Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Judicial Spending

A Smoke-Filled Room found an interesting article on GrassrootsPA detailing the spending habits of some of our judges. Read it and weep.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Assorted Updates

A few interesting items came through email this week.

The PA House Democrats are maintaining a website on the taxpayer bill of rights (which they are calling something else). Some good stuff here.

Chris Bowers of mydd is now officially a Philadelphia Democratic ward committeeperson.

On a more personal note, if you really want to entertain your cats get a couple of small crabs. If you want to make a lot of money, sell special crab accoutrements. There are special crab food dishes, special crab food, crab habitat items like plastic plants and fake hollow logs for them to hide in, and people dumb enough to buy all of them, all at once. The cats are going nuts trying to get the crabs through the glass. The crabs don't seem to care. They did seem a little nervous when the habitat was on the kitchen counter, though. Maybe it was the pot of boiling water on the stove for spaghetti. The best thing about adding crustaceans to the household? They aren't reptiles.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fairness to Some is Not Fairness

As truth in advertising I will admit to not having read in depth on this topic, so the opinions presented here are not as well-grounded in fact as perhaps they should be.

The PA House and Senate have each passed some form of the "Taxpayer Fairness Act," and are now trying to reconcile some details. Here is a conservative view. Here is a liberal view. Here is a blog on the topic managed by the chief of staff of the prime sponsor (Sen. Brightbill).

In my limited understanding this seems to be a legal way of limiting the state's spending. Here's why I don't like it: Our illustrious elected officials, who, under present leadership, think it is just fine to rig their voting machines and then leave town, don't see any reason to make lobbyists report what they have spent on whom or why, have liberal campaign finance regulations, and so on, are people I would not trust to make a choice between cutting their own lunch budgets (and these folks eat well) and cutting medical insurance for poor children. No, I don't. Someone who thinks immigrant dairy workers earn $50,000 a year probably isn't going to be willing to reduce his vehicle lease allowance to give the elderly with no income except social security flu shots. A group that won't put any limits on their own ability to earn outside income or uniformly excuse themselves from decisions that will personally benefit themselves or their families are not likely to chose student loan funding over a break to, just as a hypothetical example, the payday loan industry (especially if that break would give a hypothetical pesky brother-in-law a nice bonus).

Color me cynical but until these folks clean up their own house (and senate), I don't intend to make them decide between helping themselves and helping the indigent and infirm.

Dream Come True Week

I knew it was too good to believe. SR522 A Resolution declaring December 5 through 9, 2005, as "Dream Come True Week" in Pennsylvania, is not, in fact, another pr attempt by the legislature to win back our love, affection, and respect by going house to house and handing out goodies.

It no doubt refers to the Dream Come True, a tax exempt nonprofit organization which seeks to fulfill the dreams of children who are seriously, chronically, and terminally ill and reside in the greater Lehigh Valley area. Organizations like this are wonderful and should be recognized and supported. This past fall I went out on a rainy night to the annual Sleeping Angels beef and beer. Good people, good cause.

While just about everybody supports larger, national charities, sometimes it's nice to help folks close to home, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Digital Social Norms

I ran across a really interesting article, “Bloggers’ Expectations of Privacy and Accountability: An Initial Survey,” by Fernanda B. Viegas. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 10 #3 (Apr 2005): article 12. It available freely on the Internet here.

We as a society have come to some general understanding of personal space in a public setting. Unless an elevator is crowded we don’t stand close to each other. Smoking is prohibited in many public spaces. We have decided it violates our privacy when our social security numbers are used on everything from student id cards to health insurance cards.

The blogosphere, though, is still sorting through these things. A sense of what is private and what is public blurs in online journals. Where does someone’s virtual smoke end and where does our personal space begin? We’ve all read about people who lost (or found) jobs by virtue of their blogs. Many of us have heard about people who lost friends or significant others because of something written on their blogs. This isn’t really new. I remember Ma telling me never to put anything in print that I wouldn’t want to see in the newspaper the next day. When I was in college the student newspaper ran a photo of an elected student government official nude, from the back. It was taken and published with the man’s permission. Stories circulated about him nearly (or actually) losing a job when someone mailed the photo to his post-college employer.

Viegas looks at some of the emerging social norms among the 492 bloggers surveyed in January, 2004. They may not have been the most usual bloggers, as most had been blogging for over a year and only 10% were under 20 (46% between 21 and 30, 28% 31-40). A little over 40% said they had gotten into trouble over something written in their blog either to some extent (34%) or frequently (6%). One passage that really struck me was this:

Bloggers write not only about themselves but often also about other people with whom they interact. When asked whether they sought other people’s permission to blog about them, 66% of respondents almost never asked permission, and only 3% said they always asked permission first. Interestingly, only 9% of the survey respondents said they never blogged about people they knew personally.

This one also stood out for me:

Nevertheless, most bloggers must rely on limited indicators of past actions (access logs, comments, and trackbacks) in order to form a mental picture of who is reading their posts. This paucity of clues indicating identity and presence can cause distorted views of readership to emerge. For one thing, bloggers may begin to perceive the people whose presence is more tangibly obvious (e.g. commenters) as their entire audience.

And later:

This has significant implications for privacy in the sense that, once people start thinking about a small part of their readership as the whole of it, they may customize their postings for that particular group of people. For instance, if all the comments a blogger gets on his site come from close friends, he might forget that his actual readership is broader and might start blogging about things that he would only talk about with close friends.

75% of the bloggers responding to the survey thought they could not be sued for what they wrote.

These are issues I have struggled with as well, from both sides of the coin. Once I have posted an entry, even if I edit or delete it later, the original post can still be reposted or quoted by someone else somewhere else. When I blog I try to always be conscious of the fact that anyone I write about could read it or that the people who know me could read it. In part this is because a few of the people I interact with or whose lives intertwine with mine in some way blog and more than once me or mine has appeared in these blogs. In one case I have minimized my contact with someone because of how people were described in their blog. In one case it was me being described in less than glowing terms, in others it was people I care about. We were not mentioned by name but by circumstance described it was obvious. In another case the blogger was so mean spirited that I just didn’t want to be around them anymore, even if they were pleasant in person. In a third I have changed my route on a weekly trip because if even a small percentage of the things I have read about happening in that house actually happen I don’t want to be anywhere near it when the bullets start to fly. I doubt any of these people are aware that I know of their blogs because none of them use their full names (although some use photos).

If I know of these people I can only assume that at least of few of my readers know me, in addition to those I have told and who may stop in from time to time. There have been times when something interesting has happened and I have wanted to blog about it but could not shake the nagging feeling that it might infringe on someone else’s privacy. In some cases I have changed some of the details and gone ahead, but wondered if it was wrong to do so. If something is said in public it seems okay to blog on it, but if it was said in private or in a personal email I don’t, unless permission is explicitly given, but in the future I might. I struggle and want to stay on the right side of the line but am aware that I may have sometimes crossed it. As a parent I struggle with what can be said about my children. Much of my life revolves around them but their stories are their own and I try not to talk about them too much. Someone I knew years ago has a blog and discusses her children’s lives in detail and while I enjoy reading it, I wonder how her children will feel when they get older about this information floating around out there or how they will feel about some of the comments she has made about their father.

More than most people I am aware of how permanent the Internet is. Yes things do disappear but someone persistent enough can often find them again. Dumb questions I asked on listservs back in 1990 are still out there and come up every once in a while when I am looking for something else. It never fails to crush my ego when they do.

The digital social norms are still forming; I think Viegas’ article is a fascinating snapshot of what they were in early 2004.

(cross posted to PSOTD)

Rep. Tim Murphy Injured in Iraq

CNN is reporting that Rep. Tim Murphy (PA) and Rep. Ike Skelton (MO) were injured in Iraq. Murphy was airlifted to Germany for an MRI. Expect more info in tomorrow's paper.

Reason #59 to Wear Bike Helmets

You and the spouse have taken your kids and a few others out to an unused parking lot to ride bikes. Your child is zooming along, just ahead of a friend in a race. Your child hits something on the pavement and goes flying. The friend can't stop and runs over your child. Runs over your child's head. Your spouse gets their first and the two of you assess the damage. No marks, the fingers can bend, just fear and tears. You look at your child's helmet. The area near the temple is a little dented and there is a skid mark over the top. Thank you thank you thank you to whoever invented bike helmets and to the legislators who make it mandatory for kids to wear them.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

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 not updated their legislative page. Other weekly updates:

PA House Democrats
PA House GOP daily updates

PA Senate Democrats

PS Senate Republicans

Special Session

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

HB 39 Prior Printer's No. 41. Printer's No. 62. An Act amending the act of December 31, 1965 (P.L.1257, No.511), known as The Local Tax Enabling Act, restricting the power of certain school districts to levy, assess and collect taxes.
Passed and now referred to legislation

Monday 2 bills referred to finance committee, to appropriations, HB 39, 42, 43, acted upon in some way (House); bill referred to legislation (Senate)
Tuesday no activity in the House, 2 bills referred to legislation (Senate)
Wednesday 0 bills referred to finance committee (House). 2 bills referred to legislation (Senate)
Thursday no activity
Friday no activity

Regular Session

Please note SB713, prohibiting cell phone companies from publishing your number without your permission. Good job on that one. Resolution 522 sounds wonderful but I wonder if it’s in the budget….


