Monday, April 29, 2013

Kathleen McGinty Campaign Site Up

Kathleen McGinty's campaign website is now up and running.  It has the basics, bio, vision statement, and and ability to make donations.  McGinty is one of the Democratic candidates for governor.

Check it out:

Breast Cancer Presentation in Lafayette Hill

Dr. Marisa Weiss, found and president of gave a presentation at Congregation Or Ami in Lafayette Hill on Sunday morning (4/28).  Her topic was the high incidence of breast cancer and new research on prevention.  Dr. Weiss has written several books on the subject and is a practicing breast oncologist in Philadelphia.

I wasn't there but am told that Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richardson was in attendance and possibly made a few remarks herself.

On a personal note I recently had my regular mammogram done and received the results (benign / normal) on Saturday.  Ladies, get those tests done!

Rob McCord Now on Twitter

State Treasurer (and likely gubernatorial candidate) Rob McCord is now on twitter.  Follow along at:

Customized SETPA Tweets

Attention fellow SEPTA riders!

You can know follow customized SETPA twitter feeds to see current information on your specific trains, trolleys, and buses.

Check it out:

A Brief Look at State Rep. Greg Vitali's Writings

I've long been a fan of State Rep. Greg Vitali.  Among his many accomplishments is a steady record of op-eds and letters to the editor.  These works have been published in papers across the Commonwealth.  I did a search of Pennsylvania newspapers (author:  Greg Vitali or Gregory Vitali or Gregory S. Vitali), sorted through, trying to delete duplicate publications by noting similar titles within a few days of each other, and then reviewing the results.  That left 61 items, though in the course of skimming through them there were four duplicates that had escaped my earlier culling.  I am by no means suggesting this is an exhaustive list; it is very possible that I missed some or that some were published in papers that I don't have online access to.

While his op-eds and letters were published in a variety of papers, when more than one version was available I took the longest, which was most often from either the Philadelphia Inquirer or Delaware County publications like the Daily Times.

There are certainly themes to his writing but there are enough of them that a synopsis of them is a bit much for a single blog post.  Rep. Vitali has 19 guest columns on his legislative website ( that you can browse to get a sense of his writing style.

However, I can provide a breakdown by year, which indicates a steady output, and by overall subject, though the categories are somewhat elastic.

Chronological breakdown:

1995 - 3
1996 - 3
1997 - 2
1998 - 1
1999 - 1
2000 - 1
2001- 4
2002 - 1
2003 - 5
2004 - 3
2005 - 5
2006 - 7
2007 - 5
2008 - 5
2009 - 5
2010 - 2
2011 - 5
2012 - 2
2013 - 1

General subject breakdown:

campaign finance reform:  5
government reform (including pay raise) 8
tort reform 1
lobbying reform 2
open records 1
education / property tax 2
mandatory minimum sentencing 2
gay marriage 2

fracking 5
global warming 13
recycling 1
environmental protection 7
energy policy / strategy 7

Haverford State Hospital 5
campaign related 1

As you can see he writes a lot on reform measure and environmental matters.  These are two general themes I have noticed in his legislative and advocacy efforts.  The Haverford State Hospital is an important issue in his district.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Find Katie McGinty in the May PhillyMag

Like Waldo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen "Katie" McGinty is lurking in the background of the May issue of Philadelphia Magazine.

"Will there be a resurrection?" by Michael Callahan is on Philadelphia's parochial schools.  In the 5th from the last paragraph, when Callahan is recounting the success of some of his classmates, he writes: "How much of a loser do I feel like, knowing that Katie McGinty worked in the Clinton White House and is now running for governor?"

The article isn't currently on the magazine's website so you might have to borrow a friend's print copy (I subscribe).  The McGinty note is on page 182.  You can read the whole thing to learn a little more about her classmates.

PA Senate Bill: Being Gay NOT A Disorder or a Disease

Today's legislative infobit is on a PA State Senate bill that was introduced today and referred to the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure committee.

SB 872 is a remarkable bill and instead of trying to adequately interpret it, I'm just pasting the first part of it:

Prohibiting mental health professionals from engaging in sexual
orientation change efforts with an individual under 18 years
of age.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Short title.
The act shall be known and may be cited as the Protection of
Minors from Sexual Orientation Change Counseling Act.
Section 2. Legislative findings.
The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:
(1) Being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not a disease,
disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming. The major
professional associations of mental health practitioners and
researchers in the United States have recognized this fact
for nearly 40 years.

If this bill is what it appears to be I sincerely hope it passes quickly and by a significant majority.  The bill was introduced by:  WILLIAMS, WASHINGTON, SCHWANK, FERLO AND LEACH

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Today's Legislation Infobits

Why so many posts on legislation lately?  Mostly because I've actually had to time to scan the emails that come through every day the legislature is in session listing what bills were introduced and acted upon.  (You, too, can receive these fascinating missives.)  For most of the year I've just filed them for review later, and then never looked at them again.  But now I actually skim them and take a look at anything that catches my eye.

These are just two of the many pieces of legislation that were noted in today's email.

HB 891 amends the state's game law to allow "The checking of traps remotely by electronic means
by a properly permitted nuisance wildlife control operator."

HB 1243 creates a process (or amends an existing process, it's hard to tell) for people who have been in mental hospitals or legally declared mentally incompetent to appeal to the court of common pleas for the ability to legally own firearms.  State Rep Todd Stephens appears to be the primary sponsor on that one.

