Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chris Casey to Run for County Commissioner

Chris Casey, who ran for state representative against Doug Reichley, has emailed to tell me he plans to run for Lehigh County Commissioner in 2007. Good luck, Chris!

[Added note: This information posted with his permission.]

May Pennsylvania House Journals

This post will catch us up with the available Pennsylvania House Journals. I do them by month and June is not yet complete. Since the list of bills that have passed the state house or senate are listed each week in the weekly legislative update, these posts note specifically interesting discussions or happenings.

In May the House met in full session on four days, May 1, 2, 3, 8. The journal for the 8th is only 2 pages long.

On May 1st(28 pages long), Rep. Vitali speaks on a resolution regarding Darfur (p. 9 of the pdf, 989 of the print version). Later (p. 19 pdf, 999 print), Rep. Vitali introduces an amendment to make information collected by red light cameras to be made public.

The May 2nd issue (17 p.) is devoted in large part to the swearing in of Rep. Sean Flaherty.

May 3rd (58 p.) was a busy day. On pages 19-23 of the pdf, 1047-1051 of the print version, there is a discussion of voting regulations, polling places, and so forth. Reps. Cohen, Josephs and Leach speak against the legislation. Rep. S. Smith speaks in favor. There is mention of voting in the Fumo Family Library, which sort of sounds like there is a voting machine in Vince's drawing room, but it turns out that the Fumo Family Library is a public library. Now we know.

Later, on pp. 35-41 of the pdf, and 1063-1069 of the print, there is a lengthy and sometimes harsh but telling discussion of the denial of state college grants to students with certain alcohol violations. I understand the thinking behind it and that young adults who make other mistakes face more serious consequences, but some of the people arguing for this must have lived exemplary lives in their youth to show such little understanding. Those arguing against point out, in part, that students from lower income families would suffer the most.

Showing the broad range of issues the state legislature addresses, we go from college drinking to spyware. On pages 1080-1084 of the print, 52-56 of the pdf, spyware is exactly what is discussed.

As soon as June is complete I'll report in on it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jason Altmire on the PCN Call-In Show

Here are my notes from the prerecorded PCN Call-In Show; it is currently available on their website at As always, these are rough notes and I apologize for any errors or misinterpretations.

PCN Call-In Show 11/27 Jason Altmire, Congressman-Elect, Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District.

Host: Francine Schertzer

Q: anticipated issues

JA; In the first 100 hours, lobbying reform, medicare prescription drugs, student loan interest rate, minimum wage

Q : Top goals?

JA: His personal expertise is in health care.

Q: How can we make health care more affordable?

JA: 1) pay doctors and hospitals based on quality not quantity, 2) create a larger pool for those privately insured, and 3) open up Medicare to those under 65

Q: What is your health care background?

JA: For the past 7 years at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as a health administrator and in government relations, previously worked in DC for 8 years, and 2.5 years at a national trade association. He has a master’s degree in health care administration.

Q: What do you mean by quality versus quantity?

JA: Medicare has a scorecard for quality. We need to tie payment to outcomes.

Q: Cost of health care, insurance premiums going up.

JA: Put people into larger pools, then the health status of the group not the individuals will affect the cost.

Q: Medicare part D

JA: Some good things but a flawed program. For example, you can’t negotiate for group discounts for prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical lobby was against group negotiations.

Q: Re-import drugs? Would there be an assurance they would be the same quality as those purchased in the US?

JA: We must make sure prescription drugs are safe.

Caller: Thanks on Medicare. Congrats on victory.

JA: The caller has reminded him of another medicare problem – the donut hole in part D.

Caller: Are you familiar with HR 2088, the Veterans Heritage Firearms Act, which would allow veterans, their spouses or heirs to register firearms brought back from the service.

JA: Not familiar with that bill but will look into it.

Caller: Congrats. Taxes and declining standard of living. Will you increase the income tax?

JA: Bush’s tax cuts expire in 2010. JA supports a tax credit for first time homebuyers, for those caring for elderly parents, college costs, extension of the marriage penalty reduction. Don’t renew cuts for those earning $200,000 or $300,000.

Host: Increase minimum wage?

JA: Yes, Bush says he will sign.

Caller: Put health education and physical education back into the school curriculum?

JA: This makes sense. If it has been taken out of the curriculum then it should be put back. No Child Left Behind is up for renewal.

Host: No Child Left Behind?

JA: It turns teachers and administrators into paper pushers. Teaching to the test. Doesn’t take the learning disabled into account. Funding is inadequate.

Host: Bush receptive to changes?

JA: There is a new game in town. In fairness, NCLB started as a bipartisan program, when funding was included in the legislation.

Caller: What about universal health care. Massachusetts program will fine those without insurance.

JA: Massachusetts requires health insurance, like we require car insurance. Interesting process. Might not work across the county. JA skeptical. We pay more for health care than other countries do but with poorer results. We need to preserve what works.

Host: Health care savings accounts?

JA: They are helpful to a small percentage of the population, the health and wealthy.

Host: Describe your district.

JA: It includes parts of 6 counties. (He gives a fuller description and they had a map, but I couldn’t write all the county names that fast – look at this map if you want more info)

Host: Social security?

JA: There is no immediate crisis. Currently there is $200 billion a year surplus, but it is taken out to mask the deficit. Not until 2017 will it start to pay out more than it takes in. Medicare is a more immediate crisis. Entitlements will be affected by baby boomer retirements. We need to take a thoughtful approach.

Host: Should guest workers pay into social security?

JA: He takes a hard line on immigration. Illegals should not get benefits but if they are working they should pay in.

Moderator: Should we penalize employers and landlords of illegal aliens?

JA: The key to illegal immigration is to penalize employers. Americans would do those jobs if they paid a fair market wage.

Moderator: English as the official language?

JA: Yes

Caller: People giving friends and neighbors a ride versus taxis (I didn’t follow this question well.)

JA: Primarily a state level concern.

Caller: We should have open borders. What do you think of our imperialistic activities in Afghanistan and Iraq?

JA: We made the right decision to go into Afghanistan. We had Osama bin Laden surrounded and let him off the hook. Then we took a wrong turn going into Iraq. Look at our current goals: to put a democratic government in place in Iraq. They are ready to administer their own affairs. We should refocus on Osama bin Laden.

Host: The UK and other countries are considering withdrawing their troops.

JA: It is crucial to get the Iraqis to set a timeline. We must do what is in our best interest.

Caller: Too many people speaking Spanish not English. Why are we in Iraq when we can’t take care of our own people?

JA: Agrees that English should be the official language. The money we have spent in Iraq could have been spent on port security or airline safety, or other anti-terrorist measures.

Caller: veterans benefits

JA: The current congress reduced veterans benefits. It should be mandatory like a pension. The price of supporting veterans is the price of freedom.

Caller: ad accused Melissa Hart of wrongdoing

JA: He had no advance notice of the ad. It was over the top and he was unhappy with it. It probably hurt him more than it helped him.

Host: Campaign funding

JA: We should take money out of campaigns. Officials wonder how they can cash in on votes, even if subconsciously. There should be public funding, a certain amount per constituent to candidates. We should win on issues not who raises the most money. We also need lobbying reform.

Host: There was national attention on the race, especially in the last few months.

JA: He was on the campaign trail for 17 months. He left his job to campaign. Stayed on message. Santorum was a drag on his opponent. Both national parties spent a lot of money in the last months.

Caller: A retired federal employee. Still paying taxes. HR 147 ?? windfall program (didn’t catch this)

JA: We need to make sure those who have earned pensions get them.

Caller: Your ads said Melissa Hart often voted with George Bush and Rick Santorum. How often will you vote with Bob Casey?

JA; He has many similar views with Casey. In orientation Nancy Pelosi told incoming congressmen and women to represent their districts not the party.

Host: What happens in freshman orientation?

JA: You learn the rules of the house, how to manage family life and work life. In addition they had to vote on leadership. JA supported Murtha over Hoyer.

Host: What committee assignments do you want?

JA: Committee assignments are being made now. JA would like to serve on Ways & Means (health care, trade, taxes) but it is unusual for freshmen to serve on that committee. Would also like Veterans and Education.

Caller: Wants a box on tax forms to donate to veterans health care.

JA: Agree that veterans health care is important.

Caller: is a CPA. What is your position on income tax, capital gains, alternative minimum tax?

JA: Alternative minimum tax should be dealt with – it isn’t indexed to inflation. It will cost money to fix. We need to look at expiring tax breaks, capital gains, caregivers for the elderly. We should not support tax cuts for the ultra wealthy.

Caller: veterans benefits, contracting out of services?

JA: We need to take a comprehensive look at veterans benefits. Make sure we are providing top of the line services.

Caller: What are our taxes, sales tax and income tax, user for?

JA: We need to make sure monies are used appropriately.

Host and JA thank each other.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Set Your VCR

A few notes on upcoming television shows of interest. Newly elected Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district, Jason Altmire, was on PCN's Call-In Show yesterday, replayed this morning and currently on their website, I watched the tape of it tonight and hope to post notes in the next few days.

On Monday, December 4th, 7 p.m., Joe Sestak, Congressman-elect from Pennsylvania's 7th district will be on the Call-In Show, no doubt to be replayed at least one other time and hopefully to be make available on the web also. Presumably we can expect more newly elected officials to make a showing as well.

On December 12th, at 9 p.m. the Discovery Channel will be playing a documentary called "Taking the Hill," which tracks the congressional campaigns of five veterans, including Pennsylvania's Patrick Murphy.

UPDATE: I'm told it is the Discover Times Channel not the regular Discovery Channel. When did life get so complicated?

House Changes Hands

For those who do not already know -- the state House races in Chester County have been resolved (at least until the laywers get involved) and House Democrats now have enough members to become the majority party. Check your morning newspapers or favorite Pennsylvania political websites tomorrow for details.