Serial No. 522 A Resolution declaring December 5 through 9, 2005, as "Dream Come True Week" in Pennsylvania.

Serial No. 518 A Resolution commending Pennsylvanians on their recent volunteer efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters.

SR 524 A Resolution recognizing December 10 through 16, 2005, as "Bill of Rights Week" in Pennsylvania.

There were 3 resolutions honoring fallen soldiers.



HB 344 Printer's No. 365. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, excluding smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and other fire prevention and fire safety equipment from the sales and use tax.

HB 496 Prior Printer's No. 535. Printer's No. 3157. 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.

HB 1350 Printer's No. 1608. An Act designating State Route 291 in Delaware County as the Willie Mae James Leake Memorial Highway.

HB 1427 Prior Printer's Nos. 1737, 2883. Printer's No. 3155. An Act amending the act of December 31, 1965 (P.L.1257, No.511), known as The Local Tax Enabling Act, further providing for collection of taxes, for audits of earned income taxes, for earned income taxes, for suits for tax collection, for penalties and for delinquent tax collection costs.

HB 1528 Printer's No. 1877. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for licenses and fees relating to taxidermists.

HB 2041 Prior Printer's Nos. 2818, 3027. Printer's No. 3156. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, further providing for the Health Care Provider Retention Program and for reporting.

HB 39 Prior Printer's No. 41. Printer's No. 62. An Act amending the act of December 31, 1965 (P.L.1257, No.511), known as The Local Tax Enabling Act, restricting the power of certain school districts to levy, assess and collect taxes.

SB 260 By Senators ARMSTRONG, STACK, THOMPSON, RHOADES, MUSTO, RAFFERTY, KITCHEN, ORIE and O'PAKE. Printer's No. 264. An Act joining with other states in an effort to establish an interstate compact to regulate designated insurance products.

SB 573 By Senators GORDNER, LOGAN, PILEGGI, RAFFERTY, VANCE and WONDERLING. Prior Printer's No. 623. Printer's No. 1382. An Act amending the act of May 21, 1943 (P.L.571, No.254), known as The Fourth to Eighth Class County Assessment Law, further providing for valuation of persons and property.

SB 599 By Senators D. WHITE and CORMAN. Prior Printer's Nos. 670, 1322. Printer's No. 1380. An Act amending the act of December 21, 1998 (P.L.1064, No.140), entitled "An act designating Route 581 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, as the American Ex-Prisoners of War Highway; designating a section of the Bay Front Parkway in Erie County, Pennsylvania, as the Bernard (Benny) J. Dombrowski Memorial Highway; designating a section of Route 26 in Centre County, Pennsylvania, as the Nittany Parkway; designating a bridge in Bethel Township, Lebanon County, as the Senator Clarence F. Manbeck Bridge; designating the Mount Union Bypass in Huntingdon County as the James DiCosimo Bypass; designating a portion of Route 26 in Huntingdon County as the Standing Stone Parkway; designating a portion of State Route 0094 in York and Cumberland counties as the 94th Infantry Division Memorial Highway; and designating a bridge in Chester County as the Ben Weaver Bridge," extending the Bernard (Benny) J Dombrowski Memorial Highway; designating State Route 132 in Bucks County as the Armed Forces and Veterans Memorial Highway; designating a bridge on State Route 150 crossing the Beech Creek in Clinton and Centre Counties as the Beech Creek Veterans Memorial Bridge; designating State Route 291 in Delaware County as the Willie Mae James Leake Memorial Highway; and designating a road in Philadelphia County as Senator Hank Salvatore Drive.


HB 1400 Printer's No. 1688. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for indecent assault.

HB 2082 By Representatives ALLEN, DALLY, SAYLOR, PETRARCA, ZUG, TRUE, FEESE, ARGALL and KAUFFMAN. Prior Printer's Nos. 2872, 2886, 3037, 3117. Printer's No. 3152. An Act establishing spending limitations on the Commonwealth; providing for the disposition of surplus funds; and making a repeal of provisions in The Fiscal Code relating to the funding of a stabilization reserve.

SB 178 By Senators CORMAN, WONDERLING, RAFFERTY, TOMLINSON, KITCHEN, COSTA, LAVALLE, STACK, ORIE, RHOADES, ERICKSON, BOSCOLA, C. WILLIAMS, LOGAN and PIPPY. Prior Printer's Nos. 188, 408, 1237. Printer's No. 1374. An Act amending the act of November 24, 1998 (P.L.882, No.111), known as the Crime Victims Act, further providing for powers and duties of the Office of Victims' Services and for Victims' Services Advisory Committee membership.

SB 987 By Senator CORMAN. Printer's No. 1297. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to Centre County Industrial Development Corporation, certain lands situate in Benner Township, Centre County.

HB 1049 Prior Printer's Nos. 1205, 1959, 2884. Printer's No. 3153. An Act amending the act of June 19, 1931 (P.L.589, No.202), referred to as the Barbers' License Law, further providing for license application for barber-teacher, for examination and for requirements for operation of barber shops.

SB 713 Prior Printer's Nos. 880, 1331. Printer's No. 1376. An Act prohibiting a provider of commercial mobile service from including the dialing number of any subscriber without first obtaining the express consent of that subscriber.

SB 798 By Senators BROWNE, PILEGGI, ARMSTRONG, M. WHITE, BOSCOLA and COSTA. Prior Printer's No. 991. Printer's No. 1360. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for right to bail.

SB 995 By Senators M. WHITE, MUSTO, MADIGAN, PUNT, FONTANA, EARLL, PIPPY, ROBBINS and WONDERLING. Prior Printer's Nos. 1299, 1305, 1370. Printer's No. 1381. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for a snowmobile or ATV restricted account; providing for snowmobile or ATV special event passes; and further providing for registration of snowmobile or ATV.

SB 999 By Senators LEMMOND, THOMPSON, EARLL, D. WHITE, RAFFERTY, MUSTO, PILEGGI, GORDNER, WENGER, WAUGH, WONDERLING and ROBBINS. Printer's No. 1327. An Act reenacting and amending the act of October 8, 2004 (P.L.830, No.98), entitled "An act providing for effect of standards adopted by the Voting Standards Development Board in the 2004 general election," expanding the scope to include all elections in 2006 and 2007.

State of the Blog -- Year 1

A little over a year ago, on Nov. 19, 2004, I posted the first entry to this blog. Initially I intended to post once a week, usually on Friday evening. Later I added in the weekly legislative update, and in the spring started to post more, eventually going to five or more posts a week. Blogging can be addictive, and even the occasional trip couldn’t slow the pace. At various times, I’ve posted entries from four states and, that country unto itself, the Atlanta airport. When the “kerfuffle” hit last August I was in the mountains, with only limited Internet access from the local public library, in a double wide trailer.

Initially I identified my location as “somewhere in Pennsylvania.” However, after I was invited to participate in the Seth Williams blogging campaign it became very apparent how effective a regional blogosphere can be and my description changed to “somewhere in the greater Philadelphia area.”

Looking back over the past year that campaign is one of the things I am most proud to have been a part of; the Missing Monday movement is another. The third is the effort many people put into keeping the legislative pay raise in the public eye. The repeal of that raise is a definite sign that a large group of vocal voters can have an impact.

A few of the posts I’ve regretted; some I thought were pretty good. My opinion of their quality seems to have no correlation with the number of comments people leave on them.

One of the best things about starting this blog has been the interaction with other bloggers. The Philly Future team are wonderful and have provided not only access to a wider audience, but encouragement as well. Thanks, Karl, for all your hard work. Other members of the Philly Future team that have reached out have been the bloggers at Dragonballyee, the Tattered Coat, America’s Hometown, and the Smedley Log. In addition to these fine gentlemen, the bloggers from A Smoke-Filled Room, Rowhouse Logic, Politics Philly, Young Philly Politics, Rowhouse Logic and the Disenchanted Forest have been exceptionally kind. Newpaper bloggers Will from Attytood and Dan from Blinq have both mentioned this blog in theirs, which gave me a boost in readership. Behind the scenes Dan has also been willing to answer my junior detective questions. From the political world, Sy Snyder of PoliticsPA, John Micek of Capitol Ideas, and from across the aisle, Chris Lilik of GrassrootsPA, have also been willing to answer questions and provide tea and sympathy.