PA Economy League Supports Medicaid Expansion

The Pennsylvania Economy League, Inc. (PEL) and the PA Health Funders Collaborative (PHFC) have  released a new report that shows that expanding Medicaid to low-income Pennsylvanians as part of the Affordable Care Act would increase economic activity in the state and result in fiscal savings, despite state cost increases over time.

The full report (and an executive summary) are available at:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Brian Buhman Honored at White House

from the inbox:

TODAY, Wednesday, April 24th, the White House honors Brian Buhman as one of seventeen people who are Hurricane Sandy “Champions of Change.” This Champions event highlights people and organizations directly involved in response and recovery efforts following Hurricane Sandy.  These hidden heroes implemented innovative, collaborative solutions to meet the unique needs of communities and neighborhoods as they worked to rebuild after the devastating effects of this disaster. 
“As soon as a disaster hits, we see citizens come together to help those in need. Time and again, we have seen the courage and heroism of first responders, organizations, and ordinary people in providing relief, recovery, and care, and these Hurricane Sandy champions of change are no exception. From providing up-to-the-minute news, to assisting with long-term recovery to showing compassion to neighbors to donating vital supplies, these ordinary heroes are an inspiration to us all,” said Paulette Aniskoff, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement.  
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White house to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. 

Brian Buhman, Team Rubicon: Disaster Response Veterans Service OrganizationEast Greenville, PA
Brian Buhman is a Marine Corps veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq. His desire to continue his service by helping his community and other veterans led him to join Team Rubicon, a disaster response veterans service organization in 2011. Since March 2012, he has been a State Coordinator for Pennsylvania. During Hurricane Sandy, Brian stayed in Pennsylvania to help the residents in his community affected by the storm. Through his partnership with Volunteers Active in Disasters (VOAD), Brian started tree clean-up operations before the storm had ended and continued leading teams for the next three weeks. Since then, he has helped organize two clean-up weekends with the help of his VOAD partners. While working a full-time job, Brian volunteered over 150 hours for clean-up, assessments, and planning.

Trivedi Joins PAC

Dr. Manan Trivedi, two time candidate for Pennsylvania's 6th congressional district, has joined the board of a new political action committee, Americans for the Protection of Children.  He sent out the following email last week (fundraising links removed):

Yesterday Congress failed our children. The Senate had the opportunity to pass simple legislation to stop gun violence -- background checks -- and they could not muster the political courage to act. Why? When 90% of Americans support background checks, why would Congress fail to act?
The answer is simple: fear of the NRA and their Washington lobbyists.
That is why my friends and I, many of whom are parents of young children, are launching a new organization to fight back.
Because the only way we will ever get common sense gun safety laws is when we beat the politicians that do the NRA's bidding.
After the election in November I took a step back from politics. I was so thankful for your support in the campaign and proud of what we did together, but I needed some time to focus on my family and work as a physician. I can't sit quietly any longer.
Recently I discovered that, as a doctor, I am on the NRA's "enemies list." That's right. The NRA keeps a list of enemies that includes pediatricians, trauma surgeons, nurses, and the American Medical Association. It's actually a group of people I am proud to be associated with.
And united we can have a major impact.
As a battalion surgeon, I have seen firsthand what military weapons do to the human body.As a parent, I want to make sure that weapons that belong on the battlefield are kept out of our schools, our malls, our movie theaters, our places of worship, and off our streets.
We need to stop them and we need to start today.
Manan Trivedi

Equality Forum Events at the Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center and Equality Forum are hosting two panel discussions on current challenges facing the LGBT community.  Both will be on the evening of Friday, May 3rd, at the Constitution Center.  Admission is free but advance registration is recommended.  Panelists include elected LGBT officials, activists, and litigators.  Pennsylvania State Reps. Brian Sims and Mike Fleck will be part of the panel.  This event is part of Equality Forum's 21st annual four-day LGBT summit in Philadelphia on May 2-5.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

PA ACLU on HB 818

from the inbox:

 In the latest in a series of troubling votes on women’s healthcare, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation today to block insurance coverage of abortion care in the insurance exchange created by the federal healthcare reform law. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania was among the opponents of the bill, stating that it is a “radical expansion of government interference” in the private market.
“By banning insurance coverage of abortion care, the House has wandered into new territory,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “This is an extreme rollback of current state law, which is silent on the issue of private insurance coverage of abortion.
“The House simply cannot keep its hands off of women’s healthcare.”
The passage of House Bill 818 comes on the heels of multiple votes in the 2011-12 session to restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare. In that session, the House passed legislation to implement new, unnecessary regulations on women’s health clinics, passed a previous version of the insurance exchange ban, and held a committee vote on forced ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.
The clinic regulations bill was also passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Corbett.
The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act addressed the issue of insurance coverage of abortion, under an amendment offered by conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson. The Nelson amendment requires that a customer who participates in the insurance exchange would submit a separate payment to cover the abortion provision of the policy, ensuring that public funds are not used for covering abortion care.
HB 818 goes much further by prohibiting insurance coverage of abortion in policies sold within the exchange altogether, with only very narrow exceptions for rape, incest, and imminent death of the woman.
“This bill even prohibits insurance coverage of abortion when the woman’s health is at risk, such as with complications from cancer or diabetes,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The House members who supported this bill are either hopelessly na├»ve about the realities of women’s health or exceptionally cruel. Either way, they have no business micromanaging women’s healthcare from Harrisburg.”
HB 818 now heads to the state Senate for its consideration. Earlier this month, a Senate committee passed an identical bill, Senate Bill 3, which is currently on the Senate 

Planned Parenthood on HB 818 and SB 3

from the inbox:

In a perfect example of a solution in search of a problem, the most recent Pennsylvania abortion restriction bill - House Bill 818 - continued on its path through the Pennsylvania legislature on Tuesday, passing out of the House of Representatives.

Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates commented on today’s vote, “Proponents of this bill continue to mislead the legislature and the public, characterizing the debate as centered on taxpayer funding of abortion. Nothing could be farther from the truth. House Bill 818 bans the purchase of insurance coverage of abortion with private dollars, end of story. The disingenuous and purposeful misinformation that has been circulated about House Bill 818 and Senate Bill 3 is truly shameful. ”
“If the advocates and elected officials pushing these bills would be forthcoming with their ultimate goal - to eliminate safe access to abortion services at any turn and any cost, we could at least have an honest debate. Instead, the effort to pass this bill after five full years has been consistently cloaked in mistruths so as to confuse the legislature into submission.”
In a dramatic change in the status quo and intrusion into the free market, House Bill 818 would ban insurance companies from offering policies through the Pennsylvania exchange that cover abortion services outside of the narrow instances of rape and incest that have been personally reported to law enforcement, or to avert the death of the woman. Existing federal law already requires individuals to provide an entirely separate payment for insurance coverage of abortion if they access coverage through a healthcare exchange.  Senate Bill 3 passed out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee with identical language in recent weeks and is also poised for a full floor vote in the Senate.
“Even more shocking is that this bill is so ideological and blind-sighted as to refuse to give women with serious health problems like cancer any consideration,” Stevens continued. Thus, if the bill becomes law, even in tragic cases where the woman’s health is in serious jeopardy, the cost of the abortion procedure – which often takes place in a hospital – would be paid for entirely by the family. An overwhelming 79% of Pennsylvania voters support insurance coverage of abortion to protect a woman’s health. “Failing to provide for this exception is not only bad policy, it’s in stark contrast to public opinion,” said Stevens.
Stevens continued, “Imagine a woman who owns her own business, who chooses to buy her insurance on the Exchange, who pays her premiums every month and during a much anticipated and desired pregnancy develops cancer. The Pennsylvania legislature has decided to tell her that she’s out of luck and has to foot the bill herself. That is beyond cruel. The voters are fed up with the divisive social agenda of this legislature and with elections around the corner again, it’s a surprisingly risky and heartless move.”

Assorted New State Legislation

A few interesting items from yesterday's legislative email:

A new bill spelling out definitions of internet predators and setting up a structure for the state police to keep a registry of their online accounts.  Social networking sites (defined in such a way that might exclude business networking sites, though not being a lawyer I could be wrong on this) can check that registry.  See HB 1233.  From solely a layman's reading this sounds good to me.

The Local Government Committee was busy yesterday.  Several bills, HB 1224 - HB 1231 were introduced.  Several of these concerned how vacancies for township and county elected offices were to be filled, and more importantly, for what reasons people could be removed from office.  Mary Jo Daley sponsored many of these so I'm assuming they are good.  One concern, especially in HB 1227, is that is calls for an appointed replacement county commissioner to serve out the remainder of the term -- no mention of a special election.  But again, I'm not a lawyer so it may be in there and I just don't grasp it.

Those interested in public transit's use of natural gas powered buses should review HB 304.

You can review legislation by typing in bill numbers or keywords at:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bill to Require Training Before Permit to Carry

A new bill in the PA Senate, SB 664, would amend the legislation on permits to carry firearms.  The new wording requires the applicant to have taken a firearms training course.  There are several training options listed, with alternatives included.

Makes sense to me.


Boy Scout Update (Brendan Boyle Edition)

According to today's Inquirer ("Phila. Boy Scouts wants gay policy left to local units," by Melissa Dribben), the local Boy Scout council is suggesting that the national organization allow local troops decide whether or not to allow gay scout leaders.

Boy Scouts of America is rumored to offer a proposal allowing gay scouts but not gay leaders ("Boy Scouts proposing to lift gay ban for scout," by David Cracy, AP, 4/19)

in related news, this showed up in the inbox:

 The Philadelphia chapter of Boy Scouts of America have proposed changing the organization's national policy to give local units autonomy in deciding whether to allow gay members. In response, Representative Brendan F. Boyle (Philadelphia/Montgomery Co) releases the following statement: 
“I am very glad that the Philadelphia Boy Scouts of America have decided to press for an end to discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation. This is an important step forward in the fight for full equality for all Americans. As a founding member of the PA House LGBT Equality Caucus, I support this decision for furthering the expansion of rights once denied to our fellow Americans just for being gay. 
I praise the efforts of the Philadelphia Boy Scouts of America in working to better both our youth and our communities – and now for setting a positive example of tolerance and acceptance for Philadelphia’s youngest citizens. With that said, allowing individual Boy Scout chapters to choose their policy on gay membership is only one step in the right direction toward a future of openness and tolerance. I call on the leaders of the Boy Scouts’ national chapters to support the Philadelphia chapter’s proposal and seize this opportunity to put an end, once and for all, to any question concerning the character and reputation of the Boy Scouts of America.
 The Boy Scouts of America are an outstanding organization that instills many positive values in its members. There is no place for discrimination or bigotry in the Boy Scouts.”

