Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not That There's Anything Wrong WithThat...

Here are a few scattered thoughts on the presidential debate this evening. Keep in mind that I start out intently focusing on the candidates and as time passes the cats, the sound of the ac kicking on an off, and assorted other things distract me.

1) When Joe Biden mentioned that he has been tested for AIDS and that Barack Obama had as well Obama felt the need to point out that he and his wife had been tested together. (He didn't mention it but they had this done on a visit to Africa to encourage more people there to get tested). Biden then felt it necessary to say that he had been tested after having had a number of transfusions. On a personal note let me add that I had an AIDS test and these days it is often part of a standard pre-conception health check. If we want more people to get tested we need to let people have the test without feeling they have to explain why. I noted that none of the other candidates spoke up to say they also had had an AIDS test. It would have been great if all the candidates had said they had been tested with the moderator and panelists chiming in as well.

2) Was it just me or did the answers the candidates provided imply that all minority people in the US were poor, experienced with the prison system, substance abusers, poorly educated, and unprepared for parenthood? Those were the themes I heard over and over again. Did I miss it or were the importance of strong families, encouraging small business ownership, lower interest student loans for college, more mentoring programs, and an emphasis on strengthening father / child bonds not mentioned? I did hear talk of quality affordable child care and good schools. These are good things. Reforming the judicial system and needle exchange programs are also good ideas.

3) I thought Edwards, Obama, and Dodd did well but I liked them going in so it is hard to be objective.

Shapiro Legislation on Doctors Passes the PA House

Josh Shapiro (D-153) has another feather in his cap. His bill on loan forgiveness for medical students who stay in the state has passed the state house 191-9:

Shapiro’s proposal (H.B. 1093) would create a medical school loan forgiveness program for primary care doctors and ob/gyns who agree to practice in Pennsylvania for 10 years. Qualified participants would receive reimbursement for 100 percent of the total medical school loan over a 10-year period. If a participant fails to practice in Pennsylvania for the full 10 years, he or she would be required to pay back the payments from the state.


Quotes later in the press release show support from medical associations:

All across the state, members of Pennsylvania’s medical and health-care community support Shapiro's bill as a way to keep doctors in Pennsylvania and improve access to health care for Pennsylvanians.

Dr. Charles Cutler, governor of the Southeastern Region, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Physicians said, “We commend and support Representative Shapiro’s efforts to address the crushing burden of medical school debt for young doctors and working to keep our physicians in Pennsylvania.”

James Redmond, senior vice president of legislative services for the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania explained, “Studies demonstrate that Pennsylvania needs to take steps to ensure an adequate supply of physicians as workforce levels are not sufficient to meet the increase in demand for services that will result from an aging population and a growing chronically ill population. The expansion of loan forgiveness programs is one important way we can make Pennsylvania more physician-friendly.”


The Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association is also in favor of the bill. Their letter to Shapiro read in part:

On behalf of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, I want to applaud you for your recent legislation designed to attract the best and brightest medical students to our state and retain that talent in our state through a loan forgiveness program. We need creative legislation like this to address challenges the Commonwealth faces.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

News Round Up

A few newsy bits before the threat of rain takes down my dsl connection.

PoliticsPA has a quick rundown on early candidates for PA treasurer in 2008. Looks to be a SEPA-centered race for the Dems.

Karl Kurtz at the National Council on State Legislatures’ The Thicket blog writes about his adventures testifying before the PA House on term limits for state legislators.

Democratic Presidential Debate This Thursday

Set aside this Thursday evening, stock up on popcorn, and call your friends. Or set your vcr or tivo. There is a Democratic presidential candidates debate this Thursday.
Details:

Airs Live June 28, 9:00-11:30 Eastern on PBS.

PBS will air live on June 28 a Democratic Presidential debate called, All American Presidential Forums. The forum moderated by Tavis Smiley marks the first time in history that a panel exclusively comprised of journalists of color will be represented in primetime. The following Democratic Presidential candidates have agreed to participate in the forum: Senator Joe Biden, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Christopher Dodd, Senator John Edwards, Senator Mike Gravel, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Senator Barack Obama and Governor Bill Richardson.

Tavis Smiley will be joined by Michel Martin, Ruben Navarrette, Jr. and DeWayne Wickham to ask each candidate questions that they feel are important for the upcoming election.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Earmark List from Two Bills

Earwigs? Earrings? What is that word? Oh, yes, earmarks. Drew Griffin at the blog of Anderson Cooper (of all people!) has put up links to earmarks included in two pieces of legislation. They can probably be found elsewhere but I got them from AC. He also has a link to a list of Congressional representatives and whether or not they responded to a request for a list of their priorities as far as earmark projects for their districts go. You can check for yourself on your reps. The two times I have checked the list I found different answers so I think they have changed over time, and thus won’t post information that may be fluid.

