Keep more of their hard-earned money

Article posted on January 31, 2018

We passed the Congressional remapping bill out of the Senate today; the vote was unanimous.  As I have said before, the bill, at this point, simply removes all of the boundary lines; the House is expected to add new lines next week and send it back to the Senate for concurrence.  I, again, asked for a ruling on my ability to vote and was told that I must.  I was inspired by the President’s State of the Union Address last evening.  The surveys this morning showed that Americans were supportive and encouraged by his support of the military, the police, the rule of law, the 2nd Amendment, securing our borders, and his efforts to let Americans and American businesses keep more of their hard-earned money by lowering taxes.

-John

It will be interesting to see what the plaintiffs say

Article posted on January 30, 2018

Yesterday the Congressional mapping legislation started through the Senate.  It was reported out of the State Government Committee and today was reported out of the Appropriations Committee.  The bill, at this point, simply removes the Congressional boundary lines.  It is expected to be passed on the floor tomorrow and sent to the House, where they will draw new lines and amend the bill to include them.  It will come back to the Senate for a concurrence vote.  I serve on the Appropriations Committee and asked for a ruling from the Chair, before voting, as to whether I can vote on this bill.  The ruling was that I was directed to vote on this bill as it only removes the boundaries.  I will ask the President of the Senate for a ruling tomorrow before voting on the floor, but expect the same ruling.  If the bill comes back from the House next week, I will have to ask for another ruling since the circumstances of the legislation have changed.  The rules on voting in the Senate require every member to vote unless specifically excused or they shall be deemed in contempt.  This legislation may not come to fruition if the U.S. Supreme Court issues a stay, and we received word that the court has taken interest in the petition filed by the legislature and asked the plaintiffs in the case to provide their answer as to why the boundary lines are unconstitutional.  At this point, the PA Supreme Court still has not issued a majority opinion in this case, so it will be interesting to see what the plaintiffs say.

-John

He will do so without confirmation

Article posted on January 29, 2018

We’re back in session.  We are going through several cabinet nominee confirmations now, which is unusual at this point in a Governor’s term.  One of the vacancies is at Labor & Industry and the nominee is Jerry Oleksiak, former president of the PSEA.  After his visits with members, his integrity issues and total lack of experience was apparent; therefore, the vast majority of the Senate Republican Caucus deemed him unfit for this position.  The Senate leadership announced today that no vote would be taken to confirm the Acting Secretary.  The rules say that a nominee will be given the position they seek if the Senate takes no action over 25 session days, so, he will assume the position this week.  The decision to not confirm a nominee is unprecedented in at least recent history.  It’s unfortunate that this man will serve in this capacity, but he will do so without the confirmation of the state Senate.

-John

It was fun, though

Article posted on January 28, 2018

I saw a story in The Patriot News today about the PA Supreme Court asking for the mapping data the legislature has and contracting with a specialist on mapping; looks like they are planning to draw them.  As of Friday afternoon, the legislature still hadn’t received the majority decision from the court, which should contain additional information about what they expect in the redrawing of maps.  Of course, the Justices were at a conference in Florida, so getting out their decision would have been difficult.  We should know this week whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case.  Charlotte and I were invited to the Opening Ceremony for the PA Special Olympics Winter Games, held this evening at Seven Springs Resort.  I was drafted into participating in a snowshoe relay along with Senator Pat Stefano.  We teamed with two of the athletes.  Pat knew about the contest beforehand and dressed accordingly; I had on a suit and wingtips.  The good news is, none of us fell down.  The bad news is, we lost.  It was fun, though.

-John

I have a lot of respect for them

Article posted on January 27, 2018

I was out early for my men’s fellowship then did some office work before heading to the Central PA Bible Conference’s Winter Session for lunch and their service.  They had a big group and a good message, as always.  I left there for Martinsburg to attend a retirement reception for Borough Manager Randy Stoltz.  Randy is hanging it up after 28 years at the borough; he’ll be missed.  I ended the day at the MMP&W Fire and Ambulance Company’s 48th Annual Awards Banquet in Mercersburg.  They had great food and a nice program.  I always feel at home with the volunteers of the fire and ambulance service; I have a lot of respect for them.

