Friday, June 29, 2012

Statements on SCOTUS Ruling on Affordable Care Act

from Tim Burns, PA Democratic Party Chairman:

"Today's decision affirms the progress the American people have made toward a stronger health care system that protects middle-class families. Through health care reform Pennsylvanians have lower costs, more choices, and easier access to quality, affordable health care. Seniors have access to less expensive medicine and more opportunities to visit doctors. Young people are able to stay on their parents' insurance. People with pre-existing conditions will not be denied care. Women will no longer face gender discrimination in the health care system. These are all unquestionably positive steps for Pennsylvania and the country. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans have no alternative and no plan. Led by Tea Partiers, Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans have wrongly attacked health reform, pledging to send our country backwards. It is now time to move forward, implement the law and work together to create jobs in Pennsylvania and throughout the country."

Dr. Manan Trivedi, Democratic candidate in 6th congressional district:

Today the Supreme Court made a decision that will significantly impact the health and care of all Americans. As a nation, we recognize the importance of all citizens having access to basic healthcare, the assurance that children with pre-existing conditions will not be denied coverage and the promise that young adults can remain on their families’ health insurance policy as they become productive citizens in their communities and the workforce.

As a physician, I know first-hand the stories of families fighting with insurance companies to get needed care covered and have seen too many episodes of trying to figure out how to best care for patients who come to the ER without any coverage at all.  Hopefully this ruling will be a first step in efforts to curb those occurrences. During my career I have also seen countless examples of how the growth and significant expansion of the medical-industrial complex has made great strides in medical capabilities, but in other ways has shifted healthcare delivery to focus more on profits than patients. We must remain vigilant and remember that patients are always the first priority.

And in the end, if we are going to truly make the Affordable Care Act, affordable, we must now begin serious discussions on how to reign in healthcare costs. This is precisely why I feel it is important to have a doctor such as myself in Congress so that people with real experience in the world of providing healthcare are at the table and the best interests of patients are always represented.

Dayle Steinberg, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania:

“This decision will have a profound and concrete impact on millions of people’s lives. Affordable, quality health care will now be available to millions of women who had no coverage or inadequate coverage before. Today, we are closer than ever to realizing the promise of health care for all.  This is a victory for the American people, and we thank President Obama and the members of Congress who passed the Affordable Care Act for their leadership on this issue.” said Dayle Steinberg, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania.  “
“At Planned Parenthood, we know how important this law and this decision are for women and families, because we see the need for affoCrdable health care every day. Women who come into Planned Parenthood health centers often struggle to balance paying for birth control and health services with paying for textbooks, groceries, or gas for the car. The Affordable Care Act will make those decisions easier for women across the country,” Steinberg said.

Aryanna Strader, Democratic candidate for the 16th congressional district:
"As a mom, I am pleased to know that children with pre-existing conditions will now not run the risk of being denied coverage by the insurance industry. In addition to that, I am comforted in that we won't again see the day where women experience the economic injustice of paying up to 150 percent more than men for an insurance policy and will have the freedom to choose their own doctors. Those who remain ardently opposed to those basic rights must continue to accept that they believe the profits of the insurance industry are more important than the equality of every American's health.

"But there is more work to be done. As a small business owner, I understand the bottom line and that we must push forward on cost containment in arena of how we provide healthcare. We must approach this work from a basic foundation that the health and care of every American should never be considered a commodity for the opportunity of market risk and extreme profits."

Congressman Jason Altmire, Democrat, 4th congressional district:

“I agree with today's ruling. Although I voted against the 2010 health care reform bill, I never believed, nor did I ever argue, that it would be found unconstitutional. I voted against the bill because my constituents were overwhelmingly against it, and because I believed that bill was flawed policy. Two years later, I still believe that the law does not adequately strike the balance between expanding coverage, improving quality, and lowering costs. Now that the Court has ruled, it is my hope that we can once and for all put the acrimonious political debate behind us and do what we should have been doing all along -- working together in a bipartisan fashion to improve upon the law and bring down health care cost for American families, businesses, and the government.”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fact Sheet on Affordable Care Act

from the inbox:

FACT SHEET: The Affordable Care Act: Secure Health Coverage for the Middle Class
The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act ensures hard-working, middle class families will get the security they deserve and protects every American from the worst insurance company abuses.  This law was also specifically designed to give States the resources and flexibility they need to tailor their approach to their unique needs.  With the uncertainty about the Court’s decision behind us, it’s now time to focus on implementing this law in a smart and non-bureaucratic way that works for the middle class. 
Benefits and Protections for the Middle Class: The Affordable Care Act includes numerous provisions to keep health care costs low, promote prevention, and hold insurance companies accountable.  If you’re one of the 250 million Americans who already have health care – whether through private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid – the Affordable Care Act is already making your coverage more secure. 
·         Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your child coverage due to a pre-existing condition, or charge women more than men.
·         Over 86 million Americans have gained from coverage of preventive care free of charge, like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors.
·         Nearly 13 million Americans will receive a rebate this summer because their insurance company spent too much of their premium dollars on administrative costs or CEO bonuses. 
·         The law has already helped 5.3 million seniors and people with disabilities save an average of over $600 on prescription drugs in the “donut hole” in Medicare coverage.
·         The law’s provisions to strengthen and protect Medicare by fighting fraud will continue.
·         The law has helped 6.6 million young adults who have been able to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, including 3.1 million young people who are newly insured.
If you are one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.  If you need care, you will finally have the same opportunity to get quality, affordable coverage as everyone else.
Coverage for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions: A major impact of the Court's decision is that 129 million people with pre-existing conditions will have the security of affordable health coverage.  Starting in 2014, insurance companies can no longer charge you more, carve out benefits, or deny you coverage altogether because you have cancer or diabetes or simply because you are a woman.  To make these protections affordable, people with and without pre-existing conditions should be insured, since everyone at some time needs health care. 
Tax Credits for Middle Class Families and Small Businesses: Millions of Americans will soon be eligible for tax credits to ensure that their health insurance is affordable. Under today’s ruling, having health insurance is and will continue to be a choice.  If you can’t afford insurance or you’re a small business that wants to provide affordable insurance to your employees, you’ll get tax credits that make coverage affordable.  But starting in 2014, if you can afford insurance and you choose not to purchase it, the taxpayers will no longer subsidize your care for free.  The Court’s ruling today allows Congress to hold the projected 1% of Americans who will be able to afford health insurance but will choose not to buy it responsible for that choice.  Many small businesses are already receiving tax credits so they can afford to offer quality health care to their employees.  To date, 360,000 businesses that employ 2 million workers have already benefitted from the small business tax cuts in the law.  And once the Affordable Care Act takes full effect, about 18 million individuals and families will get tax credits for health insurance coverage averaging about $4,000 apiece.
Support for State Implementation of Affordable Insurance Exchanges: With the uncertainty of the Court decision behind us, we will step up our work with States to implement Affordable Insurance Exchanges.  Exchanges are new marketplaces, starting in 2014, that will allow individuals and small businesses to compare and choose private health plans.   Each State will take the lead in designing its own menu of options.  Already, 34 States including the District of Columbia have received 100 percent Federally funded grants to build Exchanges.  The use of Exchange grants includes support for activities related to running Exchanges in their start-up year.
States can also implement their own brand of reform through Innovation Waivers starting in 2017.  If States can come up with even better ways of covering people at the same quality and low cost, this law allows them to do so.  The Administration supports bipartisan legislation to allow States to start such Waivers in 2014.
Moving Forward, Not Back: No political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and the President will work with anyone to provide basic security for middle class families and end the worst insurance company abuses.  But rather than refight old partisan battles by starting over on health care and repealing basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs.  Right now, Congress should act on the President’s concrete plans to create an economy built to last by reducing the deficit in a balanced way and investing in education, clean energy, infrastructure, and innovation.

Santarsiero Updates Site

State Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-31, Bucks Co) has updated his campaign website.  Take a look at:  --  my only suggestion -- put the district number on the site somewhere.  I had to go to his legislative site ( to find it.

Health Care in PA has prepared state by state information sheets (see the Pennsylvania data) on the Affordable Care Act.  The site is managed by the Dept of Health and Human Services.  Here is an excerpt:

Creating new coverage options for individuals with pre-existing conditions As of April 2012, 5,355 previously uninsured residents of Pennsylvania who were locked out of the coverage system because of a pre-existing condition are now insured through a new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that was created under the new health reform law. To learn more about the plan available in Pennsylvania, check here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SEPTA Saves Energy

an announcement from SEPTA:

Operations recently began on a pilot program at the Letterly Substation, where battery-like devices are capturing energy generated by Market-Frankford Line trains. The trains create energy during the braking process, and now, that power can be stored and put back to use on the line. This can help SEPTA reduce the amount of power it needs to purchase to power these trains – and also creates an opportunity to generate new revenue, as this captured energy can be sold on the power market. This pilot project was launched in partnership with Viridity Energy, which received a $900,000 state grant for the initiative.

Read more in today's Inquirer, "SEPTA is putting the brakes -- the El's brakes -- on wasted energy," by Andrew Maykuth 6/27/2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Your Tax Dollars at Work

SB723 is working its way through our state legislature.  You can find all versions of it online.  For an exercise in what happens in Harrisburg take a look at the earliest version (271) and the latest version (2273).  The earliest version has been completely gutted and replaced with wording that reflects a completely different concept.  Example?  The original wording amended the law to allow people to defend themselves, with deadly force, if they were in danger of rape.  The latest version removes all that and puts in wording about how terrible it is when cities enact gun laws. 

This sort of thing happens all the time and it's just plain wrong.

PCN Offers Subscription Service

This sounds cool.

The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) will be bringing a new way to view its original programming on the web. Starting Thursday, July 5, the statewide public affairs network will offer a new subscription service called, PCN Select, which will allow users the chance to view PCN’s popular original programs anytime and anywhere.