Steven Tolliver, Sr. for Judge

Steven Tolliver, Sr., is a candidate for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.  He has a campaign website,  The site has a lengthy biography, a spot for campaign news, facebook feed, volunteer sign up form, and assorted other standard goodies.

Tolliver's biography is impressive. 

Murphy: How to Get an "F"

In his autobiography, Taking the Hill, then Congressman Patrick Murphy (PA-08) mentioned that in high school he flunked algebra; he teacher gave him an F.

He also got an F from the NRA.  He writes about that in his most recent post on MSNBC, "How to get an F from the NRA."

Murphy is a firm believer in Second Amendment Rights but also in gun safety. 

Worth a read.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

CeaseFirePA Responds to Gun Safety Vote

from the inbox:

CeaseFirePA reacted to the Senate's failure to enact new gun legislation, including an expansion of the background check system, with disappointment and determination. Shira Goodman, CeaseFirePA Executive Director, explained, "We are disappointed in the outcome of the vote, but our will to fight for commonsense gun laws is strengthened by the fact that the vast majority of the American people support such laws, as did the majority of U.S. Senators, including Senator Pat Toomey and Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania."

Across the nation, Americans are learning that it is not always easy to make their elected officials listen.  They are seeing firsthand that the gun lobby uses money and a broad network to perpetuate myths, lies and baseless fears.  These tactics, combined with procedural issues in the Senate, thwarted the will of the American people.

But as mothers and fathers continue to transform themselves into citizen activists and join together with a focused message and a resounding voice, elected officials who ignore them will do so at their own peril.  CeaseFirePA has been praising Senators Toomey and Casey for being leaders on this issue and for working for bipartisan solutions.  "Although Pennsylvania's Senators stood up for Americans, many others will be forced to explain why they chose to stand up for the gun lobby instead." 

"Pennsylvania is indeed a keystone state when it comes to the issue of commonsense gun laws," said Goodman.  There is a wave of change sweeping across Pennsylvania, and we intend to carry that wave throughout the nation.

"Those who would believe that yesterday's vote will sap our energy or bring an end to our work have gravely underestimated the power and will of the American public," urged Goodman. "We will continue to fight for commonsense safeguards with renewed vigor, not only to honor the victims of gun violence but because the vibrancy of our democracy demands it.  And, together we will succeed."

Auditor General Clears Backlog

from the inbox:

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today announced that just three months after taking office, a backlog of 1,500 audits is cleared. 
“Through the concentrated and focused efforts of our entire department, we released more than 1,500 audits in the past 90 days,” DePasquale said. “I don’t know if it is up there with Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak, but clearing the backlog in 90 days is an amazing accomplishment.”
The department produces about 4,000 audit reports per year. The financial and performance audits include: public and charter schools, volunteer firefighter’s relief associations, county row offices, district magistrates, municipal pension plans, and a range of other state and local programs that receive state and federal funding.

“We take pride in making sure all audits are carefully reviewed and comply with applicable government auditing standards,” DePasquale said. “Clearing the backlog that comes in part from the natural lag in production during a leadership transition means auditors can now focus on bringing all of our audits up to date.”

The Department of the Auditor General posts audit reports online at after the final report is delivered to the organization audited.

Clearing the audit backlog is part of DePasquale’s ongoing effort to modernize the department and improve efficiencies. Other efforts include:
·        reducing the department’s fleet of cars by more than 50 since January, and
·        reducing travel expenses, which were more than $87,000 lower in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2012.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"A Shameful Day for Washington"

The Senate decided not to vote on gun safety measures today.

The President called it "a shameful day for Washington."  You can watch the video of his remarks online.

The Huffington Post "Gun bill background check amendment fails, other key provisions follow," by Michael McAuliff (4/17) has a lot of information, including photos of all the senators who voted for and against.

The official vote count can be found on the senate's website, but for your general info (and in case you want to contact these folks), here is the list of senators voting against the bill:

Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Begich (D-AK)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coats (R-IN)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
Cruz (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (R-WI)
Lee (R-UT)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Portman (R-OH)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

PA Reform Bills

A number of bills were introduced or acted upon today.  This is a quick and incomplete rundown.  Interested readers are encouraged to dig further on their own.

SB 37, electronic voter registration, introduced Jan 4, 2013, second consideration 4/16/2013

SB 752, introduced 4/15/2013, lobbying disclosure

SB 753, introduced 4/15/2013, public access to contract award information,

SB 754, introduced 4/15/2013, providing for disclosure of political contributions

HB 1175, introduced 4/15/2013.  This confuses me as the text added specifically adds campaigns for state house and state senate to campaign finance reporting guidelines but the entire text of the original law is not included so I can be sure what is actually being done here.  But, honestly, state house and senate campaigns weren't included before?  Alarming.

Philadelphia's Creatures Great and Small

When awful things happen and people wreak havoc upon others I often find it comforting to look at the world around me.  The stars in the sky are the same stars that people have been looking at for millennia, the trees will bud this year as they always do, and the cardinal who frequently visits my backyard is likely to return.

And so when catching up on the past few days issues of the Wall Street Journal I was so pleasantly surprised to read "Why do toads cross the road?  It's mating season in Philadelphia," by Peter Loftus (4/12).  It's about a group of volunteers who set up and staff the Roxborough Reservoir Toad Detour, protecting the lowly toad as it crosses two streets in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.

