Friday, June 30, 2006

Kudos #2: State Legislative Reports in the Inky

A big giant huzzah! to the Inquirer for reporting more state legislative news. I noticed this week that stories on the state house or senate were accompanied by boxed reports on other items discussed, passed, or introduced. Thank you thank you thank you!

Kudos #1: Patrick Murphy a Top Ten Mapchanger

Patrick Murphy, Democratic candidate for the 8th congressional district, is among the top ten in Forward Together's Top Ten Mapchangers. Voting will begin soon to choose the national winner.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Congressional Candidate Reactions to Flooding in the 13th and 8th Districts

It's raining, it's pouring, and some of our congressional candidates are snoring. Let's take a look at the response, as demonstrated by press releases, web pages, emails, etc., from some area congressional candidates to recent flooding.

13th District (parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia)

Raj Bhakta, GOP candidate, has nothing on his web site about flooding at all, nor it is listed as a matter of concern on his issues page.

Incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz has nothing on her campaign site. Not about flooding, not about anything else, except a short bio and a page for contributions. However, on her legislative web site she has a special announcement box with flooding information. Click on it and you find guidelines for maneuvering through flooded areas, and signs of things to avoid, as well as suggestions for flood cleanup. These tips are taken from the City of Philadelphia's flood advice page and from FEMA. Schwartz also sent this information out to those on her email list.

This strikes me as an excellent use of resources, and not reinventing the wheel.

8th District (Bucks, a little of Montgomery County and some Philadelphia)

Incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick has this on the environment page in the issues section of his campaign web site:

Fitzpatrick has spent most of his public career working to reduce both the likelihood and impact of flooding when it occurs and fighting against construction within the floodplain. His first bill that passed the Congress addressed flooding in Bucks County and he has secured millions of dollars in federal assistance to assist Bucks County families, remove impediments within the floodplain and restore the ecosystem to its natural condition.

On his legislative web site he has photos of flooded areas and this:

Washington, Jun 29 - For residents of the 8th District in need of assistance as a result of flooding along the Delaware River, Congressman Fitzpatrick urges you to contact the following numbers: [number for flood insurance program and for his office]

Yesterday, he made a point of issuing a press release listing all of his accomplishments regarding flood control and starting with this paragraph:

"I share my constituents' concern that these heavy rains will create a situation that could surpass the damage from last year's floods. The torrent of rain that has soaked Bucks County and regions to our north now threaten to swell the Delaware River above its banks. I am in close contact with local, state, and federal authorities as well as the Delaware River Basin Commission for up-to-date information on the state of the river and what needs to be done to ensure that our residents are protected.

He remained in Washington.

His Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy, has changed the main page of his campaign web site to one that calls for volunteers to house evacuees, their pets, and places to store their belongings. It also lists items evacuees need and suggestions to drop off at school where evacuees staying or the campaign office. From that page you can enter the regular web site.

On his issues page:

In Bucks County and the 8th Congressional District, we need a flood mitigation plan to avoid the damage done to Bucks County every time the Delaware floods. We need to improve the air quality in Bucks County—among the worst in the nation. And we need a plan to preserve open space.

At one Murphy event I attended preparing for the "Meeting Patrick Murphy" post, I heard him talk about a flood that happened while he was a student at King's College in Wilkes-Barre. He called his hockey teammates and fellow ROTC students to come out and sandbag. I am told that last night he sent his apologies (and his wife) to a fundraiser while he delivered supplies to shelters and helped those evacuated from their homes.

Changing the main page of a web site may seem insignificant, but in this case it isn't. Tomorrow is the end of a quarterly campaign finance reporting quarter. Murphy was in the middle of an online fundraiser. Also highlighted on his main page was the Forward Together Mapchanger's event. Candidates who can get the most votes on that site will received $5,000 from Forward Together. By replacing his main page, Murphy was risking lost votes in Mapchangers, as well as potential contributions in his own online fundraiser. By deciding not to attend the fundraiser in Philadelphia he risked alienating potential supporters (though sending Jenni, accomplished and personable in her own right, was a shrewd move).

Patrick Murphy decided that being available to his neighbors, asking his volunteers to help evacuees instead of making fundraising calls, and turning his campaign site into a resource for those wanting to contribute in some way to those evacuated, was more important than a last minute push for campaign dollars. If we talk about wanting our elected officials to have their priorities in order, I think this is a great example of someone who does.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Miscellany of Links

A few items for your review:

Earlier this month I wrote about a Patrick Murphy event that Gwen Ifill attended. Her report on 3 congressional races in the suburban area (Lois Murphy / Jim Gerlach, Joe Sestak / Curt Weldon, Patrick Murphy / Mike Fitzpatrick) is available online, either as an audio or video file, as well as a printed transcript. Choose your option here.

You may have heard about Sen. Barack Obama's speech on faith in politics. A transcript is available here. You may also enjoy reading some of the local blogosphere's comments on this same subject earlier this year. (my view, other views)

A Smoke-Filled Room has all the news on Michael Nutter's mayoral announcement.

The Continuing Saga of the 151st and This Old House

Recently I wrote on an issue in the 151st state house district. Incumbent GOP State Rep Gene McGill has been living in a township-owned house, exchanging renovation work for rent. There are a few sticking points. He is on the board of a non-profit organization that received state money to pay for part of the renovation. The plot thickens. McGill did not apply for permits to do some of the work on the house. In addition:

McGill, a Republican who represents eastern Montgomery County, said he used some state grant dollars to install a new wood-burning stove, upgrade the plumbing, renovate the bathroom and make other improvements since he moved into the house on the township-owned Penrose-Strawbridge property off Governor Road early last summer.

The Intelligencer has asked to see the inside of the springhouse since late April, when reporting on the $47,000 in state grants that McGill helped secure for his historic preservation group. The lawmaker only agreed to give The Intelligencer access to the property if he were allowed to review the story before publication and was guaranteed it would appear on the front page.

(Source: "McGill: $34,000 spent on home renovations," By Melissa Busch The Intelligencer 06/22/06; full article here).

Another article in the Intelligencer on 6/27 ("McGill gives old home new look," by Paul Ruppel) noted that some of the work on the house had been done by Navy volunteers and prisoners on work release. McGill is quoted as saying:

But, if he had it to do over again, the 151st District Republican admitted he would have paid the historic preservation group and gotten a check back for hours worked. “And then, there wouldn't have been a question.”

The Intelligencer ran an editorial, "Sweat equity or sweet deal?" on the situation today. It includes the following paragraphs:

Maybe the average taxpayer could start a nonprofit to fix up historic homes and get state money to help fund it. But we suspect it's a bit easier to direct grants in your organization's direction of you're a state legislator.

McGill also go to use free labor to help him with the work, from Navy volunteers who hleped put on the roof last weekend to inmates on work release.

Sure, volunteers work for plenty of nonprofit organizations, but we supsect it's easier to get prison inmates to come and help out when it's a state legislator asking for a hand.

There's the rub. It is the appearance of preferential treatment, whether there actually is any or not.

Voters in the 151st will have a choice in November between Rep. McGill and Rick Taylor. The race was noted in The Capitol Wire on June 26th by Peter L. DeCoursey ("Major forces shaping fall House races").

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Further Word on Paul Lang

I’ve been intending for some time to write another entry on Paul Lang, Democratic candidate for the 6th state senate district. It’s a little challenging for a number of reasons. He has been at some of the events I’ve been at but we haven’t had any extensive conversations. I’ve heard him speak a few times and he is a very good at that, knows the topics, keeps the audience’s attention, throws in a little humor. (blog entries on events Paul attended or spoke at here and here)

My primary point of contact with Paul has been via email. Thus this posting won’t have the usual links and references. For that see the Paul’s interview in a previous entry. In a fairly consistent email exchange over a period of time you do get a feel for people. Eventually you can pick up tone and mannerism that often gets lost in a brief correspondence. So here are few things have impressed me about Paul.

He’s good with money. When I posted a note on business magazines I read, he sent an email saying he started reading Fortune in high school, to the amusement of the rest of his baseball team. A few months ago his 12 year old vehicle died. He wrote a very entertaining and mournful eulogy and sent it around to a number of family and friends, in which he mentioned that he slept in it for 3 weeks while waiting for a real estate deal to close. No pricey hotels and room service for him. He now drives a 1996 station wagon. This is someone who is careful with his money, and is likely to be careful with the state’s. Granted I may be biased towards frugal prudent people because I consider myself one, but frugality and prudence are two qualities I’d like to see in elected officials. Generally when people are careful with their own money they are careful with other people’s money, too.