PCN will stay true to its mission by continuing to provide free access to all public affairs programming on its PCN+ streaming page; while only programs produced by the network will be offered as part of the PCN Select subscription service. The only exception is an exclusive offer for “Weather World” fans. To learn more, view the promotional spot

Those interested in paying $24.99 for PCN Select can get an all-access pass for one year to PCN originals including “PCN Tours,” “PA Books,” “Journalists Roundtable,” “On the Issues,” the “PCN Call-In program,” “It’s History!” and the network’s exclusive sports coverage.  “Gettysburg Battlewalks” as well as extensive coverage of the PA State Farm Show and Groundhog Day will also be part of this streaming opportunity.

Exclusive for those fans of “Weather World” who never want to miss a forecast will be a streaming option for a year’s subscription of $9.99. 

Viewers can also opt to view PCN’s stream with a $7.99 option. This will allow full-access to the PCN stream for a 24-hour period.

To sign up for PCN Select, visit the PCN website at All payments will be accepted through PayPal.

Almost every cable operator throughout the state carries PCN; making all of PCN’s programming available to those who subscribe to cable. PCN Select gives streaming access to the programs produced by PCN for those with or without cable. Free streaming of all public affairs programming will remain on the network’s LIVE streaming page, PCN +.

In the near future, the network will be offering a mobile app for smartphones and tablets. Full access to archived network original content is also scheduled in the future.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Turzai on Voter ID

Our friends at PoliticsPA have reported on a statement that House Majority Leader, State Rep Mike Turzai made at the Republican State Committee meeeting this past weekend.  Here is what he said:

“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

A couple of things to say here.  One, so the abortion facility regulations were not, as was claimed at the time, about making legal procedures safer, but intended as decreasing access to legal procedures.  That's what I suspected but it's nice to have formal verification.

Second, so much for VoterID being about voter fraud. 

For more details see "Turzai:  Voter ID Law Means Romney Can Win PA," by Kelly Cernetich

PA TIGER Projects

On Friday the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced 47 transportation projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia that will receive a total of almost $500 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) 2012 program.

Two Pennsylvania projects were in the mix:

The Wayne Junction Power Substation serves a critical role in the Philadelphia region’s commuter network, powering much of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority’s (SEPTA) transit systems. This TIGER grant will allow the City of Philadelphia to rebuild the substation, which was originally constructed in 1931 and has been in continuous operation ever since. The project will also replace 25 indoor and outdoor rail breakers, transformers, cut-out switches, relays, and control equipment.

Total project cost:  $25,725,397
Grant award:  $12,862,699

TIGER will fund the building of the East Liberty Transit Center, which will be the multimodal heart of a large, transit-oriented development center between the communities of East Liberty, Shadyside, and Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh. This suite of complementary improvements includes a two-level transit station linking the bus rapid transit service with street level bus service as well as realignment and reopening of streets, sidewalks, streetscapes, a replacement road bridge, adaptive traffic signals, and a bike and pedestrian access bridge.

Total project cost:  $34,020,056
Grant award:  $15,000,000

Sunday, June 24, 2012

G Washington and the Individual Mandate

There was an interesting item in today's Politico Playbook, quoting from "Obama's legal tactics seen as possibly hurting chances of saving health-care law," by Peter Wallsten, in the 6/23 Washington Post.  I'm embarrassed to say I was not aware of this:

To defend the health-care mandate, for instance, the government could have cited past measures such as a 1792 law signed by President George Washington requiring able-bodied men 18 or older to purchase a musket and ammunition. Several scholars, even former president Bill Clinton, have cited the 18th-century law as an example of an individual mandate that happened to be imposed by a president with impeccable originalist bona fides.

Who knew?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

White House Summer Internship PA Participants

The White House Internship Program announced today the participants for the Summer 2012 session. The mission of the program is to make the White House accessible to future leaders around the nation and to prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities.

Those with a Pennsylvania hometown or Pennsylvania college listed are:

Barrett, Daniel Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA; Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz College of Public Policy and Management
Bleiberg, Sarah Hometown: Wynnewood, PA; Tufts University
Bloom, Colette Hometown: Great Neck, NY; University of Pennsylvania
Delp, Valerie Hometown: Churchville, PA; Pepperdine University School of Law
Esten, Anna Hometown: West Chester, PA; Middlebury College
Finkelstein, Morgan Hometown: Sarasota, FL; University of Pennsylvania
Forde, Dana Hometown: Indiana, PA; Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Gordon, Jeffrey Hometown: Haverford, PA; Yale University
Hossain, Akbar Hometown: Norristown, PA; Franklin and Marshall College
Lopez, David Hometown: Hazleton, PA; Temple University
Metzman, Corey Hometown: Nashville, TN; University of Pennsylvania
O'Dea, Kathryn Hometown: Swarthmore, PA; Princeton University
Rosenberg, Matthew Hometown: East Northport, NY; Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College
Stieber, Molly Hometown: Lititz, PA; University of Pittsburgh
Tjoa, Aaron Hometown: Buffalo, NY; University of Pennsylvania Law School
Walsh, Elizabeth Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA; University of Pennsylvania
Zelicof, Colin Hometown: Scarsdale, NY; University of Pennsylvania

Friday, June 22, 2012

SEPTA SBE Networking Session

This Tuesday, June 26th, SEPTA is hosting a “This Small Change Is BIG” business networking Event at the Circa Center from 9 a.m. to noon. This event is geared toward for-profit small businesses with average gross receipts of $22.41 million or a business owner with a personal net worth of $1.32 million who’s interested in doing business with SEPTA. SEPTA’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program office will host an informational session to explain its new Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program. Afterwards a networking session will be held.