Shapiro and Turzai on PCN Call-In Show

Here are my notes from a prerecorded PCN Call-In Show. It is (or was) available on the PCN website It is impossible to capture all the words spoken or even all the nuances of the responses, so these are rough notes. My apologies for any misinterpretations or errors.

PCN Call-In Program 11/13/06: Legislative Priorities

Guests: State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-153) and State Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28)

The program started out with only the moderator and Rep. Shapiro. Rep. Turzai was running a little late and joined the program later.

Q: What are current legislative priorities?

JS: 1) mass transit – we need a dedicated funding stream. 2) health insurance – Cover All Kids did a great job for kids but we need all Pennsylvanian’s insured. He hopes these issues are discussed in January, and not in the lame duck session in December.

Q: The GOP still holds the majority. Will this change?

JS: He is confident that the Democrats will be in control once all the votes are counted. Some races are still undecided.

Q: State house leadership elections?

JS: There are a number of vacancies on both sides. Members are coming together to make decisions.

Q: There are 53 or 54 new state legislators. Will this new wave bring reform or will it business as usual?

JS: We will see reform. It is always good to shake things up; change can be good. The events of July, 2005 led to a need to shine a light of reform. He is confident that a mix of old and new members can make changes.

Q: Was the July, 2005 pay raise a factor in elections?

JS: The elections were localized. The pay raise was a factor but so was whether or not a representative was doing a good job.

The phones were opened to calls.

Caller: There is a distinction between the property tax exemption that peacetime veterans and wartime veterans get.

JS: That distinction should not exist.

Caller: One week after the election Gov. Rendell is talking about tax increases, especially for mass transit.

JS: The problem with mass transit funding is there is no dedicated funding stream. There is also a need for performance based budgeting.

Q: [moderator follows up with a question on the recently released report on mass transit]

JS: Why go through the same thing every year with SEPTA asking for money? Mass transit is an important environmental issue. It spurs jobs. We should all be committed to it working whether we ride it or not.

[Rep. Mike Turzai comes in]

Q: [moderator asks about mass transit funding]

MT: Mass transit has to look at its own costs. Some people can retire at 50 and get a pension. Some of them are being asked to defer their pension to keep on working. We must also look at roads and bridges along with mass transit, and perhaps some form of local matching.

Q: [moderator asks if roads and bridges are getting enough money]

MT: There has been a significant decrease in federal funding. Gov. Rendell flexed money into mass transit from roads and bridges. Should we privatize the turnpike?

JS: We need to do more with roads and bridges. Gov. Rendell flexed money when it was necessary to protect mass transit because the house and senate filed to act.

MT: The tunnel under the river for mass transit in Allegheny County is a problem. Costs keep escalating. The public is not behind it. If everything is on the table people will talk about dedicated funding.

Caller: When will there be real property tax reform?

MT: He did not like Gov. Rendell’s proposal and voted against it. We do need to get expenditures under control. Shift dollar for dollar to replace property tax money. Increase the sales tax 1%, put the money in a lock box, sent it to school districts on a per pupil basis if they will reduce property taxes. Assessments are a problem. We need statewide assessment reform.

JS: He voted for the property tax relief law. Senior citizens are suffering the most. In his district the percentage of people getting a rebate will go from 13% to 55%. Any time you increase one tax to reduce property tax his constituents will end up paying more. Fix assessments, control state budget. This was a good first step. It is hard for families to budget if they can’t plan for tax increases. Now they know the school tax can’t go up past a certain percent unless there is a referendum.

Q: [moderator asks when people will see savings and how much]

JS: -- there is information on this on his website.

MT: Gambling is not free money. Somebody’s paying gambling costs. Forced referendum – will costs shift to earned income tax? With the sales tax, a significant amount is paid by people from outside the state.

JS: The rate of spending is capped at the rate of inflation. This is a good start.

Caller: Tax assessments are unfair.

MT: Assessments aren’t fair. In Allegheny County there was court ordered reassessment.

Caller: Mass transit, turnpike, tunnel okay, no tax money for sports stadium

MT: The tunnel has to go.

Caller: Explain the tax shift.

JS: With property tax relief there are 6 items: 1) expand the property tax rent rebate program, 2) any senior citizen paying more than 15% of their income in property tax gets relief, 3) everyone gets relief from gaming money, 4) wage taxes go down, 5) cap school board spending, and 6) have earned income tax as property tax relief

MT: The existing law says that in May there can be a local shift from property tax to earned income tax. It is a district by district decision. Gambling money is going into property tax rent rebate. It does not help the middle class, but targets a specific group.

Caller: leadership elections. Should votes be made public? Any real reform if the same leadership?

MT: He voted against the pay raise. Just before the elections the legislature did pass real gambling reform, got rid of middle man suppliers, did lobbyist disclosure, not the strongest possible, but better than before. Leadership elections are internal votes and should not be made public.

Caller: Why not exempt senior citizens and those without children from the school tax?

JS: The uniformity clause in the constitution says all taxes must be uniform. He also wants a tax credit for parents who send their kids to private and parochial schools.

MT: Everybody has to contribute to the funding of schools. PA exempts 401K and social security from the state income tax. The value of everyone’s home benefits from good schools. MT sends his kids to parochial school so he pays for that.

Caller: Schools shouldn’t be funded by property tax but by the sales tax.

JS: Skeptical of raising one tax to relieve another.

MT: Expansion of sales tax to pay for services is a killer for some businesses.

Caller: a current school board member. Property tax relief will result in higher earned income tax. On referendums school districts will raise taxes to the limit each year instead of delaying increases, to avoid going to the referendum. School administrators and legislators have large pensions and benefits.

MT: Pensions and legacy costs must be addressed across the board in the public sector.

Q: [moderator asks about vehicle emissions standards]

JS: California has put up a new set of rules and regulations on vehicle emission standards. It is very important in Southeastern Pennsylvania because of air quality. The news provides smog index numbers in summer months. Pending legislation would not adopt stricter standards. JS wants tougher standards. It won’t affect the cost of cars or the type of cards available.

Caller: Act 1. Caller is a school board member. With referendums we could end up with over 500 tax systems, with each district making its own decisions.

MT: Great point.

Caller: Why do people who will end up paying nothing have to file state tax forms? Why not do away with filing for people who won’t have to pay?

JS: This is a good idea. Please send a proposal and JS and MT will co-sponsor a bill.

MT: Yes, great idea.

Caller: How is it good for people to pay 1% in earned income tax and only get $600 back from property taxes?

JS: The issue of the earned income tax is a local decision. The 1% / $600 figure is for Abington.

Caller: Why doesn’t the state pay half of school costs as it is obligated to do?

MT: In some school districts like Duquesne and some rural districts the state pays more than half. It should be a more equitable formula. MT’s and JS’s districts get less than 50%.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Progressive States Network

The Progressive States Network is asking supporters across the country to sign up as citizen cosponsors of the Progressive States Agenda (they want name, email, and zip -- standard database building info):

Although these are obviously not exhaustive of the issues that embody the progressive agenda, the following issues reflect where progressives can make some of the most serious political inroads in the present environment and for which the Progressives States Network will be providing technical and campaign support:

* Wage Standards and Workplace Freedom— assuring that American workers receive a decent wage and the freedom of speech in the workplace to stand up for their own interests.
* Balancing Work and Family- helping create a more family-friendly workplace and society through better family leave policies, paid sick days, support for child care, and access to contraception.
* Health Care for All- extending health care coverage to all Americans, while helping cut costs for those currently receiving health coverage.
* Smart Growth and Clean Jobs- promoting energy independence and job growth through new transit options, smart development to strengthen our communities, and new energy technologies.
* Tax and Budget Reform- creating more equity and accountability in state tax systems, economic development subsidies and public contracts.
* Clean and Fair Elections- reforming lobbying corruption, establishing public financing for elections, protecting voting rights, and election reforms like vote by mail to improve the voting process.

Robin Rosenthal Update

Robin Rosenthal, presumably the one time candidate for the 10th state senate seat, will be sworn in this Wed. as Bucks County's new jury commissioner. Congratulations, Robin!

State of the Blog -- Year 2

Has another year gone by already? My goodness. I’ve been writing this blog for 2 years plus a few days. Like many long-time activities it doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long, on the other hand it’s hard to remember when I wasn’t blogging.

As with any milestone it is good to look back and evaluate and see what I have learned. Last year at this time the blog was receiving an average of 40 hits per day. For much of this year it’s been around 150, though that number went up dramatically around the elections. Some people have told me they have an rss feed for the blog and aren’t counted by sitemeter, so actual readership could be higher.

I’m conscious of having three types of readers and try to balance my writing accordingly. The smallest group is made up of regular readers who check in every day or every few days. Most of the people who leave comments are in this group and they are usually also people I email behind the scenes. The second group, the largest from what I can see, are people who find the blog by using search engines. They are usually looking for information on candidates, legislation, political races, and the like. The last group are people who find the blog through aggregators, PoliticsPA, PhillyFuture, leftyblogs, and, don’t laugh now, LexisNexis. The blog is included full-text in L/N and entries are searchable by keyword. It is included there as part of Newstex’s Blogs on Demand product. Trying to write in a way that entertains my blogger buddies but also provides the information people might be searching for, and includes the contextual background and terms that will allow them to find it, is challenging but in a good way.