Readership of the blog bumped along throughout most of the year, actually reaching around 40 hits per day (excluding visits from me and my mother) earlier this month. Then, in one week, I was named the featured blogger at Philly Future, and mentioned on a list of best political blogs in the state on PoliticsPA. Suddenly usage skyrocketed. One day it was more than triple the usual. Over the year I had worked my way up from an Insignificant Microbe in the TTLB ecosystem, to flirting with Flappy Bird status and, at least for a day or so, I’ve been an Adorable Little Rodent. Pretty heady stuff for a relative newcomer with a narrow focus.

What will the next year bring? If the blog lasts that long, the primary and general elections next spring will provide fodder for a lot of posts. I won’t be able to track all elections in the region but some of them I will watch closely.

Regardless, I am grateful to all those who have stopped in to read this past year. I hope you found it worth the effort.

[Note: Twice now I have had blinding revelations that I left someone off the list and updated it. The post has thus been edited but I'm too embarrassed to publicly say what the specific edits were.]

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Jim Matthews Running for Lt. Gov?

Today's Inquirer has an interesting article on the chairman of Montgomery County's Board of Commissioners possible run for Lt. Governor. As you know, in PA candidates for gov. and lt. gov run independently, not as a team (something that may change). Jim Matthews is said to be announcing his campaign on Dec. 7th (or 8th? I don't have the paper in front of me).

I wonder at the thinking behind this. The paper said it was hoped he would bring in the SEPA area. I'm not sure that can be counted on. Matthews picked up some baggage when he allied himself with fellow commissioner candidate Tom Ellis last time around. Ellis won but given the pfa his significant other (and mother of his child) asked for and the subsequent press surrounding the situation, he's not exactly someone you would want to associate with politically. If Matthews is elected (a very long shot here) it would allow the county GOP to perhaps appoint someone to fill in the last year of his term. In a county where the GOP is seeing its voter registration advantage shrink, having an incumbent with less baggage going into the 2007 county election may be desirable.

Running Matthews and Ellis again as a team may mean Ellis drags both of them down. If Matthews is in higher office and Ellis doesn't run then it may be possible for two Dems to get into office and that would shake things up quite a bit. Having a fresh incumbent, even one with little seniority, would give the GOP a better foothold. Possibly Matthews didn't intend to run for commissioner again and this is just a diversion. He may think he actually has a shot. Just to make my preferences clear, at this point, not having done any real research on any of the candidates, my money would be on Pippy. I've heard and read only good things about him.

This is all conjecture, mind you. I can think of a couple of people the county GOP could put in that would do a wonderful job (I always liked Ellen Bard) and a few that would be just truly awful (I won't mention names).

I can't figure out why Matthews would run for statewide office at this point, unless it is just a pr move to improve his image. We will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Sexy" Ads on Cartoon Network?!

Can someone explain to me why, between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., during the "Penocchio 3000" movie, Cartoon Network is running ads for "Sex and the City" on TBS? Our computer is in the same room as the tv. I'm reading email, scanning blogs, and suddenly a little voice says, "Mommy, what's sexy mean?" I glance over at the tv and nearly jump out of my skin. Fortunately it was the ad showcasing shoes and not some of Samantha's exploits.

I watched "Sex and the City" when it was on and still enjoy the reruns -- after the kids are asleep, not when they are in the room!!! That's why they are limited to Cartoon Network, Nick, and Animal Planet.

I definitely feel a complaint letter coming on. Someone in marketing must have read that part about Penocchio's nose and gotten the wrong idea.

Shakespeare Quiz

You aren't going ot get anything done in the office today. You know you aren't. So gather the gang around the old pc and take this Shakespeare quiz from the bbc news site. I got a 6 out of 10, making any intellectual credibility I had a little shaky.

Political News Update

For those whose thoughts are still on politics here are a few tidbits (of course, if you are that involved, you probably know this already):

New Santorum/Casey poll. Santorum leads among Republicans (go figure), those who think abortion should be outlawed in all cases, and those who don't believe in evolution. Otherwise, Casey is ahead. Take a look at the age breakdown. Unless I misread it, the young folk seem to be more red than blue in this case.

Paul Lang has decided to run for state senate. This strikes me as an excellent idea and helps clear the way for Patrick Murphy in the 8th congressional district. Young Philly Politics has more.

Monday, November 21, 2005

House of Hootchie Mama

The nurse’s office at my kids’ elementary school keeps some extra clothes on hand in case the younger children have accidents. It recently came to my attention that they had very few girls underpants (don’t ask me how I know this). Next time I was in a store that carried them I bought some to give to the school. It was hard to find regular briefs. There were plenty of bikinis and low cut styles, but very few briefs. Fortunately no thongs.

This past summer just about your only choices for fall girls’ sleepwear were character related (Dora, Disney Princess, etc.) and things like looked like Gaborwear, feather boas, opaque negligees, and so on. So much for flowered flannel nighties.

This spring look at the shorts being marketed for little girls and little boys. Boys’ shorts are nearly knee length with lots of pockets for rocks, dead chipmunk parts, cards (Pokemon, YuGi’Oh, baseball), and so on. Girls’ shorts have inseams about 2 inches long, made of spandex, often with side slits and with no pockets. What message does this send? It might as well all be made by the House of Hootchie Mama.

Look at toys. The hot new items for girls are Bratz Dolls. They are big eyed, curvy, thin, dressed in clothes with most midriffs showing, and usually stand hipshot. If you look hard enough you can find Ello’s (sort of like Legos for girls), and computer games like Barbie as Rapunzel where Barbie has to redecorate the castle, and find the missing jewels in order to rescue Prince Stefan. In the great majority of games and movies aimed at girls there is a love interest. Games and movies aimed at boys tend not to. What is this teaching? That girls are incomplete without a boyfriend?

I wonder how much of this attitude is created by marketers and how much is responding to research on what girls want. I only know that I don’t like it very much.

(PSOTD is away for a few days and I'm one of the guest bloggers filling in. This is cross-posted there.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Yes on Pay Raise If..... #3

As you read this, keep in mind that I am strictly an amateur at tracking legislation and the like. In my continuing series on what I would like to see changed before I would be in favor of a substantial legislative pay raise, here is the third condition from my original July post.

3) A more transparent legislative process. Bills seem to pop up out of nowhere and there doesn’t seem to any time for discussion or questions on some of them. A full-time, well-paid legislature should be able to arrange things better.

Serendipitously enough, it goes along well with some of the items listed in today’s Inquirer editorial on needed Harrisburg reforms. Two of their list are lobbying disclosure, legislative reform and open government.

A clear cut example is the recently repealed legislative pay raise, passed in the middle of the night with no public notice beforehand. Even in normal legislation things happen and, reading through the list of bills passed, one wonders how it came to be. To provide an example of what I (and maybe the Inky also) mean, let’s take a look at one bill in particular. It passed last May and I noted it as it showed up in the weekly legislative update.

SB 198 An Act prohibiting a deceptive business practice in the floral industry; and providing for a private cause of action.

Now, what does this mean? I looked at the text of the bill and in my layman’s translation it makes it illegal for out-of-state (or even out of area) florists to put a local phone number in phone books if that number automatically transfers you to a florist out of town. In other words, people were calling what they thought were local florists when they were actually calling a florist out of the area. I can understand why people might feel deceived and why local florists would be angry.

My cynical side automatically assumed that some big florist lobby tucked several large bills into a state senator’s pocket and thus the bill was born, suspecting that if I checked campaign finance reports I would see some big donations in advance to the bill’s sponsors from monied florists. So I looked at the bill’s sponsors.


Now this was distressing. I don’t know much about most of these people other than what might have shown up in the paper (for Sen. Stack this is not so good). I’ve met someone who worked with Sen. Wonderling before he was elected and said good things about him. Sen. Greenleaf I have heard wonderful things about. (Note: I’m not in either of their senatorial districts.) I did not want to find out anything untoward about Sen. Greenleaf but I kept poking around anyway.

All of the senate sponsors are on one or more of these committees: consumer protection and professional licensure, labor and industry, agriculture & rural affairs, and law and justice. They may overlap in other places as well but these would seem to be the committees most concerned, especially the first. Greenleaf, Wonderling and Gordner were on that one. So that would, at least on the surface, explain why these particular senators sponsored that bill.

Let’s look a little deeper. Here is Sen. Greenleaf’s newsletter article on the bill. Greenhouse Product News also provided some information. Once when it passed the senate, congratulating Senators Greenleaf and Brightbill, and another when it was discussed in the house. The PA Floral Industry Association also wrote about it. It included this paragraph:

Members of the association, Katy Miller of Dillon Floral Corporation; Charles Kremp of Kremp Florist; Greg Royer of Royer's Flowers and Gifts; Paul Zieger of Zieger and Sons, Inc. and Rick Davis of Teleflora, Inc., along with PFIA Executive Director, Denise Calabrese, and Executive Assistant to Senator Stewart Greenleaf, Eric Pauley, testified in front of Consumer Affairs Chairman, Representative Robert Flick (R-Chester), and the House Consumer Affairs Committee.