Should you prefer grander wildlife, keep watch on the Franklin Institute hawks.  There are three eggs in the nest.  The hawk cam has a live feed of the nest (this will be more interesting when the eggs have hatched).  I check the Hawkwatch blog every few days to look at the pictures of these magnificent birds.

When we are all long gone the stars will still be in the sky, hawks will live in Philadelphia, the trees will bud in the spring, and most likely the cardinals will visit my backyard.

Monday, April 15, 2013

PA Limits Option in Health Exchanges

from the inbox:

The House Health Committee voted today to eliminate insurance coverage of abortion in the new Health Care Exchange. In a dramatic change in the status quo and intrusion into the free market, House Bill 818 passed out of the committee by a vote of 15 to 10. HB 818 is now headed for a full floor vote on Wednesday of this week. Its companion bill, Senate Bill 3, passed out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee with identical language last week and is also poised for a full floor vote.
Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates commented on today’s committee vote, “During the 2012 elections, voters made it clear they were fed up with the attacks on reproductive health issues. Yet here we are again with restrictions to safe, legal abortion and limiting women’s health care options back on the agenda as a top priority for the Pennsylvania legislature.”
Today, 80% of private insurance plans cover abortion. Existing federal law requires individuals to provide an entirely separate payment for insurance coverage of abortion.  If HB 818 becomes law, no private insurance plan contracting with the new Health Care Exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act will have the option of offering abortion coverage outside of cases of rape and incest that have been personally reported or the impending death of the woman. 
“Even more shocking is that this bill is so ideological and blind-sighted as to refuse to give women with serious health problems like cancer any consideration,” Stevens continued. The House Health Committee voted on an amendment that would add a health exception to the ban, but the measure failed by a vote of 14 to 10. Thus, if the bill becomes law as is, even in tragic cases where the woman’s health is in serious jeopardy, the cost of a necessary abortion – which often takes place in a hospital – would be paid for entirely by the family. “An overwhelming 79% of Pennsylvania voters support insurance coverage of abortion to protect a woman’s health. Failing to provide for this exception is not only bad policy, it’s in stark contrast to public opinion, and I would urge all Representatives to remember this and consider adding a health amendment when they vote on Wednesday,” said Stevens.
Stevens continued, “Imagine a woman who owns her own business, who chooses to buy her insurance on the Exchange, who pays her premiums every month and during a much anticipated and desired pregnancy develops cancer. The Health Committee has decided to tell her that she’s out of luck and has to foot the bill herself. That is beyond cruel. The voters are fed up with the divisive social agenda of this legislature and with elections around the corner again, it’s a surprisingly risky and heartless move.”

Equality PA Endorsements

Today, Equality Pennsylvania released its slate of endorsed candidates for the Primary Election on May 21. These pro-equality candidates have all pledged to be leaders in the journey toward full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the Commonwealth.

For Southeastern Pennsylvania, endorsed candidates are:

Shoshana Bricklin - Philadelphia Municipal Court
Giovanni Campbell - Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
Inja Coates - Philadelphia Traffic Court
Mimi DeSouza - Incumbent, Norristown Municipal Council - District 1
Lori Schreiber - Incumbent - Abington Township Commissioner
Erica Weiherer - Spring City Borough

Prez O Statement on Events in Boston

from the inbox, a statement from President Obama:

 Good afternoon, everybody.  Earlier today, I was briefed by my homeland security team on the events in Boston. We’re continuing to monitor and respond to the situation as it unfolds.  And I’ve directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.

The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight.  And Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.

We don’t yet have all the answers.  But we do know that multiple people have been wounded, some gravely, in explosions at the Boston Marathon.

I’ve spoken to FBI Director Mueller and Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, and they’re mobilizing the appropriate resources to investigate and to respond.

I’ve updated leaders of Congress in both parties, and we reaffirmed that on days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats -- we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.

I’ve also spoken with Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino, and made it clear that they have every single federal resource necessary to care for the victims and counsel the families.  And above all, I made clear to them that all Americans stand with the people of Boston.

Boston police, firefighters, and first responders as well as the National Guard responded heroically, and continue to do so as we speak.  It’s a reminder that so many Americans serve and sacrifice on our behalf every single day, without regard to their own safety, in dangerous and difficult circumstances.  And we salute all those who assisted in responding so quickly and professionally to this tragedy.

We still do not know who did this or why.  And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.  But make no mistake -- we will get to the bottom of this.  And we will find out who did this; we'll find out why they did this.  Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.

Today is a holiday in Massachusetts -- Patriots’ Day.  It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the  earliest days of our nation.  And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition.  Boston is a tough and resilient town.  So are its people.  I'm supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city.  And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.

You should anticipate that as we get more information, our teams will provide you briefings.  We're still in the investigation stage at this point.  But I just want to reiterate we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.

Thank you very much.

Gail Weilheimer Campaign Site

Gail Weilheimer, candidate for Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, has launched her campaign website.  Check out

Santarsiero's Bill to Close Long Gun Loophole

State Rep. Steve Santarsiero has introduced House Bill 1010, which closes a loophole in the state's gun registration law.  Right now sales of long guns do not require background checks; this bill would repeal that exemption.  The bill itself is very short, a few lines over a page.

It sounds like good legislation to me.  If you agree (or disagree), you might contact your legislator and let them know how you feel.  The bill is currently sitting in the Judiciary Committee.