The elections, primary and general, were also challenging but also in a good way. Doing the candidate interviews was a lot of fun. “Adopting” candidates and tracking their races (because even within the Philadelphia suburbs, there are too many to keep up with all of them) was also a lot of fun, even though it meant jumping through hoops and juggling family, work, and politics to get out to events and debates and such. My thanks to Mr. J for taking on extra kid care; without his support and cooperation I couldn't have done any of this. Though a few people offered complimentary tickets I declined and paid at least the minimum to get into every fundraising event I attended. Picking a piece of legislation and watching it is also interesting, though I didn’t do as much of it as I could. Now that the Pennsylvania House and Senate Journals are online I’ve been reviewing them as well, and this too is fun. I still have a long way to go in understanding exactly how the legislature works and my admiration for those officials who can navigate the system and still keep their integrity has gone up dramatically

Not everything has gone swimmingly, though, and I have learned there are some things that I just don’t do well. Take group blogs. Twice this year I was invited, and agreed, to be part of a group blog. I posted one item to one of them and none to the other. My apologies to the people who set up those blogs. Since these two fiascos I have declined all invitations to be part of a group. Apparently I’m not a group person. This is not particularly surprising but now there is proof. Individuals acting in concert, like the Missing Monday project wherein bloggers highlight a missing person’s case on the first Monday of the month, the blogswarms (if that is the correct term) on “Faith in Politics” in January and “Our Part of the Bargain” in June, seem doable. Not sure what that dichotomy means.

Another thing I learned, and this isn’t surprising either, is that I am terrible at political fundraising. Just terrible. Another blogger suggested we set up a regional ActBlue page so we agreed on state house and senate candidates and I set it up. Over about a 4 month period we raised around $200.00 total for 3 candidates, and most of that came from one person. Hurray for those 3 people! But, overall, if I had worked it better, it might have brought in more money. I have an okay record with community fundraising so it must be the political angle or maybe the fact that it was a group effort combined with the political angle. In any event, it was bad. The ActBlue page got a lot of page views; just not a lot of contributions. A learning experience.

Since much of the year was taken up with campaigns and elections it is not surprising that a lot of my email activity has been with political reporters, including the bloggers at Capitol Ideas and Pennsyltucky Politics, and candidates, campaign staff, and volunteers, too numerous to mention. Gort showed me a great kindness earlier this fall and I appreciate it. Two relatively new bloggers told me that they had based their blogs on mine, which was a wonderful compliment. An aunt nearly brought me to tears by saying she thought my grandfather would be proud of my work here. Chris Satullo at the Inquirer did a wonderful column on the “Our Part of the Bargain” project in July and it was subsequently discussed on C-SPAN. On election day the Washington Monthly posted an entry I wrote on the Pennsylvania elections in general. Something like three times this year the main page of PoliticsPA linked to one of my posts. Pretty cool stuff for an amateur blogger.

What of next year? There will be the state legislature to watch, perhaps some county level races, and, oh yes, something interesting may be happening in Philadelphia.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

April House Journals

We're almost there!! This post is a brief recap of the April Pennsylvania House Journals. Next will be May and then we'll have to wait. The House runs a little slow and the June issues are not all available online. I look particularly for debate and discussion on issues. The bills passed are recorded in a more timely fashion in the weekly legislative updates.

In April the House was in full session on seven day, April 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 24th, 25th, and 26th. The Journal for the 10th was only 2 pages long.

On April 3rd (48 pages), there was some discussion of regulations on gift cards (starting on p. 30 of the pdf version) and later on the execution of mentally ill prisoners (pp. 37-46 of the pdf version).

The Journal issue for April 4th was 237 pages long most of it listing various amendments and discussion thereof to HB 2499, a budget bill. If you can sort through it all there is mention of school funding and other related issues.

Things were much briefer on April 5th, with 22 pages. On pp. 15-19 of the pdf version (pp. 852-855 of the print) there is discussion of the minimum wage.

On April 24th, on pp. 31-36 of the pdf and 891-896 of the print, there is a debate on legislation saying a municipality must identify those lands on its comprehensive plan which it will or could be taking for recreation purposes by eminent domain. Interesting.

The April 25th issues was mostly devoted to comments on the death of former Speaker of the House K. Leroy Irvis.

There were two interesting issues on the April 26th. On pages 19-22 of the pdf (955-958 of the print), representatives discussed an amendment concerned what magistrates are allow to do. Later, on pages 31-34 of the pdf (976-969 of the print) they tackle mandatory sentencing for sex offenders.

ActBlue Page Report

I looked at the numbers on the Progressive Suburban Philadelphia Bloggers ActBlue page. A few things surprised me. The page was launched in August. The report says there were 1363 page views. There were 23 "contribution starts" or the number of times a contributor filled in an amount and clicked on the "contribute" button, beginning the contribution process. Of those 12 were "contribution successes," the number of completed contributions completed. I'm not sure how this works as only 5 contributions were listed, from 3 different donors. So perhaps people who went to the page and then found other candidates to donate to were still counted. No telling. It was an interesting experience and one more bloggers should try.

A Thanksgiving Gift for the Murphys

Representative-elect Patrick Murphy (D-08) and his wife Jennifer received a visit from the stork instead of pumpkin pie yesterday. Margaret Grace Murphy arrived at 5:03 p.m., weighing in at a healthy 7 lbs. 6 oz., 20 inches long. Mom, Dad, and Maggie are all fine, if a little tired. Photo available on

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Note of Thanks

It has been far too long since I wrote a “small things I am thankful for” post and this weekend would seem an appropriate time to do so. Of course I am thankful for the big things – Mr. J and the kids, all healthy and willing to put up with me, my friends (virtual and otherwise), an uneventful year for the household, a job I like, and extended family.

However, there are small kindnesses that have stood out in my mind, times when someone went a little out of their way to help a stranger, that should also be recognized.

As I was trying to find a parking spot, a woman pulling out of one kept waving at me. When I finally rolled down my window she said there was still an hour of time on her meter.

My breakfast cereal of choice is almost always stocked on the very top shelf of the grocery store. Usually I just climb the shelves or use another box to knock down the ones I want. On one particular shopping day, however, there were just a few boxes left, shoved way back on the shelf. I could see them but not reach them. A tall man came around the corner of the aisle, took one look at me and asked what I needed. I told him. He asked how many boxes. I told him. He reached up, got them, handed them over, and went on with only a grunt in reply to my thanks. He could read the situation and solve the problem with a minimum of fuss. His personal universe must run very smoothly.

On a rainy evening all the houses on my street lost electricity. Pulling into the driveway with the kids, no streetlights, no lights on inside, I was a little worried about finding candles and matches in the dark and the kids being scared. The next door neighbor met us on the sidewalk with a loaner flashlight. He will be getting a nice bottle of wine in his Christmas stocking.

My thanks to these people and all the others who took a moment to smooth the path of someone just passing by.

weekly legislative update

This is a list of bills that passed the Pennsylvania House or Senate this week, and mention of any noteworthy resolutions. Standard caveats apply (resolutions not generally included, list of sponsors deleted if it was too long - three lines in the originally formatting).


Serial No. 381 By Senators GREENLEAF, COSTA, LEMMOND, O'PAKE, BOSCOLA, FERLO, BROWNE, C. WILLIAMS, PILEGGI, MUSTO and DINNIMAN. Printer's No. 2254. A Resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to study the underlying causes of wrongful convictions and to make findings and recommendations to reduce the possibility that in the future innocent persons will be wrongfully convicted.


Note SB1330 that passed in the house - it references something for first class cities. That would be Philadelphia and only Philadelphia.


SB 1235 By Senators RHOADES, BOSCOLA, ERICKSON, WONDERLING, C. WILLIAMS, WASHINGTON, O'PAKE and COSTA. Prior Printer’s Nos. 1917, 2056, 2106, 2213.Printer's No. 2106. An Act amending the act of February 14, 1986 (P.L.2, No.2), known as the Acupuncture Registration Act, expanding the scope of the act to include Chinese herbal therapy; further providing for definitions; regulating the practice of Chinese herbal therapy; further providing for regulation of the practice of acupuncture and for penalties; and imposing duties on the State Board of Medicine and the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.

SB 1263 Printer's No. 1932. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, further providing, in abandoned and unclaimed property, for property subject to custody and control of Commonwealth.

HB3007 Printer's No. 4778. An Act amending the act of February 2, 1965 (P.L.1860, No.586), entitled "An act encouraging landowners to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting liability in connection therewith, and repealing certain acts," further providing for liability of landowners toward recreational users, persons or property for acts or acts of omission by recreational users.

SB 628 By Senators GREENLEAF, LEMMOND, ORIE, O'PAKE, COSTA, ERICKSON, BRIGHTBILL, MADIGAN, WENGER, RAFFERTY, RHOADES, BOSCOLA, PILEGGI, ROBBINS and PICCOLA. Prior Printer's Nos. 693, 1943.Printer's No. 2117. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offenses of neglect of care-dependent person and for living wills and health care powers of attorney; further providing for implementation of out-of-hospital nonresuscitation; making conforming amendments; and repealing provisions of 20 Pa.C.S. Chs. 54 and 54A.

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 669 By Senators COSTA, GREENLEAF, STOUT, TOMLINSON, EARLL, ORIE, RAFFERTY, STACK, O'PAKE, LOGAN, PIPPY, MUSTO, C. WILLIAMS, WONDERLING, TARTAGLIONE, KASUNIC, LAVALLE, PILEGGI and KITCHEN. Prior Printer's Nos. 780, 808, 2173.Printer's No. 2250. An Act amending Titles 2 (Administrative Law and Procedure) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for court and administrative proceeding interpreters; and repealing related provisions.

SB1209 Prior Printer's No. 1769.Printer's No. 2047. An Act providing for the Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Program.

SB 1330 By Senators ROBBINS, MADIGAN, GREENLEAF, COSTA, WONDERLING, KASUNIC, PICCOLA, BOSCOLA, REGOLA, FONTANA, MUSTO, WOZNIAK, WASHINGTON and ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's Nos. 2030, 2082, 2165, 2217.Printer's No. 2252. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further defining "serious traffic violations"; further providing for employer responsibilities; providing, in financial responsibility, for construction; further providing, in financial responsibility, for election of tort options; extending the expiration provision relating to and further providing for automated red light enforcement systems in first class cities; authorizing certain charitable organizations to solicit funds on highways; and further providing for unlawful acts.


