Friday, December 30, 2005

weekly legislative update

No bills were introduced, shuffled, or passed in the state house or senate this week.

Reading Rick: Part 5 (Culture Matters)

This posting covers pages 271-347 of Rick Santorum’s book, It Takes a Famil.y

Part Five: Culture Matters

Chapter XXVII: The Good, the True, and the Beautiful
Chapter XXVIII: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Chapter XXIX: Culture: Ally or Adversary?
Chapter XXX: Violence and a Coarsened Society
Chapter XXXI: Sex, Drugs, and Rock’n’Roll: Mostly Sex
Chapter XXXII: Not Withdraw, but Engage
Chapter XXXIII: Culture-Makers, Culture-Mongers, Culture-Consumers
Chapter XXXIV: Culture and Public Policy

This posting will be shorter than previous ones because, get out the smelling salts, I agree with a lot of what he is saying in this section.

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

A brief (not quite 3 page) look at American culture from the view of the Founding Fathers. (Can’t he quote Abigail Adams at least once? She had a lot to say also). The rest of the chapter outlines ways that popular culture affects children and families generally and his concerns about this. The emphasis is on television, movies and the Internet. I agree with some of his concerns. Some of his children are older than mine so his problems are no doubt more complex, but I have found the best way to avoid some of the less savory aspects of popular culture is simply not to allow them in the home, and to supervise, as much as possible, what happens outside the home.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sen. Santorum’s views on what constitutes good culture and bad culture, most of which focuses on sex. A lot of trashing liberal village elders for encouraging the increase in sexual activity among American youth. I was alarmed to realize that the senator and I probably have similar taste in art and music.

Culture: Ally or Adversary?

This sentence jumped out at me on page 290: “When it comes to children and the family, there are opportunities to find common ground – as long as we can find a way to avoid the polarization that we too often find ourselves stumbling into.” I don’t think the senator stumbled as much as he dove headfirst, given the amount of polarizing partisan finger pointing he has been doing in the rest of the book.

Warning to Hollywood: “We conservatives need to help our cultural community rediscover the better angels of their natures.” (p.291)

He makes this interesting point on page 293: “In Destructive Generation, David Horowitz and Peter Collier pointed out that the generally white, upper-middle-class baby boomer generation that ushered in the Great Disruption of culture in the 1960s had the means, primarily through their parents, to escape the consequences of their ideology.” I would agree to a certain extent but the civil rights workers, for instance Mssrs. Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, might disagree. Minority activists might also disagree.

However, Sen. Santorum also makes this excellent point on the same page: “Well-positioned young men could embrace casual sex: and use peer pressure and family money to encourage the abortion that would eliminate any career impediments.” Finally, a note about the role of men in the abortion controversy.

“I am not suggesting that there is a grand design or plan on the part of the Bigs in the entertainment industry to de-moralize America. (p. 295)” In my reading of the previous 294 pages I thought that was a theme.

Trivia – As a lawyer Sen. Santorum once represented the World Wrestling Federation (p. 298). As a boy he was a big wrestling fan.

He also discusses the decline in morality in comic books. He may have cut his pop culture teeth on wrestling but I cut mine on comic books and they were an enjoyable hobby for many years, into college, if I were honest about it. If you rummage around in my garage long enough you might find my “New Mutants” #1, provided the mice haven’t beaten you to it. And I agree with him that when I was a girl the costumed heroes were indeed heroes. In later years they became more conflicted. Batman became the Dark Knight. Wolverine certainly had (maybe still has, I’ve been out of the loop for years) some psychotic tendencies. Women may have been shrinking violets (in some cases literally) but they became buxom sexpots and one reason I gave up the genre was I became very tired of looking at the exploitive use of women in the artwork (another being the tedious Dark Phoenix/Jean Grey/Madeline Pryor/Scott Summers plot line).

He has hopes for an improvement in the types of entertainment media that is being produced (for example, “Finding Nemo”) and is encouraged that positive representations of religion may yet find their way into prime time.

Violence and a Coarsened Society

In this chapter he discusses the loss of professional athletes that children can actually look up to, and the desensitizing effects of violence on children, whether that violence is on the big screen, the small screen, or the videogame screen. Bill Cosby is quoted. The “broken windows” theory of social breakdown is discussed.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock’n’Roll: Mostly Sex

“Some people ask me, ‘Why are conservatives so obsessed with sex? That’s a good question – and there is a good answer: because the sexual revolution has had huge public, as well as private, consequences.” This is how he starts the chapter on p. 313 In the rest of the chapter he discusses the increasing sexual content on television and the explosion of pornography on the Internet. I agree with his argument but, again, if children are exposed to this it is at least in some part with parental permission. If parents put a tv and an Internet-connected computer in a child’s room they are asking for trouble. If the kids are watching this stuff in the family room while parents are home why don’t the parents know about it?

One note, on p. 318, he says “One irony of our times is that surveys show the most sexually satisfied women in America are: married and religious! Hardly what the media would have you believe.” Now if a married religious woman said this, it could be taken as a group rejoice. When a married religious man says it, the information comes across just a little as bragging. (I have taken the lyrics of Rosa Henderson to heart, and heed her advice, “Don’t Advertise Your Man,” so I will say nothing).

Not Withdraw, but Engage

More discussion on the evils of popular culture, with an emphasis on video games and the types of clothes, especially those marketed to young girls. I have written on this last topic myself. I don’t know when “Sluts R Us” became a design label but I see their influence everywhere. Sen. Santorum gives advice on what parents can do to counteract some of the outside influences our children see. I would agree with many of them. It is odd that he did not talk about informal parental networks. I know when “Spiderman 2” came out I was on the phone with other parents finding out if they were letting their kids see it. Ditto with a number of other films. If the kids says “everyone else….” I can say I know that isn’t true because I’ve talked to X, Y, and Z’s moms and they aren’t going to it either.

Culture-Makers, Culture-Mongers, Culture-Consumers

The gist of this chapter is that if you don’t like it don’t buy it. If consumers insist on less violent, less exploitively sexual products we will get them. Edited versions of movies, now available in some places, are not popular with the film industry but if people want to buy them they will be sold. He also says we should encourage people with values similar to our own to go into the entertainment industry to affect it from the inside. In closing he says that parents are, in the end, responsible for what their children buy and view inside the home. I would agree with all of these things.

Culture and Public Policy

Here he discusses what public policy can do to change popular culture. Some of the items he mentions are providing money for research into how violent and pornographic materials affect viewers, and copyright, such as pirated works, as well as file sharing.

A Summary Note

I find it interesting that Santorum, like many who write on the evils or pornography and the sexualization of popular culture, missed some of the primary forms of public erotica aimed at adult women. He mentions in passing the magazines aimed at teenage girls with sex advice. But nowhere does he discuss daytime soap operas, which were the mainstay of women’s television for many years, until they discovered college students in the 1970’s with “General Hospital’s” Luke and Laura storyline. While there have been some shakeups in recent decades, soap operas are still going strong. He also completely misses erotic romance novels. When I was in high school the first “bodice rippers” hit the shelves of the local grocery stores bookrack. Copies worked their way around study hall with some of the steamier pages dogeared. These days most romance novels have an erotic component. If there are calls to clean up popular culture these two items must also be included, and that will open another can of worms, which a lot of mainstream women would prefer remain unopened.

Reading Rick: Part 4 (Moral Ecology)

This posting covers pages 197-270 of Rick Santorum’s book, It Takes a Family

Part Three: Moral Ecology

Chapter XXI: Liberty and Virtue

Chapter XXII: Moral Capital and the Moral Environment

Chapter XXIII: The Rule of Judges

Chapter XXIV: Abortion: A Personal Aside

Chapter XXV: The Impact of Partial Birth Abortion

Chapter XXVI: How Abortion Affects Our Moral Ecology

Liberty and Virtue

He opens with a discussion of the Founding Fathers and their views on religion. On p. 200 he says “In eighteenth-century America, only a lunatic could have imagined the fanciful Brave New Family arrangements that we find ourselves talking about at the dawn of the twenty-first century.” As one of the keepers of my family’s history, a lineage that in some places I can trace back 400 years, let me assure you that there is no arrangement of household that we have now that has not been in existence for centuries. As someone who has read a good deal of history, American, European and Classical, let me assure you that any family arrangement we have in place now has been around since people started keeping records. If Mr. Santorum has read his Bible he will surely recognize that everything coming before the courts today is reflected in those pages.

On p. 201 he says “In other words, high moral standards, widely shared and publicly honored and nurtured, are part of a common good and our founders knew this.” No argument from me there.

He theorizes there is a triangle needed to sustain a democracy: “Religion teaches virtue. Virtue is needed to sustain freedom. Freedom allows religion to prosper.” (p. 204) In his view this triangle is now unbalanced. He uses this definition of moral capital: “common beliefs, customs, and traditions exhibited both in public and in private, together with a willingness to make ethical judgments in public and to act upon those judgments.” He continues this train of thought on p. 206. “Social capital depends crucially on widespread practical adherence to certain common beliefs or moral norms. Social capital depends on moral capital. And when moral and social capital decrease, lawlessness increases, because there is little left to govern relations between citizens.” The problem, as I see it, are whose beliefs and customs? In the public common area only those beliefs that are held by the greatest majority, as close to unanimous as possible, can be considered the beliefs of the nation.