Politics and Women This Week

A few gender related items in this week's news: Michigan State House Representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on the House floor this week after she used an anatomically correct word for a specific part of the female anatomy. Read her statement on CNN (video available): Lisa Brown: "Silenced for Saying (Shock) 'Vagina'," . Note this statement near the end:

In the aftermath of this, Rep. Jim Stamas, whose job it was to issue the edict against me, said he "honestly had no idea it would become such an issue." I find it amazing that a fellow legislator wouldn't understand why it's outrageous not to just silence me, but my 90,000 constituents.

The Obama campaign released a new ad today aimed specifically at women voters:
Obama for America today released the first in a series of television advertisements that highlight President Obama’s commitment to issues important to women and their families. The new ad – “First Law” – illustrates President Obama’s belief that hard work should pay off for all Americans. That’s why the first bill he signed into law was The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps ensure women can fight for the same pay as men for doing the same work. President Obama knows that equal pay for women means a stronger middle class for America.

“First Law” will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia.

Please click HERE to watch the ad and HERE to learn more about President Obama’s record on issues important to women and their families.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

HHS: Some PA Residents to Receive Insurance Rebates

from the inbox:

Today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that 576,000 Pennsylvania residents will benefit from $51.6 million in rebates from insurance companies this summer, because of the Affordable Care Act’s 80/20 rule. These rebates will average $165 for the 312,000 Pennsylvania families covered by a policy.

The health care law generally requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of consumers’ premium dollars on medical care and quality improvement. Insurers can spend the remaining 20 percent on administrative costs, such as salaries, sales and advertising. Beginning this year, insurers must notify customers how much of their premiums have been spent on medical care and quality improvement.

Insurance companies that do not meet the 80/20 standard are required to provide their customers a rebate for the difference no later than August 1, 2012. The 80/20 rule is also known as the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) standard.

"The 80/20 rule helps ensure consumers get fair value for their health care dollar," Secretary Sebelius said.

Pennsylvanians owed a rebate will see their value reflected in one of the following ways:

· a rebate check in the mail;
· a lump-sum reimbursement to the same account that is used to pay the premium if by credit card or debit card;
· a reduction in their future premiums; and
· their employer providing one of the above, or applying the rebate in a manner that benefits its employees.

Insurance companies that do not meet the 80/20 standard will send their policyholders a rebate for the difference no later than August 1, 2012. Consumers will also receive a notice from their insurance company informing them of the 80/20 rule, whether their company met the standard, and, if not, how much of a difference between what the insurer did or did not spend on medical care and quality improvement will be returned to them.

For the first time, all of this information will be publicly posted on this summer, allowing consumers to learn what value they’re getting for their premium dollars in their health plan.

For many consumers, the 80/20 rule motivated their plans to lower prices or improve their coverage to meet the standard. This is one of the ways the 80/20 rule is bringing value to consumers for their health care dollars.

For a detailed breakdown of these rebates by State and by market, please visit:

For the text of these proposed notifications, please visit:

For more information on the MLR provision in the Affordable Care Act:

For more information on how the Affordable Care Act is creating a transparent market for health insurance, visit:

Planned Parenthood on Mike Fitzpatrick

from the inbox:

Mike Fitzpatrick has a ZERO percent voting record on Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s scorecard. As someone who represents our moderate district in Pennsylvania, Fitzpatrick has no problem taking these extreme positions when it comes to women’s health. In spite of the broad public support for family planning, Fitzpatrick voted to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that serves nearly three million people annually. The voters don’t want this, but Fitzpatrick voted to defund Planned Parenthood anyway.

In fact, polling as recent as March of this year, polling demonstrates a significant majority of voters in battleground states, including PA, support funding for Planned Parenthood.* A near consensus exists that women should have access to birth control, that insurers should cover it, and that the decision to use birth control is a private one. Voters decisively object to a wide range of attacks on women’s health care, and strongly continue to support Planned Parenthood – nearly two thirds (63 percent) of all voters oppose prohibiting Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds to pay for birth control, maternity care, and cancer screenings.

Mike Fitzpatrick’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood is even more critical than many, as here in the 8th Congressional District, Planned Parenthood is the ONLY provider that receives such funds. Planned Parenthood is the ONLY provider of reproductive health care and preventive family planning services that accepts Medicaid and provides services not only to women who have private insurance, but to the large majority of our approximately 15,000 patients in Bucks County who come to us because of our sliding fee scale, based on family income. They come to us with support from these funds for life saving cancer screenings, general health screenings like blood pressure checks, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, HIV testing, and to get FDA approved methods of birth control.