HB 2003 By Representatives MAJOR, HERMAN, STERN, PICKETT, R. MILLER, ROSS, CALTAGIRONE, CAPPELLI, FABRIZIO, HERSHEY, M. KELLER, O'NEILL, SAYLOR, E. Z. TAYLOR, TIGUE, BEBKO-JONES and PAYNE. Printer's No. 2754. An Act amending the act of August 9, 1955 (P.L.323, No.130), known as The County Code, further providing for assistant county solicitors.

HB 2133 By Representative FAIRCHILD. Prior Printer's Nos. 2937, 3636, 4709.Printer's No. 4822. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for special registration plates, for identification card, for periods for requiring lighted lamps, for authority to use flashing or revolving blue lights, for permit for movement during course of manufacture and for permits for movement of certain feed and grain.

HB2563 Printer's No. 3806. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for possession of firearm for protection of self or others.

SB 1285 By Senators WOZNIAK, COSTA, RAFFERTY, MUSTO, LOGAN, CORMAN, FONTANA, STOUT, TARTAGLIONE, MELLOW, GORDNER, O'PAKE, RHOADES, REGOLA, ROBBINS and DINNIMAN. Prior Printer's Nos. 2001, 2123, 2193, 2202, 2246.Printer's No. 2251. An Act amending Title 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for credited State service and for classes of service.

HB105 Prior Printer's Nos. 97, 3028, 4937.Printer's No. 4946. An Act amending Title 62 (Procurement) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for cooperative purchase of fire, rescue and ambulance company supplies.

HB183 Prior Printer's No. 187.Printer's No. 4383. An Act amending the act of January 19, 1968 (1967 P.L.992, No.442), entitled, as amended, "An act authorizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the local government units thereof to preserve, acquire or hold land for open space uses," further providing for local taxing options; and providing for land trusts.

HB 446 By Representatives PETRI, BLACKWELL, BUNT, CALTAGIRONE, FABRIZIO, GERGELY, GODSHALL, W. KELLER, KILLION, McGILL, MILLARD, MUSTIO, PAYNE, REICHLEY, TANGRETTI, THOMAS, YUDICHAK, DALEY and HARPER. Prior Printer's Nos. 485, 4754.Printer's No. 4948. An Act amending the act of April 12, 1951 (P.L.90, No.21), known as the Liquor Code, further providing for the definition of "eligible entity"; adding a definition of "mixed-use town center development project"; further providing for sale of malt or brewed beverages by liquor licensees, for retail dispensers' restrictions on purchases and sales, for limiting number of retail licenses to be issued in each county; providing for transfer of certain licenses; and further providing for surrender of restaurant, eating place retail dispenser, hotel, importing distributor and distributor license for benefit of licensee; for unlawful acts relative to liquor, malt and brewed beverages and licensees; providing for expiration provisions; and making a related repeal.

HB881 Prior Printer's Nos. 1004, 3321, 4512, 4520, 4636, 4711, 4851.Printer's No. 4940. An Act amending the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, further defining "agricultural building"; further providing for administration and enforcement, for applications and inspections, for changes in Uniform Construction Code, for appeals, for education and training programs and for exemptions.

HB1427 Prior Printer's Nos. 1737, 2883, 3155, 4641, 4938.Printer's No. 4945. An Act amending the act of December 31, 1965 (P.L.1257, No.511), known as The Local Tax Enabling Act, further providing for delegation of taxing powers.

HB 1631 By Representatives BOYD, DeWEESE, SURRA, PICKETT, HERSHEY, BAKER, PHILLIPS, SEMMEL, ARMSTRONG, GEIST, CALTAGIRONE, McILHATTAN, FABRIZIO, CLYMER, KILLION, DENLINGER, STABACK, J. EVANS, THOMAS and HARPER. Prior Printer's Nos. 2016, 4941.Printer's No. 2016. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for vehicles exempt from registration.

HB2296 Prior Printer's Nos. 3210, 3312, 4939.Printer's No. 4944. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for retention of licenses of persons entering military service, for disabled veterans' real estate tax exemption and for duty of commission.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Off Topic: Holiday Shopping Suggestion

I haven’t noticed an overabundance of room mothers in the regional political blogosphere, so I am taking advantage of my dual role here to make a suggestion and a product endorsement. For those of you going out tomorrow to start your holiday shopping, if the parent (more specifically the mother, although dads could use this as well, if they were so inclined) of school aged children is on your list, consider picking up or ordering a double decker cupcake carrier, capable of carrying 24 cupcakes. This is the one I received last year.

Why am I so excited about a piece of metal and plastic? More than once I have sat in a classroom or youth organization meeting and disappointed one of my children. One evening a child was talking about their parent’s career as the person who coordinates pizza delivery for a chain pizzeria. My kid looks over at me. I shrug. No one in our house does anything nearly as glamorous as that. At another event a child was describing their trip to Disney. My kid looks over at me. I got nothin’. We’ve never been there. Another child describes watching R rated movies at home. My kid looks over at me accusingly. They aren’t allowed to do that.

So I have to redeem myself and looking through the inventory of my known talents and abilities, there is not a whole lot there to impress a group of elementary school kids. But, hey, I can bake! Nothing pretty, nothing unusual, but sometimes the standbys are best. The first time I took the cupcake carrier out for a spin it was my turn to bring refreshments to a meeting of a club the youngest little Jane (YLJ) belongs to. We walked in and some asks “who brought snack?” YLJ said, in the smallest voice possible “my mom did.” I set the cupcake carrier down on the table and instantly the other moms came over for a look. I do my best Vanna White / Carol Merrill / Price is Right hand gestures. “Oooh,” the other moms said. YLJ says a little louder, “MY mom brought that.” The other moms start asking questions, does it really hold 24? Does the lid stay on? Don’t the ones on the bottom get crushed? YLJ says “MY MOM brought that!”

At the appropriate time I whip off the lid. A mom asked “Are those homemade?” When I was a girl homemade cupcakes involved flour and sugar. Nowadays all you have to do is open a box and mix in some water, oil, and eggs. You have a number of options. Some people swear by Duncan (Hines) but I’m a Betty (Crocker) gal myself. Betty has never steered me wrong. My personal favorites are the Butter Recipe mixes, either chocolate or vanilla, with Betty’s canned frosting. A sad comment but, hey, it’s good! (In my own defense, I do bake cookies and muffins from scratch.) What shoes are to most women, cupcake papers and sprinkles are to me. My kitchen cupboards hold about 9 variations of cupcake papers (including plain which are best for chocolate since patterns won’t show) and 17 kinds of sprinkles.

The kids come over to see what the fuss is about. They dig in. There are some “mmmms.” YLJ stands tall and says “MY MOM MADE THOSE!” The other moms are still looking over the cupcake carrier. Buy one of those for the room parent or PTA mom on your holiday list and she will be the queen, oh yes, she will!

March House Journals

The House was in session for seven days in March, the 6th, 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 20th; this does not include committee meetings. When reviewing the House Journals I look primarily for robust discussions; the list of bills that pass the House or Senate are posted in the weekly legislative updates. On the 7th, 8th, and 20th, there wasn’t much discussion.

On the 6th, on pages 18-20 of the pdf version, auto emissions were debated.

On the 13th, on page 11 of the pdf (p. 359 of the print version) the lobbying bill comes up.

The Journal for the 14th was 151 pages long. Much of the space is taken up by the reprinting and spirited discussion around gambling legislation. On pages 43-45 of the pdf (407-409 of the print), Rep. Vitali asked Rep. Gannon about a 45 page amendment; one item of contention was the location of casinos in Philadelphia. The discussion of gaming went on through p. 52 of the pdf (416 of the print version). Some highlights:

Mr. Gannon: The unfortunate fact is, Mr. Speaker, that the city of Philadelphia historically does not have a good track record, and what this provision does, quite frankly, is attempts to prevent the opportunity for mischief in the city of Philadelphia with respect to the physical location of a gaming facility. I wish Philadelphia had a better track record, but they do not, and that is unfortunate. I am sure that in the future that will change, but for the time being, this is simply to put guardrails on the opportunity for mischief, and that is why this language is in here. (p. 49 of the pdf, 413 of the print)

There was more discussion of gaming, with Rep. Wheatley asking about minority and women owned suppliers.

Starting on page 124-7 of the pdf (486-489 of the print) there is discussion of a bill that includes wording specific to one business in Philadelphia. There were a number of objections to this. I found it particularly slimy.

Following that a bill concerning liability came up. That issue of the Journal had gone on so long I didn’t read through the debate on this bill as closely as I could have.

On the 15th, starting on p. 14 of the pdf version (531 of the print) there was a discussion on late fees for banks. Starting on p. 16-21 of the pdf (p. 533-537 of the print) there is a long discussion of cardiology units in hospitals.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

February House Journals

In the second part of a series bringing the Pennsylvania House Journals up to date, this post looks at the journal issues for February. The House was in session for 7 days, Feb. 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15. On the 6th, 7th, 13th, and the 15th nothing much happened.