He ends the chapter (p. 208) with the caution that parents across America worry “what their children are learning in school, on the Internet, and on television.” I have two thoughts here. One is that concerned parents can turn off the television, monitor what the kids do on the Internet, and join the PTA. Those three things will go a long way to allay their fears.I do worry about my children, not those three things but plenty of others. None of these have been reflected in Santorum’s book.

The second thought is that the parents he describes are not concerned about spouses developing a porn addiction or having an online affair or getting involved in online gambling or worried about elderly parents falling prey to telemarketing scams.

In more than one place in this chapter he again takes liberals to task. I find this annoying.

Moral Capital and the Moral Environment

In this chapter, Sen. Santorum says Americans feel they have thrown away our moral inheritance. In his view we took a wrong turn in the 1960’s, although he admits the 1950’s were not without problems. As for the role of women during that decade he cites author Allan Carlson who “has argued that whereas the household had once been a center of productive activity, the advance of industrial technology and suburbanization often left women with few roles beyond those of infant caregiver and consumption specialist, i.e. shopper.” (p.211) This confused me. Is he saying that is was unfortunate women no longer had to do laundry with a washboard? What does this sentence mean? He does credit the 1960’s with the civil rights movement, although he thinks the political alliance between liberals and African-Americans has not served African-Americans well.

In the later part of the chapter he writes about original sin, moral corruption, and the liberal need to drive religion from the public arenas.

He decries our self-centered pop culture. “As a result, we see selfishness and the consequent lack of civility and decency toward other people.” (p. 214) He ties this with liberal policy. I see it as also arising from people like Rush Limbaugh.

Here is another gem, from p. 215 “I am not advocating a replenishment of our moral capital because I want everybody to be alike. I don’t want our government snooping through people’s private lives, either.” Excuse me? Isn't this the guy who involved himself in the Schiavo family's private life? Isn't this the guy who wants the government involved in a number of private medical decisions?

In the last part of the chapter he discusses Environmental Impact Statements, how detailed they are, and the requirement to have one done before construction or development projects can be done. He thinks government should do a moral impact statement to see how legislation will affect the moral ecosystem. As an example he again brings up the increased divorce rate and the damaging effects of divorce on children and how children of divorce often have trouble forming happy marriages themselves. I cannot help but take offense at this, as my parents were divorced but all of the children of that marriage have managed to stay married themselves for over 20 years each.

The Rule of Judges

This chapter is about the liberal orchestration of an activist judiciary. He traces the moral corruption in the family back to the Griswold Supreme Court decision in 1965 that ruled a Connecticut law stating that contraceptives were illegal was unconstitutional. It was all downhill from there. In his view there is no constitutional right to privacy (which sort of counteracts his statement that he doesn’t want government snooping through people’s private lives.) He ends by saying he thinks it is possible for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.

Abortion: A Personal Aside

Abortion is “the great moral issue of our time. Abortion is a toxin methodically polluting our fragile moral ecosystem.” (p. 239). In this chapter he discusses the development of his views on abortion.

I did note that in one of his opening statements he says “It poisons everyone it touches, from the mother and her ill-fated child, to the mother and father’s families, to the abortion provider to each of us who stands as a silent witness to this destruction and debasement of human life.” (p. 239) The father is not mentioned. His family is but he is not. I found this to be symptomatic of his discussions of the subject. Other than passing mentions of promiscuity by both genders, all of his discussions on abortion relate solely to women.

The Impact of Partial Birth Abortion

The title of the chapter is self-explanatory.

How Abortion Affects Our Moral Ecology

More of the same. I did note, in his story of a woman who had planned to get an abortion but decided against it after hearing Santorum speak on television, that his use of language is interesting. He quotes from an email he received from the woman’s boyfriend. “She never told me about her pregnancy because she knew that I would object any decision to kill our child.” It’s HER pregnancy but THEIR child. In his discussion of her decision not to abort: “It was not any easy road for this little girl’s mother. There were objections and pressure from her family and friends to look out for herself, but she persevered through the social stigma and the emotional and physical pain. Hers was a courageous, beautiful act of selflessness. It was followed by another selfless act after the little girl was born – her parents gave her in adoption to a married couple who couldn’t conceive children of their own.” (p. 267) Is there no social stigma and emotional pain for the father?

I see a pattern here. He talks about the pain of women who have had abortion but there is nothing about the fathers of these children. How can he so promote fatherhood and marriage and completely leave out the fathers of the children he says he cares so much about? Where are the education programs for men on the emotional cost of abortion? Where is the push for contraception or abstinence? Other than a discussion of abstinence education earlier in the book it is absent.

Bibliographic Essay

This chapter has one of the longer lists of books but one of the shortest list of articles.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Extra Cash for Christmas?

If anyone out there got a lot of green stuff for the holidays and is wondering what to do with it, consider tossing some Patrick Murphy's way.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Reading Rick: Part 3 (The Roots of Prosperity)

This posting covers pages 119-194 of Rick Santorum’s book, It Takes a Family

Part Three: The Roots of Prosperity

Chapter XIII: Abundant Families in the Land of Plenty
Chapter XIV: Economic Responsibility
Chapter XV: Work and Human Dignity
Chapter XVI: Wealth and Ownership
Chapter XVII: The Power of Knowledge
Chapter XVIII: Faith-Based Transformations
Chapter XIX: Smart Reinvesting
Chapter XX: Wealth and Race

Abundant Families in the Land of Plenty

There are three themes to this short chapter – economic opportunities leads to marriage and children. In countries with less economic opportunity there is a lower marriage and birth rate. The second theme is that higher taxes equal less freedom (to take care of your family and your community). For example, this statement on p. 123: “Beyond marginal [tax] rates, we must also do more to help families, particularly families that are raising children. As I mentioned before, one reason parents are not spending enough time with their children is because of the increased taxes we have imposed on the average American family with children.” One thing that that has struck me throughout this book is the almost complete lack of concern for those past childbearing age. I think those on fixed incomes are concerned with rising health care costs and increasing property taxes. Yet we are hearing nothing about that. Clearly the book is aimed at a particular audience, and the women in those households have not yet reached menopause.

The last theme in the chapter is a description of his view of the liberal policy towards families and welfare. He says liberals are only concerned about the children of welfare parents and not those of working families and that liberals are not concerned with the breakup of the family. In contrast, he says “Most Americans, however, and conservatives in particular, believe the natural family is something to be respected, protected, and nurtured.” Again, I don’t know what liberal handbook he is reading from but the one I’ve been working from is missing the “destroy the natural family” chapter.

Economic Responsibility

Here he discusses the history of the welfare system and his involvement in welfare reform in an abridged format. In his view welfare has made people dependent on government money and kept them in poverty.

The sentence that most took me aback was this from page 128: “The so-called sexual liberation of the late 1960s took hold in society, I believe, because of two principal factors: the legalization of abortion, which started in the late 1960s and culminated with Roe v. Wade in 1973 and – for low-income women – the availability of abortion plus the financial safety net provided by government welfare.” In my college classes that covered this topic, the loosening of sexual mores was tied to the introduction of more easily available contraception, such as the birth control pill, and the coming of age of the baby boomers, with an emphasis on youth culture.

Work and Human Dignity

Here is Santorum’s view of the effects of the enacted welfare reforms, from p. 136: “Research has shown that in every state in the union, a mother working half time at minimum wage is still better of than if she were on welfare. And these women aren’t making minimum wage ($5.15 per hour). They are averaging somewhere around $8 per hour.” While I have no statistics to back up my skepticism, I am skeptical.

He ups the ante by not only providing more statistics but by deriding liberals who refuse to acknowledge the success of welfare reform. In his words (p. 137), “According to liberals, every person deserves a ‘living wage’ regardless of her contribution to a given enterprise.”

Further, “I am all for providing women on welfare with basic training so that they can take entry-level jobs, but beyond that I believe that they should provide for their education under the same circumstances as everyone else – through a combination of financial aid, loans, savings, hard work, and sacrifice. In other words, they must earn it.” (pp. 137-8) I cannot help but note that he thinks all of the people moved off of welfare are women, and he mentions never married mothers more than once.

Santorum provides some first person stories from people who moved from welfare to work and they are heart-warming, the children who were excited when their mother got her first pay check because they wouldn’t have to use food stamps at the grocery store, for example.

He also says that to take an active role in welfare reform he hired five people on welfare to work in his offices. He provides further information on two of them, one eventually went to college and became a teacher, and the other became the administrative assistance for a surgeon, married and bought a house. While I admired him for taking a hands-on role, I don’t wonder that they able to find better jobs with a reference from a senator’s office. I do wonder if those who found a job at McDonalds or part-time at Wal-Mart reached similar levels of success.

I do agree that work provides a level of self-respect that welfare cannot. I do agree that those on welfare should be encouraged to find work and move off of public assistance. I’m not sure that it needs to be such a quick change, and that a more gradual move may be more beneficial. As I wrote in a separate post, my college education was publicly funded (loans paid off on time, with interest) so it would be hypocritical of me to be anything but in favor of providing others with that same opportunity. Giving someone an opportunity to get an education seems to me to be one of the best investments a society can make. Knowing that my current good fortune is based in large part on the government monies given and loaned to me has made me much more civic minded than I think I would have been otherwise. I cannot help but think that it would have a similar effect on others.