Another quality I see in him is his ability to create connections and disseminate information. I’ve written before on how hard it is to find out information on candidates, races, and events. More than one of the event postings I’ve written were possible solely because Paul sent me the specifics of what was taking place when and where. There are races I’ve written about solely because Paul brought them to my attention. Not in a “you must write about this” way but in a “this is interesting” way with no attempt to prejudice me towards a particular candidate within the party. He knows what is going on regionally, and doesn’t see politics solely through the blinders of his own state senate race. Of all the candidates I’ve had contact with, Paul has shown the greatest knowledge of area party organizations, races, and so on. I’m not saying the others don’t know as much, but Paul has gone out of his way to let me and other bloggers know what is going on and he has become one of the first people I go to for information.

His attention to detail is also surprising. He remembers something I mentioned in an email weeks ago and references it or refers to an article on it. Because I know how busy and all-consuming political races can be I usually take care to remind people of the context of something in an email if it took place more than two days ago. Paul’s ability to keep track of so many things is truly remarkable. Keeping in mind that he is not only running for office but helping plan his wedding, his multitasking is amazing.

Paul is one of those people who are very calm on the surface and yet there must be a million things going on in his mind; he is able to keep a number of mental threads straight and organized. It would be easy to underestimate him but it is often those who are able to accomplish things quietly and without fanfare that get the most done.

Monday, June 26, 2006

MurphyCorps' Latest Project

Patrick Murphy's MurphyCorps were busy this past Friday, building a playground with the Lower Bucks YMCA. (details here)

I really enjoy these project reports.

Summer Fun

PoliticsPA surveyed the political set on their summer plans. Two of my favorite answers are:

1- number of Congressional candidates who said "anything my new wife wants"

Who could that have been? (my guess here)

Also on the list:

50- the percentage of elected VIPs who fibbed when they told us they would be not taking a break and will be meeting with constituents and/or campaigning door to door nonstop throughout the summer

Off Topic: Weekend Fun

Inspired by this video I spent part of the weekend out in the backyard with rolls of Mentos and bottles of Diet Coke.

Weldon Update

From the inbox (h/t Colin), two interesting notes on Curt Weldon:

A post from the always insightful Tom Ferrick on Weldon's search for WMD.

From the Huffington Post, a lengthy post on Weldon's misguided defense policy.

Weldon's opponent in the 7th Congressional district is Joe Sestak.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Meeting Bill Clinton: Two Views

Factesque points to a note on another blog wherein someone writes about meeting Bill Clinton. The political aspects aside, here is one paragraph that caught my eye:

Some of the details of his response to my question are debatable, certainly, but what I found so impressive was that he didn’t talk down to me. He talked to me as if I were his equal—a lot of very unimpressive local politicians don’t even treat people like that. He made eye contact and made sure he understood where I was coming from, and he really answered my question. All that stuff about how he makes you feel like you’re the only one in the room—I get it now. Maybe it’s genuine, or maybe it’s manipulation. Either way, that dude’s good.

I saw Bill Clinton once myself. It was his first presidential campaign. There was a note in the paper that Clinton was going to be at a rally downtown and it was scheduled for a time that I had free so I went. This was August. It was hot and, as always happens, things were running behind. The area was packed and people were starting to get antsy and, to be honest, starting to smell, too. Finally Clinton arrived. I don't remember anything he said. It was a long time ago, but I do remember he was a good speaker and good at connecting with the crowd. After the rally was over he left and the crowd started to disperse. I waited around before heading home to avoid getting caught in the rush. As it turns out Clinton had left the rally but stopped along the way to talk with people. I was standing in front of the building when he came out. All the people still there lined up along the street and he walked up one side and down the other, shaking hands with everyone. We were only one or two deep so it was a fairly easy, though time consuming and sweaty, thing to do. The security personnel with him were clearly nervous about this but he ignored them. I was impressed that he would take the time to do that. Usually national candidates just wave to the crowd, get in the car, and take off. He clearly enjoyed the contact with people (no jokes please) and he definitely has charisma. It's the only time I've met a presidential candidate and the memory stayed with me.

A Lie is a Terrible Way to Begin ...

.. or, why I didn't attend the Ed Rendell Campaign Kick-Off featuring Sen. Hillary Clinton. (article from today's Inky on the event here; "Sen. Clinton cheers Rendell," by Mari A. Schaefe)

A lie is a terrible way to begin a relationship, even if it the tenuous tie between voter and candidate. If I had gone it would have been because I had fudged, fibbed and signed a contract under false pretenses. My non-blogger persona received an invitation to attend the event but it sent me to a web page with a form to fill-out; submit it and a ticket would be forthcoming, or so it said. I didn't get that far. The page was entitled "Women for Rendell and Citizen Co-Chair Signup." This is the text on the page:

Citizen Co-Chairs aren't typical campaign supporters. Co-Chairs have agreed to help the Governor's campaign with small -- but significant -- contributions of their time and energy. With their commitment to the Governor, Co-Chairs will become a vital part of the campaign team over the next five months.

Now, as part of the citizen Co-Chair campaign, we are annoucing "Women for Rendell," a special program to ensure that women across Pennsylvania vote to re-elect the Governor.

As a Citizen Co-Chair and a leader of "Women for Rendell" your efforts could make the difference because, when women vote, Democrats win. There is a great deal at stake for women and their families in this year's race and need your help.

It was followed by a form that required email, first name, last name, zip, and phone. Address was optional. Below that was a list of five options.

As a leader of "Women for Rendell," I pledge to help Governor Rendell by ...:
Registering at least five women to vote and keeping in contact until Election Day
Taking at least five younger women to vote on Election Day
Getting at lest five other women to volunteer and sign up as a citizen Co-Chair
Hosting a "Women for Rendell" house party
Donate $50 to the campaign

I am a stickler about words, particularly about promising or agreeing to things. If so inclined I could agree to TRY to do any of the first 4 items on the list but under no circumstances could I say that I WOULD. Too many variables beyond my control. As for the donation, the governor is sitting on a huge pot of money and I can think of a number of candidates (here, here, and here, for example) that need it more. Regarding the Citizen Co-Chair concept generally, I want details. I want to know exactly what I am agreeing to. There was no way I could sign up for this without knowing the full text, including fine print, of what a Citizen Co-Chair is. It's just awful to take on a job and then find out you simply cannot meet the requirements of it, or that there are hidden clauses you didn't know about. Furthermore, I know a ploy to build a database when I see one, and this definitely was such a ploy.

The email invitation did say I could also call the campaign office and ask for a ticket. So I did. The woman asked for my email. I gave it. I received another email invitation just like the first. You have to go to the web page and agree to be a Citizen Co-Chair or no ticket. I can't in good conscience agree to the broad contract listed on the page so I stayed home.

(If the text of this posting doesn't show my geek colors enough, the title is loosely taken from a line in the "City on the Edge of Forever" episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. Edith Keeler, played by Joan Collins, says it to Capt. Kirk.)

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). I did leave on the list of sponsors for a resolution (condemning the naming of a Paris street) and a bill (the house version of the marriage amendment) in case you wanted to see whether your rep was in either group.

Our accountants friends at PICPA have updated their legislative page.

Other weekly updates are available for this week:

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

Special Session

Monday In the House, HB 14-17 laid on the table and removed
Tuesday no action
Wednesday no action
Thursday no action
Friday no action

Regular Session





HB 420 By Representatives GOOD, S. MILLER, B. SMITH, ARMSTRONG, BEBKO-JONES, BUNT, CALTAGIRONE, DENLINGER, J. EVANS, HANNA, HARRIS, HENNESSEY, RAPP, STERN, E. Z. TAYLOR and CAUSER. Prior Printer's No. 2592. Printer's No. 4281. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further prohibiting dogs from pursuing, injuring or killing big game.

HB 1649 Printer's No. 2077. An Act establishing the Drug and Alcohol Treatment and Prevention Fund; and providing for the deposit of a portion of the liquor tax into the fund and for use of fund.

HB 2294 By Representatives DIVEN, CALTAGIRONE, CREIGHTON, MUSTIO, PISTELLA, W. KELLER, COSTA and GERGELY. Printer's No. 3209. An Act amending the act of July 10, 1987 (P.L.246, No.47), known as the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, further providing for contents of the coordinator's plan.