On February 1, there were a few things of note. For one the opening prayer included a mention of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team is mentioned again on pp. 9-11 of the pdf version. This is a long Journal issue, with 48 pages, much of it devoted to HB 1318 which concerns polling places, voter id, voting by felons, and assorted related issues. The discussion starts on p. 6 of the pdf, p. 114 of the print version, and continues on and off throughout the rest of the issue. It is a very interesting read, believe it or not, and gives a clear demonstration of the breadth and depth of experience and interests across the state. African American representatives, most from urban areas, talk about the racial impact of felons not being allowed to vote even though they are on parole, until the official end of their sentence. Democrats talk about the implications of voter id on rural, urban, poor, and disabled voters. Other representatives talk about the inclusion or exclusion of firearm licenses as a form of id accepted for voting. Any civics teacher who wants to give students a quick introduction to the diversity of political thought in the state should assign these 48 pages (or at least those devoted to HB 1318) as a primary source. Here are a few excerpts:

Mr. Thomas: You can go to jail as an election board official for failure to comply with the basic tenets of HB 1318, but right now, right now, right now, you can run around the city of Philadelphia shooting people just like they are animals. Mr. Speaker, where is the logic in HB 1318? (p. 126 of the print version)

Mr. Surra: Mr. Speaker, I cannot understand why I could not use my photo ID firearm permit as identification to prove that I am a voter. Now, if you do not know what it takes to get a photo ID firearm permit in this Commonwealth, you cannot only just be a citizen, you cannot only never have been convicted of a felony, there are very , very strict guidelines that say you are a law-abiding citizen in good standing in this Commonwealth. And why would we exclude that as an ID? A current utility bill, a current bank statement, a paycheck, a government check, I mean, those are all things that could prove someone’s identification. But a firearm permit? I do not know why we are discriminating against gun owners. And it does seem as if, contrary to the previous speaker, that we are doing a lot of things to disenfranchise people, which is not what we should be about. (p. 130 of the print version)

Mr. DeWeese: Earlier today, Mr. Speaker, the gentleman Mr. Feese, and the Republican majority helped us suspend the rules for the gentleman Mr. McGeehan. Notwithstanding my perplexity on the substance of the gentleman’s effort, I do think they were kind enough to Mr. McGeehan, our colleague, that I would ask our members to vote and suspend the rules, and parenthetically, anything that we can do the screw up this bill with another amendment would be fine with me. (p. 131 of the print version)

On February 8th the governor’s budget address was included, along with statements by majority leader Rep. S. Smith and by appropriations committee chair Rep. Dwight Evans.

The 14th got a little testy, with lengthy discussion on a bill regarding fees for pharmaceutical services in long-term care facilities. Rep. Gannon is questioned by Rep. Vitali and Rep. Casorio. Vitali asks, as always, very good questions. This discussion takes place on pages 12-18 of the pdf (pages 236-268 of the print version). I note that on page 14 (264), Rep. Vitali asks who keeps turning off his microphone. Let’s hope that was a technical error and not an intentional act. On page 19 (269) there is a discussion on mandatory sentences for sex offenders. On page 30 (281) there is a discussion on building contractors and then on minimum wage. Following that the House again takes up requiring identification at the polls. A mixed bag of important topics.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Steny Hoyer and Josh Shapiro

Now that Steny Hoyer has been selected as the presumed next Majority Leader, it might be time for a stroll down memory lane. Two years ago Hoyer came to the area to help campaign for Allyson Schwartz, then running for her first term in congress. While here he also made a campaign stop for Josh Shapiro, then running for his first term in the Pennsylvania State House. As noted in the Northeast Times ("Schwartz brings in a heavy hitter," by Tom Waring):

Hoyer also spent time last week boosting the candidacies of suburban Democratic congressional challengers Lois Murphy and Joe Driscoll, and Josh Shapiro, who is running for an Abington-area seat in the state House.
In Jenkintown, he told a police officer that Democrats would better fund beat patrols. And he encouraged the employees of a beauty salon to vote for Schwartz because a Democratic takeover of the House would mean that California Rep. Nancy Pelosi would become the first female speaker in history.

On Hoyer's Democratic Whip website we find this comment:

The circuit

by Staff

May 30, 2004

U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D., Md.), the House Democratic whip, hit Montgomery County on Thursday to stump for the county's Democratic congressional candidates. Among his stops Thursday was a fund-raiser for Josh Shapiro, 30, who is running for Pennsylvania's 153d District House seat against Jon Fox. How did Harrisburg-hopeful Shapiro land Beltway-insider Hoyer? Shapiro was Rep. Joe Hoeffel's chief of staff and knew Hoyer from Capitol Hill. The short answer: Shapiro just picked up the phone and asked.

Shapiro has proof -- a photo of the two together on his campaign website (it's the third photo from the bottom).

January Pennsylvania House Journals

While I’ve followed the online Pennsylvania Senate Journal issues fairly regularly, I’ve neglected the House. To rectify this I’ll go back to January, 2006 and work my way up to the most recently available issues. The House tends to run behind the Senate. The most current House Journals available are for June, while the Senate is into October.

The state house met as a body on six days in January, 3, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31. A few of the items that struck me as interesting:

On January 24th, pp. 11-13 of the pdf, pp. 23-25 of the print, there is a discussion of HB 1813, providing for cost of living adjustments for people who work in county mental health and mental retardation programs. Rep. Vitali has a number of questions for Rep. Kenney on the bill, and later a conversation between Rep. Cappelli and Rep. Kenney. The gist being that a general estimate on what this will cost is not available. The measure passed 194-0 with 8 excused.

On January 30th, pp. 64-75 of the print version, there is a lengthy discussion on business tax (corporate net income). Rep. Levdansky has some questions for the sponsor of HB 515, Rep. Reed. On page 64, Rep. Ledvansky says:

So again, a company that has billions of dollars of income could essentially, under this clause, have their income for a particular year reduced because of the applicability of this section of the net operating loss carry-forward. I think that is outrageous, at a time when we are grasping for revenues to fund out State budget, that we would allow such a windfall tax revenue to accrue to any particular company.”

Rep. Turzai points out that “47 states allow for the use of a carry-forward, to take your losses and apply it against a profit in the future year to reduce your tax liability. Only two states, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, cap the amount of loss you can use.” (p. 65).

On page 66, Rep. Argall takes some shots at the governor by quoting from a 4 year-old report on the business tax.

Things got a little tense between Rep. Preston and Rep. Kenney on pages 69 and 70. There is a mention of the state’s biotechnology industry on page 70. On page 71, Rep. Miller discusses how this legislation will affect small farms. Rep. DeWeese and Rep. S. Smith mix it up on pages 72 and 73. For example, on page 73 Rep. DeWeese says:

This, Mr. Speaker, is a political charade. This effort to override the Governor’s veto is belching and wheezing under an avalanche of hypocrisy.” And later, “There is no Pollyanna in here. There are no celestial political virgins in this room.”

It goes on in this and a more serious vein until page 75 when HB 515 is voted on and passes 116-0 with 10 excused.

On pages 14 and 15 of the pdf (90-91 of the print) there is discussion of proposed additional reporting procedures for abortion clinics.

On pages 27-31 of the pdf version (p. 103-107 of the print version) there is discussion of requiring voter identification.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Hat in the Ring for State Treasurer

The dust still hasn't settled in a few elections, but, life goes on. Since State Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr., has now been elected to the US Senate, a new treasurer will have to be appointed. At least one hat has been tossed in the ring. Fred Viskovich has set up a website,, to announce his willingness to serve the remaining two years and then bow out.

Friday, November 17, 2006

weekly legislative update

This is a list of bills that passed the Pennsylvania House or Senate this week, and mention of any noteworthy resolutions. Standard caveats apply (resolutions not generally included, list of sponsors deleted if it was too long - three lines in the originally formatting).

Our accountant friends at PICPA have provided their usual informative weekly update. They have a paragraph providing some detail on HB960, concerning the estate tax (personally I have no problems with an estate tax).
Other updates this week:

Senate Republicans
Senate Democrats
House Republicans (daily session updates)
House Democrats


There were a number of resolutions passed this week but none particularly struck my interest.


No bills were passed in the senate this week.


SB 506 By Senators GREENLEAF, COSTA, O'PAKE, STOUT, THOMPSON, PILEGGI, TOMLINSON, KITCHEN and M. WHITE. Prior Printer's Nos. 539, 1487, 1798, 1883, 2110.Printer's No. 2245. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) and codifying Title 61 (Penal and Correctional Institutions) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for composition of Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing and for powers and duties; providing for adoption of guidelines for State parole and for temporary release from county correctional institutions; further providing for sentencing proceeding and place of confinement; providing for parole without board supervision, for judicial power to release inmates and for transfers of inmates needing medical care; further providing for State intermediate punishment; providing for other criminal provisions; amending the heading of Title 61; adding definitions, provisions relating to general administration of correctional institutions, State Correctional institutions, county correctional institutions, the Philadelphia County Prison, house of detention for untried inmates and witnesses, inmate labor, medical services, visitation, motivational boot camp, execution procedure and method, miscellaneous matters relating thereto, probation and parole generally, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, County Probation and Parole Officers' Firearm Education and Training, and correctional institution interstate compacts; and making repeals relating to codification.

SB 655 By Senators MADIGAN, STOUT, O'PAKE, M. WHITE, COSTA, RAFFERTY, RHOADES, BOSCOLA, D. WHITE, ORIE and WONDERLING. Prior Printer's Nos. 844, 1354, 1799, 1911.Printer's No. 2171. An Act amending the act of May 23, 1945 (P.L.913, No.367), known as the Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law, further providing for general powers of the State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists; and providing for continuing education requirements.

SB1054 Prior Printer's Nos. 1443, 1837, 1882, 2075.Printer's No. 2247. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses), 23(Domestic Relations) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, protecting children from abuse; further providing for endangering the welfare of children; further providing, in child protective services, for definitions, for reporting, for immunity, for penalties and for information on prospective child-care personnel; providing, in child protective services, for information on family day-care home residents and for information on persons having child contact; further providing, in child protective services, for investigation of reports; and further providing for limitation of actions, for sentencing, for assessments and for sex offender information made available on the Internet.