Wealth and Ownership

I can briefly describe this chapter but to fully understand it you will have to read it yourself. Here is the chapter theme from p. 144 “We have not democratized access to economic capital.” I would agree with that. He goes on to describe his ideas to set up Individual Development Accounts (IDA), which would set up a nest egg of $500 for each child at birth. The details of it escape me, but I am concerned by a note on p. 153 that upon reaching 18 the child would have to pay back to the government all federal monies paid into the account; it is effect a no-interest loan. He also describes Personal Retirement Accounts (PRA) to supplement social security payments. As examples of ways to empower people economically he describes a faith-based nonprofit program to help people come up with a down payment for a house.

I was surprised that he did not mention two things. One is Grameen banks, either in the U.S. or other countries, sometimes called microlending, where people pool their resources and make small loans to each other, or a large lender makes small loans to people in small groups who are responsible for see that each other pays it back.

The other is investment clubs. The National Association of Investors Corp. has been offering investment education for over 50 years. I’ve been a member of an NIAC-affiliated investment club for over five years and have learned a tremendous amount about investing and the stock market.

He quotes Jack Nicholson from the movie A Few Good Men. (“You can’t handle the truth").

The Power of Knowledge

This chapter covers the importance of teaching economic literacy and I would have to agree with him on this. If people don’t learn how to handle money then no matter how much they earn, they will almost always be poor or in debt.

Faith-Based Transformations

Here Santorum turns his attention to the problem of generating economic capital in communities as opposed to families. He cites two specific examples of neighborhoods or communities transformed by faith-based economic initiatives. They are very nice stories. I looked at the web site of one of them and found no mention of the programs he mentioned. Perhaps they have been eclipsed by a growing or changing mission.

Smart Reinvesting

Here he focuses on strategies that can be used when deciding what neighborhoods are ripe for renewal and which ones are too far gone and need other types of assistance (for example, waiting for tenants to get fed up and move out so landlords are forced to sell to developers). He also provides a case study of renewal in the town of Chester, Pennsylvania.

Wealth and Race

This chapter can be summed up in two quotes. From p. 189: “I have a particular concern for our nations’ African-American community.” From p. 190, here is his view of why the heyday of black enterprises from 1867 to 1917 has faded, “No, what really changed the economic terrain for African-Americans was something else: the arrival of liberal welfare policies, the liberal cultural [sic] of victimhood, and poorly thought-out liberal urban renewal.”

I don’t know what I could add to that; it sort of leaves me speechless. The heyday of black enterprises was from 1867 to 1917? Really?

Bibliographic Essay

Again, I am under-impressed with the currency and depth of the works he cites.

Next: Moral Ecology

Reading Rick: Part 2 (Social Capital and the Ties That Bind)

This posting refers to pages 43-116 of Rick Santorum's book It Takes a Family.

Part Two: Social Capital and the Ties That bind

Chapter V: What Kind of Freedom?
Chapter VI: Habits of Association
Chapter VII: Trust and Civic Connection
Chapter VIII: Subsidiarity vs. Central Control
Chapter IX: Changing Lives, Building Families
Chapter X: Parents and Children
Chapter XI: Religion and Social Capital
Chapter XII: Where Social Capital is Weakest

What Kind of Freedom?

This is an excellent chapter and could just as easily be considered a “liberal” document as a “conservative” document. His points are that the principle of freedom on which our country was founded is the freedom to attend to one’s duties. He has a very good point. Plus, his discussion of the verbs used in the Preamble to the Constitution is very thought-provoking. If you want to read just a small part of this book, these pages (43-49) are the pages to read.

Habits of Association

This chapter is, again, divisive and alarmist.

“When, in the name of ‘freedom,’ public virtue is sunk so low that families must swim against a toxic tide to raise children to be decent and public-spirited adults, something has gone terribly wrong with our understanding of freedom.” (p. 51) What neighborhood does this guy live in?

“Freedom has become the freedom simply to check out from the pursuit of the common good and to do what feels right for me, without regard to those around me.” (p. 53)

“When No-Fault Freedom reigns, trust and selflessness are rare commodities because we each know that others in our community are simply out for themselves (p. 56)

“With No-Fault Freedom, social capital decreases and the stress of daily life increases, and we look at our fellow citizens suspicion rather than with neighborliness and trust.” (p. 57)

Ties the work of Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, with the tradition for conservative argument. That wasn’t my reading of the book.

Trust and Civic Connection

Discusses the decline in social capital, referencing Putnam’s Bowling Alone. Gives an example of high social capital among Orthodox Jewish jewelers in the New York Diamond Market. An as example of low social capital he discusses black on black crime.

To his credit he mentions his initial opposition to Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps concept and how his view of that program changed. He mentions Harris Wofford, his opponent in the 1994 senate race, and that Wofford later became the director of AmeriCorps.

Subsidiarity vs. Central Control

This chapter discusses the creation of social capital. However, instead of staying positive he criticizes Hilary Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village. “The warm, fuzzy image of Senator Clinton’s book is that of a community rich in social capital, but the truth of the matter is that liberal policies which tie individuals to the government break the bonds of true community and deplete social capital.” (p. 67) He goes on to say “We [conservatives] believe that only strong families, can improve the lives of individuals, especially children, and make for healthy communities.” (p. 67) On page 68 he says “Conservatives trust families and the ordinary Americans that are formed by them. Liberals don’t. They border on disdain for the common man.” Except, of course, in matters of reproduction, end of life issues, and so on. Then the government should step in?

Changing Lives, Building Families

This chapter discusses the government policies, past and present, regarding marriage, abstinence education, out of wedlock births, fatherhood initiatives, father’s rights, and so on. Some interesting points he brings up are the increased involvement of a larger number of grandparents in the lives of children born to their married children, as opposed to illegitimate births. In his view if a woman has a child out of wedlock her mother is likely to be involved with the child, but a baby born to a married couple is more likely to have involvement from all four grandparents. This is an intriguing theory but I think it would also depend on the marital status and geographic location of the grandparents, as well as the marital status of the children-now-parents. I also think it is likely, and have read similar statements to this effect, that grandparents are more likely to offer economic support to the father of their daughter’s children if he is an official son-in-law as opposed to a “baby daddy.” However, there are economic factors that also come into play and Santorum has not discussed these yet. I can tell you that I am of the firm belief that grandfathers are the most wonderful people in the world.

Parents and Children

This is one of the chapters that got him in trouble. I can easily see why. One theme of this chapter is the lack of time in American life. We work too long and too hard and don’t have time for our children. Here is one of the quotes that caused a ruckus when the book came out: “In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might confess that both of them really don’t need to, or at least may not need to work as much as they do.” (p. 95)

Now if he would stay with that statement, I could go along with him, but he really isn’t talking about both parents needing or wanting to work, as we see on p. 95: “Respect for stay-at-home mothers has been poisoned by a toxic combination of the village elders’ war on the traditional family and radical feminism’s misogynistic crusade to make working outside the home the only marker of social value and self-respect.” And here is where he loses me. It is never about the family sitting down and looking at who earns more, has better health and retirement or educational benefits, a more flexible schedule, and so on. It is about women in the workplace. Phrase it in gender neutral terms and a lot more people would sign on. Last time I checked wives earned more than their husbands in a third of American marriages. If one of Santorum’s projects is a fatherhood initiative, let’s see it carried over to primary childcare and household management.

Another point he makes is this (from p. 96): “And the [tax] burden is often even heavier for larger families, because of the phasing out of child credit for families with a total income of $110,000. Now, before you start complaining about tax breaks for the rich, answer me this: Is a family making $110,000 with one child as well of economically as a family with eight children at that same salary?” If I remember correctly, one aspect of welfare reform was to discourage people from having more children than they could afford to raise and educate. Why shouldn’t that philosophy be reflected in our tax code as well? Regardless of how much you make, should the government encourage you to continue having children? Apparently, the senator thinks families should get tax breaks for having more children. Mr. Jane and I stopped where we did because we didn’t think our economic or temporal resources could stretch any further. We would encourage other couples to do the same.

Religion and Social Capital

In this chapter Sen. Santorum takes liberals to task for their apparent aversion to religion. While I dislike his examples, I have to agree with him on this. The Democratic party has got to come to some accommodation with the fact that many Americans, and a good percentage of the voting public, have religious beliefs that impact their daily lives. I intend to say more about this in future postings.

Where Social Capital is Weakest

This chapter focuses primarily on prison reform issues. This is not to mean reform of prisons but reform of prisoners, often through faith-based initiatives and fatherhood education. I think these programs can have a significant impact, especially when combined with GED and higher education programs, although Santorum does not discuss these much. One thing that really surprised me is his support of a program aimed at giving felons the right to vote if they do not get into trouble again for five years.