If Mike Fitzpatrick truly cared about women, he wouldn’t vote to defund the ONLY organization in his district that provides essential health screenings and preventive care to thousands of women who can’t afford care any where else.

Planned Parenthood PA Advocates, Planned Parenthood’s statewide political arm, is pleased to join CREDO SuperPAC’s Take Down Fitzpatrick campaign to help point out Mike Fitzpatrick’s abysmal record on women’s health.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Two Education Bills

I've been getting a lot of email recently about two bills, one federal and one state, on sexual abuse of children in schools or by teachers.  Like almost everyone I deplore this kind of crime.  However, there are some issues with these bills. 

The Jeremy Bell Bill, sponsored by PA Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-08).  You can read the entire bill at, it is HR 3766.  There are only seven co-sponsors, four of them are also Pennsylvania Republicans:  Charlie Dent (R-15), Jim Gerlach (R-06), Pat Meehan (R-07), and Todd Russell Plats (R-19).

One of the  main sections of the bill reads as follows:

Sec. 1822. Transfers for employment of individuals engaging in child sex acts

    `(a) Prohibition on the Interstate Transfer of Child Sex Offenders- Whoever, being an employer, directs, causes, persuades, induces, or entices the travel in interstate commerce of an employee in one State with the purpose or effect of facilitating the employment of such employee in another State, if the employer knows that such employee engaged in a sexual conduct with an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
    `(b) Definitions- As used in this section--
      `(1) the term `sexual conduct' means any sexual conduct, unless the employee was convicted of a crime for that conduct and has satisfied the terms and conditions imposed as a result of that conviction, if the conduct--
        `(A) is a sexual act or sexual contact as those terms are defined in section 2246;
        `(B) occurred during the course of employment; and
        `(C) would constitute a felony violation of the criminal law applicable where it took place; and
There are a couple of things that concern me -- one is that an employee who has served time for the offense can be encouraged to move.  Perhaps that is because they would show up in a crime database?  Another is that the working is rather vague on what constitutes knowledge.  Are people responsible for rumors they hear?

Here is another section of the bill:

`SEC. 9538. STATE LAW.

    `(a) State Law on Reporting Incidents of Sexual Conduct Involving a Minor- As a condition of receiving funds under this Act, a State shall have in effect and be enforcing a State law and State policy that, as determined by the Secretary, ensures the following:
      `(1) Individuals employed at a school located in the State report to law enforcement officials any known or suspected incidents of sexual conduct involving a minor and an individual employed at the school or any other school in the State.
      `(2) The State ensures that any individual who violates paragraph (1) by failing to report to law enforcement officials any such incidents is fined or otherwise penalized.
      `(3) The State makes available in an interstate clearinghouse to schools, local educational agencies, and State educational agencies, the identity of any individual--
        `(A) who was reported under paragraph (1) as being involved in an incident of sexual conduct with a minor; and
        `(B) whose employment at a school in the State was terminated as a result of the incident.
      `(4) The State creates safeguards to ensure that the information described in paragraph (3) is only made available to schools, local educational agencies, and State educational agencies, and not the general public.

It requires people to report suspected cases, but such information is limited to schools, not the general public.  There is no wording on holding an investigation.  There is no way for anyone to clear their name.  Once suspected always under a cloud.  I wish the wording were a little better on the process here.  

The state bill, SB1381, introduced by Sen. Anthony Williams, and co-sponsored by Senators Piccola, Dinniman, Washington, Farnese, Fontana, Rafferty, Costa, Waugh, Browne, and Boscola. It was originally introduced in January but was significantly altered by an amendment in May.  Initially it left no possibility for people to clear their name.  The amendment allowed for investigations that ended with evidence of false allegations to be expunged.  

Even so, I still have some problems with it.  To be hired in any kind of school applicants have to provide a list of all previous employers going back ten years (or back to the applicant's 18th birthday), along with the employers address and phone number.  For people who have been substitute teachers at a number of school systems that could be difficult.  An employee who leaves while under investigation must be reported as such.  There does not appear to be any way to clear their name unless they remain at that school until the investigation is complete and the allegations are found false. 

Any school employee who responds to requests about current or former employees is released from criminal or civil liability unless they know the information is false.  Not releasing the information can lead to penalties.

I wholeheartedly approve of legislation that keeps predatory people away from children in any setting.  However, I have qualms about these two pieces of legislation, that if they are passed innocent people will be prevented from applying for jobs or unfairly barred from jobs in the education field.  There is a delicate balance to protecting children and maintaining due process and equitable hiring practices.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

EPLC Fellow Program

from the inbox:

Applications are available now for the 2012-2013 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).

With more than 300 graduates in its first thirteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  Act 48 credits are available to individuals holding Pennsylvania teaching or administrative certificates, and State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.

Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.

The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 13-14, 2012 and continues to graduation in June 2013.

