the caucus room tomorrow afternoon.

-John

Get a handle on the time frame

Article posted on July 24, 2017

We got word his afternoon that we would not return to session tomorrow, maybe Wednesday.  There was no further news on how things are progressing and no news reports that I saw about any public statements today.  I apologize for the scheduling problems I’m having these days because of the erratic session schedule.  I schedule things in the District and get called to Harrisburg and schedule things in Harrisburg and am in the District.  I have a number of people waiting for office appointments and have been reluctant to schedule them and have to cancel.  I have a group coming in tomorrow, which will work, but after that, who knows.  I also have promised to visit schools or organizations around the state and have not scheduled any of those visits until we either settle the budget or get a handle on the time frame expected.  For now, I’ll try to do my best.

-John

Unnecessary and very expensive

Article posted on July 23, 2017

The papers were full of budget stories today, explaining what happened with the House yesterday.  We received word that the Senate will not be going in tomorrow, possibly Tuesday evening, but there will be more discussion before we return to the Capitol.  I often hear from people that we should all be in Harrisburg until the budget is passed.  The problem with doing that is two-fold.  Firstly, the only people in the budget negotiations are the Governor or his staff, the Pro Tem, the Speaker, and the leaders and Appropriations Committee Chairs from the 4 caucuses.  The other members weigh in when these folks come back to their respective caucuses and present the ideas that have been developed.  Secondly, it costs tens of thousands of dollars each day the General Assembly is in session.  So, having all of the members there at this point isn’t necessary and would be very expensive.

-John

A different plan on our own

Article posted on July 22, 2017

This morning I attended the Franklin County Junior Firefighter Academy Graduation Ceremony near Chambersburg.  They had a packed building and a great keynote speaker, Tonya Hoover, a Shippensburg native who has risen through the ranks of the Fire and emergency medical services to become California’s Fire Marshal and now holds a national position.  Charlotte and I stopped by a local business’s corporate picnic at DelGrosso’s Park this evening on our way to the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Arts Annual Gala, held at St. Francis University.  The House never voted on budget bills today, after a long caucus meeting, they went home.  Sounds like we’ll be back early in the week and work through a different plan on our own.

-John