Bibliographic Note

The primary source Santorum used for this section was Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2000). I read this book several years ago and it had a profound effect on me. It isn’t a quick or easy read but well worth the effort. Santorum also provides a short list of books he and his wife found helpful in childrearing. I have read at least one of those as well, but would add to the list Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families.

Next: Part 3 (The Roots of Prosperity)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Reading Rick: Part I (It Takes a Family)

Here are my thoughts on pages 3-39 of Rick Santorum's It Takes a Family. Either future postings on the book will have to be more succinct or I won't make it through. I may not make it through anyway.

Part One: It Takes a Family.

Chapter I: The Task of Stewardship
Chapter II: The Liberal Vision: No-Fault Freedom
Chapter III: Families and the Common Good
Chapter IV: The Meaning of Family

The Task of Stewardship

He starts the book by saying:

“On my right wrist, every day, I wear a royal blue piece of cloth, a bracelet of sorts. Stitched in white are the letters F.A.M.I.L.Y.” (p. 3)

To verify this I searched Google for images of Rick Santorum. After looking at 400 of these I stopped. I also looked at his official senate site and his campaign site. If the man is ever photographed not wearing a suit and tie or a long-sleeved jacket he keeps it very quiet. There is a photo on his web site of him with his sleeves rolled up to mid-forearm and you can see a bracelet. You can also see it in a photo taken of him with Bono.

Like the preface this section is divisive, “liberal news media, Hollywood, and the educational elite” (p. 3) portray liberals as good and conservatives as bad.

“we have faced down Soviet communism, the greatest tyranny the world has ever seen,” (p. 4) That’s a pretty strong statement to make. The Hebrews under Egyptian rule, African Americans under slavery, parts of Asia and Eastern European under Genghis Khan, those in the path of Attila the Hun, or anyone who lived under any of the other tyrannies in world history, might venture to disagree. How can anyone say something is the greatest the world has ever seen?

He has a long list of alarming trends in American society, including this one “3,500 healthy expectant mothers carrying healthy children exercising a ‘choice’ to end the lives of their children every day…” (p. 5) Where does he get this number? I can't find any reference for it in the bibliographic essay. Looking in the Statistical Abstract of the United States that correlates to the number of abortions per day in the U.S. in 2000, but no information is given on the health of the mother or the condition of her pregnancy. Another alarming trend is “religion under assault by the media and liberal activists and then booted from the public square by court order…” (p. 5) I am a churchgoing woman and as such would rather that religious education be done in the church or the home to ensure that what is being taught is consistent with denominational beliefs.

“Once,” he says on p. 5, “ our social, governmental and educational institutions, along with popular culture, seemed to work together to aid parents in raising their children. Today, many feel that these same institutions are somehow conspiring against them.” I don’t know what time period he is referring to – my mother thought the Carol Burnett Show was awfully racey and forbade me from watching it as a child.

He sees the primary problem in society as the “bigs, - big news media, big enterainment, big universities and public schools, some big businesses, and some big national labor unions, and of course, the biggest big of all, the federal government.” (p. 6) In his view, the bigs are tying to wipe out local government, civic and fraternal associations, neighborhoods, churches, and the traditional family.” (p. 7) I don’t know how these “bigs” could wipe out local government or neighborhoods. Would houses be too far apart for people to meet each other? Even today most people I know are acquainted with as many or more of their neighbors as I was growing up in small town America.

“All of us naturally want to bequeath to our children something more, something better, than we received from out own parents, ….” Is that right? Many of the parents I know just hope to do as well as their parents.

Something that should have been mentioned in preface, the book will look at five pillars of American civilization : social capital, economic capital, moral capital, cultural capital, and intellectual capital.” (p. 10)

“I believe that bad culture is culture that lies; good culture, even it if may be ugly, tells the truth.” So, in his view, The Matthew Shephard Story, The Abu Ghraib Story, would be good?

The Liberal Vision: No-Fault Freedom

“From the time I arrived in State college, I joined the conservative ranks and fought against the liberals on campus and in government.” (p. 13) I think it would be great if someone thoroughly researched his years at Penn State. I’ve heard a number of stories and would enjoy finding out which have some nugget of truth and which are pure mythology.

again division – “For example, I believed that everyone wanted the poor to achieve economic self-sufficiency, but that the two parties had different approaches to achieve that goal. I don’t believe that anymore.” (p. 13)

“So what is the liberal definition of freedom? It is the freedom to be and to do whatever we want – freedom to choose irrespective of choice, freedom without limits (with the obligatory caveat that you can’t hurt anyone else directly).” (p. 14) Well, that’s one definition of liberalism, but I also think it fits the GOP’s vision of small government very well also. Isn’t one tenant of that political philosophy that the government should get out of people’s lives and let them make their own decisions, such as where their children should go to school and how their retirement money is handled?

Quotes from U2’s song “Vertigo.” (p. 14)

“We have sexual freedom: and the resulting debasement of women, mental illness, and an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases causing infertility, cancer, even death.” (p. 14) I’m not certain about the debasement of women, and am completely confused by the inclusion of mental illness.

The family is the foundation of our civilization. He doesn’t mean to exclude singled-head of household families but the focus should be on building and strengthening “what all the research and thousands of years of human history says is the best of our country and our children. That foundation is the family headed by a married mother and father.” (P. 15) Not just advocating for traditional families but healthy traditional families.” (p. 16) His definition: “Families in which selfless regard for others is the rule, not self-centeredness.” (p. 16)

“In the liberals’ ideal world there is no right or wrong; there is only tolerance and intolerance, diversity and narrow-mindedness.” (p. 17) I don’t remember this part of my liberal guidebook either, but maybe the “bigs” version has a special section that mine doesn’t.

“There are many liberals who are selfless mothers and fathers. What they are doing is not practicing what their village elders preach.” (p. 17) I’m so glad he cleared this up for us.

We all see how they [liberals]dominate the mainstream news media: over 90 percent of the elite news media voted for Senator John Kerry in 2004. And that percentage may be even higher when it comes to Hollywood.” (p. 18). I know the NSA is tapping phones, but I thought there was no way to verify voter information, so how does he or anyone know how anyone voted? (p.18)

“Families -- that is to say, moms and dads” (p. 18) This statement excludes from the definition of family all of those who could not, or chose not, to have children. Would it also exclude those marriages where all the offspring have died? It seems a very narrow definition.

“…parental enforcement of standards – in one reason why liberals view the traditional family with suspicion. After all, they say, children did not consent to their parents’ values. Shouldn’t children be free to discover and create their own values?” (p. 18) You know, I’ve listened to the keynote speech at Democratic National Conventions for decades now and have never heard this stated. So I don’t know where he is getting it.

Children from healthy intact families do better, have happier marriages, etc. than children who are not. Instinctively I agree with this, although I did not grow up in an intact family, and, while no one would give me the “well-adjusted woman of the year award,” I think I’ve done okay (so far). So it pulls me in different directions. How many healthy intact families are out there now? How many did there used to be? It is hard to judge how many families fit his definition of healthy unless you can talk to the people who were in those families, and that seriously limits the amount of time you can study and make comparisons.

Families and the Common Good

He says boys who grow up in households with married parents are less likely to become criminals. While there are many good single-parent families, two-parent families are better. Santorum is to be commended for noting that father absence is not just an inner-city minority problem. “it is about emotional detachment as well: middle-class men whose lives center around work and the golf course instead of around their wives and children, for example”. (p. 22)

Divorce leads to father abandonment much more often people recognize, despite the constant attempts by the popular culture to paint a picture of the happily” divorced. (p. 23) I would have to agree with this.

In a childless marriage, it is conceivable that the No-Fault Freedom caveat may be true… (p. 23) It is nice that he makes this exception.

He provides lot of statistics on how children are worse off in single-parent families.

82% of urban, low-income fathers and mothers are in a romantic relationship at the time their child is born. (p. 25) Now how does he know that?

The Meaning of Family

“Since marriage has become more and more about adult happiness, and less and less about children and their well-being, it is no wonder other groups in society want to use marriage for the same purpose.” (p. 31) My understanding of marriage in history, and I have read a number of books on this, is that the idea of companionate marriage, that is marriage solely for companionship and affection is, indeed, relatively recent, but it was previous regarded as a tool for dynastic and business partnerships, with fond regard between the immediate parties helpful but not necessary. The happiness of children, and even the children themselves, tended to be rather near the bottom of the list.

“Every known society has some form of marriage. And it’s always about bringing together a male and female into the kind of sexual union where the interests of children under the care of their own mother and father are protected.” (p. 31) I think inheritance, property transfer, and political or business interests also may have played a role.

“When in Loving v. Virginia the Supreme Court ruled that state laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional, that ruling seemed at first to affect only private individuals. But sixteen years later, the IRS ruled that religious groups that opposed interracial marriage could be stripped of their tax-exempt status, because they were not operating for the public good. The Supreme Court rules furthermore that the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion provided no defense. Of course, I agree that laws against interracial marriage were unjust. My point is this: If we apply the logic of a civil rights same-sex marriage, people who believe children need mothers and fathers will be treated in the public square like racists, and churches that persist in teaching the traditional form will risk the loss of their tax-exempt status. “ (p. 32-33) I think he picked a very bad example here.