-John

Looks like the court system is being used

Article posted on January 26, 2018

I attended Blair Chamber’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Awards Breakfast this morning.  It went well; they recognized a lot of good people for the work they do in their businesses and/or in the community.  Congrats to all of the award winners.  This evening, I attended a retirement gathering for Dr. David Arbutina, who is retiring from his surgical practice at the Tyrone Hospital.  He is a very accomplished physician who is well respected for his work and concern for his patients.  Over the past few days when discussing the PA Supreme Court decision on redistricting, to emphasize the danger of this vast unconstitutional overreach, I have been using the example of another case where the court could intervene in a legislative function: school funding.  Today, Governor Wolf reversed his prior opinion on the court’s role in this matter, and asked the court to expedite the case.  Looks like the court system is being used to accomplish the left’s political agenda.

-John

Spending the evening talking with me

Article posted on January 25, 2018

I got caught up with a lot of scheduling requests today.  I can’t get to everything, but I’m trying my best.  I got to IceFest in Chambersburg this evening before heading to my town hall at the Antrim Twp. Municipal Building.  They had 80 ice sculptures downtown, carving contests, and food vendors; it was cold, but fun.  About 30 people turned out for the town hall and they had a lot of questions, forcing us to go a little long.  We talked about the budget; my Limited Constitutional Convention bill; SB 76/HB 76; the effects of tax shifting from property to sales and income; school expenses, including pensions; redistricting and the current court decision; widening I-81; dam failures throughout the state, including Meadow Grounds Lake; and a few other issues.  I appreciated everyone braving the cold and spending the evening talking with me.

-John

Prepare kids for jobs in the global economy

Article posted on January 24, 2018

We had a Local Government Commission Meeting this morning, then another Appropriations Committee Briefing Session, this time on human services healthcare funding, then session.  I had a Resolution pass the Senate this afternoon, which would establish a Task Force on Global Education.  As I said in my remarks on the floor, 1,658,100 jobs in PA are tied to trade in 210 foreign countries and territories; there are 6,400 foreign-owned businesses in this state employing more than 287,500 people, and there’s been a 120% increase in PA jobs tied to international trade since 1992.  It’s about time we took a good look at what we do to prepare kids for jobs in the global economy.

-John

The bill passed and is headed to the House

Article posted on January 23, 2018

Had another busy day at the capitol.  I attended a briefing for the Appropriations Committee this morning on the PA Lottery.  I have spent some time with the director when I was Chair of the Finance Committee, but it was interesting to hear about the new games and how the revenue is coming in this fiscal year.  I did a taping with PCN this morning on my concerns with the Every Student Succeeds Act plan for PA that was recently approved by the U.S. Dept. of Ed.; will air on January 29th at 8:00 pm.  I had a bill pass the Senate today, SB 373.  This is a priority bill for our dentists that allows them to receive payments from insurance companies that do not include them in their network and “balance bill” the patient for any additional charges.  In addition to helping dentists get paid, the bill helps consumers by allowing them to stay with a dentist after switching insurance companies and finding out that their dentist is not in their new network, and by preventing the dentist from billing at the point of service without first trying to get payment from an insurance company.  The bill passed 35-15 and is headed to the House.

-John

The date may be pushed back

Article posted on January 22, 2018

We had a busy day in Harrisburg with Committee hearings, Committee meetings, rallies, caucus, session and appointments.  The big news was the 4-3 decision of the state Supreme Court on the Congressional redistricting boundaries.  They ordered the legislature to redraw the lines by February 9th and the Governor to sign the legislation by February 15th or they would redraw the lines themselves.  This is an unprecedented action by the court, which lacks the legal authority to do what they just did.  The state constitution gives this responsibility to the legislature, not the judiciary.  The legislature plans to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court and ask for this case to be included with several other states going through similar circumstances and stay the current boundaries through this election cycle.  Our case is very similar to others, but the path of this case going through the state court system instead of the federal system may make a difference.  If the U.S. Supreme Court declines the case, the petition filing period and possibly the Primary Election date may be pushed back to accommodate candidates filing in new districts.

-John