WTO Rules for US Against China

from Friday's inbox:

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the United States has prevailed in a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute regarding China’s imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on grain-oriented flat-rolled electrical steel (GOES) from the United States.  A WTO dispute settlement panel sided with the United States, finding that China conducted an investigation and applied duties in a manner inconsistent with numerous obligations under the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement, and Anti-Dumping Agreement.  Ambassador Kirk applauded the WTO panel’s decision, lauding the ruling as a success in ensuring China’s compliance with its WTO commitments.
“Today’s victory is important not only for steelworkers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, but also for American farmers and workers in other sectors that export to China.  The panel upheld our claims that China’s duties on U.S. exports of steel products failed to comply with many WTO rules.  This decision sends another clear signal to China that it must do more to fulfill its WTO commitments, and that it will be held accountable to play by WTO rules," said Ambassador Kirk.  

See a copy of the Panel’s report here:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Aryanna Strader for Congress in 16th District

Army veteran Aryanna Strader is running for congress in the 16th congressional district, against long time incumbent Joe Pitts.  She owns a small business, and lives with her family in Kennett Square.

The campaign has an interesting looking logo on their website:

Adam Bonin, Credit Where Credit is Due

Adam Bonin, local legal eagle, blogger, and friend of bloggers, is featured in a recent issue of Super Lawyers.  You can read about his professional work on page 9 of that publication

Thursday, June 14, 2012

PA Librarians Movin' and Shakin'

I've spent more time in hospitals, doctor's offices, and other medical settings in the past 7 months than in the previous 7 years combined.  There is not a lot to read in most medical settings, other than popular celebrity magazines.  At one visit I found an issue (3/15/2012) of Library Journal, not your usual medical office reading.  It highlighted the nation's "movers and shakers."  Two Pennsylvania librarians were listed:

Khaleef Aye, Free Library of Philadelphia
Corey Witting, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh


"Stop Hunger at Your Station" Extended Another Week

from the inbox:

SEPTA’s fourth annual “Stop Hunger at Your Station” food drive has been extended one more week — to June 22 — giving the Authority’s customers the opportunity to help more Greater Philadelphia region families.

The drive supports Philabundance. This year, contributions will specifically benefit the organization’s summer meals program to provide food for children who do not receive free and reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches once the school year ends.

“Because the need for food from families across the Delaware Valley is so great, we knew we needed to keep the drive going longer,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey. “Extending the event will significantly help Philabundance fill its shelves with necessary food items and help even more parents struggling to feed their families.”  Philabundance agencies have seen a 26 percent increase in need over the past year, compared to a 22 percent increase in the previous year. Of the population Philabundance
serves, approximately 23 percent are children.

Through June 22, SEPTA will collect donations of canned and boxed goods in marked barrels at 45 designated locations throughout the transit system. For a list of collection locations, visit CCT customers wishing to participate will be able to give their canned good contributions to their vehicle operator.

In 2011, SEPTA’s customers and employees contributed almost 17.8 tons of food, bringing the three-year food drive total to more than 46 tons. The community can participate in the 2012 drive by contributing the following items:
• Canned or shelf stabilized tuna
• Canned pasta
• Canned beef ravioli
• Creamy peanut butter (plastic containers only, please)
• Jelly (plastic containers only, please)

The public can also make a donation to Philabundance online to help feed neighbors in need. Any monetary contribution will count toward the total collected through the SEPTA 2012 campaign.

Philabundance is the largest hunger-relief organization in the Delaware Valley, serving nine counties and feeding 65,000 people every week. In 2011, Philabundance distributed 19 million pounds of food in its service area and an additional two million pounds to other area food banks.

Recent Paul Drucker News

Paul Drucker is running to regain the state house seat, the 157th district, that he was elected to in 2008 but lost in 2010.    He has released a new position statement on transportation and jobs.  Transportation is one of Drucker's areas of interest.  The Paoli train station is in his district.  According to the Great American Stations website, the Paoli station is the most heavily used station in the western Philadelphia suburbs.  Drucker has continued an active role in the communities he represented.  He was appointed to the board of directors for the Greater Philadelphia Phoenixville Chamber of Commerce as well as TMACC (Transportation Management Association of Chester County.) Earlier this year SEPTA announced it was designating $7.5 million to design a new station in Paoli ("Paoli station gets design money, but no shovel for awhile," by Alan Thomas, Mainline Media News, 2/05/2012).

Drucker was the first Democrat elected in the 157thdistrict.  Prior to that he was the first Democrat elected to the Tredyffrin Township supervisor in the township's history.  His re-election campaign is considered by many to be the keystone race in the keystone state.   The 157th, is in Chester and Montgomery Counties, in the Tredyffrin Township, Phoenixville area. 