HB 2633 By Representative ROBERTS. Prior Printer's No. 3973. Printer's No. 4282. An Act designating the bridge on State Route 3027 which passes over U.S. Route 40 in Fayette County as the Cpl. Victor Kozares, D.S.C., Bridge.

HB 2379 By Representatives CASORIO, MARKOSEK and PALLONE. Printer's No. 3395. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, to accept by donation a tract of land and any improvements on the tract, situate in Penn Township, Westmoreland County.

HB 2639 Prior Printer's No. 3993. Printer's No. 4306. An Act amending the act of September 26, 1951 (P.L.1539, No.389), known as The Clinical Laboratory Act, providing for glomerular filtration rate testing.

HB 2670 Prior Printer's No. 4063. Printer's No. 4164. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights; and, in child protective services, further providing for definitions, further providing for release of information in confidential reports, providing for citizen review panels, further providing for annual reports; and providing for mandatory reporting of substance abuse births.

HB 2333 Prior Printer's No. 3332. Printer's No. 4337. An Act amending the act of July 9, 1990 (P.L.340, No.78), known as the Public Safety Emergency Telephone Act, further providing for definitions; and providing for automatic location identification in multiline telephone systems.

HB 2504 –HB 2533 bills authorizing the funding of state colleges and universities, museums, and other public institutions, each bill is for a different school. All introduced by Rep. Feese.

HB 2562 Printer's No. 3805. An Act amending Titles 24 (Education) and 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the employer contribution rates on behalf of active members.

HB 2563 Printer's No. 3806. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for possession of firearm for protection of self or others.

HB 2630 Printer's No. 3970. An Act amending the act of February 19, 1980 (P.L.15, No.9), known as the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act, further providing for prohibited acts.

HB 2653 Prior Printer's No. 4023. Printer's No. 4336. An Act amending the act of June 26, 2001 (P.L.755, No.77), known as the Tobacco Settlement Act, adding definitions; further providing for the Health Venture Investment Account; establishing the Biotechnology Commercialization Account; further providing for the investment of fund and accounts; providing for authorized investment for the Biotechnology Commercialization Account; and further providing for use of the Tobacco Settlement Fund and for regional biotechnology research centers.

SB 235 By Senators VANCE, M. WHITE, COSTA, EARLL, KITCHEN, MADIGAN, O'PAKE, PILEGGI, PUNT, REGOLA, WAUGH, WOZNIAK and C. WILLIAMS. Prior Printer's Nos. 235, 1149. Printer's No. 1261. An Act amending the act of May 22, 1951 (P.L.317, No.69), known as The Professional Nursing Law, providing for continuing nursing education.

SB 1068 By Senator PICCOLA. Printer's No. 1467. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to Capital Self Storage Associates, LLC, certain lands situate in the City of Harrisburg and Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County.

HB 700 Prior Printer's No. 917. Printer's No. 4350. An Act amending Title 65 (Public Officers) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for provisions relating to lobby regulation and disclosure; making an appropriation; and making a related repeal.

HB 2294 By Representatives DIVEN, CALTAGIRONE, CREIGHTON, MUSTIO, PISTELLA, W. KELLER, COSTA and GERGELY. Printer's No. 3209. An Act amending the act of July 10, 1987 (P.L.246, No.47), known as the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, further providing for contents of the coordinator's plan.

HB 2740 Prior Printer's No. 4172. Printer's No. 4349. An Act designating the bridge to carry State Route 68 over the Allegheny River from East Brady Borough, Clarion County, to Brady's Bend Township, Armstrong County, as the Sergeant Carl F. Curran II Memorial Bridge.

SB 874 By Senators MADIGAN and STOUT. Prior Printer's Nos. 1129, 1476, 1618, 1815. Printer's No. 1914. A Supplement to the act of December 8, 1982 (P.L.848, No.235), known as the Highway- Railroad and Highway Bridge Capital Budget Act for 1982-1983, itemizing additional local and State bridge projects.


SB 812 By Senators THOMPSON, ROBBINS, STOUT and WOZNIAK. Prior Printer's No. 1023. Printer's No. 1787. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, further providing for property held by courts and public officers and agencies.

SB 944 Prior Printer's Nos. 1235, 1624, 1813. Printer's No. 1880. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for rape and for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; providing for loss of property rights by certain offenders and for conduct relating to sex offenders; further providing for failure to comply with sexual offender registration requirements; defining "GPS" and "GPS tracking device"; further providing for registration and for registration procedures and applicability; providing for GPS tracking, for restricted travel, for alert system and for child protective zones; further providing for verification of residence and for information made available on the Internet; and making an appropriation.

SB1054 Prior Printer's Nos. 1443, 1837. Printer's No. 1882. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for assessments and for sex offender information made available on the Internet.

SB 1206 By Senator SCARNATI. Printer's No. 1763. An Act designating an access road from Interstate 80 to the DuBois- Jefferson County Airport in Washington Township, Jefferson County, as the Francis H. "Bud" Scherer Memorial Highway.

HB 1580 Prior Printer's Nos. 1981, 2302, 3765. Printer's No. 4009. An Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the regulation of Cervidae livestock operations.

HB 1637 Prior Printer's Nos. 2022, 3530, 4005. Printer's No. 4229. An Act amending the act of August 24, 1963 (P.L.1175, No.497), known as the Mechanics' Lien Law of 1963, further providing for definitions, for waiver of liens, for effect of waiver of liens, for rescission of contracts between contractors and subcontractors, for notices by subcontractors as condition precedent, for filing and notice of filing of claim and for priority of liens.

HB2210 An Act designating a portion of State Route 422 in Berks County as the Sergeant William V. Fernandez Highway.

HB 2468 By Representatives GOOD, GEIST and McCALL. Prior Printer's Nos. 3600, 4006, 4161. Printer's No. 4279. An Act providing for the highway capital budget project itemization for the fiscal year 2005-2006.

SB1036 Prior Printer's No. 1431. Printer's No. 1820. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offense of phishing.

SB1201 Printer's No. 1735. An Act coordinating plans to reduce mercury emissions from new and existing stationary sources in this Commonwealth; imposing duties on the Department of Environmental Protection; and limiting certain powers of the Environmental Quality Board.

HB 496 Prior Printer's Nos. 535, 3157. Printer's No. 4210. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offense of the destruction of a survey monument; further providing for actions relating to land surveying; and making an editorial change.


SB 451 By Senators M. WHITE, ORIE, KASUNIC, WOZNIAK, COSTA, RAFFERTY, ROBBINS, LEMMOND and REGOLA. Prior Printer's No. 482. Printer's No. 1812. An Act amending the act of June 30, 1987 (P.L.163, No.16), known as the Rural Pennsylvania Revitalization Act, further providing for board of directors and for grants.

SB 917 By Senators PILEGGI, ERICKSON, RAFFERTY, STOUT, LEMMOND, PICCOLA, PIPPY, WAUGH, M. WHITE and CORMAN. Prior Printer's Nos. 1207, 1544, 1625, 1800. Printer's No. 1884. An Act amending the act of July 10, 1990 (P.L.404, No.98), known as the Real Estate Appraisers Certification Act, further providing for real estate appraiser certification required, for powers and duties of board, for application and qualifications, for reciprocity, for certification and licensure renewal, for disciplinary and corrective measures, for reinstatement, for reporting of multiple certification and for surrender of suspended or revoked certificate; and imposing penalties.

SB1188 Prior Printer's Nos. 1704, 1868. Printer's No. 1910. An Act amending the act of August 26, 1971 (P.L.351, No.91), known as the State Lottery Law, further providing for definitions, for physician, certified registered nurse practitioner and pharmacy participation, for reduced assistance, for program generally, for restricted formulary, for reimbursement, for income verification, for contracts and for the pharmaceutical assistance contract for the elderly needs enhancement tier, for pharmacy best practices and cost controls review; further providing for penalties; establishing the coordination of Federal and State benefits; providing for continued eligibility under certain circumstances; and making editorial changes.

HB 248 Prior Printer's Nos. 274, 3637, 4159. Printer's No. 4277. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for legislative review of State highway transfers and for allocation of proceeds from taxes for highway maintenance and construction.