You can read more at "State Rep. Steve Santarsiero call for vote on bipartisan bill to require universal background checks for firearms in Pa.," Bucks County Local News (4/14/13)

"Bucks legislator:  Expand PA background check on rifle sales," by Amy Worden, (4/12/13)

The list is sponsors is:  SANTARSIERO, DEAN, WATERS, FRANKEL, V. BROWN,

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Another Bill on Right to Know

A few days ago I noted State Senate bill 457, which would change the way state supported universities were required to report under the Open Records Law.  The State House is also weighing in on the subject.  House Bill 311 spells out what parts of the universities are involved.


This would seem to be a popular topic at the moment, at least in the legislature.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

SEPTA Hearings

from the inbox:

SEPTA would like to remind riders and Philadelphia area residents about a series of 10 public hearings that will be held starting next week regarding the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Operating Budget and proposed fare increases.

Hearings will be held in each of the five counties SEPTA serves. The schedule is as follows:
 ·        Monday, April 15, Delaware County: Delaware County Court House-County Council Meeting Room, 201 W. Front Street, Media, PA. Sessions begin at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
·        Tuesday, April 16, Montgomery County: Montgomery County Human Services Center-Community Room, Main Floor; 1430 DeKalb Pike, Norristown, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
·        Wednesday, April 17, Philadelphia: SEPTA Headquarters-Board Room, 1234 Market Street. Sessions at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
·        Friday, April 19, Chester County: West Chester Borough Hall-County Chambers, 401 E. Gay Street, West Chester, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
·        Monday, April 22, Bucks County: Bucks County Free Library-Pearl Buck Room, 150 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, PA. Sessions at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Remarks from Newtown Parent

from the inbox, the White House weekly address:

 This week’s address is delivered by Francine Wheeler, whose six year old son, Ben, was murdered alongside nineteen other children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, four months ago. Now, Francine – joined by her husband David – is asking the American people to help prevent this type of tragedy from happening to more families like hers.  Since that terrible day in December, thousands more Americans have died, and thousands more families have suffered the pain of losing a loved one to violence.  Now that the Senate has agreed that commonsense gun safety reforms deserve a vote, they must finish the job and pass those reforms to protect our children and our communities.  Now is the time for all Americans to help make this a moment of real change. 
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, April 13, 2013.
Remarks of Francine WheelerThe President’s Weekly AddressThe White HouseApril 13, 2013
Hi.  As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not the President.  I’m just a citizen.  And as a citizen, I’m here at the White House today because I want to make a difference and I hope you will join me.  
My name is Francine Wheeler.  My husband David is with me.  We live in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
David and I have two sons.  Our older son Nate, soon to be 10 years old, is a fourth grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Our younger son, Ben, age six, was murdered in his first-grade classroom on December 14th, exactly 4 months ago this weekend.

David and I lost our beloved son, but Nate lost his best friend.  On what turned out to be the last  morning of his life, Ben told me, quite out of the blue, “ I still want to be an architect, Mama, but I also want to be a paleontologist, because that’s what Nate is going to be and I want to do everything Nate does.”

Ben’s love of fun and his excitement at the wonders of life were unmatched   His boundless energy kept him running across the soccer field long after the game was over.  He couldn’t wait to get to school every morning. He sang with perfect pitch and had just played at his third piano recital.  Irrepressibly bright and spirited, Ben experienced life at full tilt.

Until that morning.  20 of our children, and 6 of our educators – gone.  Out of the blue.

I’ve heard people say that the tidal wave of anguish our country felt on 12/14 has receded.  But not for us.  To us, it feels as if it happened just yesterday.   And in the four months since we lost our loved ones, thousands of other Americans have died at the end of a gun.  Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief.

Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.

Sometimes, I close my eyes and all I can remember is that awful day waiting at the Sandy Hook Volunteer Firehouse for the boy who would never come home – the same firehouse that was home to Ben’s Tiger Scout Den 6.  But other times, I feel Ben’s presence filling me with courage for what I have to do – for him and all the others taken from us so violently and too soon.

We have to convince the Senate to come together and pass commonsense gun responsibility reforms that will make our communities safer and prevent more tragedies like the one we never thought would happen to us.

When I packed for Washington on Monday, it looked like the Senate might not act at all.  Then, after the President spoke in Hartford, and a dozen of us met with Senators to share our stories, more than two-thirds of the Senate voted to move forward.

But that’s only the start.  They haven’t yet passed any bills that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.  And a lot of people are fighting to make sure they never do.

Now is the time to act.  Please join us.  You can talk to your Senator, too.  Or visit to find out how you can join the President and get involved.

Help this be the moment when real change begins.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Prez O's 2014 Fiscal Budget

from the inbox:

The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget demonstrates that we can make critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and grow the economy while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way.  The President believes we must invest in the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising and thriving middle class. He is focused on addressing three fundamental questions: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do the jobs of the 21st Century? How do we make sure hard work leads to a decent living? The Budget presents the President’s plan to address each of these questions.
  • Creates jobs by responsibly paying for investments in education, manufacturing, clean energy, infrastructure, and small business.
  • Includes $1.8 trillion of additional deficit reduction over 10 years, bringing total deficit reduction achieved to $4.3 trillion.
  • Represents more than $2 in spending cuts for every $1 of new revenue from closing tax loopholes and reducing tax benefits for the wealthiest.
  • Deficit is reduced to 2.8% of GDP by 2016 and 1.7% by 2023 with debt declining as a share of the economy, while protecting the investments we need to create jobs and strengthen the middle class.
  • Includes $400 billion in health savings that crack down on waste and fraud to strengthen Medicare for years to come.