Well, now we’re getting somewhere. I believe at least one of Mr. Kremp’s shops is in Sen. Greenleaf’s distrist and Mr. Kremp is the past president of the Society of American Florists and provided some of the arrangements for Pres. Bush’s second inaugural. Surely he is a big political donor. While I’ve never purchased any flowers from Kremps I have seen some and they have been uniformly lovely. I checked the PA Dept. of State’s campaign finance report database. (Rep. Vitali used to provide this information in database form as well but took it down when the state updated theirs. I liked his much better. It was much much easier to use.) Mr. Kremp did not make any political donations in 2004 nor are any listed in 2005 (although I didn’t see any reports for this year yet.) In 2003 he made a $100 donation to a PAC not to an individual candidate. I checked one or two of the other names that testified before the state house but did not see anything for them either. I also looked through Sen. Greenleaf’s campaign finance reports and did not see anything that looked suspicious. Unfortunately Pennsylvania does not require lobbyists to report how much they and on whom, so there’s no way of finding that information.

At the national level, the Society of American Florists does have a PAC but in the information provided by, the group did not donate to any Pennsylvania federal candidates, although Mr. Kremp did donate to the pac.

Laying all the cards I have accumulated on the table I come up with this scenario (keep in mind this is my interpretation and may have no basis in fact whatsoever):

Mr. Kremp went to his state senator with a business-related concern. This would indicate that Mr. Kremp is a concerned citizen who understands the political process and finds his state senator approachable. Sen. Greenleaf sat down with a constituent, thought his concern had merit and would be a general public good, and proceeded to shepherd a bill through the state senate. This is how democracy is supposed to work.

Locating all the information presented in this post (and additional background information) took the entire length of a Disney movie tape (one of the standard measures of time in my house). Writing it up took an equal amount of time. Voters simply don’t have the time to run this kind of research on each and every bill that we find interesting, let alone all of them. And no one does this kind of research and makes it available to the public free of charge. We would like to be able to trust our elected officials and not feel the need to look into nooks and crannies. However, given the shenanigans going on with the slot machine deals, assorted land grabs, and other malfeasance that become public, we are often understandably skeptical.

It would be great if the legislature would make it easier for us to believe they are honest and working hard on our behalf. It would be great of the leadership of the house and senate made honesty and integrity a priority. In any event, I am pleased to keep the white hat on Sen. Greenleaf and to be able to order my mother’s birthday flowers through Kremp Florist this year with a clear conscience.

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 as well. Other weekly updates:
PA House GOP
PA Senate Democrats
PA Senate Republicans

One interesting note: HB1967 passed both house and senate and then the vote was rescinded and the bill referred to the state government committee. What gives?

Special Session

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

Monday 2 bills referred to finance committee, 1 to appropriations, HB 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 59 acted upon in some way (House); 1 bill referred to legislation (Senate)
Tuesday 1 bills referred to finance committee, same bills acted on as Monday (House), 2 bills referred to legislation (Senate)
Wednesday 0 bills referred to finance committee (House). SB 15, 16, 27, 28, 30 were acted upon in some way (Senate)
Thursday 0 bills referred to committee, same bills acted upon (Senate) Friday 1 bill referred to the finance committee (House)

Regular Session


SR490 A Resolution urging the Governor to direct the Department of Public Welfare to rescind the plan to implement cost sharing for continued medical assistance services.

SR137 A Concurrent Resolution establishing a task force to study issues
concerning the renewal and management of this Commonwealth's forests;
providing for an advisory committee; and directing the Joint Legislative
Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee to provide
administrative support to the task force.

There were 3 resolutions honoring fallen soldiers.



HB 1956 Prior Printer's Nos. 2740, 3073. Printer's No. 3104. An Act repealing the act of July 7, 2005 (P.L.201, No.44), entitled, "An act amending Titles 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure), 46 (Legislature) and 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for compensation; and making an inconsistent repeal"; reenacting and amending the act of September 30, 1983 (P.L.160, No.39), entitled "An act establishing salaries and compensation of certain public officials including justices and judges of Statewide courts, judges of courts of common pleas, judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, judges of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, district justices and the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the State Treasurer, the Auditor General, the Attorney General and certain other State officers and the salary and certain expenses of the members of the General Assembly; and repealing certain inconsistent acts," and further providing for members of the General Assembly; and making editorial changes.

SB 932 By Senator CONTI. Prior Printer's No. 1220. Printer's No. 1270. An Act amending the act of November 20, 2004 (P.L.886, No.121), entitled "An act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority and to Robert L. and Karen N. Doutt, Leona B. Disbrow, Louise F. Waller, Mary Schabacker, Paul D. and Mary Ann Brugger, and Ralph and Janet Toland, Sr., certain lands situate in the City of Erie, County of Erie; authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to Derry Township Municipal Authority a certain easement for sanitary sewer purposes, together with an existing sanitary sewer line and appurtenances, situate in Derry Township, Dauphin County; authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to Summerdale Associates, L.P., certain lands situate in the Township of East Pennsboro, County of Cumberland; and authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Governor, to grant and convey to the Borough of Doylestown certain lands situate in the Borough of Doylestown, Bucks County," further providing for conveyance to the Borough of Doylestown, Bucks County.


SB 775 By Senators GREENLEAF, COSTA, LEMMOND, O'PAKE, RAFFERTY, STACK, ERICKSON and FERLO. Printer's No. 954. 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, establishing the Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Adult Offenders Fund; imposing an application fee; providing for the collection of the application fee; imposing additional powers and duties on the State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision, including the distribution of the moneys in the fund; and providing for definitions.

HB 1509 By Representative TANGRETTI. Printer's No. 1843. An Act authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to F & L Group, Inc., an access and utility easement across certain lands situate in the Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County.

HB 1956 Prior Printer's Nos. 2740, 3073. Printer's No. 3104. An Act repealing the act of July 7, 2005 (P.L.201, No.44), entitled, "An act amending Titles 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure), 46 (Legislature) and 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for compensation; and making an inconsistent repeal"; reenacting and amending the act of September 30, 1983 (P.L.160, No.39), entitled "An act establishing salaries and compensation of certain public officials including justices and judges of Statewide courts, judges of courts of common pleas, judges of the Philadelphia Municipal Court, judges of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, district justices and the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the State Treasurer, the Auditor General, the Attorney General and certain other State officers and the salary and certain expenses of the members of the General Assembly; and repealing certain inconsistent acts," and further providing for members of the General Assembly; and making editorial changes.

SB 629 By Senators TARTAGLIONE, KASUNIC, ERICKSON, MUSTO, LOGAN, LAVALLE, COSTA, STACK, KITCHEN and FONTANA. Prior Printer's Nos. 700, 1117, 1245. Printer's No. 1371. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for aggravated assault.

SB 868 By Senators SCARNATI, GORDNER, CORMAN, MADIGAN, RAFFERTY, D. WHITE, PIPPY, LEMMOND, COSTA, WOZNIAK, RHOADES, ROBBINS and KASUNIC. Prior Printer's Nos. 1137, 1304. Printer's No. 1332. An Act amending the act of May 17, 1929 (P.L.1798, No.591), referred to as the Forest Reserves Municipal Financial Relief Law, increasing distribution of annual charge; and making editorial changes.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A New Blog to Read

The Lehigh Valley Democrat, who has left inciteful and thought-provoking comments on a variety of area blogs has started his/her own. If you have any interest in Lehigh Valley politics, check out


Are you really above average and is your name really Jane?

The pause between someone’s suggestion that I blog and the blog going online was about 15 minutes long, and this was the first title that came to mind. The various educational, occupational, and psychological tests I’ve taken over the years as part of school and work do show a fairly consistent deviation from the norm, but whether that makes me above average, below average, or just odd is open to interpretation.

I do write under a pseudonym and that is for a number of reasons. My spouse and children should not be subject to commentary or prejudice because of something I have said. Nor should any of the organizations I volunteer with be similarly tarred. Anonymity allows me to speak my mind more freely. There is also a natural human tendency to imagine the unknown as something larger and more powerful than it is. It has certainly played out in my case as those who have read this blog and later met me in person seem as surprised as Dorothy discovering the wizard was really a traveling salesman.

How do you decide what to write?

Sometimes things appear in my email with an outright request or an implied suggestion that I write on them. If it strikes my interest, I investigate what is said and if it appears correct I write on it. Sometimes I read something in the paper, or hear something at a community event, and decide to see if I can get a good post out of it. Timing plays a factor. Sometimes I want to write on something but don’t have the time to go into it as fully as it requires; when the time is there the issue is no longer relevant. It is one of the challenges of the working blogger. Sometimes I see something really juicy, but I can’t verify it in a reputable source and let it go.

What is your mission for this blog?

This is a niche blog, focusing on state or lower level politics. Sometimes I venture into the national arena but not often. Since this means writing sometimes on people I know or have met it requires a level of thought not always needed by those who write solely on national figures whom they are unlikely to encounter. Although a registered Democrat and self-viewed progressive, I am sometimes at odds with the party, and with many of the people who define themselves in a similar fashion, but I would like to think that at least a few other voters agree with me. The limited focus means that I am not likely to ever develop a large readership, but I am very content with the readership I have, and am actually surprised that I have any readers at all.