SB 1095 By Senators STOUT and MADIGAN. Prior Printer's No. 1563.Printer's No. 2113. An Act amending the act of July 5, 1984 (P.L.587, No.119), known as the Rail Freight Preservation and Improvement Act, further providing for definitions and for program authority.

SB 1139 By Senators BROWNE, BOSCOLA, CORMAN, ORIE, GORDNER, PILEGGI, RAFFERTY, WONDERLING and C. WILLIAMS. Prior Printer's Nos. 1598, 1657, 2176, 2248.Printer's No. 2249. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing, in personal income tax, for classes of income.

SB 1285 By Senators WOZNIAK, COSTA, RAFFERTY, MUSTO, LOGAN, CORMAN, FONTANA, STOUT, TARTAGLIONE, MELLOW, GORDNER, O'PAKE, RHOADES, REGOLA, ROBBINS and DINNIMAN. Prior Printer's Nos. 2001, 2123, 2193, 2202.Printer's No. 2246. An Act amending Title 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for credited State service, for classes of service and for administrative duties of the board.

SB1331 Prior Printer's No. 2070.Printer's No. 2166. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing for exclusions from sales and use tax.

HB1773 Prior Printer's No. 2268.Printer's No. 4922. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, establishing the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs; establishing the Office of Consumer Advocate for Insurance as an independent office within the Office of Attorney General and prescribing its powers and duties; establishing the Consumer Advocate for Insurance Fund; further providing for the functions of the Department of Health; making repeals; and making editorial changes.

HB906 Prior Printer's Nos. 1028, 4165, 4917.Printer's No. 4933. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing for exclusions from tax; providing, in personal income tax, for contributions to lupus foundations and for a small business health care tax credit; further providing, in neighborhood assistance tax credit, for definitions and for grant of tax credit; providing for Pennsylvania S corporation shareholder pass-through; and phasing out inheritance and estate tax provisions.

HB1491 Prior Printer's No. 1808.Printer's No. 4916. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for weight restriction relating to special registration plates and for use and display of illuminated signs.

SB 180 By Senators CORMAN, WONDERLING, GREENLEAF, M. WHITE, KASUNIC, RHOADES, TARTAGLIONE, KITCHEN, MUSTO, O'PAKE, COSTA, D. WHITE, STACK, ORIE, RAFFERTY, ARMSTRONG and VANCE. Prior Printer's Nos. 251, 1886, 1959, 2090.Printer's No. 2238. An Act providing for protection from identity theft, for security freezes, for procedures for access after imposition and removal of security freezes and for related matters.

SB 513 By Senators GORDNER, THOMPSON, RAFFERTY, D. WHITE, WONDERLING, WOZNIAK, M. WHITE and FERLO. Prior Printer's Nos. 545, 1654.Printer's No. 1717. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69), known as The Second Class Township Code, removing references to elected assessors.

SB 514 By Senators GORDNER, THOMPSON, RAFFERTY, D. WHITE, WONDERLING, WOZNIAK and FERLO. Prior Printer's Nos. 546, 1676, 1718.Printer's No. 2124. An Act amending the act of May 21, 1943 (P.L.571, No.254), known as The Fourth to Eighth Class County Assessment Law, expanding the scope of the act; further providing for the short title, for definitions, for applicability and for subjects of taxation; eliminating the office of elected assessor in townships of the second class; providing for valuation of real property used for wind energy generation; and making a related repeal.

SB 811 By Senators THOMPSON, ROBBINS, STOUT and WOZNIAK. Prior Printer's Nos. 1022, 1234.Printer's No. 1814. An Act amending the act of August 31, 1971 (P.L.398, No.96), known as the County Pension Law, further providing for transfers between certain classes and for additional class options.

SB 860 By Senators WAUGH, MUSTO, M. WHITE and RAFFERTY. Prior Printer's No. 1136.Printer's No. 2091. An Act amending the act of June 23, 1993 (P.L.128, No.29), known as the Plain Language Consumer Contract Act, further providing for contractual requirements.

SB 922 By Senators ORIE, BROWNE, RAFFERTY, LOGAN, TARTAGLIONE, O'PAKE, WOZNIAK, BOSCOLA, RHOADES, EARLL, PIPPY, D. WHITE, WAUGH, WONDERLING and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer's No. 1212.Printer's No. 2046. An Act amending the act of December 15, 1988 (P.L.1235, No.151), known as the Children's Trust Fund Act, further providing for the Children's Trust Fund Board, for powers and duties of the board and for powers and duties of the Department of Public Welfare.

SB944 Prior Printer's Nos. 1235, 1624, 1813, 1880, 2076.Printer's No. 2099. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for conduct relating to sex offenders and for loss of property rights by certain offenders; further providing for failure to comply with sexual offender registration requirements, for the offense of unlawful contact with a minor and for sentences for offenses against infant persons; providing for sentences for sex offenders and for sentence for failure to comply with registration of sexual offenders; further providing for registration and for registration procedures and applicability; providing for global positioning system technology; and further providing for the duties of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.

SB 1218 By Senators WONDERLING, CONTI, C. WILLIAMS, ERICKSON, RAFFERTY and PILEGGI. Prior Printer's No. 1851.Printer's No. 1945. An Act amending the act of December 17, 1968 (P.L.1224, No.387), known as the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, defining "internet service provider."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Transit Study

A Smoke-Filled Room references a new commission report on transit in the region. The full report is available on the state Dept. of Transportation's website.

July Senate Journals

The Pennsylvania State Senate met twice in July, on Saturday, July 1st, and Wednesday, July 5. Not much happened on the 5th but the journal for the 1st was 52 pages long and there were some interesting and amusing comments.

On page 3 (p. 1911 of the print version) We find Sen. Fumo staying this about Sen. Wozniak:

I ask again for a negative vote on this, because as the gentleman said, this budget is an extremely complex process and this is an integral part of that complex process, and I do not believe anybody wants to start up again at a quarter to 4:00 on Saturday. I know the gentleman wants to get home and see the new dining room furniture that his wife has purchased in his absence, so I do not want to keep him here too long, so I ask for a negative vote on this amendment.

The amendment was to a bill on museum funding. Sen. Wozniak, in his remarks, makes a noise to indicate a tape being rewound. On the next page Sen. Fumo asks how the stenographer will indicate that sound. For the record, it is listed as blrblrblrblrb (tape rewinding sound). Now we know.

On pages 9-10 of the pdf there is a discussion of teachers’ strikes.

On pages 30-33 of the pdf (pp. 1938-1941 of the print), there is a lengthy discussion of the budget. Sen. Fumo gives the history of his support for the matter at hand. Sen. Stout talks about his worries that money will be taken from roads and bridges (especially in flood-prone areas) to go to the gaming board or for further mass transit funding. He and Fumo have a conversation on this. Sen. Madigan is also involved in the discussion.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

House "Leadership:" Same Old Same Old

The Democratic and Republican caucuses elected their leadership yesterday in a private vote. It's pretty much what it was the day before the vote, except that Keith McCall replaced Mike Veon, who was not reelected.

House Minority leader Bill DeWeese said in a press release:

“We are a diverse and inclusive caucus, truly representative of the Commonwealth’s rich and varied tapestry. As a leadership team, we intend to move our Caucus forward on those premises into the new legislative session,” he said.

My views on the diverse and inclusive caucus's leadership team match those on Capitol Ideas:

With the notable exception of Rep. Dwight Evans (who's African-American), House Democrats really scoured the four corners of the commonwealth to build a leadership team that looks like Pennsylvania.
How'd they do?
We can proudly announce: Mission Accomplished.
At the end of a three-hour meeting yesterday, Democrats elected lumpy, middle-aged white guys from southwestern, northwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania.

More uninspiring news from an article in the Inquirer ("State House leaders reelected," by Amy Worden:

"We've heard the voices of the people," DeWeese said. "There will be aggressive efforts to help in reform, internally and and externally."

You will forgive me if I am skeptical.

Later in that article:

[House Majority Leader Sam] Smith, whose caucus debated leadership posts for almost six hours, said he thinks the House has already responded to voter concerns by passing the lobbying and gambling reform bills this fall, but promised to look at reforms presented by Schroder and others who sought leadership posts.

"Their message was heard," Smith said. "But we don't want reform simply for reform's sake."

Then I don't think he heard the message clearly enough.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

June Senate Journals

With the election coverage I've been remiss in reviewing the online state senate journals. The Pennsylvania Senate Journals for June were meaty, or at least dealt with meaty subjects. They are available online here. On a number of days Sen. Fumo gave his views on the Iraq War. I will say again that I think it is inappropriate to use public recognition of those who died in battle to espouse your political views.

June Senate Journals

6/12 Sen. Piccola responds to Sen. Fumo and mentions Truman. Fumo says he has a lot in common with Truman including a birthday.

6/13 Sen. Tartaglione on minimum wage

6/14 Sen. Tartaglione on minimum wage

6/20 a discussion on mercury emissions

6/21 marriage act, p. 1771-1781. There are some very good statements made in these pages and some that made me roll my eyes. There were too many of each to quote from them. If it is an issue you have an interest in, please look at the online version and read through yourself.

6/22 minimum wage, p. 1794 -1799.

6/27 gambling (p. 1836 of printed version) a bill to delete provisions relating to supplier licenses. Sen. Fumo says “If we do away with the distributors, there are only two people we are helping, we are helping the licensees who are about to make hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and we are helping the manufacturers. We are doing nothing for the people of Pennsylvania.” [Note: what about property tax reform? Wasn’t that the whole purpose here?]

