Thursday, April 19, 2007

October House Journals

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives was in full session for eleven days in October. Keeping track of legislative and personal leaves has proven too complicated in a body as large at the house so I am giving up on that.

In reviewing the house journals I look in particular for discussion of issues. My apologies for any errors or misinterpretations. Page numbers refer to the page of the pdf files available on the state house’s website.

This was a productive month for the state house. Please take a moment to browse through my notes, especially those on the 24th. There is an excerpt from Rep. O’Brien that I think is very significant. Please also note the comments of Rep. Kirkland on Oct. 4th. If that story is correct it is really despicable.

No longer keeping track of leaves, too complicated

Oct 2 (2 p.)
Oct 3 (20 p.)
Oct 4 (48 p.)
Oct 5 (3 p.)
Oct 16 (27 p.)
Oct 17 (49 p.)
Oct 18 (67 p.)
Oct 23 (52 p.)
Oct 24 (98 p.)
Oct 25 (1 p.)
Oct 30 (3 p.)

Oct. 3rd, a number of speeches in honor of the late Bob O’Connor

Oct. 4th
pp. 20-22 minor’s use of tobacco
pp. 23-25, taxi cabs and the Philadelphia Parking authority
p. 27 Rep. McGeehan withdraws his amendment allowing a tax credit to families that join health clubs, buy exercise equipment or sign their kids up for sports
pp. 31-32 Rep. Kirkland discusses his efforts to rename a highway in his district for Willie Mae Leake, the first African-American mayor of Chester. She was a Republican but he still wanted to honor her. The bill went over to the Senate where it was changed to the Rosa Parks Highway. He also says the road itself was changed.
pp. 37-48 there is a discussion of hiring nurses from Puerto Rico, also nurse’s hours, rules, and stress

Oct 16th,
pp. 5-6 a farewell from Rep. Sather
pp. 14-19 a bill and amendment on riverfront brownfields and development in Philadelphia, the state is granting a lease on 7 acres for $10 a year. Rep. Watson is asking some good question.

Oct. 17th
p. 18 farewell from Rep. E Z Taylor
pp. 20-23 water and sewer authorities
pp. 26-27 Reps. Vitali and Gannon go at it over notifications due in commercial real estate transactions
pp. 30-47 gambling

Oct 18th
pp. 27-32 real estate developments in relationship to school districts
pp. 33-34 tax credit for families of the disabled [not sure about this]
pp. 38-39 drug trafficking to minors. Rep. Vitali mentions that according to these mandatory sentences a father who gave a son trying to an athletic scholarship steroids would be given a mandatory sentence of 3 years in prison.
pp. 41-42 farewell from Rep. Herman
pp. 46-53 copays for prescription drugs
pp. 55-56 coal bed methane gas
pp. 58-59 tax credits for small business to provide health care for their employees
pp. 60 the importance of PA-based banks remaining headquartered in PA

Oct. 23rd
pp. 6-7 farewell of Rep. Bebko-Jones. This is a hoot. For purely entertainment purposes you should read this. She says she never understood a word Bill DeWeese said, Dan Surra wears muddy boots, and Daylin Leach is a whacko and her successor should not have to sit next to him, and that Tony Melio kissed her everyday.
pp.18-20 farewell of Rep. Miller. This is very informative and I am keeping a printout of it in my files. She was the second woman elected to the house from Berks County and gives a lot of information on the first, Lillith Wilson, a Socialist who served from 1931-1936.
pp. 28-29, discussion of a workman’s comp bill that was the cumulation of work by the House, the Senate, Trial Lawyers, Pennsylvania Bar, PA Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Businesses. I can think of a few other parties I’d want involved.
p. 30 partnerships and LLC members can no longer use corporate funds for political contributions
pp. 34-36 billboards
pp. 38-39, Rep. Samuelson asks why an amendment on hotel occupancy tax is attached to a bill exempting National Guard from state income tax on emergency pay. My head nearly exploded on reading this.

Oct. 24th
pp. 40-53 on the gaming bill and riparian rights and smoking in casinos. Rep. Keller spoke on riparian rights (rights along a waterway). Rep. Lederer spoke on the rights given to casinos toward “associated areas.” In some spots she got fiery. One of her comments, from page 47:

I do not want to repeat what I have said. However, I do want to say that none of the senators who voted unanimously to put this associated areas into the bill live anywhere near the proposed casinos. I think that the casinos should be permitted to usurp the power of this legislature nor the power of the people. If they were to win this now, it happens to be my district, but it could be everyone here’s district.

pp. 56-57 Rep. O’Brien, now Speaker of the House, from page 56:

Let me also tell you about these insurance guys who says, they make the policy and say, we cannot afford to cover autism. You have heard about a company called United HealthCare, have you not? Well, let me tell you about the chief executive officer of United HealthCare. We are talking about instituting a premium starting at $40,000 for our families. The United HealthCare chief executive, who says w cannot afford to cover autism, made $124 million last year, Mr. Speaker, $124 million. But that is not enough, because he is a very talented individual who knows how to cut costs. So they gave him stock options of $1.6 billion, billion with a “b.” And guess what? That is not enough. So you know what this greedy guy did? They backdated the stock option, and therein lies his peril, Mr. Speaker, because the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) came knocking at his door and said, you know what? You just violated the law, and he stepped down from United HealthCare, but not soon enough, not soon enough.

pp. 70-71 more police officers
pp. 73-78 Keystone opportunity zones
pp. 81-90 lobbying reform. There are a number of good exchanges here but none brief enough to excerpt. I know how seriously those guys in Harrisburg take copyright. But there is good stuff there. Read for yourself. Rep. Vitali, ever watchful, is in rare form. I enjoyed and appreciated his comments a great deal. In October I watched part of this discussion on PCN.

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