Is Above Average Jane really a front for a particular politician, lobbying group, or special interest?

Alas, no. If it were there might be some money in it. As it is, most of the entries posted here were written late at night after the kids were in bed. The mornings are too hectic and I often don’t get a chance to finish reading the paper until the evening. Sometimes they don’t appear until some time the next day but most are written late at night, which may account for spelling and grammatical errors. The blog has brought no material benefit to me or my family, although I have met some very lovely people because of it.

How long is this little joyride going to last?

Dunno. I have some exit strategies planned out, depending on whether the end is by choice or circumstance.

originally posted 11/19/05

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Yes on Pay Raise If..... #2

In yesterday's posting I discussed one condition the state legislature would have to meet before I would support a substantial pay raise for them. Today I would like to go over another one:

2) More accountability. Immediate access to voting records. No more of this waiting for the House Record to show up at the law library nonsense. Also, a firm, rigorous system of reporting lobbying expenses by special interests. I want the list of financial disclosure forms to be more readily available. The rule passed earlier this year saying legislators don’t have to be in the chambers to vote but just in “the greater Harrisburg area,” has got to go. For $80,000 a year they could at least show up to vote.

Let me provide two examples of what is meant here. In a comment to the previous post on outside income, someone left this comment:

I supported the effort by Representative Michael McGeehan to adopt the federal formula limiting earned outside income to the 15% of salary allowed for a member of Congress. McGeehan sought to attach it to the pay raise repeal bill, which he believed the Senate would have to pass and Governor Rendell would have to sign. An odd coalition of Republicans and anti-pay raise Democrats opposed the amendment, and ultimately McGeehan felt compelled to withdraw it.

This is intriguing, but how would a voter go about verifying this information? Citizens can't even find out how legislators voted let alone what else happened, until the House Journal comes out. It tends to be published months after events happen. Votes in the federal congress are published in the paper but state legislative matters are not, except in extenuating circumstances. The pay raise vote was one of those so I found an article in the Inky tell me that McGeehan had voted for the raise and had taken the unvouched expenses. (August 2, 2005).

Going to Google I did find a link to a Beaver County Times article that did confirm what the commenter said. It took three search modifications to get the terminology narrow and exact enough to find it, though. If you can't find some reputable source somewhere you have no choice but to take someone's word for it. There is very little accountability.

Last March I wrote about the effort it took to try to find out if a state rep was actually showing up to vote, in other words, to see if there was ghost voting going on. It should not be that difficult to see if your elected officials are doing their job or stuffing a paper clip in the voting machine.

If the state legislature can send me an email every day listing the bills introduced, shuffled off to committee, and voted on every day, why can't I get access to voting records? There is no reason why this information can't be made available. Unless, of course, they don't want us to know. The unfortunate part of this is that the honest hardworking legislators are tarred with the same brush as the pandering slackers.

"Best Blog" List

Our friends at PoliticsPA have compiled their list of "best blogs" in the state. Is there a reason why I'm touting the list? Modesty forbids me saying more. A Smoke-Filled Room and Young Philly Politics also made the list.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Capitol Idea Indeed

Those who have read Philly Future's "featured blogger" interview with me will no doubt have noticed I neglected to mention a premiere source of information on Pennsylvania politics. Everyone interested in the subject should read Capitol Ideas on a daily basis. Not only is it chock full of insider information, but the writer has a sense of humor. Some of my best tips come from CI. Give it a look see.

News Update

You have probably read this in other places, but here's a few news tidbits:

Seth Williams has been named Philadelphia's Inspector General (via A Smoke-Filled Room and Young Philly Politics)

There is a young boy missing in the city. Please view this photo and details and keep your eyes open.

Yes on Pay Raise If..... #1

Okay, the pay raise for Pennsylvania legislators (except for the COLA, which will still kick in), judges, and some executive positions has been rescinded.

So, now that the hysteria is over, let’s have a rational discussion about the subject. First, let’s separate the issue into its separate populations. I have no qualms about a pay raise for higher level judges. I’d just like to hear the discussions about it beforehand. Cabinet positions, etc., well, let’s talk about it. Maybe.

Legislators? I wrote this past summer on the changes I would like to see enacted before a substantial raise is approved. My first condition was this:

1) No outside employment. A full time job is a full-time job, even if you do have to reapply for it every two to four years. It should take up most of your time. If you are earning, oh, say, nearly ten times that salary as a bank director while you are working for me “full-time,” I doubt I will have your full attention. Also, all assets go into a blind trust. If they want a federal salary, let’s have federal rules.

Legislative leaders say they would like to earn half of what a federal Congressional elected representative earns. According to this site, the national officials earn $158,100. Before the raise Pennsylvania legislators earned $69,648. However, they also receive not more than $650 a month for a car, up to $128 per day for expenses, and medical insurance that pays for long-term care. Add the car lease into existing salary and it goes up $7800 a year, if someone takes the largest possible amount. The per diem could also add up, depending on how many days the legislature is in session. I am not financially savvy enough to compare federal and state pensions and medical benefits.

However, please note that:

Buffeted by waves of scandal, by 1989 Congress had strictly capped outside income and banned most types of outside business relationships of its members.

Members of Congress cannot represent law clients, serve on corporate boards, or earn more than 15 percent of their government salary from any business venture. As a trade-off, salaries were raised - they are now $141,300 - and the job of federal legislator became unquestionably full time. (Rena Singer, Glen Justice and Ken Dilanian, "OTHER STATES HAVE MOVED TOWARD STRICTER ETHICS RULES," Philadelphia Inquirer March 23, 2000)

In the same article:

About 40 percent of Harrisburg lawmakers report no outside income.

Doesn’t that mean over half the state legislators did receive outside income at that time? If one of the reasons for a pay increase is the number of hours and time away from home required to do the job, well, surely it is too demanding to allow for outside income.

Again, same article:

Lawmakers must list any source of income from the previous year that
produced more than $1,300 annually, and they must list the names of businesses in which they were officer, director, employee or part owner. But they do not have to say how much they earn, what services they perform, or what their businesses sell or do.

Nor do they have to report a word about their spouses' interests. Lawyers and other professionals do not have to describe their clients or areas of specialty.


Today, 83 Pennsylvania lawmakers - 33 percent of the 253 legislators in
Harrisburg - are officers or directors of private businesses. Disclosure records show that legislators have financial interests in more than a dozen types of economic activity. (Ken Dilanian, Rena Singer and Glen Justice, "A CITIZEN LEGISLATURE AT WORK, " Philadelphia Inquirer March 19, 2000)

So over half of the elected officials at that time did earn outside income, but we don’t have any idea how much or from whom. I can see a lot of room for conflict of interest here.

Some of our elected officials are indeed hardworking individuals who do devote more than a full time job to their legislative duties. But not all do. And if the legislature won’t or can’t clean up its own house (and senate), the legislature can hardly expect the public, who, on average, earn considerably less than the legislators, to open their wallets wider and say “dive on in.”

I would be willing to support a substantial increase in legislative pay in return for, among other things, making the full-time job full-time, with set limits on outside income.

(Note: If the rules have changed in the past five years, someone please let me know. This was what I could find on the subject.)

More on Higher Ed

I had hoped to include some links in my previous posting on higher education but did not get them together in time. If you are interested take a look at these:

IssuesPA is currently running several stories on higher education in the state.
CNN has a nice article on the growing problem of students starting college and not finishing. For those who take out loans, but don't complete the degree that will give them the job with the salary to pay the loans, it is a quick elevator ride to long-term debt.

For a more local view of the same problem, check out this post from my archives on the Philly statistics of those with some college but no degree. The general assembly is considering a bill, HB1706 (currently sitting in the education committee, where it was parked last June) that would ease the process of transferring credits from one school to another.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Life as a Public Works Project

We all pay taxes for such things as roads and schools, public work projects. But we invest in other things as a society as well. If you were paying taxes between 1979 and 1982 one of the things you invested in was me, or, more particularly, my education.

Ma had always encouraged me to go to college but there were no funds to pay for it. If Pa opened his wallet on my behalf after my 9th year I am unaware of it. I was a bright young woman, with lots of promise and no money. It is a common story, one that is heard every day in America.

I was fortunate to have come of age in an earlier time, when Pell Grants were still within reach and loans were only needed to fill in the gaps. It cost the taxpayers (federal and state) a total of $5,679 to pay for my college education and living expenses, plus a work study job with total wages of $3,050. One of my duties was indexing the student newspaper from the 1940’s and 1950’s. Some of the students I read about were now senior or retired professors and I had the pleasure of making friends with some of them, much to my delight. I also had $1,390 in loans which I paid back on time and in full.