“If the sexual unions of men with men and women with women have equal dignity with the union of men and women, then marriage cannot be understood as having anything intrinsically to do with children.” (p. 34) Would this mean marriage between widows and widowers or divorcees beyond the ability of desire for childbearing would be of a lesser nature than the marriage of the fecund?

Disconnecting marriage from babies leads to low fertility rates (pp. 34-36). The logic of this escaped me entirely.

“Men and women marry for many reasons. But the reason the law is involved is to protect society’s future.” (p. 38) Again, I always thought it was inheritance and property rights.

Twice in this section he references the movie version of the Lord of the Rings series, once the Two Towers and the other The Return of the King. I wonder why he refers to the movies and not the books.

The bibliographic essay for this section is below par. Many of the citations he lists don’t have the year of publication listed and I’m not aware of any style manual that finds this acceptable; I was able to look up a date for most of them. The copy editor for the book really should have caught this. There are 19 items listed, eight of them were published in or after 2000.

For an interesting contrast to this section of Santorum’s book, please read chapter 5 “What Makes A Perfect Parent,” (pp. 147-176) in Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (NY: William Morrow, 2005). These authors do not have footnotes either but do have detailed endnotes and I counted 26 items in their notes for this section, 13 of them published in or after 2000. The chapter entitled “Where Have All The Criminals Gone” is also applicable but I think it will be more relevant to another section of Santorum’s book.

next up: Section 2 Social Capital and the Ties That Bind

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Day

Oh, my, it has been a busy weekend. The little Janes, all things considered, were well-behaved. They got all of the things they really wanted and a few small extras. It was a lot of stuff but not an avalanche. I made out like a bandit -- seven pairs of new socks, a nice bracelet, a fluffy robe, and two things that will make me the envy of every room parent in PTA -- a double decker cupcake carrier (holds 24), and a cupcake tower (holds 12 cupcakes in a three layer tree shape), and an assortment of other very wonderful things. Best of all we spent today with people we care about and who miraculously care for us in return.

As usual after a long drive I can't get to sleep immediately. If I try it feels like I'm watching one of those video race car games on the back of my eyelids. The cats are pleased to see us so I'll sit with them and watch a little tv to unwind. I hope you all had just as wonderful a time the past few days.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Reading Rick: The Preface

Keep in mind these are my opinions of It Takes a Family by Rick Santorum and I encourage everyone to read it themselves to form their own.

Traditionally the preface sets the tone for the book and lets the reader know what to expect. Sen. Santorum’s preface is divided into two parts, about three pages describing the book and his qualifications and the reasons he is writing it. Another three pages are acknowledgements.

The first part, the description had, in my view, two themes – liberals are bad, conservatives have not staked out a good position on poverty and social problems. It struck me as extremely divisive, to start out with the liberal and conservative labels without explaining what is meant by each, and there is not description in the preface. The second theme is on Santorum’s qualifications. It is a good thing to point out why you as an author know something about your subject but it is best done with a touch of humility and the senator is somewhat lacking here. In one 15-line paragraph we read:

I was trying to help ...
I was assigned ...
I led a team ...
I was elected ...
We [he and Dan Coats] became the heart of ... (p. x)

It’s just a bit much.

Now, the second part, the acknowledgements, is interesting. He does the requisite thanking of the spouse. Publish a book without this and things could get chilly at home. Ditto with any children old enough to read.

A few interesting comments:

Our hours are long, the pace intense, and the stress high, but she not only helps hold me together, she is often single-handedly the steady guiding light for our six children, ages 3 to 14, too. (p. xi)

I wonder if this will jibe with everything late in the book. We shall see. And

In fact, our lives were incomplete until we had each and every one of our children. (p. xii)

I’m not sure what this means. Did he feel his life was incomplete when he only had one child? Is he saying that the family is complete now? If he has other children later, is his life incomplete at the moment? And

My prayer is that the time I poured into this book will result in a somewhat better America in which they may grow and serve their fellow citizens.(p. xii)

No hubris there. One interesting contrast – he thanks his parents but does not mention them by name, not even first names, but gives the full names of his in-laws. He also says he would not have had the opportunity to write the book if he were not elected to the Senate. There are very few things in life I feel certain of. People who feel absolute certainty on a number of things sort of amaze me. How do they do that? How is Santorum certain he would not have been able to write this book if he weren’t elected? Maybe he’s right. Maybe he wouldn't have written it if he had been in private legal practice. But maybe he would. How does he know?

Next: Section 1

weekly legislative update

The legislature was not terribly active this week. In the special session the House defeated SB30 and the Senate referred HB39 to appropriations.

The House passed two bills in the regular session. Details below. For more update information, see our friends at PICPA, the Senate GOP and House Democrats.

Bills Passed in the House:

HB 1068 Prior Printer's Nos. 1227, 2955. Printer's No. 3342. An Act Amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for association group life insurance for eligible members of the armed forces of the United States or its reserve component.

SB 854 Prior Printer's Nos. 1101, 1231. Printer's No. 1429. An Act amending Titles 53 (Municipalities Generally) and 72 (Taxation and Fiscal Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for taxation and assessment definitions and applicability; consolidating the sales and use tax provisions of the Tax Reform Code of 1971 and further providing for definitions, for imposition, for exclusions, for credit, for crimes, for transfers to Public Transportation Assistance Fund and for transfers to Property Tax Relief Fund; consolidating the special situs for local sales tax provisions of the Tax Reform Code of 1971; consolidating the personal income tax provisions of the Tax Reform Code of 1971 and further providing for imposition and for classes of income; consolidating and extensively revising the Homeowner Tax Relief Act; consolidating the Senior Citizens Rebate and Assistance Act and further providing for property tax, rent rebate and inflation costs and for funds for payment of claims; and making related repeals.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Reading Rick: Getting Started

In a number of posts I will be reporting on what I have read in Rick Santorum's It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2005).

The book's table of contents is broken down into a preface, forty chapters in six parts, conclusion, bibliographical note, and index. As I report on a section I will create a link to it here to tie all of the posts together.

To begin with I should say that as an analytic reader I find an eight page bibliographic note for 428 pages of text a little alarming. There is not a bibliography or footnotes or endnotes, just the brief bibliographic note. I fear this will prove troublesome to me in my reading. It has been my habit since college to copy the bibliography and title page of books I found interesting so I could later investigate further. Bibliographic notes tend to make it impossible to follow up directly on information in the text.

Here are links to the other entries in this series:

Reading Rick: The Preface

Reading Rick: Part I (It Takes a Family)

Reading Rick: Part 2 (Social Capital and the Ties That Bind)

Reading Rick: Part 3 (The Roots of Prosperity)

Reading Rick: Part 4 (Moral Ecology)

Reading Rick: Part 5 (Culture Matters)

Reading Rick: Part 6 (Educational Excellence)

Reading Rick: Conclusion

War News Radio

In the last New Yorker of the year (Dec. 26 / Jan 2), we find a note that Swarthmore college students are scooping or outdoing the MSM on coverage of the Iraq War. How? By finding a Baghdad phone book and calling people up. They are getting some great stories from people on the ground. They have turned this into a radio show, War News Radio. Certainly more productive than toga parties. Maybe that private school tuition is worth it.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm Glad Other People Have Days Like This

In the Dec. 19, New Yorker, we find this description of a publisher's luncheon attended by Condoleeza Rice and some of the editors and reporters of the New York Times this past September 12th.

Such events are common in the life of the Times and other major newspapers, but this one had an odd start. A security dog that had earlier been sniffing for bombs got sick on the carpet of the room where the lunch was to be held. The mess was cleaned up, but the stench was still noticeable when Rice and her party arrived. The air-conditioning was turned up high to diminish the smell, but it was difficult to hear above the noise.

As it happened I read this passage the day after the family van was decorated with a similar odor and I felt a kinship with the Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of the Times, that I had never felt before. In situations like his I tend to babble like an idiot. It would seem that he suffers from a similar afflication:

"...Just so everyone knows, he said, "it's pretty loud in this room, so my apologies. The bomb-sniffing dog threw up in here." Everyone laughed, but Sulzberger continued to apologise, and, as some of the reporters present cringed, Rice finally said, "Thank you for sharing that."

Perhaps Mr. Sulzberger and I were separated at birth. I wonder if he is sitting in his den tonight, having baked brownies two nights in a row for school parties, and having just enough for the students, the teacher, and one or two left over for attending parents, has had to deny himself the fruits of his labor. Perhaps, like me, there is one telltale bit of chocolate brownie dough on his bottom lip.

(Citation: Auletta, Ken. "The Inheritance: Can Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., save the Times -- and himself?," New Yorker, December 19, 2005, pp. 66-77; quotes in this entry from p. 68)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 (Knight Ridder News)

The Jan/Feb issue of Fast Company arrived today. I did a quick skim and this jumped out at me:

Tribune Co., Gannett, and Knight Ridder are trying [to save the newspaper business] with a new joint venture called What is provides, in theory, is a list of search results from both newspaper sales circulars and from retailers' sites -- so readers can either buy online or drive to a nearby store that has products in stock.

So I tried it. You type in your zipcode and it gives you stores and online retrailers in your local area (I think it is a 10 mile radius). I noticed some neighborhood stores, though not as many as I would expect. All the same, it is an interesting concept.