On subsequent pages Sen. Orie speaks in favor of doing away with middlemen. “From the gaming board which must police these licenses, to the manufacturers who must pay for these unneeded services, to the casinos that will pay a higher cost for the slot machines so the middleman can get their cut, and to the workforce whose wages may not be as high because more casino revenue must be dedicated to pay the suppliers for unneeded services, this is layers and layers of bureaucracy and, more importantly, is the inference of political nepotism being utilized with these suppliers.”

Fumo: "There is no fraud, corruption, and criminal activity. We have a gaming board doing in-depth background investigations. We are not going to have that problem.”

6/30 minimum wage

pp. 1889 - 1891 an interesting discussion on the problem finding qualified sign language interepreters.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wineskins New and Old

John Micek, over at Capitol Ideas, has been reporting on the upcoming election of house and senate leadership offices. It has been great to see so many competitive races in the recent legislative elections, and the number of new representatives and senators who will soon be taking their seats in Harrisburg. I think it is time for new leadership in both parties. I could go on about this but if you're reading this blog you probably have your own thoughts on it.

The phrase that came to mind for me was putting new wine in old wineskins. I read somewhere that it's a bad idea. Let's try something new.

Corsets + Heels = Property Tax Relief?

With all the election fuss this escaped my notice. As you all know, slot machines are coming to Pennsylvania and the grand sums of money they will make is slated to provide property tax relief. I have qualms about gambling in general and think it will bring as many problems as it solves.

The new casino at Philadelpia Park has started hiring cocktail servers, to be known as Philly Parkettes. The uniform will be corsets and short black skirts. Those interested in applying were encouraged to wear 4" heels and coached through a dance routine. The salary? According to the Inquirer ("Divas of drinks, by Dwayne Campbell, 10/05, full text here),

Stephanie Wheeler, the casino's vice president of human resources, said those hired would earn base wages comparable to "what a tip-type of job basically earns," but the potential for earning tips was immense.


Philadelphia Park's Wheeler said the company had nearly 10,000 applicants for all jobs, and only a few had expressed concern about the recruiting method (the company asks people applying for most positions to undergo similar methods of testing enthusiasm).

Really? The people who will be repairing the slot machines were asked to wear 4" heels and dance? The managers? Did Ms. Wheeler have to perform like this to get her job?

The auditions were supposed to allow applicants to "show their personalities..." Yep. I'm sure that was it.

Young Americans PAC Pundit Panel

From the inbox with a request to post:

Young America PAC

Post Election Pundits Panel

Event Description

With the changing political landscape after this year's election - what impact will it have on Pennsylvania moving forward at the state and federal levels? If the campaigns had to do it all over again, is there anything they would change? What impact will this year's election have on our City elections next year?

These questions, among others, will be addressed at our Post-Election Pundit's Panel this Tuesday, November 14th. Our Panel will include:

Aaron Cohen - Arena Strategies - Republican Strategist

Dan Fee - Governor Rendell's Campaign - Democratic Strategist

Thomas Fitzgerald - The Philadelphia Inquirer


The event will be taking place on Tuesday from 6-7:30 pm at the offices of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney (1835 Market Street - 15th Floor). Food and drinks will be provided.

We hope that you will join us for this event and important discussion, please RSVP to If you will be attending.

Who We Are
Young America is a bi-partisan political action committee for the Greater Philadelphia region, founded by a diverse group of young professionals who seek to empower their generation by expanding their sphere of influence and linking them with the leaders, organizations and institutions that shape and create the policies affecting their future.

New Lehigh Valley Community Blog

Chris Casey, who ran for the state house, is not letting any grass grow under his keyboard. He and some friends are starting a community blog for Lehigh Valley Democrats. Here is his opening statement:

Some area Democrats have gotten together to launch a blog where community concerns and political agendas can be analyzed and discussed. There are no "Wrong" points of view, just different ones. Please consider lending your voice, and sharing this blogsite with others on your email lists.

Good luck to Chris and friends!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Voter Turnout

On election day I heard a number of anecdotal reports that voter turnout was up. Today's Inquirer has hard numbers. (See "Voters turned out in force to turn Congress out," by Larry Eichel, full text here). He reports:

In Bucks County, overall turnout as a share of voter registration rose by a stunning 8.4 percentage points from 2002, reaching 56.3 percent of registration. Turnout rose 8 points in Chester County and 4.2 in Delaware County. All of those places were heavily engaged in the key congressional races.

In Montgomery County, much of which is not included in those three districts, turnout rose only 2.6 percentage points - below the overall state increase of 3.5. In Philadelphia, the increase was 1.8 percent.

Overall in Pennsylvania, 49.2 percent of registered voters participated.

While it seems strange to rejoice when slightly more than half of all registered voters in a county and just under half of registered voters in the state come out to the polls, it is a notable improvement. I'll be naive and hope it's a trend.

Comments on Redistricting

There are some interesting and thoughtful comments regarding congressional redistricting on my previous blog post. Worth a look.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Redistricting PA Congressional Districts

Friday's Wall Street Journal has an excellent article on Pennsylvania congressional districts, "Redistricting: Home to Roost," by Jeanne Cummings. It discusses the way Republicans used redistricting in 2000 to try to maximize their hold on the state delegations.

Note this paragraph:

So Mr. DeLay and House Speaker Dennis Hastert turned to their allies in the statehouses to redraw congressional disrict boundaries to erase Democratic seats and give Republicans new ones. "We wish to encourage you in these efforts, as they play a crucial role in maintaining a Reublican majority," the two leaders wrote in a letter to Pennsylvania lawmakers.

The article focuses on the 6th congressional distrct, which was drawn specifically to be a Republican stronghold.

It also touches on the role of organized labor. Note: "They began to put together a pattern: Republican-held House seats where Democrat John Kerry narrowly won or lost also included high concentrations of union members."

One parting comment:

"If Republicans had been a little less aggressive, they could have won several of those seats. If they gave the Democrats one more seat, they could have shored up by several percentage points the other seats," says Nathaniel Persily, a politcal scientist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Let's hope whoever is in control in 2010 remembers these lessons.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Call for Action: Buy the Paper

There are unnerving news reports about more possible layoffs at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News. This is very distressing. The papers have already seen staff reductions and I can see the affect of this on the depth and breadth of reporting the remaining staff are able to do. So, I'm asking you to consider subscribing, if you don't already. As a blogger I depend on the mainstream press, especially the papers, for reliable information and as a primary research resource. One of the great joys of moving to this area, many years ago, was the presence of a good daily paper.

The Inquirer can be delivered to your doorstep every day of the year for a total of $273.00 (subscribe here). That is not a lot of money. In my house that compares to about 19 large pizzas (delivery + tip), 12 new hardback books, 15 or so cds, or 12 sweaters. It is not a lot of money. You don't get the full paper online; you need the printed paper.

As a note to the papers' advertisers, while my household tosses the ads and flyers that show up in our mailbox, we review those that come with the paper. If we are planning to make a big ticket purchase we track that item(s) in the newspaper ads until we see a price we like. I guess we should start notifying businesses we patronize because of newspaper ads of the ads effectiveness.

The holidays are coming. If you are stumped for a gift, consider giving someone a paper subscription.

(Disclosure note: No one in my household, nor of my relatives or in-laws, are employed by either Philadelphia paper.)

The Outcome of Those Interviewed Here

I wanted to check on the races of candidates who were interviewed on this blog. Of the 10 candidates who were on the general election ballot, 3 (Bryan Lentz, Patrick Murphy, and Rick Taylor) were elected to office and 7 (Jeff Albert, Chris Casey, Charles Dertinger, Paul Lang, Mike Paston, Russ Shade, and David Slavick) were not. So, much as I would like to say being interviewed here is the pathway to electoral success, that does not appear to be the case. I would like to salute those 7 for being committed enough to public service to run, a thankless and relentless task.

Another Paul Lang Post

Albert over at Dragonballyee has a great post on Paul Lang. Take a look here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Scattered Election Results and Thoughts

A few more notes on the suburban races I have watched. Full election results are here.

In the 6th congressional district, incumbent Jim Gerlach defeated Lois Murphy. Murphy sent around a lovely thank you to her supporters. It included this paragraph:

I have asked you all for so much over the course of this campaign. But you won’t be surprised to find me asking you for one more thing: please continue to work to improve our world and our communities. This campaign did not end on Election Day because this campaign was about more than just electing me to serve you in Congress—it was about taking our country in a new and more hopeful direction. It was about the important task of restoring civility to our political discourse. It was about what each of us chooses to do to build a bright and secure future for our children.

I'm not so sure about the civility part but otherwise it is a lovely way to encourage public service.

In the 8th congressional district, Patrick Murphy has been declared the winner, replacing first term Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. This was the first race I watched in detail and a shout out is due to Josh Nanberg who did a great job of cultivating the netroots (at least this root, the only one I can speak for). He was always willing to answer my newbie questions and the amount of time he was willing to spend in early spadework is a prime reason I followed the campaign as closely as I did.

In the 6th state senate race, incumbent Tommy Tomlinson maintained his lead over Paul Lang. Paul is due for some rest. In the past year or year and half he finished law school, earned an MBA, got married, ran for office, and became a bank vice president. I would have loved to have seen him in the state senate but I think his commitment to public service will keep him involved in his community regardless. I think the world of Paul and wish him well.

In the 12th state senate race, Jeff Albert did not unseat Stewart Greenleaf. Albert had some very thoughtful answers to my interview questions. I’ve read them over several times and learned a great deal from them.

In the 151st state house, Rick Taylor did indeed win, defeating incumbent Gene McGill. I have every confidence that he will do a fantastic job in Harrisburg.

In the 152nd state house, where two very good candidates were running, Republican Tom Murt carried the day. His opponent, Mike Paston, is an excellent public speaker and serves on the school board. Both men are assets to their district.

In the 161st state house, Bryan Lentz defeated incumbent Tom Gannon. All I can do is cheer. Bryan is spectacular.