Knowing that each semester in school meant more debt I finished in three years. Then I looked for full-time jobs that provided educational benefits, even if it meant less pay, and went to graduate school part-time over several years. Now I have a nice bit of alphabet soup after my name if I choose to use it.

If any readers were paying taxes during my undergraduate years, let me express my profound and sincere gratitude. I am truly grateful. All modesty aside, let me say I think it was an excellent investment on your part, as I think any investment in anyone’s education would be. To provide an example of the healthy return on your money, I pay more in state and federal taxes each and every year now than the entire amount of the grants you gave me. If my math is good (a doubtful prospect; I have failed you here), your investment will be returned at least 30-fold by the time I retire.

I have been reading lately about proposed federal budget cuts. One of the things on the chopping block is college grant money. Every time I see this I shudder. I wonder, if I were 18 today, if I’d be able to go to college. Let me encourage any elected officials who might be reading this to please remember than an investment in someone’s college or professional training is one that is likely to be repaid many times over.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Cuppa with Joe Hoeffel

To entertain and enlighten those readers who may be visiting here from Philly Future, I am hoping to present a few things out of the ordinary. As one of these I had a virtual coffee klatsch with Joe Hoeffel, who has served as Congressman for the 13th district, Democratic candidate for the Senate, Montgomery County Commissioner, and State Representative for the 153rd district. Regardless of all of these credentials, he was more than willing to answer a few questions.

What role do you see yourself playing in the regional or statewide political scene?

I am still very interested in public policy and politics and intend to stay actively involved. There is a large role to play for progressive Democrats in suburban, regional and state politics. Among other things, we Democrats need to reclaim the mantle of reform and must propose constructive changes in campaign finances, ethics, government contracting and legislative practices. I would like to empower Pennsylvanians with the powers of initiative and referendum.

Are there any congressional votes that you now regret?

Just one -- the vote to authorize the war in Iraq. I knew that in the 1980s Hussein had used chemical weapons against innocent civilians, and I was convinced in 2002 that it was necessary to disarm Hussein of WMD. I preferred diplomacy and multilateral action, but I was convinced we had to act. I am now convinced we were lied to by Bush and his administration. If I knew then what I know now, I would have voted no.

Your district was re-drawn significantly before the 2002 race and you were pitted against fellow Democratic congressman Bob Borski who decided not to run. What can we do to keep the shape of districts from being used politically?

We must depoliticize redistricting in Pennsylvania. The 2001 congressional redistricting was a disgrace. Many states use bipartisan processes and non-partisan commissions to limit the raw partisanship that we see in Pennsylvania. If such reform cannot or will not be enacted by the legislature, we ought to consider convening a state constitutional convention to reform redistricting and do some other progressive things, like replacing the flat state income tax with a fairer graduated system, establishing initiative and referendum, etc.

You’ve had your own website/blog, for about 6 months now, what has that experience been like? Is it what you expected?

It is a lot of work.

As someone who has held office at the state, county, and federal level, what is one change you would make to the electoral or campaign process, if you had the power to do so?

We must figure out how to reduce the cost of elections, by providing some free or reduced rate access to TV, radio and mail, as well as institute some public financing of campaigns.

If you were king or queen maker in 2008 what would you have the Democratic presidential nominee do or what message would you have them deliver, to do the most to ensure victory?

Telling the truth (about the state of the Union, policy positions, tough steps that must be taken) is fundamentally important, but "feeling their pain" is equally important. We need a presidential candidate who connects with people, as Bill Clinton did.

What strategy do you think the Republican nominee will take and will it be successful?

He will lie, about balancing the budget, the terror threat and his moral values.

Thanks, Joe!

The Worth of A Man (or Woman)

I recently wrote yet another blog entry on the legislative pay raise and found this in a comment someone left.

Being a good legislator requires skills in writing and interpreting the law, communicating with other citizens, helping others solve sometimes complex personal problems, communicating with the media, managing governmental staff, helping private sector leaders, and engaging in persuasive speech with many people who are experts in different fields. These skills have significant market value and are often found most readily with those who have advanced degrees.

This was written by way of justifying the rather generous increase legislators recently received and even more recently rescinded. Prior to the increase legislators received $69,647 a year, along with a per diem when in Harrisburg, a car allowance, and health benefits.

To see if, indeed, such low remuneration were likely to chase away quality candidates, I consulted the Pennsylvania Occupational Outlook Handbook. It provided this job description for “Government Chief Executives and Lawyers”

Candidates for public office do not have any established training or qualification demands although prior political experience can be beneficial. For most positions, individuals must meet the minimum age, residency and citizenship requirements.

Aspiring government officials must be able to motivate and inspire their constituents and staff. They should be able to make decisions quickly and know how to reach compromises. Energy, stamina and strong fund raising skills are vital to a successful campaign. Through their political campaign and involvement in community organizations, many candidates make a name for themselves.

Reviewing again the description at the top of this post, written in a comment to my earlier post, I looked at the average salary in 2000 of other occupations in the state, as listed in the aforementioned occupational handbook. I think police detectives would also fit the description the commenter left. Their average salary in PA is $59,450, lower than legislators. Secondary school teachers average $44,590, elementary school teachers, $47,560. Many teachers these days have graduate degrees. Librarians, who have one or more master’s degrees, average $43,790. Landscape architects, who also have graduate degrees, average $45,430. An RN averages $43,940. Experienced social workers, many of whom bring home $43,000, also often have a graduate degree. Administrative law judges averaged $58,160. Lawyers generally received an average of $83,310.

So there is certainly not a lack of well-educated people in the Commonwealth who would see a considerable leap in their income, and probably their benefits as well, even at the old (and now new) legislative salary. So why don’t we have a legislature full of police detectives, teachers, librarians, landscape architects and social workers? I have my own theories on this but would be very interested in reading yours as well.

Featured Blog!!!

Wowie Wow Wow!!! This blog has just been named as Philly Future's featured blog. I'm over the moon. Thanks for Philly Future for this honor. There is a small interview attached to the Philly Future announcement.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

weekly legislative update

Friday's emails haven't come in yet but for Monday-Thursday nothing passed the PA House or Senate, although there was a lot of paper shuffling. No activity in the special session either.

None of the other usual suspects have provided any weekly updates, either.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans Day

John Micek of Capitol Ideas has a wonderful post today in honor of Veteran's Day. Please read through to the bottom of the post, where he has included a heart-wrenching poem by WWI British vet, Wilfred Owen.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

No, We Don't Want Your Firstborn

In today's Inky, on p. 18, in a continuation of a front page story on the legislative payraise repeal, we find this paragraph:

[Rep. Frank] LaGrotta intially voted for the raise, took it, and just last week voted to repeal it, given the public's anger. "I voted to repeal it. What else do they want from me?" a frustrated LaGrotta asked. "Do they want my firstborn child?"

You see, he's started to get emails that he was the next to go. While I don't live in Lawrence County (not even sure where it is in the state), I can take a stab at answering his question.

No, voters do not want your firstborn. Some of them are having trouble taking care of the children they have. They're lucky to get the kind of cost of living raise you get annually, let alone a nice plump raise. I'm also willing to bet that if most of them turned in expense account vouchers without receipts, in order to take the raise early, they'd be fired.

Another quote from the front page:

Rome is burning and the empire is crumbling," said State Rep. Thomas C. Petrone (D, Allegheny), who took the raise but later donated it to charities, including those for the widows of two U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. "I hate the thought that I made one mistake over 25 years that could wipe out all my good accomplishments."

I had a commuting buddy, that I would sometimes walk and talk with on part of my travels to and from work. He had a low level job at an apartment complex. I was away on another assignment for awhile and when I came back he was nowhere to be found. I asked around and found out he'd been fired. I wonder how many mistakes he made. A receptionist once told me that someone came into her building and complained that a groundskeeper had intentionally sprayed her. The receptionist called in the complaint. The supervisor she called said "Okay, we'll fire him." That was it. Not "we'll ask his side of the story" or anything. He was just fired.

A lot of people are fired every day for making no mistakes at all. Marriages dissolve because someone made one mistake over 25 years. I read the statements from these legislators and the sense of entitlement that comes through astounds me.

As for Judge Russell Nigro, who was not voted in for another 10 year term on the state Supreme Court, let me link to a posting at the Inky's blog, blinq. Here is a brief excerpt from Blinq, taken from a John Baer column:

During one week, last April 11 to 18, he [Nigro] spent $1,280 at restaurants in Philly, Ambler and Pittsburgh. This, to me, seems abusive.

In an interview, Nigro says he eats out more than others because he's not married. He says meals charged to taxpayers are for "court-related business" with other judges, lawyers or law clerks, some in fairly large groups. He says, "I don't like lawyers buying me anything."