Last Minute Shopping Part 2

If you are shopping for someone who lives in a house with children, don't forget board games. Lots of them. We have 5 versions of Monopoly and 3 of Clue. Add in Connect 4, Battleship, Don't Break the Ice, Scrabble, some others I can't remember, and assorted decks of cards. Lately Mr. J has been playing Uno with the kids in front of the fire after homework is done. I'm more the Scrabble type.

For the past several years we have vacationed with an extended family group and take along Cranium and some other games. I can tell you that in such circumstances it is good to be the only teetotaller in the group. In my case it makes up for the occasional slow-wittedness or post-ice cream brain freeze.

Yes, they are hokey, but they are fun. If the kids have friends over we can pull out a board game, I bring in some popcorn or pretzels or cupcakes (or veggies, sometimes its veggies, honest), and off they go.

Princeton Research and the Pew

Got a call tonight from Princeton Research, one of those telephone research survey calls. They wanted to speak to the youngest male in the house 18 and older but Mr. Jane refuses to participate in such things so they asked for the youngest female in the house 18 and older, and that would be me.

The first question was did I think the country was headed in the right direction. I would not answer that one because it was too vague and I figured it would be twisted in whatever direction the pollsters wanted.

The body of the survey dealt with my Internet use, how long have I been an Internet user (about 15 years), do I use email, instant messaging, how often, did I use either yesterday. Did I use the Internet at home, at work, how often, how long, did I use it yesterday. Did I do research. Did I check online news services, radio stations websites, tv stations websites, did I watch the news on tv, did I listen to it on the radio. Did I read online newspapers or national or local newspapers online. And so on. Did I know about voice over the Internet (VOIP). Yadda yadda yadda. What got me was they never asked if I read a newspaper in print. Since I don't listen to news on the radio or watch televised news, by the results of this survey I'm an uninformed fool. I get my news from the Inky, CNN online, BBC online, and my local suburban paper. If I can get it free I take the Wall Street Journal.

Do I read blogs. Do I have a blog. Do I create websites at work, at home for myself or organizations.

Then we get to demographics. They want an age. I balk. She insists that this is really necessary and an age range won't do. So I lie and tell her I am doing so. She wants race but takes no for an answer. She wants to know if there are children under a certain age in the house. I say yes. She wants age or number (can't remember). I refuse. She wants income but she takes no for an answer.

Then she says this is for the Pew Internet and American Life project (or whatever that is called -- I didn't look it up.) Interesting.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Posting Over the Holidays

The legislature won't be in session over the holidays and I'm working on some detailed postings but they won't be ready until after the New Year. What I plan to do over the holidays is read Rick Santorum's It Takes a Family and post comments on what I've read every day or so. There's nothing like going directly to the source and I would rather be ticked over something he said rather than something someone said he said (if you follow that). Rest assured that I did not put money in his pocket by buying it but checked it out of the public library.

If anything else comes up or I get one of the other postings ready early it will be posted at the time.

Last Minute Shopping

Is there a special someone you haven't shopped for yet? Plan on running out Christmas Eve to get all the presents at once? Here's an idea -- stay home, pick up the phone, and buy everyone a subscription to their local paper. Two people in the same household? Buy one the city paper and the other a little local weekly. Are they Philly natives now far from home? Buy them the paper so they can read what's happening back in their old stomping grounds.

Intelligent Design Decision

CNN is reporting that the judge has ruled against teaching the concept of "intelligent design" in Pennsylvania classrooms.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Daylin and the Docs

Nobody fall over or anything but I have something nice to say about Daylin Leach. Regular readers will remember that I have been pretty hard on him and, I think, rightly so. However, during my recent romp through some of the spring issues of the House Journal I found this (May 11, 2005, p. 1017-1018) regarding SB69, an act providing for employer immunity from liability for disclosure of information regarding former or current employees.

Mr. Leach: Mr. Speaker, I have an amendment on this bill which was originally part of a bill I drafted called the Physicians Apology Act, which says that if there is a bad outcome in a medical case, if the physician has a discussion with the family or the person who was the subject of the bad outcome and there is a discussion of the events or even an apology for a mistake made, that conversation could not be used agains the physician at trial.

Frequently medical malpractice suits are filed out of frustration because people cannot get answers. In States that have done this, that have created a physician apology immunity, lawsuits, the filings of medical malpractice suits, have dropped 20 to 30 percent.

So I think this would be a good thing to do for Pennsylvania. However, for today I am withdrawing this amendment, Mr. Speaker, so that we can run this bill clean, and I look forward to the opportunity to have a vote on this amendment in the near future.

Thank you.

I have no idea if this legislation has been introduced in another form. It is a good idea and should be considered in some form. However, I did put together some links if anyone else is interested in reading about physician apology laws. Like Leach, my understanding is that people often do file malpractice suits just because there is no other way to find out what happened.

Here are a medical (Cohen, Jonathan R. "Toward Candor After Error: The First Medical Apology Law," Harvard Health Policy Review 5 #1 spr 2004: 21-24) and a legal article (O'Hara, Erin Ann. Apology and Thick Trust: What Spouse abusers and neligent doctors might have in common. Chicago-Kent Law Review 79-3 1055-1089 2004) . Info from Maryland, considering similar legislation. A note from a doctor's blog. Here is a newspaper article (Medical apology law may surface By Jennifer Ryan, East Valley Tribune January 8, 2005). Here (Five States Pass Medical Liability Reform Legislation By Leslie Champlin 6/9/2005 American Academy of Family Physicans News and Publications) is more info.

Best of all, here is a really long list of articles and other sources on the topic.

All this being said, I still cannot find it in my heart to think really well of Leach, so don't expect a lot of "Daylin is wonderful" posts.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Democratic Choice for Senator

The Democratic primary for Senator is going to be interesting. It seems a foregone conclusion that Robert Casey, Jr. will win, but there are two other candidates. Chuck Pennacchio and Alan Sandals are also in the running, with considerably less name recognition and a lot less money.

Even so, it is difficult for a lot of Democrats to get all that excited about Casey. There are two particular sticking points on this -- abortion and gun control, those staples of freshman composition papers for the last twenty years. Contrary to most Democratic candidates, Casey opposes federal funding for abortions. He believes life begins at conception and must be protected. He would avoid a litmus test for judicial nominees. He would not require pharmacists to go against personal beilefs and fill prescriptions for emergency contraception. He says "Someone who's pro-life does have a corresponding obligation to help the mother and child after birth," Casey said, "Too often the issue has been framed in a more limited way." No mention of the father here. Interesting. He believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned. The sources for this information are the Inquirer articles listed at the bottom of this post. His web site provides no real information on his stance of this or other issues.

Pennacchio believes that abortion should be safe, legal and rare (where have I heard that before?). His web site goes on to say "He believes that a woman's right to have control over her reproductive choice is inviolate, and as our Senator, he will stand up to protect this fundamental Constitutional guarantee."

Alan Sandals and his campaign have crafted what I think is the most well-written and uncontroversial statement I have ever seen. Instead of taking reproductive rights as a separate issue they have carefully woven it into a statement on personal privacy and choice. He sums it up this way on his web site "Let's face it. Our personal lives are hard enough as it is. We don't need politicians butting in to tell us how to make the most difficult decisions that we wrestle with as adults. With our faith, family and friends as our guides, we can find our own way. We always have and we always will." If anyone has said it any better than that, I haven't seen it.

Sources: candidates' web sites (linked in posting); Inquirer articles: Budoff, Carrie, "Casey's clear view on abortion could muddy campaign waters," 12/18/05, p. B3; Budoff, Carie, "Unlikely allies are sizing up Casey -- His antiabortion stance keeps Democratic donors at bay, 7/03/05, p. B1; Budoff, Carrie and Thomas Fitzgerald, "Senate candidate is a minority among Decmorats -- Casey walks line between views on abortion and party support," 4/18/05, p. B1

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Your Tax Dollars at Work

The House Journal for the spring months was released in October and I finally had a chance to stop at my nearest law library to look at them. It never fails to amaze me what sort of things our elected officials take up time doing. The introduction of visitors (the Cottage Cheese Queen of Podunk, as a hypothetical example), etc., and a number of annoucements that would, in other industries, be put in the company newsletter or sent around on email.

This one seemed really over the top. I deleted the names of those mentioned as they surely did not ask for this publicity. The gentleman speaking is Rep. Bill DeWeese, Democratic leader of the House.

I will be brief. As Senator [name deleted] used to refer to the connubial couch, he referred to those moments of bliss as the ineffable blandishments of conjugal extravaganzas. Just within the last few days, my chief of staff, [name deleted], got married on and behalf of the Speaker, who has generously allowed me to take the microphone, and our colleagues, unlike many of us, who are elected, [names deleted] and other senior staff people seem to have very few enemies. I could be misreading that, but nevertheless, [name deleted] has succumbed to those wonderful blandishments, and although I am certainly no expert on the quotidian travails of matrimony, I still wanted to doff my hat and say congratulations to my young chief of staff on his marriage. (Legislative Journal -- House, June 7, 2005, p. 1078)

If the workings of the state get bollixed up with a lot of hooha, this sort of stuff and this guy in particular get my vote for chief hooha-er.