HB 2026 An Act designating a bridge in Coudersport Borough, Potter County, as the Specialist Mike Franklin Memorial Bridge.

HB 2317 By Representative FEESE. Prior Printer's Nos. 3280, 3294, 3325, 3457, 4311. Printer's No. 4338. 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, Motor License Fund projects, State forestry bridge projects, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission projects, Manufacturing Fund projects and federally funded 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, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Pennsylvania Game Commission 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, the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission or the Pennsylvania Game Commission; stating the estimated useful life of the projects; providing an exemption; providing for limitation on certain capital projects and for special provisions for certain redevelopment assistance capital projects; and making appropriations.

SB 1090 Prior Printer's Nos. 1492, 1885, 1887. Printer's No. 1913. An Act amending the act of January 17, 1968 (P.L.11, No.5), known as The Minimum Wage Act of 1968, giving effect to Federal changes in wage rates; providing for preemption; and making editorial changes.

SB 1205 By Senators GREENLEAF, BOSCOLA, RAFFERTY, O'PAKE, RHOADES, KITCHEN, WASHINGTON, C. WILLIAMS, STACK and ORIE. Prior Printer's No. 1766. Printer's No. 1869. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for insurance proceeds intercept; and further providing for State disbursement unit.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Things To Do, Places to Go

There will be a Progressive Faith Blog Con in Montclair, NJ, July 14-16. Details here.

Philly Against Santorum is having a Mock Santorum contest on Friday. Details here.

Friday at noon, at the Constitution Center, Russ Diamond, Independent for Governor, will be endorsed by Pennsylvania Committee for a Unified Independent Party at a press conference. Several other independent candidates will be present.

Lobbying Reform Passes the PA House

HB 700, which provides some regulation of lobbying in Pennsylvania, has passed the House. There should be some good commentary in tomorrow's papers but just in case you miss them, here are some press releases:

Rep Dave Reed (excerpt):

House Bill 700 requires lobbyists to register with the Pennsylvania Department of State every two years upon spending more than $2,500 in lobbying expenses or services. Lobbyists will be required to file quarterly reports with the Department of State identifying elected officials lobbied that quarter.

Speaker of the House John Perzel

Rep. Greg Vitali (excerpt):
Vitali said at a minimum, lobbyist disclosure rules should require reports to the public to show which lobbyists are influencing which legislators on which legislation or issue, and how much they are spending to do it.

"This bill fails to meet those minimum requirements," he said. "It does not require lobbyists to list the specific subject matter or legislation they are attempting to influence, or the names of the legislators they are trying to influence."

Vitali said while the bill does require lobbyists to list the names of legislators they provide gifts and hospitality to, they only have to do so once the value of those gifts reaches a certain amount.

"The result is that most legislators' names will never appear in one of these disclosure statements because the reporting threshold is too high. The public will still be left in the dark."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Miscellany of Links

Just a few info bits from all around (via politicspa):

2006 House races rated by National Journal:
#4 -- PA-06 (Lois Murphy / Jim Gerlach)
#16 -- PA-07 (Joe Sestak / Curt Weldon)
#29 -- PA-08 (Patrick Murphy / Mike Fitzpatrick)
#33 -- PA-10 (Chris Carney / Sherwood)

If you were wondering about the pensions coming to legislators who lost in last month's primaries, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has that information for you in this article.

In case you missed it the new Quinnipac poll is out and gives Casey a 52-34 lead over Santorum. (here)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two Jobs, Per Diems, and Free Rent

I took a brief look at the 151st state house district recently, and have continued to keep an eye on the race between incumbent Republican Gene McGill and Democratic challenger Rick Taylor.

I found some interesting things on McGill. Here are some highlights:

McGill voted for the legislative pay raise, took the unvouchered expenses, voted for the repeal and paid the unvouchered expenses back.

According to his own website, McGill has continued to work as a manufacturer's representative for the Mutimer Company, which is based in Plymouth Meeting and provides air moving equipment to the industrial and pharmaceutical industries.

McGill is currently living rent-free in a house owned by Horsham Township. From the Intelligencer ("McGill defends rent-free deal," by Paul Ruppel, 4/25/06):

McGill is one of two officers of the Historic Property Preservation Institute, which buys, repairs and finds new uses for significant structures.

His preservation group and another nonprofit hold a 10-year lease on Horsham's 10-acre Penrose-Strawbridge property, located near the Willow Grove military base and the Graeme Park state historical site.

From the same article:

McGill insists, however, there is nothing wrong with his living rent-free at a springhouse on the township-owned Penrose-Strawbridge property off Governor Road. He is doing labor and renovations on the site and keeping detailed records.

From the same article:

McGill — a six-term legislator seeking re-election this fall — said the springhouse was in a sorry state when he moved in. He had separated from his wife but says he lived elsewhere in the interim.

Using only $13,000 of the state's money so far and $22,000 worth of private donations, McGill says he has done “the lion's share of repairs,” from new heating and electrical systems, windows and roofing to tasks like clearing felled trees.

While he does not pay rent, McGill is covering electric and heating bills and buying bottled water because the residence is on well water.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review broke the story on April 24 ("6 lawmakers funnel $29M to pet nonprofits," by Brad Bumsted and Debra Erdley). It includes this paragraph:

McGill obtained $47,000 in state grants for the institute. He also lives rent-free in a township-owned building the Institute is restoring. McGill insists he personally labors to restore the historic springhouse at no charge in lieu of rent.

McGill said he keeps detailed records of his labors. He said he's done everything possible to minimize any conflict with his role as legislator, including a check with House GOP attorneys before proceeding.

He may be following the letter of the law but the spirit is another matter. Rep. McGill has two jobs (presumably the nice people at Mutimer pay him), gets a car allowance, per diems for his legislative work, and managed to steer $47,000 of state money to a project that is providing him a free place to live. Sure he pays the utilities and heat and has to buy his own water, but I don't think that is a real hardship. Honestly, I'm amazed he has found the time to do repair work on the house he lives in. Don't the two jobs keep him busy enough?

Those who live in the 151st district may want to check into Rick Taylor, an Ambler Borough Councilman running against McGill.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Straw Poll Updates

Now that I've voted in these things I feel obligated to follow them. The DFA Grassroots All-Stars is in an Instant Run-Off. There are 5 candidates on the list, two are from PA: Patrick Murphy (PA-08) and Phil Avillo (PA-19).

The Forward Together PAC's MapChangers is in it's second round, choosing the top 10. Voting is divided into east and west. There are 4 choices from PA. However, they won't let you see the list again after you voted, at least until tomorrow when you can see the standings, so I'm going by memory. If this is wrong or incomplete I'll update tomorrow. You can choose between Patrick Murphy (PA-08), Lois Murphy (PA-06), Chris Carney (PA-10), and Phil Avillo (PA-19).

It's the first I've heard of Avillo (mea culpa!). The 19th congressional district consists of York, Adams, and parts of Cumberland counties. For those in the Philly area, those counties are just west of Lancaster County. (You've no idea how much Pennsylvania geography I'm learning writing this blog.)

You can vote for more than one candidate so I picked all the Pennsylvanians (you can rank them so pick your first choice carefully) and kind of let it go at that.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Patrick Murphy is a Marrying Man

Congratulations to Patrick Murphy and his new bride, Jenni, on their wedding yesterday. Kudos on keeping a private event private and not turning it into a political circus.

A Dashed Clever Idea

From the inbox -- someone writes to tell me that Josh Shapiro held a birthday party / fundraiser / picnic in a park yesterday. No head count was included but Joe Hoeffel and Mike Paston were reported in attendance. What really struck me was that it was near a playground so people could bring their kids. What a clever idea! It would attract an audience that might not usually go to a political event. I know my chances of getting out of the house increase dramatically if I take the kids with me. Good idea. I wish more candidates would have an event like that.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Perzel's Latest Remarks

In case anyone missed today's Inquirer, John Perzel was quoted as saying this:

Maybe Pennsylvania House Speaker John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) just wasn't thinking or maybe he spoke too fast when he was interviewed at Harrisburg TV station WITF Thursday for the Smart Talk show.

Perzel defended last year's ill-fated pay-raise legislation, saying that some lawmakers have debt issues and noting that there's at least one Philadelphia tattoo artist who makes more than a state lawmaker's $72,187 salary.

"We have roughly 30-some members who can't apply for a credit card because their credit's so bad," Perzel said. "And I know a lot of people out there watching this show have the same exact problem."