A lot of unmarried men (and women) go home and have cold cereal for dinner, or open a can of something. Soup is popular, I hear. As for me, I go out for lunch about every 6 weeks with a group of women from work. If we spend more than $10.00 each, it's a big deal. On days that I don't pack in leftovers I buy a slice of pizza ($1.99), two tacos (about $2.00), or a mid-morning breakfast sandwich that serves as breakfast and lunch ($3.25). Sometimes I splurge and get a tuna sandwich and a bag of chips (I won't say what that costs, in case Mr. Jane reads this.) What Nigro spent on meals that one week would pay my mortgage for a month. I can understand his not wanting the lawyers to buy his lunch, but is he implying that he bought everyone else's? Split the check!!!

PA Senate Race in the New Yorker

The Nov. 14th issue of the New Yorker has a lengthy article focusing on the Santorum / Casey race. I guess since we're the 6th borough now we should get used to this kind of exposure.

Check also the article on torture, which quotes Dr. Cyril Wecht, coroner of Allegheny County an dformer president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, as saying "Mind you, I'm not a critic of the Iraqi war. But I don't think we should reduce ourselves to the insurgent's barbaric levels."

If that's not enough to whet your interest, there is an article on medical malpractice and a profile of Steve Buscemi.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Changing Landscapes

Locally we had a mixed bag. In large part the people I expected to win won, although by a smaller margin than I thought. One open position was taken by a D. One long-time incumbent lost. This was such a long shot that I hadn't gone out of my way to make nice (e.g. suck up) to the challenger. Everyone else I had tried to touch base with at least once. I hope the lapse doesn't come back to bite me.

Not long before the election I went to a candidate's forum to get a good look at everyone and listen to them talk. It was a last minute chance to get some extra schmoozing in and shake a few neglected hands. The usual suspects were there. A few new faces showed up, too, most notably a coterie of beefy young men in suits. County operatives? Surely we're too small for state operatives. Interesting. Unfortunately there's no real way to find out.

There are now more than twice as many Ds in local office than there were five years ago. While I welcome this changing landscape, I fear that even if all the local officals were Ds, I'd still run into some of the same roadblocks, the warring factions, but I'm willing to be surprised.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Waiting for Local Results

Okay, okay, we know who the new gov. of NJ is. We have some idea of the percentage of voters who want to retain Nigro and Schwartz. I keep refreshing the county's website for local results but none are forthcoming yet. [gnashing of teeth]

Update on Daylin Leach

From the Nov. 2005 Philadelphia Magazine "Flavia's Ghost," (p. 34)

Daylin Leach's joke-filled website, which got the Montco state rep into PR hot water, isn't the only place he's indulged his comedy-writing habit. For years, Democratic consultant and MSNBC pundit Flavia Colgan has relied on him to write jokes for speeches and TV appearances.

It's nice to know he has some career options, in case he finds himself with a lot of spare time in a year or so.

(previous Leach postings here and here)

Lincoln on the Supreme Court

This week's (11/07) New Yorker has an article on Lincoln. I found this passage (p. 132) timely:

He [Lincoln] appointed him [Salmon Chase] Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in December, 1864. "We cannot ask a man what he will do," Lincoln said to a Massachusetts congressman, "and if we should, and he should answer us, we should despise him for it. Therefore we must take a man whose opinions are known."

Election Day

I stopped to vote on the way to work. I like to vote early because it makes me happy for the rest of the day. My step is lighter and I'm more inclined to sing or hum under my breath. Something about voting just lifts my spirits like few other public acts can.

I had researched the candidates, read the newspaper articles and endorsements, ditto with the web. The local races can be the toughest because they get the least amount of press and keystrokes. Sometimes there's no competition. One local representative was running unopposed and I don't care for the incumbent so I left that one blank. The incumbent will win but by a smaller percentage. It is a small voice of protest but if enough people do it there can be an impact on the official's electoral future.

If you haven't voted today, please take the time to do so. Even if there are no "important" races in your area, please vote. If you don't want to vote because you don't know the issues, just stop at the polls and push one or two buttons where you think you will do the least damage, to improve the turnout. Or take a sample ballot from the representative of the party of your choice at the door and follow that.

Please vote.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Election Day Poetry

Last May I wrote a brief poem regarding election day. Although writing poetry isn't one of my strengths, I'll have another crack at it.

The SEPTA strike is over
The ground is free of snow
There's no reason not to vote
So find your polling place and go.

Missing Monday

It is the first Monday of the month and that means it is Missing Monday. This month's missing person is actually a couple, Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone. They were last seen on Saturday, February 19, 2005 leaving Abilene (a live music and restaurant venue) at 429 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147. Have you seen these people:

Sunday, November 06, 2005

K'Nex Connection

Every year around the holidays my living room is taken over by a roller coaster or ferris wheel made of sticks and circles. Other times of the year small robots or vehicles or planes made of the same materials zoom around the kitchen. If there are no youngsters in your house you may not be familiar with K'Nex. They are the next generation's version of Lincoln Logs and Tinkertoys. Phillyburbs has a nice history of the company, located in the Philly area. If any readers have nieces or nephews they don't know what to get for birthdays or holidays, I strongly recommend any K'Nex product. I get a big kick out of telling family and friends where the company is based.

What SEPTA Wants

The SEPTA strike is inconveniencing my household and when there are kids to be picked up by 6 p.m., it sometimes a serious inconvenience. And yet I support the SEPTA workers. Take a close look at their proposals. Two of the sticking points are medical insurance premiums and retirement presecription plan.

In today's Inky there is a description of the management and union proposals. Note these sentence in the union's proposals: "Management must agree to contribute on the same percentage basis" and "Management must contribute on the same basis."

That seems fair to me. If the workers must pay for medical insurance, management should as well.

Saturday Night Chez Jane

How did you spend your Saturday night? Mr. Jane and I were going over the literature we have received from a couple of judicial candidates and googling the PA Supreme Court's Minor Judiciary Education Board to see what their requirements are to certify magisterial district judges. It looks like judges don't HAVE to be lawyers (though personally I think that might help), at least at this level and that even lawyers have to be certified by the board. How important is it that a judge be out at community events? What, if any, kind of community support do they need? Is it bad for a judge to be unpopular? Maybe they're unpopular because they are making tough decisions. Maybe they did something right that ticked off the wrong people.

How in the heck are we supposed to figure these things out? So we've been going over the campaign literature and looking up info on the candidates and swapping information. I'm really hoping I am never before the magisterial judge (or any of my family members), but a lot of other people will be. What qualities are important here?

It's midnight. In the words of Scarlet O'Hara, "I'll think about it tomorrow."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

weekly legislative update

A few things to take a look at in this week's update:

Check out the resolutions. There are some good ones, although I've no idea what a chief cornplanter is. Also look at HB2134 which limits the use of social security numbers. SB929 deals with the wording of musical performance ads. HB1361 is a little alarming and I'll have to look into it more carefully. It calls for the expiration of community Services Block Grants. I fear these may be the DCED "walking around money" grants that legislator's get for projects in their area. They are usually small, around $10,000, which can be a huge amount for a small community project, streetscapes, art projects, park beautifications, etc.

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 as well.Other weekly updates:

PA Senate GOP

PA Senate Democrats

Special Session

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

Monday 4 bills referred to finance committee (House); 2 bills referred to legislation (Senate)

Tuesday 0 bills referred to finance committee (House)

Wednesday 2 bills referred to finance committee (House); HB001 was re-referred to finance, amended, and re-reported as committed to rules

Thursday 0 bills referred to committee

Friday 1 bill referred to the finance committee (House)

Regular Session


HR498 A Resolution recognizing the week of November 13 through 19, 2005, as "Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week" in Pennsylvania.

HR497 A Resolution proclaiming November 14 through 18, 2005, as "American Education Week" in Pennsylvania.

HR493 A Resolution commemorating Chief Cornplanter and his contributions to Warren County and Pennsylvania.

HR368 A Resolution urging the United States Army Corps of Engineers to study the effects of the 2004 wet weather events in the Little Lehigh Creek Watershed, Berks and Lehigh Counties, Pennsylvania, to reevaluate the existing flood control projects in the area and make recommendations on future flood control measures.

A Resolution designating the week of October 29 through November 4, 2005, as "Missing Persons Awareness Week" in Pennsylvania.

There was 1 resolution honoring fallen soldiers.


HB 2082 By Representatives ALLEN, DALLY, SAYLOR, PETRARCA, ZUG, TRUE, FEESE and ARGALL. Prior Printer's Nos. 2872, 2886. Printer's No. 3037. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, establishing appropriations limitations; and providing for the disposition of surplus funds.

HB 2137 Prior Printer's No. 2941. Printer's No. 3032. An Act amending the act of September 30, 1985 (P.L.240, No.61), known as the Turnpike Organization, Extension and Toll Road Conversion Act, further providing for collection and disposition of tolls.

HB 2134 By Representative FAIRCHILD. Prior Printer's No. 2938. Printer's No. 3030. An Act limiting the collection of Social Security numbers on State and local government forms; prohibiting health insurers from using Social Security numbers; and further providing for duties of the Department of Transportation.

HB 2054 Prior Printer's No. 2831. Printer's No. 3033. An Act amending Title 26 (Eminent Domain) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for limitations on the use of eminent domain; and making a related repeal.