This evening three sitting state representative, Dwight Evans, Mike Gerber, and Cherelle Parker, were among those hosting a fund-raising event for Drucker in Mt. Airy.  The state house was in session until around 7:30 so the three were not able to attend.  About 25 people came out to hear Drucker talk about the worked he had done representing his district while he was in office, and since then, as well as priorities for the coming election.  Among those, besides transportation, are jobs,  education, and conservation.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Three Polls

Information on three polls crossed my screen the past few days.

from PADems:

In case you missed it, today Quinnipiac University released a new poll of Pennsylvania voters that placed President Obama six points up over Mitt Romney in the Commonwealth. Only 35 percent of Pennsylvanians viewed Romney favorably, while 42 percent of Pennsylvanians have an unfavorable view of Romney. Mitt Romney's top Pennsylvania endorser, Tom Corbett, fares even worse. Only 36 percent of Pennsylvanians approve of Tom Corbett's job performance while 47 percent disapprove, making Tom Corbett one of America's least popular governors. With numbers like that, it's no wonder that even Mitt Romney doesn't think he can win here: 

PoliticsPA has dueling polling memos in the 6th Congressional district.  Incumbent Rep. Gerlach's poll shows he has good name recognition.  Challenger Dr. Manan Trivedi's polling memo shows that if people are read a biographical statement about him they like him.  Redistricting has changed the constituency of the 6th and that could affect the election outcome.  Read more.

The 7th congressional district has changed shape dramatically.  Democrat George Badey is challenging incumbent Rep. Pat Meehan.  As might be expected, Meehan has a significant lead among potential voters.  But when they are told some of his positions, especially those on Medicare and women's health issues.  Read more and see the polling memo on PoliticsPA.

SEPTA Summer Schedule Changes

from the inbox:
SEPTA would like to alert customers to seasonal schedule changes and other service adjustments set to go effect on Sunday and Monday, June 17-18.

Most summer schedule changes include minor timetable adjustments on transit and Regional Rail services due to changes in ridership patterns.
Other changes set to take effect include the discontinuation of service on Route 134 and a detour on Route 129 to accommodate a road construction project.
The Route 134, which runs from Montgomery Mall to Chestnut Hill, is being eliminated due to a lack of external funding. Some Route 134 riders can get service to-and-from Montgomery Mall and points between Chestnut Hill and Ambler by using Route 94 bus service.
The Route 129 service adjustments will begin Sunday in conjunction with construction in Bristol Township by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The Route 129 provides service between Frankford Avenue and Knights Road and Oxford Valley Mall.
During construction, the Ford Road Bridge over I-95 will be closed. SEPTA will detour Route 129 buses between New Falls and Newportville roads, and Ford and Wharton roads. Also, service to Crossing Drive and Frost Road in the Keystone Industrial Park will be suspended during construction, which is expected to continue through September 2013.
On Regional Rail, SEPTA’s 5:43 p.m. weekday inbound train on the Wilmington/Newark Line will make two additional stops, at Market East and Temple University stations.
Summer schedules for routes with timetable, map or service updates are available at customer locations. As part of an effort to control costs and resources, SEPTA is only reprinting schedules for routes and lines on which service is changing; all others will continue to follow current timetables.
New summer schedules are available online at

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DOE Projects in PA

Today the Energy Department announced more than $54 million new investments in manufacturing, with an additional $17 million in cost share from the private sector.  Of the 13 projects two are in Pennsylvania.  

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
Partners:  The Pennsylvania State University
Location:  Allentown, PA
Bioelectrochemical Integration of Waste Heat Recovery, Waste-to-Energy Conversion, and Waste-to-Chemical Conversion with Ind:  $1,200,000
This project combines a microbial reverse electrodialysis technology with waste heat recovery to convert effluents into electricity and chemical products including hydrogen gas. This technology uses salinity gradients to overcome the thermodynamic barriers and over potential associated with hydrogen production. This technology will be applicable to a wide variety of U.S. industrial sectors, including the chemical, food, pharmaceutical, and refinery industries and, by providing on-site electricity generation, could save industry 40 trillion Btus annually and further offset 6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. 

Lyondell Chemical Company
Partners:  BASF Qtech Inc. and Quantiam Technologies Inc.
Location:  Newtown Square, PA
Catalyst-Assisted Production of Olefins from Natural Gas Liquids: Prototype Development and Full-Scale Testing
Cost Share:  $2,199,895
DOE Investment:  $4,500,000
This project will use a new coating material to reduce surface deposits (unwanted byproducts) and improve the energy efficiency of ethylene production. As ethylene production is the largest user of energy in the chemical industry, a 6 to 10% per plant reduction in energy consumption would result in an annual energy savings of 20-35 trillion Btus. The proposed technology can be installed during the normal maintenance cycle, and, with the growing availability of shale gas, it has the potential to help the U.S. maintain its position as a world leader in olefins production.

SEPTA Bus Route 34 Track Work

from the inbox:

Due to a track renewal project, shuttle buses will replace trolleys on SEPTA’s Route 34 from the 40th Street Portal to the 61st Street Loop beginning Sunday, June 17 through Saturday, September 1, 2012.

Track renewal will take place on Baltimore Avenue from 40th to 42nd Street, 49th to 52nd Street, 54th to 55th Street and at the intersection at 58th Street. Some of the track in this area was installed in the early 1980s. Replacement is necessary because the street structure supporting the tracks has deteriorated due to water leaks, traffic and the age of the street structure. SEPTA will excavate, renew and pave approximately 7,500 track feet eastbound and westbound. The new track will result in reduced sound, as the continuous welded rail will eliminate rail joints; reduced vibration because the new rail is incased in an insulated rubber boot; and a smoother ride due to the new track structure also being encased by rubber boot.