Nonpolitical Rant

This evening I got out my sewing machine and made an Eagles pillow for a friend of one of the little Jane's. While I was in sewing mode I got out some flannel bought to make little Jane jammies. Cut out the new pattern. Laid out the fabric. Didn't fit, about 3" short. Looked at the fabric requirements on the back of the pattern. Checked the length of the fabric. Everything okay. Still didn't fit. Did the nose measure on the width of the fabric. Double checked with a tape measure. 42"

Now, those of you familiar with fabric will know that sewing fabric comes in 36" and 45". It's one or the other. The width is listed on the end of the bolt but the experienced eye can tell with a look. Or there's the informal nose measure. (The distance from the tips of the fingers to the nose is approximately 36". My arms are short so I turn my head sideways and that makes almost exactly 36").

I could not have been more shocked if the Easter bunny came down the chimney on Christmas. For the sports-inclined, imagine if the hockey team wore tutus. It just isn't right.

You just can't trust anything these days.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Good Service at Suncoast Video

Twice this week I've gone into a Suncoast Video store in search of the original black and white "King King" movie with Fay Wray. (It's a Christmas present for Mr. Jane -- ssshh, don't tell). In the first store I was really suprised by the level of friendly responsive service the clerk provided, not just to me but to the other customers as well. They didn't have the movie I wanted. Today on the way home I stopped in at another Suncoast Video store. Again, the clerks were friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to come out from behind the counter and walk the customers to whatever part of the store was most likely to have what they wanted. I was shocked. Waiting on middle-aged women wearing funny winter hats can't be at the top of the list of what these early twenty-somethings want to do. In a lot of stores I'm lucky to get a grunt and a general "over there" gesture. So this level of attention was pretty heady stuff. Unfortunately they didn't have the movie either, but the clerk said they were owned by the same company as Sam Goody (five stores down, on the left, he said) and they would probably have it, and he quoted me the price it would be there. Low and behold he was right on all counts. This is the place I will be going for videos and dvds in the future. I congratulate the chain on hiring good people and training them well (and presumably paying them enough to keep them).

[Lawyer note -- no one in my family works for the store and no one in my house individually owns stock in the company, though it may be in retirement or mutual funds.]

weekly legislative update

As I mentioned in the previous posting, the governor called a special legislative session to look into property tax reform. Information from that session is included here as well. Standard caveats apply (resolutions not generally included, list of sponsors deleted if it was too long – three lines in the originally formatting).

Our accountants friends at PICPA have updated their legislative page, and have a lot to say about property tax reform.

Other weekly updates are available for this week:

PA House Democrats
PA House GOP daily updates
PA Senate Democrats
PA Senate Republicans

Special Session

These bills were introduced, or referred to a committee, not voted on. The descriptions tended to be pretty much the same, with only a few variations.

Monday 3 bills reported as committed (HB 14, 15, 16, 17)
Tuesday HB 69 and 70 referred to finance committee
Wednesday HB 1, 3, 29, 35, 68 shuffled around; SB 39 committed
Thursday HB 71 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, referred to finance
Friday HB 1 third consideration and final passage

Regular Session


Here are some of the resolutions that caught my eye. I’m a big proponent of financial aid for college students and am intrigued by maglev in PA.

Serial No. 537 By Representative FEESE. Printer's No. 3301. A resolution establishing a select committee to investigate alleged illegal rebating practices relating to the sale of cigarettes in this Commonwealth, to analyze the current system of enforcement of laws relating to such illegal activities and to make recommendations for the orderly and legal enforcement of laws relating to this practice.

Serial No. 538 Printer's No. 3302. A Resolution directing the Transportation Committee to conduct an investigation of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

Serial No. 539 Printer's No. 3309. A Resolution directing the Department of Environmental Protection to place a moratorium on all actions required of affected entities relating to implementation of the Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy for a period of nine months from the date the adoption of this resolution.

Serial No. 541 Printer's No. 3330. A Resolution designating the month of January 2006 as "Financial Aid Awareness Month" and commending the work of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and the Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Serial No. 211 By Senators LOGAN, MADIGAN, COSTA, PIPPY, ORIE, M. WHITE and KASUNIC. Printer's No. 1426. A Resolution declaring support for a high-speed maglev industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


There are a lot of veterans bills this week and bills relating to license plates. One bill that seems out of place is HB1686, which relates to paintball.


HB 472 Prior Printer's No. 511. Printer's No. 3293. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, providing for a tax credit for donation of used computers; further defining "taxable income" relating to the corporate net income tax; and establishing a tax credit for telecommunication carriers that offer telecommunication services to Pennsylvania National Guard members ordered to active Federal or State service.

HB 487 Printer's No. 526. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for lawyer referral service civil immunity.

HB 544 Prior Printer's Nos. 592, 2957. Printer's No. 3292. An Act amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, further providing for the functions of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, for the functions of county boards of elections, for the functions of district election boards, for qualifications of electors at primaries, for the place and time of filing nomination papers, for objections to nomination petitions; providing for list of all nominated candidates to the public; further providing for requirements of electronic voting systems, for instruction cards and supplies, for official absentee ballot applications, for approval of absentee ballot applications, for absentee elector files, for delivering ballots, for absentee voting, for canvassing official absentee ballots, for public records, for computation of returns and for reporting; and providing for misleading mailings and for unlawful interference with voter registration.

HB 731 Prior Printer's No. 822. Printer's No. 3054. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for a special registration plate for veterans and members of United States military airborne units and for military airborne parachutist and glider units.

HB 1085 Prior Printer's No. 1243. Printer's No. 3051. An Act amending the act of January 25, 1966 (1965 P.L.1546, No.541), referred to as the Higher Education Scholarship Law, further providing for students eligible for State scholarship.

HB 1820 Prior Printer's No. 2422. Printer's No. 2675. An Act providing compensation to persons in active service in connection with the Persian Gulf Conflict or their beneficiaries; authorizing the incurring of indebtedness and the issue and sale of bonds by the Commonwealth for the payment of compensation contingent upon electorate approval; creating a special fund in the State Treasury to be known as the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans' Compensation Bond Fund; imposing powers and duties on the Department of General Services; making appropriations; and making a related repeal.

HB 2139 By Representatives MAHER, GEIST, BALDWIN, J. EVANS, GOOD, HESS, PETRARCA, ROBERTS, WATSON, WILT and WRIGHT. Printer's No. 2943. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for exemption of persons, entities and vehicles from fees.

HB 2205 By Representative B. SMITH. Printer's No. 3080. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for record of license sales.

SB 358 Prior Printer's No. 420. Printer's No. 1141. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "combat zone;" and further providing for limitations in educational assistance program.

HB 1485 Printer's No. 1803. An Act amending the act of August 9, 1955 (P.L.323, No.130), known as The County Code, further providing for flags on grave markers of certain deceased service persons.

HB 1486 Prior Printer's No. 1804. Printer's No. 3231. An Act amending the act of July 28, 1953 (P.L.723, No.230), known as the Second Class County Code, further providing for markers on graves and for flags to decorate graves.

HB 1487 Prior Printer's No. 1805. Printer's No. 3232. An Act amending the act of June 11, 1935 (P.L.326, No.149), entitled "An act relating to counties of the first class; defining deceased service persons; providing for contributions by the county to the funeral expenses for such persons and their widows; providing for the erection and care of markers, headstones, and flags, and for the compilation of war records," further providing for flags, markers and headstones.

HB 1552 Prior Printer's No. 1909. Printer's No. 2273. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for a special license plate for recipients of the Silver Star and Bronze Star.

HB 1604 Prior Printer's No. 2007. Printer's No. 3303. An Act providing for a Statewide adult day resource and referral system; establishing a central adult day services database; and imposing additional responsibilities upon the Department of Aging.

HB 1621 Prior Printer's No. 2056. Printer's No. 3304. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the duty of the State Veterans' Commission.

HB 1879 Prior Printer's No. 2554. Printer's No. 3056. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for special license plates for recipients of medals for military service and for exemption of persons, entities and vehicles from fees.

HB 2001 Prior Printer's Nos. 2771, 3234. Printer's No. 3310. An Act prohibiting price gouging; providing for preemption of municipal laws and ordinances; and imposing penalties.

HB 2145 Printer's No. 2968. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the pay of officers and enlisted personnel in active State service.

HB 2157 Printer's No. 2980. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for certain duty for emergencies.

HB 2282 Printer's No. 3194. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing, in personal income tax, for classes of income.

SB 869 Prior Printer's Nos. 1111, 1262, 1269. Printer's No. 1406. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for extension of health insurance benefits for certain military personnel who were full-time students at time of deployment.

HB 1311 Prior Printer's No. 1559. Printer's No. 3324. An Act amending the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, further providing for prohibited acts and penalties.

HB 1327 Printer's No. 1575. An Act amending the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, further providing for liquefied ammonia gas, precursors and chemicals.

HB 1617 Prior Printer's Nos. 2052, 2992. Printer's No. 3326. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, providing for child abuse education training; and further providing for approved reimbursable charges for certain school building construction projects.