HB 2019 Prior Printer's Nos. 2780, 2946. Printer's No. 3029. An Act amending Title 26 (Eminent Domain) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for abandonment of project after condemnation; and making a repeal related to abandonment of project after condemnation.

HB 1906 By Representatives STETLER, BELFANTI, ALTAGIRONE, COHEN, FRANKEL, KOTIK, MACKERETH, MANN, MARKOSEK, NICKOL, REICHLEY, SIPTROTH, SHANER, SHAPIRO, SOLOBAY, STABACK and YOUNGBLOOD. Prior Printer's No. 2611. Printer's No. 3035.An Act amending Titles 15 (Corporations and Unincorporated Associations) and 54 (Names) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "official notice"; requiring the Department of State to establish a certain Internet website; further providing for advertisements by domestic business corporations, by foreign business corporations, domestic nonprofit corporations, foreign nonprofit corporations and domestic cooperative corporation ancillaries and for fictitious name registration; and making an editorial change.

HB 1413 By Representatives CALTAGIRONE, BASTIAN, CASORIO, GABIG, GEORGE, GRUITZA, JAMES, KOTIK, MELIO, S. MILLER, PRESTON, READSHAW, SOLOBAY, STERN, YOUNGBLOOD and ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1701. An Act authorizing State investment tax credits for qualified animal waste recycling facilities; further authorizing limited sales and use tax exemption; and establishing the Animal Waste Recycling Fund.

HB 280 By Representatives HALUSKA, THOMAS, ARGALL, CALTAGIRONE, DALEY, GOODMAN, GRUCELA, HERSHEY, W. KELLER, McGEEHAN, PALLONE, PISTELLA, PRESTON, REED, SCAVELLO, SOLOBAY, WALKO, WOJNAROSKI and YOUNGBLOOD. Prior Printer's Nos. 303, 2454. Printer's No. 3031. 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 the sale of unused and unnecessary lands and buildings, for home education program and for consideration by General Assembly of State System of Higher Education requests to dispose of real property.

HB 105 Prior Printer's No. 97. Printer's No. 3028. An Act amending Title 62 (Procurement) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the definition of "school district"; further providing for the definition of "State-affiliated entity"; and providing for cooperative purchase of fire, rescue and ambulance company supplies.

HB 893 Prior Printer's No. 1016. Printer's No. 2994. An Act amending the act of April 14, 1949 (P.L.482, No.98), entitled, as amended, "An act authorizing and requiring cities, boroughs, townships, municipal authorities and public utility companies engaged in the supplying of water, to shut off the supply of water for nonpayment of sewer, sewerage, or sewage treatment rentals, rates, or charges imposed by municipal authorities organized by counties of the second class, by cities of the second class, by cities of the second class A, by cities of the third class, by boroughs or by townships of the first or second class; authorizing and requiring them to supply to such authorities lists of metered water readings and flat- rate water bills and other data; authorizing them to act as billing and collecting agents for such authorities; and conferring certain powers upon the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in connection therewith," further providing for shutting off water if sewer charge not paid, for notice and for statement of defense; and requiring certain procedures to be followed in residential buildings.

HB 750 By Representatives SCAVELLO, BOYD, CAPPELLI, CREIGHTON, FAIRCHILD, GILLESPIE, GINGRICH, HENNESSEY, LEACH, PALLONE, PAYNE, REICHLEY, SATHER, SCHRODER, THOMAS, TIGUE, YOUNGBLOOD and HARPER. Printer's No. 841. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for compulsory arbitration.


SB 940 By Senators WAUGH, WENGER, BRIGHTBILL, ERICKSON, FONTANA, ROBBINS, LEMMOND, PUNT, O'PAKE, ORIE, WOZNIAK, RAFFERTY, KASUNIC, MUSTO, RHOADES, ARMSTRONG, BOSCOLA and PILEGGI. Prior Printer's No. 1230. Printer's No. 1303. An Act amending the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, further providing for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Fund; providing for the Land Trust Reimbursement Program, for proceeds from sales by the Department of Agriculture and for grants for agricultural land conservation assistance; and making a related repeal.

SB 929 By Senators ROBBINS, M. WHITE, BOSCOLA, ERICKSON, WOZNIAK, LEMMOND, PILEGGI, COSTA, RAFFERTY, D. WHITE, KITCHEN, WASHINGTON, FONTANA and MUSTO. Printer's No. 1218. An Act prohibiting the advertising and conducting of certain live musical performances or productions; providing for enforcement; and imposing a penalty.

SB 925 Printer's No. 1216. An Act amending the act of December 18, 1980 (P.L.1241, No.224), known as the Pennsylvania Cancer Control, Prevention and Research Act, further providing for sunset provisions.

SB 862 Prior Printer's Nos. 1105, 1241, 1302. Printer's No. 1319. An Act amending Title 4 (Amusements) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for definitions and for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board; providing for applicability of other statutes; further providing for powers and duties of board; providing for code of conduct; further providing for licensed entity application appeals from board, for license or permit application hearing process, for board minutes and records, for collection of fees and fines, for order of initial license issuance, for slot machine license application and for slot machine license application business entity requirements; providing for licensing of principals, for licensing of key employees, for recusal and disqualification of members, for alternate members, for initial applications and for code of conduct; and further providing for occupation permit application, for gross terminal revenue deductions, for transfers from the State Gaming Fund, for public official financial interests, for political influence and for enforcement.

SB 384 Prior Printer's Nos. 386, 1244, 1285. Printer's No. 1320. An Act amending Title 24 (Education) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for definitions and for administrative duties of board.

HB 1743 By Representatives MUSTIO, TURZAI, T. STEVENSON, DeLUCA, FRANKEL, MARKOSEK, PETRONE, WALKO, BOYD, CALTAGIRONE, DENLINGER, FAIRCHILD, GODSHALL, HERSHEY, LEH, REED, ROHRER, TIGUE and YOUNGBLOOD. Prior Printer's Nos. 2230, 2741. Printer's No. 2944. An Act amending the act of July 28, 1953 (P.L.723, No.230), known as the Second Class County Code, further providing for assessment limits on counties of the second class; and providing for effect of appeal, escrow and payment under protest.

HB 1606 Prior Printer's Nos. 2149, 2409. Printer's No. 2949. An Act establishing a program for breast and cervical cancer screening services for certain eligible women; and providing for the powers and duties of the Department of Health.

HB 1539 By Representatives NICKOL, CALTAGIRONE, CREIGHTON, DENLINGER, GEIST, GILLESPIE, HARRIS, JAMES, STERN, E. Z. TAYLOR, THOMAS, McILHATTAN and DALLY. Prior Printer's Nos. 1896, 2408, 3052, 3058. Printer's No. 3059. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, providing for public official compensation; further providing for reports to the Secretary of Revenue; establishing and providing for appropriation to the Emergency Energy Assistance Fund; and making a repeal related to public official compensation.

HB 1361 Printer's No. 1636. An Act amending the act of May 16, 2002 (P.L.315, No.46), known as the Community Services Block Grant Act, further providing for the expiration of the act.

HB 515 Prior Printer's Nos. 564, 1457, 1911, 1950. Printer's No. 3036. 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 "manufacture"; and further providing, in personal income tax, for imposition and, in corporate net income, for definitions and imposition.

SB 759 By Senators ARMSTRONG, MUSTO, M. WHITE, O'PAKE, LEMMOND, STACK, PIPPY and THOMPSON.Prior Printer's No. 918. Printer's No. 1266.An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for decree of court.

SB 595 By Senators WAUGH, BOSCOLA, THOMPSON, KITCHEN, TOMLINSON, COSTA, ORIE, O'PAKE, C. WILLIAMS, BRIGHTBILL, LEMMOND, RHOADES and BROWNE. Prior Printer's No. 615. Printer's No. 1265. An Act amending Title 15 (Corporations and Unincorporated Associations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for qualifications of directors.

SB 583 By Senators BOSCOLA, GREENLEAF, EARLL, LAVALLE, KASUNIC, MUSTO, TOMLINSON, ERICKSON, KITCHEN, WAUGH, TARTAGLIONE, RAFFERTY and PILEGGI. Printer's No. 607. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for arson and related offenses.

HB 1579 Prior Printer's Nos. 1980, 2370, 2737, 2952. Printer's No. 2997. An Act providing for certain responsibilities of county and private agencies regarding resource families.

HB 127 Prior Printer's Nos. 130, 2212, 2951. Printer's No. 2996. An Act providing for certain rights of resource parents; and further providing for duties of county agencies and private agencies.

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

SB 665 By Senators PILEGGI, ERICKSON, RAFFERTY, EARLL, COSTA, M. WHITE, O'PAKE, THOMPSON and WOZNIAK. Prior Printer's Nos. 793, 1238. Printer's No. 1260. An Act amending Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the grant of letters of administration and for the administration of estates.

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.