He added: "When I see that a tattoo artist in the city of Philadelphia makes more than a legislator, I think there's a problem. I thought the members of the General Assembly were worth one-half of what a member of Congress makes."

However, a spokesman said, Perzel added: "No one need be concerned about a future pay raise, because there won't be a pay raise introduced in Harrisburg in our lifetime."

Perzel spokeswoman Beth Williams yesterday told the Associated Press that Perzel was repeating "anecdotal information" given to him by a senior House official. She declined to identify the official and said Perzel did not know the names of legislators with credit problems. ("Perzel says many colleagues are in a financial pickle" by Julie Shaw)

First, anyone can apply for a credit card. The application may not be granted but anyone can apply. Second, the state of a person's credit rating has nothing to do with how much they make. There are people who earn a lot of money who have bad credit. Whether or not you can get a credit card has more to do with whether or not you pay your bills. And if someone can't manage their own money on $72,187 a year with generous benefits, car allowance and a per diem, I don't think I want them managing the state's money. As to the relative salaries of tattoo artists, well, most professional athletes in the city earn more than the average state legislator and I don't see him complaining about that. So do most national news anchors. I don't necessarily think those jobs are any more challenging than being a state legislator. However, I'd like to see Perzel spend a day milking cows, being an ER nurse, a middle school teacher, working construction, and any number of other occupations that, on average, earn less than he does. Let him stock shelves at Wal-Mart for a day or so with no health insurance. He might decide he doesn't have it quite so bad after all.

Mike Fitzpatrick Saves the World

Mike Fizpatrick has released some interesting press releases this week. Take this one, which says in part:

Today, the House passed H.R. 861; legislation declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror. The resolution passed 256 to153. Upon its passage, Congressman Michael G. Fitzpatrick released the following statement:

"Today, the House passed a resolution reaffirming the United States' commitment to winning the Global War on Terror. I supported this legislation because it declared that it is not in our nation's best interest to set an arbitrary date for withdrawal or redeployment of our forces in the region. The decision to redeploy and withdraw our troops should be based on a specific set of goals and objectives determined not by Washington politicians, but by military and foreign policy experts.

I also voted for this legislation because it makes clear to our men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other regions in the world that their government is committed to completing the mission against terrorism. H.R. 861 reaffirms Congress' commitment to supply and support our troops so that they can return victorious to a grateful nation."

I'm sure the troops in Iraq feel much better knowing that Rep. Fitzpatrick, sitting in his office or at his seat in Congress, has signed a resolution declaring that the US will win the war on terror. I'm sure our enemies are shaking in their boots. Some people, instead of sitting here signing things, volunteered to go over and actually serve in the military in Iraq.

For the next one, I will quote this from last Friday's Capitol Ideas column/blog.

How Does U.S Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick Feel ...
... about genocide?
No, sir. He doesn't like it.
In fact, the Bucks County Republican's distaste for something that no one else (with the exception of sociopathic Third World warlords) likes is so strong that an outfit called the Genocide Intervention Network recently gave Fitzpatrick an "A" for his hitherto unnoticed efforts to stop the killing in the Darfur region of Sudan.
So what did Fitzpatrick do to merit such an honor? Did he fly to Sudan and offer to arm-wrestle its leaders?
Er, no.
Did he use his heat vision to cause all the guns there to melt and become unusable?
Er, no.
Did he personally fly a plane-load of grain to the region to feed the starving multitudes? Or did he at least record a charity single featuring Bono, Bob Geldof and the two members of Destiny's Child whose names no one can remember?
Er, no.
So what'd he do?
"I have done my part by co-sponsoring and supporting language supporting an end to the war and I will continue to do so," Fitzpatrick said in a press release.
Oh ...
We hate to minimize the tragedy in the Sudan, and applaud anyone who takes the time to care. But c'mon, that's the legislative equivalent of getting an "A" for attendance in elementary school.

To be fair, the press release lists a number of legislative actions that Fitzpatrick has supported, but, honestly, looking at the list, anyone who didn't support them really needs to explain why.

Off Topic: A Kit for S'mores?

I was picking up some groceries today and saw a new product that just stopped me in my tracks -- a prepackaged kit for making S'mores. That's right, a box with some graham crackers, a few marshmallows and a chocolate bar. Complete with instructions. Think about that. If you need a kit and instructions to make s'mores I think it is likely you have more serious problems to deal with. C'mon people, how hard is it? You microwave a couple marshmallows for 10 seconds, put some part of a chocolate bar a halved graham cracker and use the marshmallows to glue the two halves together. The hardest part is getting the marshmallow off the spoon or whatever you use to get it out of whatever you used to microwave it. If you are outdoors and near fire, toast the marshmallow on a stick.

Who needs a kit for this? How lazy and uninformed are we these days? A sad sad commentary.

Friday, June 16, 2006

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

Monday In the House, HB 42 laid on the table and removed
Tuesday no action
Wednesday HB0039 - Conference committee report adopted by House
Thursday no action
Friday no action

Regular Session


Nothing jumped out at me this week.



HB 529 Prior Printer's No. 1713. Printer's No. 4033. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing for classes of income.

HB 1746 Prior Printer's Nos. 2236, 4036. Printer's No. 4226. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for establishment of fees and charges; eliminating the expiration of provisions on access to justice; and making a related repeal.

HB 1880 Prior Printer's Nos. 2555, 3846. Printer's No. 4228. 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 research and development tax credit, for the definition of "small business," for credit for research and development expenses, for time limitations, for limitation on credits and for termination.

HB 2285 Printer's No. 3197. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the illegal dumping of methamphetamine waste.

HB 2330 By Representatives DERMODY, PETRARCA, WALKO, PALLONE, LaGROTTA, BEBKO-JONES, CORRIGAN, JAMES, STABACK, MELIO, PISTELLA, WOJNAROSKI, CALTAGIRONE, DeLUCA and FRANKEL. Printer's No. 3318. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, prohibiting the purchase, sale and use of alcohol vaporizing devices; and imposing a penalty.

SB 243 Prior Printer's No. 244. Printer's No. 1836. An Act amending the act of June 28, 1935 (P.L.477, No.193), referred to as the Enforcement Officer Disability Benefits Law, extending the payment of the salary, medical and hospital expenses to sheriffs and deputy sheriffs under certain circumstances.

SB 332 By Senators VANCE, GREENLEAF, EARLL, COSTA, BOSCOLA, KITCHEN, O'PAKE, RAFFERTY, ROBBINS, STOUT, WAUGH, WENGER, M. WHITE, WONDERLING and PIPPY. Prior Printer's Nos. 388, 805. Printer's No. 1777. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for foreign decree of adoption.

SB 1150 Prior Printer's Nos. 1617, 1679. Printer's No. 1835. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for offense of demonstrating at a commemorative service and for commemorative service demonstration action.

HB 1944 Prior Printer's No. 2689. Printer's No. 4037. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for a Statewide registry of protective orders; further providing for protective orders, for notice on protective orders and for violation of orders; providing for civil protective orders; and making editorial changes.

HB 2096 Prior Printer's Nos. 2898, 4034. Printer's No. 4209. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing for classes of income.

HB 2467 Prior Printer's Nos. 3625, 3716. Printer's No. 4213. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for sentence for murder and murder of unborn child; providing for the offense of criminal homicide of law enforcement officer and for the offense of assault of law enforcement officer; imposing penalties; and prescribing sentences for offenses committed against law enforcement officer.

SB 1169 Prior Printer's No. 1628. Printer's No. 1756. An Act designating a portion of State Route 279 in Allegheny County as the Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Joseph R. Pokorny, Jr., Memorial Highway.

HB 698 Prior Printer's No. 791. Printer's No. 4192. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for exemptions from jury duty, for jurisdiction and proceedings, for relief and order and for sentencing procedure for murder of the first degree; and providing for mental retardation of defendant.

HB 2055 Prior Printer's Nos. 2832, 3854. Printer's No. 4194. 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 manner of election of district superintendents and assistant superintendents and for their removal; and providing for conditional certification of persons by the Department of Education.


HB 153 Prior Printer's Nos. 153, 3756. Printer's No. 4212. An Act relating to organ and bone marrow donation; providing for a special leave of absence for organ and bone marrow donors; and providing for a tax credit and for additional duties of the Department of Revenue.