Prez O on Background Check Bill

from the inbox, a statement by President Obama:

I applaud Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey for their leadership on forging a bipartisan agreement around commonsense background checks that will make it harder for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun. 
 This is not my bill, and there are aspects of the agreement that I might prefer to be stronger.  But the agreement does represent welcome and significant bipartisan progress. It recognizes that there are good people on both sides of this issue, and we don’t have to agree on everything to know that we’ve got to do something to stem the tide of gun violence. 
Of course, a lot of work remains.  Congress needs to finish the job.  The Senate must overcome obstruction by defeating a threatened filibuster, and allow a vote on this and other commonsense reforms to protect our kids and our communities.  Any bill still has to clear the House.  So I’m going to keep asking the American people to stand up and raise their voices, because these measures deserve a vote – and so do the families and communities they’re designed to protect.

MAIG Drops PA Ads

from the inbox:

Following the announcement today that Senator Pat Toomey joined West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin in co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to require background checks for commercial gun sales – including at gun shows and online – Mayors Against Illegal Guns announced that it would stop airing ads in Pennsylvania and thanked Senator Toomey for standing with Pennsylvanians and supporting this commonsense legislation.  The ad that was pulled from the air and a previous ad that aired in Pennsylvania can be viewed at

A Quick Look at State Rep Mary Jo Daley

People had mentioned Mary Jo Daley to me when she stepped in to run for the state house after Mike Gerber decided not to run again in the 148th district.  Daley won the seat.  Her state house site ( has a biography and other basic information, as does her campaign site,   MainLineMediaNews had a nice feature on Daley in 2009 in their "Volunteer of the Week" column, by Joel Fram (11/23/2009).

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Daley speak and she completely blew my socks off.  She is very impressive, but low key, knowledgeable, realistic, straightforward.  She has a clear and authoritative speaking voice and a commanding presence.  I hope we see a lot more of her in the future.

PCN included Daley in their "Freshman Focus" feature.  Newly elected state senators and representatives were briefly interviewed.  I listened to the interview with Daley and took notes on it.  This not intended to be a formal transcript and apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.  Interested parties are encouraged to listen for themselves.  Remember this interview was done after the election but before she was sworn in.

Notes from PCN:

Q:  Why did you run?
I got into the race very late because my state representative withdrew late in July so I had a very shorty period of time to make that decision.  But when I weighed my credentials for running for office and thought about how few women there were in office I decided I had to stop complaining and do something.

Q:  What is the biggest problem in your district:

A:  I’m not prepared to answer that.  I represent a wonderful district in Montgomery County.  We have terrific schools, great environment, access to public transit, close to Philadelphia, focused on the positive when out campaigning.  I’m sure now I’ll focus on entire district.

Q:  What committees do you want to be on?

Would love to be on transportation committee but that is probably a reach as many people want it.  I’m also looking at state govt, local govt, human services.  You can tell I’m still looking at the committees to see where I can use my background and knowledge.

Q:  Issues?

In my campaign I talked a lot about women’s issues, all across the state board, education, environment, all affect women.  Being one of the few women in office I have to look at that, but things like education affect everyone.

Q:  Surprises in job?

Not actually sworn in yet.  The 3 days I’ve been here for orientation have been overwhelming in some regard.  The capitol is the most beautiful building, people so helpful, a positive experience.  Looking forward to being sworn in.

Q:  Hobbies?

I work a lot but other than that I like to knit, read, and garden.  I don’t get much time to do those things, except reading.  I like to travel.  I have a brother who lives in France and it is great to go visit him as a family trip.

Q:  What is your favorite book?

Good question.  There’s a book that I loved called Kristin Lavransdatter.  I’ve read it twice; it’s very thick.  It’s fiction; the story of a woman.  Very good.

Q:  Family reaction to election?

They’re great.  My husband was very excited about me running.  I have a daughter and two stepchildren.  One of my brothers went door to door for me.  Both of my parents have passed way.  People tell me they would be so proud as they both had an interest in politics.  

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Two Interesting Infographics

Two infographics for your information

The folks at the Washington Post steered me towards an infographic showing how states have voted since the first presidential election.  Take a look.  It was designed by Riverbed Design and posted online by AIGA Seattle.

Our friends at Name It Change It have released two research studies  that demonstrate the gender-based challenges women face from the media when they run for office.  They've also released an infographic that demonstrates the findings.  Interesting stuff.

Painter Legislation on Tuition Assistance for Veterans

from the inbox:

 The state House of Representatives today passed legislation amended by state Rep. Mark Painter to extend in-state college tuition assistance to all veterans, their spouses and dependents who are eligible for any part of the federal GI Bill. The amendment offered by Painter was unanimously adopted by the House Monday to clarify that the extension references the GI Bill and the five other federal laws that apply to educational benefits to 100 percent disabled veterans and dependents of deceased veterans. His amendment also ensures that all veterans, not just post 9-11 veterans and their families are eligible. "For those who have given so much for our country, I believe we should do everything we can to ensure that they receive a quality education. We should make every effort to remove obstacles that affect veterans’ ability to graduate and find employment," said Painter, D-Montgomery. The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, community colleges and Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education support Painter's amendment. He is the first freshman of either party to have an amendment pass the House this session. Currently, in-state tuition is provided to military personnel, their dependents and civilian personnel assigned to an active duty station in Pennsylvania. However, individuals who complete active duty enlistment obligations and want to move to Pennsylvania and attend a college are charged out-of-state tuition unless they take a year off to establish residency, which is often impractical. In the past year, 20,644 veterans and eligible individuals used GI Bill benefits to pursue postsecondary training and education in Pennsylvania. Under H.B. 472 and with Painter's amendment, they now would be eligible for in-state tuition. Following today’s House passage, the bill will be sent to the state Senate for consideration. Painter has introduced related bipartisan legislation that would help veterans who are transitioning from combat duty to college classrooms to receive special assistance at Pennsylvania colleges. House Bill 841 would require the establishment of a "Combat to College" program at state education institutions, including PASSHE schools, state-related universities and community colleges. It is the first comprehensive legislation that would make Pennsylvania colleges and universities veteran friendly. "This program would promote a veteran-friendly educational environment to assist veterans and returning deployed military in attaining a degree from a higher education institution in the commonwealth," he said. The bill awaits action by the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

Gun Safety Notes

A few links and info on gun safety legislation:

The Washington Post has a graphic showing where Congress stands on gun control legislation.  See "Where Congress stands on guns," by Lena Groeger and Amanda Zamora, ProPublica, and Kat Downs and Dan Keating, The Washington Post.

Remarks by the President on Gun Violence

Background checks and Speed Bumps (infographic from Mayors Against Illegal Guns)

It's Official: Schwartz for Governor

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz has officially thrown her hat into the ring in the governor's race.  She sent out an email to supporters earlier this evening.  The campaign is using her standard campaign website address:  this url has been used for her congressional campaigns as well.

There are some interesting graphics.  I count at least four shades of blue.  The splash page has a faint image from the state flag, at an angle, in the background.  The horses and the eagle's head are the most visible items from the flag.  There is a blue state icon with a red bar to the right of it, with a lighter blue ribbon across it.  Her name, "for governor" with the campaign URL is blazoned across the blue state image.  There is a large white star at the end of her first name.  The only noticeable item on the screen that is not red, white, or blue, is a slender edge of yellow on her shirt.

It's a well-designed page and worth a look.

This is the text of the email sent out earllier:

As an important supporter of mine, I wanted you to be one of the first to know that, earlier today, I announced that:I am running for Governor of Pennsylvania!I am ready to put my skills, experience, energy and determination to work for Pennsylvania and to be the strong and effective leader that Pennsylvanians deserve!This will be a long, challenging, and exciting campaign. And, I will need your support from the start. I hope you are all in with me and will get involved right now. Here is how you can help today: There will be more news as we continue to gear up and we will do all we can to stay in touch with you along the way.
Thank you for your support and for being with me from the very start!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Bill on Foreign-Owned Charter Schools

A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania State House would prevent people who are not US citizens from owning charter schools.   Nor could non-US citizens own non-profits or companies that managed charter schools.  Elected officials would likewise be banned.  Read HB 1082 for the details.

The bill was introduced by Y MOUL, YOUNGBLOOD, DAVIS, O'NEILL, FLECK, CLYMER,

Toomey and Gun Safety

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Saturday that "Toomey could be key to a deal on guns," by Jonathan Tamari (4/06).  By chance I had called Sen. Toomey's office on Friday morning.  His website didn't like gun safety note on the issue's page.  I asked the staffer on the phone if the senator had a position on background checks or limiting the size of ammunition magazines sold.  The staffer sounded weary, no doubt a number of people have been calling.  She said that the senator was in discussion with other senators on the subject.  So he's consistent in what he's telling people.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Being Biden on the Violence Against Women Act

The fourth installment of Being Biden is out.  These are short audio records (about a minute and a half).  This clip is on the Violence Against Women Act, which Biden wrote.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Kevin Strouse Announces 8th District Run

from the inbox, Kevin Strouse announces his candidacy in the 8th congressional district:

 Today former U.S. Army Ranger Kevin Strouse announced that he is formally launching his campaign for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District.
A combat veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Kevin’s family has lived in Southeastern Pennsylvania and served our nation in the Armed Services since the Revolutionary War. Kevin’s grandfather served in World War II and his father in Vietnam. When it was Kevin’s turn to defend America, he enlisted in the Army Rangers and was in basic training during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Kevin’s first combat deployment was with the Army Rangers in Afghanistan in February, 2002. Later in Iraq, Kevin was part of the mission to rescue Army Private Jessica Lynch, helping clear the streets and completing a successful rescue. After serving three tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, Kevin put his experience to good use by continuing his service as part of the CIA’s counterterrorism center.With a demonstrated commitment to public service and a track record of problem-solving in the most difficult and chaotic situations, Kevin knows that the most effective way he can continue serving Southeastern Pennsylvania is by bringing the skills he learned in the Army and the CIA to help fix a dysfunctional Congress.
“When I was serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, it didn’t matter whether the Ranger next to me was a Democrat or a Republican, all that mattered was that we worked together and got the job done,” Kevin Strouse said. “I've dedicated my life to public service and solving tough challenges and I know Washington can do better at strengthening the middle-class, protecting our national security and creating good paying jobs. The families of the 8th District need leaders who have proven they will work for common-sense solutions, not the broken politics of Washington." 
Kevin lives in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Amy have two young children, Walter and Charlotte.  Kevin earned his BA from Columbia University and his Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, graduating with honors.