The project will be completed in four phases; however, shuttle bus service will be in effect for the entire length of the project. The phases of the project are:

• Phase 1, June 17-July 7, 2012: Reconstruction of both tracks between 40th and 42nd Streets. The entire two-block stretch of Baltimore Avenue in this area will be closed during this phase.

• Phase 2, July 1-August 4, 2012: Reconstruction of both tracks between 49th and 52nd Streets. All construction will be maintained in a moving two-block area.

• Phase 3, July 29-August 18, 2012: Reconstruction of both tracks between 54th and 55th Streets. The entire two-block area of Baltimore Avenue will be closed.

• Phase 4, August 11-September 1, 2012: Reconstruction of both tracks through the intersection of 58th Street and Baltimore Avenue. The intersection will be closed during this final construction phase.

Normal construction hours will be Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Weekend work may be required to maintain the project schedule. Vehicular traffic, including buses, will be detoured around the construction sites. All side streets in the construction areas will be closed to thru traffic, but local traffic will be permitted up to construction sites. Parking exceptions will be made for those with special needs. Access for businesses will be arranged.

Special Education Reform Resources

On June 4th the Pennsylvania Senate passed a special education reform bill (SB 1115); it will now move to the Pennsylvania House.  There are several resources about this bill online as part of

The bill, as amended, provides for:

o Increase the accuracy of the special education formula by using three weights;
o Establish a transparent process to set the final formula weights and other formula components through a legislative commission and subsequent regulation;
o Maintain spending at current levels for 2012-13;
o Streamline and strengthen school district accountability without imposing excess bureaucracy, applied when sufficient funds are appropriated in future years;
o Maintain the Contingency Fund and make it more accountable and transparent; and
o Seek cost savings and efficiencies in state administrative operations and by helping to avoid the over-identification of students for special education.
o Provide for the establishment of an effective formula to distribute state funding for special education, without creating compulsory annual targets or limiting the discretion of the General Assembly;

Cost of Proposed Shell Tax Credits

Our friends at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center have done some analysis of the trade offs in the proposed tax credits the governor wants to offer Shell Oil to put an ethylene "cracker" plant in Pennsylvania.  Here is their brief summary:

The new Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit is not the only tax benefit Shell would receive under the governor’s plan. Act 16 of 2012, enacted in March, exempts Shell’s cracker facility site in Beaver County from corporate income and property taxes for 15 years. During that time, Shell would likely have unused Resource Manufacturing Tax Credits that it could sell for cash — up to $66 million a year.

Act 16 requires Shell to create 400 jobs. This is consistent with the jobs created at similar cracker plants. If the Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit is enacted, the 400 permanent jobs at the plant will come at a hefty price to taxpayers, $165,000 per year per job, or $4.125 million per job over the 25-year life of the program. Shell also expects 10,000 construction jobs to be created during site development, but that would be a short-term boost to employment.

While proponents have claimed this project will create tens of thousands of jobs, much of those are estimates of jobs that might be created in spinoff industries or in unrelated businesses, like restaurants and shops. The job numbers are speculative and dependent on the decisions of other companies that are not receiving this special tax credit. With the precedent of such generous tax treatment for Shell, other companies might demand tax credits as well.

To the extent that the cracker facility does attract jobs to the region, the workers who fill them will hail from Ohio and West Virginia as well as Pennsylvania, but only the commonwealth’s taxpayers will be paying for Shell’s tax breaks.

You can read their full report on their website.

Only one company, Shell Oil, currently has plans to develop a cracker plant in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. The proposed tax credit would be a windfall for Shell, whose parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, is the second largest company in the world, with revenue of $484 billion in 2011 and profits of $31 billion.

Affordable Care Act in PA

from the inbox:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced that the Affordable Care Act helped 573,472 people in Pennsylvania with original Medicare receive at least one preventive service at no cost to them during the first five months of 2012. This includes 32,573 who have taken advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Nationally, 14,297,266 people in Medicare received at least one free preventive service during the first five months of this year. This includes 1,100,592 people who benefited from the Annual Wellness Visit. In 2011, 32.5 million people in Medicare received one or more preventive benefits free of charge.

“Thanks to the health care law, millions of Americans are getting cancer screenings, mammograms and other preventive services for free,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “These free preventive services are helping people in Medicare stay healthy and lower their health care costs.”

One of the major goals of the Affordable Care Act is to help people stay healthy by giving them the tools they need to take charge of their own health and prevent health problems before they happen.

Prior to 2011, people with Medicare faced cost-sharing for many preventive benefits such as cancer screenings. Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive benefits are offered free of charge to beneficiaries, with no deductible or co-pay, so that cost is no longer a barrier for seniors who want to stay healthy and treat problems early. The law also added an important new service for people with Medicare — an Annual Wellness Visit with the doctor of their choice— at no cost to beneficiaries.

For more information on Medicare-covered preventive services, please visit:

To learn what screenings, vaccinations and other preventive services doctors recommend for you and those you care about, please visit the myhealthfinder tool at>