HB 2315 By Representatives ARMSTRONG, CALTAGIRONE, CREIGHTON, FAIRCHILD, GEIST, HARPER, HARRIS, HENNESSEY, ROHRER and E. Z. TAYLOR. Printer's No. 3276. An Act amending Title 74 (Transportation) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the Aviation Advisory Committee.

SB 414 Prior Printer's Nos. 439, 1267. Printer's No. 1816. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, establishing the Science Technology Partnership Program; providing for State grants; and making an appropriation.

SB 1134 Prior Printer's No. 1593. Printer's No. 1788. 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 sales and use tax, for the definition of "tangible personal property."

SB 1222 By Senators ROBBINS, LEMMOND, EARLL, MADIGAN, MELLOW, SCARNATI and M. WHITE. Prior Printer's No. 1810. Printer's No. 1829. An Act designating the portion of U.S. Route 6 in Linesville Borough, Crawford County, as the U.S. Route 6 "Gateway to the West" and "Gateway to Pennsylvania" and designating the portion of U.S. Route 6 in Matamoras Borough, Pike County, as the U.S. Route 6 "Gateway to the East" and "Gateway to Pennsylvania."

HB 2443 Prior Printer's Nos. 3519, 3817. Printer's No. 4193. An Act amending the act of July 19, 1979 (P.L.130, No.48), known as the Health Care Facilities Act, providing for continuation of demonstration projects for cardiac care.

Change of Heart

Last week I wrote about two online straw polls being held by DFA and the Foward Together PAC. I was, how shall we say, less than enthusiastic about them. However, I keep getting emails from campaigns and reading about them on campaign blogs and it appears that this sort of thing is very important to them. So, last night, I voted in both. On the Forward Together site ("Change the Map") there is an opt out for being on the email list.

If you are interested, here are the links:

DFA Grassroots All-Star (US House races only)

Forward Together's Change the Map has a broader focus.

There are a lot of good candidates listed, Patrick Murphy, Lois Murphy, Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, and others. Who did I vote for? You may have noticed I have a favorite house candidate.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Quick Look at the 15th Congressional Race

Freshman Republican incumbent Charlie Dent now has a Democratic challenger, Charles Dertinger. Dertinger is currently a Northampton county councilman and is on the November ballot after getting 3700+ write in votes, no msall task.

article from 6/07 ("It'll be Dertinger vs. Dent in fall," By Daniel Hausmann)

Description of district from Dent's congressional website:

The 15th District of Pennsylvania is a diverse area in Eastern Pennsylvania, comprising all or parts of Lehigh, Northampton , Montgomery and Berks counties. The district includes the Lehigh Valley , Indian Valley and Upper Perkiomen Valley regions.

The majority of the district's population lives in the Lehigh Valley — Pennsylvania 's third-largest metropolitan area, comprised of the cities of Allentown , Bethlehem and Easton , and numerous surrounding boroughs and townships.

Quick Property Tax Links

A few quick links on the newly passed property tax bill:

"'Weak' property tax relief bill passes Pa. House: Representatives send governor a plan that provides limited relief," By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau.

Press release from Josh Shapiro (provides a summary of key provisions).

(via politicspa)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More PA Senate Info Online Now

The state Senate has put several files of data relating to lobbying on their web page. Worth a look. It's not everything but it's a start. As a reminder, we're still waiting for the House to even pass a bill requiring them to keep this sort of stuff. Drop your rep a note and goose them along a little.

House Journals for January 2006

The House Journals for January 2006 are now online. Not much in the Jan. 3rd, 23rd or 25th, but there is some lively conversation in the 24th, pages 23-25 of the journal page numbering, pages 11-13 of the pdf version.

The topic is a bill on the allocation of funds to county mental health and mental retardation programs. Rep. Kenney is questioned about the bill by Mr. Vitali and Mr. Cappelli. They are asking good questions about the validity and expense of the programs, and Kenney is supplying the answers. It is a wonderful example of how things should work. It was hard to pick out just a few lines to present, so please take a few moments to read through those few pages yourself.

Now, see, was that hard? The Journals get put on the Internet, people read them and note the good parts. Do you think we could get them before they are 6 months old?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Another Blogger Returns

Another lost lamb is back in the blogging fold. LVDem is also blogging again. Welcome, back!!!

Off on the Wrong Foot

Josh Shapiro, freshman representative for the 153rd district faces a Republic challenger, Lou Guerra, Jr. I have written positively about Shapiro in the past and had looked into his opponent. Guerra has an impressive background and I had hopes of a good race, cleanly fought. Alas, it is not to be.

Guerra's first press real press release (besides the one announcing his candidacy), criticizes Shapiro for voting against the "marriage amendment." The release says, in part:

The bill does not take away rights from anyone. All United States citizens are accorded basic rights under the U.S. Constitution. I firmly believe that everyone should be treated with respect, including those with whom we disagree. An amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman does nothing to hinder rights or diminish the ability of citizens to honor private commitments. This bill simply recognizes the importance of the traditional family and protects it from activists who would radically re-define what marriage is, Guerra said.

Unfortunately, the incumbent state representative voted against the traditional family. It is sad that Josh Shapiro does not recognize the value of marriage and refused to vote for this basic protection.

The amendment itself reads:

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth, and neither the commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of mariage for unmarried individuals.

That means no civil unions for either homosexual or heterosexual couples. The 153rd district is in Montgomery County, which currently offers benefits to domestic partners of employees, which it might not be able to do if the amendment becomes law. I'm not sure how this "does nothing to hinder rights or diminish the ability of citizens to honor private commitments," as Guerra states.

Pennsylvania already has a "Defense of Marriage Act," which, according to the Inky, "upholds the traditional definition of marriage, but does not expressly prohibit civil unions." ("Same-sex partners fear losing rights -- Ripples from Pa. vote on gay marriage," by Amy Worden)

I have been married to Mr. J for over 20 years and not once have I felt our marriage was threatened by recognizing the unions of gay couples who could not legally be married.

What I find so odd about Guerra's choice of this issue as his opening salvo is that he is qualified to speak on so many other issues pertinent to the state. He is an expert in watershed protection, an important topic in a floodprone area like the 153rd. He has 20 years experience in the public sector. Surely there is something else he can hang his hat on.

I am very disappointed that Guerra decided to pick on this issue above all others. It colors his campaign and what seems to be perhaps a shaky grasp of the issue's ramifications for the county he lives in. It surely isn't something that important to the 153rd. A promising race has suddenly become another mudfest, at least on Guerra's part.

Tattered Coat Returns

Hey, kids, Matt's back!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

A BBQ in Croydon (near Bristol)

This evening I went to a bbq sponsored by the Patrick Murphy campaign. Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland was in attendance. He seems to be spending more time in Pennsylvania these days than Rick Santorum. There was a press conference just before the event and a number of reporters were still around when I arrived, including Gwen Ifill, now on the McNeil Lehrer News Hour and host of Washington Week in Review (the only political commentary show I watch, Fridays at 9:00 p.m.). Gwen and her producer were very personable, walking through the crowd, talking with people. Gwen signed autographs and posed for photos. I was really impressed at her ease with people. (Even the press at Murphy events are nice).

Several other candidates were there, Paul Lang (6th state senate), Chris Serpico (10th state senate), Jeff Albert (12th state senate), and the always pleasant and discerning Joe Hoeffel, former congressman for PA-13. There may have been others there that I didn’t recognize. Oh, and Patrick was there, too. To be honest, I was having such a good time talking with other guests that I didn’t get around to greeting all the candidates. If there were speeches I missed them.

I continue to be pleasantly surprised by Murphy events. Not only are other candidates welcome, and come to talk with the audience (something you don’t always see at political events), but those who attend are generally very nice people. This is such a welcome change from a lot of these things. It’s one of the main reasons I keep showing up. Murphy just seems to bring out a good crowd, not only in numbers (I stopped counting at 62 because it was time to eat) but in personality as well.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

News Round Up

A few interesting news links.

Ben over at Keystone Politics has some interesting remarks on the race for the 48th senate district (currently held by Chip Brightbill).

The Intelligencer has an article on lobbyists, charitable donations, and the timing thereof. ("Lobbyists, legislators and being in the limelight," by Alison Hawkes). worth reading

Murphyness, or How Many Roses By the Same Name?