HB 2202 By Representatives REICHLEY, ALLEN, BEBKO-JONES, BELFANTI, BEYER, BUNT, CALTAGIRONE, GINGRICH, HENNESSEY, MANDERINO, MANN, MARKOSEK, E. Z. TAYLOR, J. TAYLOR and SIPTROTH. Printer's No. 3070. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, providing for home infusion therapy to be available to all eligible recipients and adding a definition of "home infusion therapy."

HB 2223 Prior Printer's Nos. 3097, 3235. Printer's No. 3323. An Act amending the act of December 10, 1974 (P.L.852, No.287), referred to as the Underground Utility Line Protection Law, further providing for the title of the act, for definitions, for duties of facility owners and for the duties of the One Call System; providing for liability, fees and governance of the One Call System; further providing for applicability; providing for the duties of project owners and for rights of the Auditor General; further providing for the governing board of the One Call System, for fines and penalties and for applicability to certain pipeline systems and facilities; providing for a voluntary dispute resolution process, for best efforts and for removal or tampering with a marking; further providing for expiration; and repealing provisions of the act of June 19, 2002 (P.L.421, No.61), known as the Propane and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Act, concerning the prohibition of certain liquefied petroleum gas facilities or distributors from being subject to the Underground Utility Line Protection Law.

HB 2296 Prior Printer's No. 3210. Printer's No. 3312. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for tuition credit for children and spouses of deceased soldiers and for retention of licenses of persons entering military service.

HB 2317 By Representative FEESE. Prior Printer's Nos. 3280, 3294. Printer's No. 3325. An Act providing for the capital budget for the fiscal year 2005-2006; itemizing public improvement projects, furniture and equipment projects, transportation assistance projects, redevelopment assistance capital projects, flood control projects, Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund projects, Environmental Stewardship Fund projects and Motor License Fund projects to be constructed or acquired or assisted by the Department of General Services, the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation, together with their estimated financial costs; authorizing the incurring of debt without the approval of the electors for the purpose of financing the projects to be constructed, acquired or assisted by the Department of General Services; stating the estimated useful life of the projects; providing an exemption; and making appropriations.

SB 618 By Senators WAUGH, WENGER, SCARNATI, M. WHITE, WONDERLING, RAFFERTY, STOUT, CORMAN, LEMMOND, D. WHITE, KITCHEN, PUNT, GORDNER, THOMPSON, TOMLINSON, ROBBINS, ARMSTRONG and PICCOLA. Prior Printer's No. 682. Printer's No. 1359. An Act providing for immunity for equine owners, possessors or handlers.

SB 895 By Senators TOMLINSON, CONTI, RAFFERTY, TARTAGLIONE, GREENLEAF, PILEGGI, ERICKSON, THOMPSON, M. WHITE, BOSCOLA, LOGAN, COSTA, PUNT, WENGER, WAUGH, C. WILLIAMS, WONDERLING and STACK. Prior Printer's Nos. 1176, 1372, 1377, 1403. Printer's No. 1417. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for police animals.

SB 1034 By Senators ORIE, THOMPSON, ERICKSON, BOSCOLA, RAFFERTY, TARTAGLIONE, COSTA, RHOADES, WAUGH, O'PAKE and FUMO. Printer's No. 1398. An Act amending the act of July 7, 2005 (P.L. , No.1A), increasing the State appropriation for payment of law enforcement officers' and emergency response personnel death benefits.

HB 1618 Prior Printer's Nos. 2053, 3306. Printer's No. 3334. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, providing for participation in graduation ceremony.

HB 2090 Printer's No. 2880. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for powers of director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

SB 394 By Senators CORMAN, PUNT, PIPPY, RAFFERTY, RHOADES, BOSCOLA, KITCHEN, LOGAN, O'PAKE, TARTAGLIONE, GREENLEAF, WONDERLING and LEMMOND. Prior Printer's No. 401. Printer's No. 1400. An Act amending the act of May 29, 1956 (1955 P.L.1804, No.600), referred to as the Municipal Police Pension Law, further providing for payments under existing pension plans for service increments to pensions of police officers.

SB 736 By Senators ROBBINS, BOSCOLA, CORMAN, EARLL, LEMMOND, ORIE, WENGER, D. WHITE, M. WHITE and WOZNIAK. Prior Printer's Nos. 889, 1307. Printer's No. 1411. An Act amending the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, further providing for definitions and for regulations; and providing for applicability on certain uncertified buildings.


SB 811 By Senators THOMPSON, ROBBINS, STOUT and WOZNIAK. Prior Printer's No. 1022. Printer's No. 1234. An Act amending the act of August 31, 1971 (P.L.398, No.96), known as the County Pension Law, further providing for transfers between certain classes and for additional class options.

HB 163 Prior Printer's Nos. 163, 1968, 3118, 3260. Printer's No. 3311. An Act amending the act of December 5, 1936 (2nd Sp.Sess., 1937 P.L.2897, No.1), known as the Unemployment Compensation Law, further providing for compensation rates.

HB 603 By Representatives B. SMITH, STABACK and SURRA. Printer's No. 676. An Act amending Title 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further defining "enforcement officer" to include certain Pennsylvania Game Commission employees.

HB 1686 Prior Printer's Nos. 2131, 2456, 3116. Printer's No. 3174. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offenses of paintball guns and paintball markers, criminal mischief and sale and use of air rifles.

HB 1690 Prior Printer's Nos. 2152, 2305, 3025. Printer's No. 3218. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for unlawful devices and methods and for license requirements.

SB 358 Prior Printer's No. 420. Printer's No. 1141. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "combat zone;" and further providing for limitations in educational assistance program.

SB 656 By Senators GORDNER, PILEGGI, COSTA, WAUGH, BOSCOLA, ROBBINS, WOZNIAK, ERICKSON, C. WILLIAMS, PIPPY, PUNT, D. WHITE, M. WHITE and LEMMOND. Prior Printer's Nos. 755, 1147. Printer's No. 1405. An Act providing for dispute resolution procedures relating to residential construction defects between contractors and homeowners or members of associations.

SB 770 By Senators C. WILLIAMS, WONDERLING, FUMO, WOZNIAK, O'PAKE, BOSCOLA, LOGAN and FERLO. Prior Printer's Nos. 949, 1408. Printer's No. 1416. An Act amending the act of December 16, 1999 (P.L.971, No.69), known as the Electronic Transactions Act, providing for the definition of "United States Postal Service Electronic Postmark" and for electronic postmark.

HB 1318 Prior Printer's Nos. 1566, 1967, 2366, 3022, 3307. Printer's No. 3328. An Act amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, providing for requirements relating to voter identification; further providing for powers and duties of county boards, for polling places selected by county boards, for public buildings to be used where possible and portable polling places and for prohibiting polling places in buildings where malt or brewed beverages or liquors are sold; providing for polling places in other buildings; and further providing for nominations by political bodies, for affidavits of candidates, for opening of polls, posting cards of instruction and notices of penalties and voters' rights and examination of voting machines, for voting procedures, for manner of applying to vote, for date of application for absentee ballots, for canvassing of official absentee ballots and for violation of provisions relating to absentee voting.

HB 2041 Prior Printer's Nos. 2818, 3027, 3156, 3284. Printer's No. 3327. An Act amending the act of March 20, 2002 (P.L.154, No.13), known as the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) Act, further providing for the Patient Safety Authority; reestablishing the Health Care Provider Retention Program and the Health Care Provider Retention Account; establishing the Commission on the Mcare Fund; and repealing provisions relating to the Health Care Provider Retention Program and the Health Care Provider Retention Account in the Public Welfare Code.

SB 398 By Senators COSTA, PIPPY, LOGAN, MELLOW, MUSTO, LAVALLE, RAFFERTY, ERICKSON, WOZNIAK, ORIE, STACK, O'PAKE, PUNT, GREENLEAF, C. WILLIAMS, KASUNIC, BOSCOLA, RHOADES, KITCHEN, FONTANA and CORMAN. Prior Printer's No. 427. Printer's No. 1404. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for life insurance.

SB 437 By Senators ORIE, WOZNIAK, STACK, RAFFERTY, KITCHEN, LAVALLE, COSTA, KASUNIC, TARTAGLIONE, MUSTO, GREENLEAF, LOGAN and BOSCOLA. Prior Printer's No. 460. Printer's No. 1306. An Act amending the act of June 28, 1935 (P.L.477, No.193), referred to as the Enforcement Officer Disability Benefits Law, extending benefits to corrections employees; and making an editorial change.

HB 477 Prior Printer's No. 516. Printer's No. 1076. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, establishing a civil action to recover damages caused by terrorism.

HB 894 Prior Printer's Nos. 1017, 1455, 1912, 1963. Printer's No. 2133. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for program of continuing professional development.

HB 1826 By Representatives T. STEVENSON, BOYD, CALTAGIRONE, CAPPELLI, GINGRICH, GRELL, HERMAN, KILLION, MUSTIO, PAYNE, PHILLIPS, PYLE, RUBLEY, SAYLOR, THOMAS and SHAPIRO. Printer's No. 2440. An Act amending Title 68 (Real and Personal Property) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for escrow of deposits or posting of surety bond or letter of credit.