Of course you know Gov. Rendell was re-elected with 60% of the vote.

And, finally, I bid a big (and not so fond) farewell to departing Sen. Rick Santorum. He will now have lots of time to devote to his children and his garden in Virginia.

Signing Off / Updates

It's midnight and I have a 9:30 meeting tomorrow morning. ABCNews is listing the 8th congressional district with Patrick Murphy ahead by a little more than 1,000 votes. Interestingly, he is behind by a tad in the Bucks Co results. If he wins it will be that sliver of Montco (where is he winning by a significant margin) and perhaps Philly as well. Just tossing that out for thought.

Paul Lang is still trailing Tommy Tomlinson. If I wake up tomorrow and find that he has won it will be like Christmas.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

CNN Projects Carney in the 10th

CNN is projecting Chris Carney will defeat incumbent Republican Rep. Don Sherwood in the 10th congressional district.

CNN Calls the 7th Congressional District for Weldon

CNN has just projected Joe Sestak the winner of the 7th congressional district, defeating 20 year incumbent Curt Weldon.

PA Democratic House Site Calls it for Millard has called the 109th state house district for David Millard. His Democratic opponent, David Slavick, fought a good fight.

Rick Taylor Win!!

The Pennsylvania Democratic State House site has declared Rick Taylor the winner in the 151st district, with 28 of 31 districts reporting. The list Taylor with 11,818 votes to incumbent Republic Rep. Gene Mcgill's 9823.

Also, with all districts reporting in the PA Democratic State House site is calling the 22nd district in favor of Democratic challenger Chelsa Wagner.

Election Update #1

ABC News has projected Allyson Schwartz the winner of the 13th congressional district. No shock there. With 32% of the vote in Carney is leading Sherwood 56/44 in the 10th congressional district. The 6th, 7th, and 8th all show Democrats leading but with only a small percentage of voting districts reporting in.

The Bucks County election results page, with 65 of 307 districts reporting in shows Patrick Murphy ahead of Mike Fitzpatrick 52/48. In the 6th state senate, with 33 of 135 districts reporting, Tomlinson leads Lang 53/46.

The Democratic Caucus of the PA House has election results up. With 38 of 44 districts reporing it looks like Republican Jim Marshall is ahead of incumbent Democrat Mike Veon. Both Rick Taylor and Bryan Lentz are ahead of the Republican incumbents but with less than half of the districts reporting in.

Blog Usage on Election Day

In case anyone is interested in such things -- I've been watching, as much as possible, how the blog has been used yesterday and today. Readership is up by quite a bit. Most people finding the blog are using search engines to look for particular candidates or races or issues. This is a common use but it is the primary use at this point. To me this is good news. For one, it means people are, as they go to the polls or make their final decisions, looking for information on base those decisions on. You, go electorate!! Secondly, and from a more personal standpoint, it means that people like what they find here, at least enough to click through and look at it. There is a place for content-producing localized political blogs. If this election has energized you and you are looking for a way to contribute to the political world, consider staking out some geographic territory and starting a blog.

Election Day, Pt. 2

I was voter #120 at my polling spot at 8:30 a.m. Other people have been emailing in that there is high turnout at their spots also.

The Washington Monthly's election blog asked me to do some posting over there on PA races generally and specifically. The first posting on the state in general is up

Today's the Day

It's election day. Go vote.

No posts last night because I was asked to provide some commentary for another source. If they post it I'll put up a link.

Go vote. If there are irregularities at your polling place take notes. If your machine doesn't work ask for a provisional ballot. Make sure your vote counts.

My fingers are really crossed for a few races (here, here, and here).

As soon as the polls close I'll be glued to a computer and a tv watching returns.

Go vote.

Have you voted yet?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Missing Monday

. Some local bloggers set aside the first Monday of the month to bring attention to a missing person. This case has been highlighted here and in a number of other places often, but it is one of the more puzzling missing person's cases in this area. On the night of February 19, 2005, Danielle Imbo, 34, and Richard Petrone, 35, vanished. They were last seen at Abilene's bar and restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia. For more information, click here.

Barack Obama, Josh Shapiro, and Friends in Glenside

Yesterday I went out to another one of those “get out the vote” rallies that have been happening everywhere lately. Mr. J had to work so I set up a playdate for the kids and went out in search of political game. There were several events scheduled with Rendell, Casey, big names like Barack Obama, Al Gore, and Nancy Pelosi; the one that best suited my schedule was at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside.

Parking wasn’t a problem. I found a spot about 3 blocks away. The area around the Keswick is nice. There is an inviting looking bakery, Daryl’s Pastries, down the street a bit. I drooled over the store window at Granny’s Sewing Den, a quilt shop.

The line to get into the Keswick snaked down the street for a few blocks. It was slated to start or at least the doors open at 3:30. I got there around 3:15 and there were very few tickets left. The theatre can hold 1300 and 1250 tickets were distributed to people in line. The street was quiet and leafy. The houses were big, old, and in good condition. Some workmen were shoving some kind of tubing down a conduit on the side of one house, one of them standing on a ladder that those of us watching did not think was well secured. I saw Joe Hoeffel walking down the sidewalk across the street, in jeans and a blue sweater, sans entourage.

Eventually the line started to move. I didn’t check my watch but my guess is we were all seated by around 4:00. There were very few empty seats. The Keswick is a beautiful theater. We took the kids to a performance of “The Nutcracker” there a few years ago and many years ago Mr. J and I went to hear Tracy Chapman give a concern there.

Josh Shapiro, who is running for reelection to his second term representing the 153rd state house district, acted as master of ceremonies. On stage with him were candidates Jeff Albert (candidate for the 12th state senate), Marcel Groen (county party chairman), Greg Holt (former Abington commissioner), Larry Curry (incumbert in the 154th state district), Rick Taylor (candidate for 151st state house), Mike Paston (candidate for the 152nd state house), Ruth Damsker (county commissioner), LeAnna Washington (incumbent in the 4th state senate district), Bill George (president of the PA AFL-CIO), and Tony Payton, Jr. (candidate for the 179th state house). He acknowledged Democratic Abington Township commissioners -- Gail Weilheimer, Michael O'Connor, Les Benzak, and Lori A. Schreiber. (There is another D on the board, Wayne Luker and I don’t know if he was there and I just missed his name or if he wasn’t there.) He also acknowledged Cheltenham commissioner Jeffrey A. Muldawer, Upper Dublin commissioner Bob Pesavento, Aleta Ostrander of the Hatboro borough council. He pointed out former congressman Joe Hoeffel in the crowd to loud applause. Municipal or township party chairs Michael O’Connor of Abington and Deb Crowe of Upper Dublin were also acknowledged.

Shapiro said voters have the power to elect three new congressional representatives from Montgomery County (Lois Murphy, Patrick Murphy, and Joe Sestak) to work with Rep. Allyson Schwartz. We need eight state house seats to become the majority party and there are four in this area. We need to stop the agenda of discrimination and division. It not about just electing people with a D next to their name it is about electing the right people. We need economic growth for all and not just a privileged few. Democrats will actually solve problems and no longer divide the American people. In this election, as goes Montgomery County, so goes the country and the commonwealth. You have the power. You have the power. You have the power.

He then introduces Montgomery County party chair, Marcel Groen. He says the democrats are no longer the underdog and that Pennsylvania is ground zero. He also says the only thing that can stop is our own apathy.

Shapiro introduces Rick Taylor, candidate for the 151st state house. Taylor discusses open space, education, and property tax reform.

Shapiro comes back to the microphone and talks about the city and suburbs working together to address regional problems. He mentions Tony Payton, Jr., Democratic candidate for the 179th state house, who is on the stage but doesn’t formally address the audience.

Shapiro then introduces Mike Paston, Democratic candidate for the 152nd state house, calling him an entrepreneur. Paston is a polished speaker. He said when people told him to turn back the clock last weekend he thought it was a GOP slogan. He said good people can have good government if they get out and do something about it on Tuesday.

Shapiro introduces Jeff Albert, Democratic candidate for the 12th state senate district. Albert talks about marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., and chairing the Civil Rights Law Review at Harvard. He mentions that Barack Obama was the first African American to edit the Harvard Law Review.

Shapiro introduces Larry Curry, incumbent Democratic representative in the 154th state house district. Curry mentions that the Eagles are taking Sunday off so we can all work the phones, etc., to get out the vote.

Shapiro introduces LeAnna Washington, incumbent Democratic senator for the 4th state senate district. She says we don’t want a football player running our state. We don’t want someone who knows nothing about politics.

Shapiro discusses the importance of labor’s support, acknowledges labor leaders in the audience and introduces Bill George, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, who mentions Rendell’s work for an increase in the minimum wage.

Shapiro introduces Patrick Murphy, Democratic candidate for the 8th congressional district. Murphy says the number one reason people vote is that they were asked and that boots on the ground win elections. He says the Democrats are not the party of fear but the party of hope.

Barack Obama took the stage to great applause at 5:05. He says the candidates in Pennsylvania are standard bearers of what is going on in the country. He said our country was built on the audacity of hope. This is the title of his most recent book, a phrase he heard from the pastor of his church. Obama said we should see the country as it could be not as it is. The thirteen colonies got together and said “let’s form a country.” Abolitionists worked to rid the country of slavery. Women realized they were smarter than men and wanted to vote also. In foreign policy he is tired of our government sound tough and acting dumb. People are asking tough questions and that is good. The American people are good at their core, but they get confused sometimes. When people pay attention, those in power are in trouble.

Sen. Obama finished his remarks and Bob Casey, Jr., and Gov. Ed Rendell were expected. Unfortunately I had imposed on my friends as long as I could and had to leave to dash to the car and go collect my children. Obama's remarks were more conversational than those he gave recently at Temple, but just as spellbinding.