Pennsylvania has a Rep. Murphy (Tim Murphy R-18). Two Democrats named Murphy are running for House seats from Pennsylvania (Lois Murphy PA-06, and Patrick Murphy PA-08). A third, John Murphy is running as a independent candidate for the 16th congressional district. So, what happens if some of these Murphys win? How many states have more than one representative with the same surname? I checked. Here's the list:

Florida has Rep. Corrine Brown (D) and Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R).

Virginia has two Republican Rep. Davis, JoAnn Davis and Thomas M. Davis III.

Florida has Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans.

Texas has Rep. Al Green and Rep. Gene Green, both Democrats.

Texas also has Rep. Eddie Johnson (D) and Rep. Sam Johnson (R).

California has Rep. Gary Miller (R) and Rep. George Miller (D).

California also has Rep. Linda Sanchez (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D).

So, Florida, Texas, and California both have two pair of same-named representatives. Michigan has a representative and a senator nameed Levin. Colorado has a representative and a senator named Salazar.

In other useless trivia, Davis is the most common surname in the Congress, with 8 representatives named Davis. Miller and Johnson are tied for second place with 5 each. All the Millers are representatives. One of the Johnsons is a senator.

You, too, can while away the hours looking up this kind of trivia. Check and, or look in CQ's Politics in America or the Almanac of American Politics. For historical data, check the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Another Baker Knoll Press Secretary Leaves

According to today's Morning Call ("Knoll loses press secretary — her sixth since 2003," by John L. Micek):

Johnna Pro, a former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter who joined Knoll's staff in October, resigned Monday. Neither Pro nor Rendell administration spokeswoman Kate Philips would comment Friday on the reason for the departure.

Pro, 42, said she will remain on the state payroll until June 30 but will leave her job Friday. Pro also said she's ''exploring other opportunities.''

''It's a challenging job,'' a senior Rendell administration source said. ''The way the media portrays [Knoll] can be difficult. And when you're a government press secretary in the middle of a campaign, there's not much for you to do.''

Describing a job that doesn't require you to do much as a challenge seems kind fo odd. Many would find it a dream come true.

Friday, June 09, 2006

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).

If you check the resolutions -- a week this past May has been designated National Postcard Week. You can use your postcard to write your state representative to either praise or complain about how he or she voted on the bill to ban civil unions or gay marriage.

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

Monday In the House, HB59 laid on the table and removed
Tuesday no action
Wednesday no action
Thursday no action
Friday no action

Regular Session


These are selected resolutions that passed either the house or senate this week.

HR0774 A Resolution recognizing the communities of Hershey, Dauphin County, and Intercourse and Lititz, Lancaster County, as "Foodie Towns."

HR0776 A Resolution recognizing the week of May 7 through 13, 2006, as "National Postcard Week" in Pennsylvania.


These bills passed either the house or senate this week.


HB 28 By Representatives LEDERER and McILHINNEY. Prior Printer's Nos. 31, 3529. Printer's No. 4142. An Act authorizing the Department of Transportation, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority a tract of land situate in the City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County.

HB 901 Prior Printer's No. 1024. Printer's No. 3978. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for lighting on motorcycles.

HB 1195 By Representatives YUDICHAK, GEORGE, THOMAS, SURRA, CALTAGIRONE, DeWEESE, BELARDI, BELFANTI, BOYD, CAPPELLI, FRANKEL, GRUCELA, MUNDY, PRESTON, REICHLEY, SAINATO, SOLOBAY, WALKO, YOUNGBLOOD and DENLINGER. Printer's No. 1401. An Act amending the act of July 6, 1989 (P.L.169, No.32), known as the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act, further providing for Underground Storage Tank Pollution Prevention Program.

HB1447 Printer's No. 1745. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for probable cause arrests in misdemeanor sexual offenses.

HB 1526 By Representatives GEIST, CAPPELLI, GINGRICH, GODSHALL, MARKOSEK, R. MILLER, SCAVELLO, E. Z. TAYLOR and WILT. Printer's No. 1859. An Act amending the act of April 8, 1937 (P.L.262, No.66), known as the Consumer Discount Company Act, further providing for powers conferred on licensees.

HB 2248 By Representatives DALLY, ADOLPH, CALTAGIRONE, GINGRICH, HARPER, HARRIS, MUSTIO, REICHLEY, WILT and YUDICHAK. Printer's No. 3136. An Act amending the act of March 28, 2000 (P.L.23, No.7), known as the Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, further providing for the definition of "debt."

HB 2318 Prior Printer's Nos. 3285, 3979. Printer's No. 4143. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for securing loads in vehicles by permitting an exception for forage transportation from the field to storage facilities.

HB2381 Prior Printer's Nos. 3397, 3754. Printer's No. 4145. A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, providing for marriage between one man and one woman.

HB2399 Prior Printer's No. 3447. Printer's No. 3961. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for grading the offense of impersonating a public servant.

HB2401 Printer's No. 3435. An Act amending the act of March 7, 1901 (P.L.20, No.14), referred to as the Second Class City Law, further providing for penalty for false personification.

HB 2402 Printer's No. 3436. An Act amending the act of June 25, 1919 (P.L.581, No.274), referred to as the First Class City Government Law, further providing for penalty for false personification.

HB2403 Printer's No. 3437. An Act repealing the act of June 1, 1915 (P.L.708, No.326), entitled "An act to prevent the wearing of the badge of the Bureau of Police, in cities of the first class, by unauthorized persons, and providing a penalty therefor."

SB 303 By Senators PILEGGI, PUNT, GREENLEAF, ERICKSON, THOMPSON, RHOADES, WOZNIAK, TOMLINSON, KITCHEN, WONDERLING, TARTAGLIONE, LOGAN, KASUNIC, MUSTO, WAUGH, LEMMOND, RAFFERTY and STOUT. Prior Printer's Nos. 315, 1356, 1748. Printer's No. 1780. An Act amending Title 42 Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for fees for constables.

SB 775 By Senators GREENLEAF, COSTA, LEMMOND, O'PAKE, RAFFERTY, STACK, ERICKSON and FERLO. Prior Printer's No. 954. Printer's No. 1795. An Act amending the act of June 19, 2002 (P.L.377, No.56), known as the Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Adult Offenders Act, imposing an application fee; providing for the collection and the use of the application fee; and providing for definitions.

SB 986 By Senators LEMMOND, THOMPSON, PUNT, RAFFERTY, ERICKSON, MUSTO, ARMSTRONG, COSTA, VANCE, WAUGH, WENGER, PILEGGI, O'PAKE, FONTANA, CORMAN, M. WHITE, ORIE, EARLL and C. WILLIAMS. Printer's No. 1317. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69), known as The Second Class Township Code, further providing for personal property.

SB 1056 By Senators PIPPY, BRIGHTBILL, MADIGAN, ORIE, M. WHITE, WONDERLING, RAFFERTY, WAUGH, COSTA, KITCHEN and WOZNIAK. Prior Printer's No. 1445. Printer's No. 1809. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for commercial driver's license requirements and for operation of all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles by persons under sixteen years of age.


HB1834 Prior Printer's No. 2448. Printer's No. 3169. An Act amending Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for electronic access to driver records to confirm organ donor status.

SB 1200 By Senators STACK, BOSCOLA, KITCHEN, FONTANA, MUSTO, PILEGGI, MELLOW, ORIE, TARTAGLIONE, EARLL, STOUT, RAFFERTY, COSTA, O'PAKE, LOGAN, RHOADES, PUNT, PIPPY, GREENLEAF, ROBBINS and WASHINGTON. Printer's No. 1713. An Act amending the act of October 10, 1974 (P.L.705, No.235), known as the Lethal Weapons Training Act, further providing for certification.

HB 2304 By Representatives SOLOBAY, McCALL and GEIST. Printer's No. 3228. An Act designating the bridge carrying State Route 1025 over Interstate 79 in North Strabane Township, Washington County, as the Canon-McMillan Alumni Bridge.

SB 1139 By Senators BROWNE, BOSCOLA, CORMAN, ORIE, GORDNER, PILEGGI, RAFFERTY, WONDERLING and C. WILLIAMS. Prior Printer's No. 1598. Printer's No. 1657. 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 definitions and for tax status election by small corporations.

SB 1153 By Senators GREENLEAF, COSTA, LEMMOND, PICCOLA, O'PAKE, RAFFERTY, GORDNER, EARLL, PILEGGI, BROWNE and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer's No. 1633. Printer's No. 1680. An Act amending the act of April 24, 1931 (P.L.48, No.40), entitled "An act requiring the recording of certain written agreements pertaining to real property, and prescribing the effect thereof as to subsequent purchasers, mortgagees, and judgment creditors of the parties thereto," providing for the requirements for valid recording of documents.

SB 1179 By Senators RHOADES, D. WHITE, O'PAKE, MUSTO, WONDERLING, LEMMOND, REGOLA and WOZNIAK. Printer's No. 1672. An Act amending the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, further providing for applicability.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

For Those Who Like Straw Polls

DFA is having an election for Grassroots All-Star. Of the 34 candidates, four are from PA: Joe Sestak (PA-07), Patrick Murphy (PA-08), Chris Carney (PA-10) and Lois Herr (PA-16). Be aware that to vote you have to enter first and last name, zipcode and email and you will be added to mailing lists.

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner is heading up a "Change the Map" vote for Forward Together PAC, with 3 rounds. June 1-13 nominate; June 14-25 top 10, June 25-July 4 grand prize (a fundraiser with Mark Warner). Nominations are divided into East and West. The East section has options for Ed Rendell, Bob Casey, the four congressional candidates listed above plus four others. Note that in order to vote you have to create an account on Forward Together PAC, with name, email and zipcode. Given the rumored presidential ambitions of Gov. Warner, I assume this is a not so subtle way of putting together a national database of potential supporters.

Me, personally, I say just send your favorite congressional candidate a donation instead, but if you like these things, knock yourself out.

PA in the WSJ

I've been catching up on the Wall Street Journal. A few Pennsylvania-related items this week:

"Republicans Reingnite Hot-button Issues" by Sarah Kueck and Brody Mullins (6/06/06) has this paragraph:

In Pennsylvania, where Republican Sen. Rick Santorum is in a close contest to keep his seat, Republicans have highlighted his support of the gay-marraige amendment to help separate him from Democrat Bob Casey Jr. Mr. Casey has blurred his differences with the incumbent on social issues, since he is one of the few prominent Democrats who, like Mr. Santorum, opposes abortion. Mr. Casey said in an April debate that he opposes gay marriage but wouldn't support a constitutional ban, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

This is not politically related but caught my eye anyway. "Plan to Build Chidren's DNA Database Raises Concerns," by Atonio Regalado. First two paragraphs:

Why do some children become obese when they eat junk food, while others don't? Which kids are most susceptible to asthma?

Attempting to answer such questions, the Children's Hopsital of Philadelphia, the nation's oldest pediatric medical center, is launching a major effort to collect and analyze detailed DNA profiles on as many as 100,000 of its child patients, the first effort to collect DNA on so many children.

Oooh, I don't know about this. According to the article:

Once the DNA is collected, patients won't be informed every time the data are studied. Philip R. Johnson, Jr., CHOP's chief scientific officer, says parents will sign forms that say "You can study my DNA and access my medical information." He says the wording is "very broad" to allow difference kinds of research.

This makes me very nervous....

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

One More "Our Part"

One more addition to the "our part of the bargain" discussion, from Phillyville. tomorrow I'll try to put a link to all of them on the sidebar.

Press Release Round-up

A few items from the inbox:

John Norvaisas, Democratic candidate running against Paul Clymer for the 145th state house district has a nice list of events on his website. the 145th district is in Bucks County and includes East Rockhill, Haycock, Milford, Perkasie, Quakertown, Richland Richlandtown, Sellersville, Springfield, Trumbauersville & West Rockhill.

Joe Sestak has released his plan for ending military engagement in Iraq. (via politicspa) Sestak has also been getting some good press lately. See this article in USA Today ("GOP lawmaker in Pa. fighting to keep his job," by Andrea Stone) and this article from Newsweek ("Politics: High-Level Interest in a Low-Level Race" by Mark Hosenball, 5/29/06 issue).

A Quick Look at the 10th Congressional District

Don Sherwood, incumbent Republican congressman for the 10th congressional district will face Democratic challenger Chris Carney in November.

Sherwood barely survived a tough primary battle against Kathy Scott, who spent less than $5,000 on the race. At the end of March Sherwood had over $600,000 on hand. His rather messy extramarital affair was a factor in the primary. The Hill had a nice article in early May discussing Sherwood, Scott, and Carney, a political science professor and in the Navy Reserves.

Carney's campaign has put together a nice introductory video for those wishing to learn more about him. (It is also on his website.)

The 10th District contains the Central Susquehanna Valley region of Snyder, Union, Northumberland and Montour counties; the Back Mountain area of Luzerne County; Bradford, Sullivan, Wyoming, Susquehanna, Wayne and Pike counties; parts of Lycoming County, parts of Lackawanna County and Ward Township in Tioga County.

PA-08 Update

Joe Wilson (husband of Valerie Plame) attended a fundraiser for Patrick Murphy yesterday. Article from the Inky here. (Dana Reddington, "Ex-envoy helps Murphy fund-raiser")

Murphy has been endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Bucks County. (press release via politicspa, article from phillyburbs, "Planned Parenthood endorses Murphy," by Brian Scheid)

Telephone Tax Debate in the State Senate

As promised, I have some information from the April 03, 2006, State Senate Journal. On pages 14-19 of the pdf version you will find some lively, informed, and civil debate on telephone and cell phone tax. The primary speakers are Sen. Fumo and Sen. Wonderling. I don't understand the subject well enough to figure out exactly what they are talking about but they both have some facts and figures to back up their opinions. Fumo is dogged in trying to pass Senate Bill 691, offering a variety of amendments. Wonderling kept up his opposition. It is really fascinating to read, even if you don't grasp all the complexities of the subject. Interesting bits, on p. 16 Fumo takes a swipe at the House and their inability to pass lobbying reform. On p. 19 he says the bill is a tax break for Verizon and he hopes they choke on it. I encourage you to read through the entire debate yourself.

As an additional tidbit, in the April 4th State Senate Journal, on pages 12 and 13 of the pdf version, Sen. Tartaglione and Sen. Hughes again bring up the minimum wage.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Two Notes from the Senate Journals

A few more days' worth of PA Senate Journals have been released. I'll have more on this tomorrow, but here are two quick notes.

1) On March 27, p. 12 of the pdf version, a Senate Democratic leader made (another) long speech on Pres. George Bush and his policies. In this he refers to Bush as King George and King George the Terrorist. I think this is out of place. I don't like Bush, didn't vote him, and plan to do a dance on the joyful, happy day that he leaves office. But until then he is Pres. Bush. In my view, it is unseemly for someone in a leadership position to use inflammatory and belittling language in official state senate chambers to describe another elected official, no matter how much we might all dislike him. It lowers the overall level of civility. Just my opinion. (If you want to know who it was you have to read the Journal online.)

2) I couldn't help but notice Senator Washington was on personal or legislative leave for all 9 days the Senate met in March. Not that there's anything wrong with that..... I just noticed, that's all.

A Miscellany of Links

Russ Shade has finally gotten confirmation that he won the Democratic primary for house district 183 and will face incumbent Republican Julie Harhart in November. Harhart and Shade both ran write-in campaigns for the Democratic spot on the ballot. Had she won, Harhart would have been unopposed in the general election.

PoliticsPA has put together a list of the 7 deadly sins and pols to match.

Lois Murphy, Democratic candidate for the 6th congressional district, is featured in a New York Times article.

Russ Diamond, independent candidate for governor, wants to abolish all property taxes.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Quick Look at the 151st State House District

This is a quick look at a race I hope to watch. Longer posts will follow later in the election season.

Republican incumbent state representative Eugene McGill faces Democratic challenger Rick Taylor. I heard Taylor speak briefly at one of those multi-candidate forums I like so much earlier this spring and was really impressed. He did not appear packaged at all, but very genuine. You would want to live next door to this guy. I think you would want to be represented by him, too.

The district itself is one of those mutants created in the last redistricting mess. It includes large parts of Montgomery and Horsham Townships and parts of Lower Gwynedd, Upper Dublin and a smidge of Abington Townships. At least it is all in one county (Montgomery).

Good Post by Ferrick

Capitol Ideas (see sidebar) has been away so I haven't been getting my usual full daily dose of political commentary. In the meantime, Tom Ferrick had a great post today on the state legislature reconvening and it's post-election mood. I hear he is supplying the popcorn if you want to watch the show.