Anyway, on the earmarks in the legislation. I went through and picked out the PA people. In no particular order here is the information.


2008 Financial Services Bill

Project / Agency / Amount / Member submitting request
Ben Franklin Technology Partners / SBA / $250K / Charles Dent (R-15)

Catalyst, Eastgate HOPE VI project / DC / $81K / Chaka Fattah (D-02)

Community College of Philadelphia, Northeast Regional Center for Small Business Development / SBA / $231K / Patrick Murphy (D-08), Allyson Schwartz (D-13)

Delaware County Community College Small Business Center, Media, PA / SBA / $231K / Joe Sestak (D-07), Jim Gerlach (R-06)

Johnstown Area Regional Industries Incubator and Workforce Development Program / SBA / $231K / John Murtha (D-12)

Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation / SBA / $150K / John Peterson (R-05)

North Side Industrial Development Co., New Business – New Beginning Program / SBA / $150K / Michael Doyle (D-14)

Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism / SBA / $150K / John Peterson (R-05)

STEEED Youth Program / DC / $150K / Chaka Fattah (D-02)

The president added in a few things, none for our fair state.

The Dept of Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2008 (HR 2643)

Agency / Project / Amount / Requestor
National Park Service / Southwest Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission / $1.2M / John Murtha (D-12)

NPS / Payne Gallery, Moravian College / $150K / Charles Dent (R-15)

NPS / Philadelphia Art Museum Exterior Fa├žade / $100K / Chaka Fattah (D-02), Bob Brady (D-01)

NPS / W. A. Young & Sons Foundry, Greene County / $150K / John Murtha (D-12)

NPS / Embassy Theatre, Burnham / $250K / John Peterson (R-05)

NPS / Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area / $1.5M / President Bush

NPS / Fort Necessity National Battlefield / $250K / John Murtha (D-12)

NPS / Flight 93 National Memorial / $5M / President Bush

EPA / New Castle, Lawrence County Planning Office for Neshannock Twp / $5K / Jason Altmire (D-04)

EPA / City of Williamsport, Lycoming Dept of Planning & Community Development for a water system for Muncy Industrial Park / $5K / Chris Carney (D-10)

EPA / Borough of Slatington for Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements / $165K / Charles Dent (R-15)

EPA / City of Cressona, Cressona Borough Authroity for the Cressona Belt Filter Press / $80K / Tim Holden (D-17)

EPA / City of Hershey, Derry Twp Municipal Authority for Wastewater Treatment Facility / $83K / Tim Holden (D-17)

EPA / Yardley, Yardley Borough Sewer Authority for Wastewater Infrastructure / $500K / Patrick Murphy (D-08)

EPA / Township of Cecil, Cecil Twp Municipal Authority for the Miller’s Run Sewer System / $500K / Tim Murphy (R-18)

EPA / Borough of Stoystown, Somerset Twp Municipal Authority for Stoystown Water Project / $675K / John Murtha (D-12)

EPA / City of Lock Haven, Clinton County Municipal Authority for Sewer Pump Station Construction in Woodward Twp / $500K / John Peterson (R-05)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Anthony and the Reverend

The past few weeks my commute home has been enlivened by some beautiful singing. Anthony and the Reverend have staked out a spot in my usual train station. Last week I forked over $10 to buy one of his cd's. Some are only $5; I bought the deluxe complete set. Today Dan Rubin wrote a column ("Balancing rights of freedom to sing") for the Inky about the duo, Anthony Riley and Robby Torres. They're having some legal trouble for singing in Rittenhouse Square.

Unlike many bloggers I don't talk much (or at all) about music. Mostly because I have it on good authority that I have a tin ear. Sad to say most music just goes right past me without making much of an impression. It's nice to have the radio on sometimes, especially if its a station that plays songs I can recognize. I buy maybe 3 cds a year.

That Anthony and the Reverend stopped me long enough not just to listen but to actually part with money is kind of amazing. I don't think the cd does them justice; it probably wasn't made at the best of recording accomodations and certainly not with the kind of acoustics you can find in a train station.

In any event, I hope Anthony and the Rittenhouse residents can work things out. Oh, and if you get a chance, listen to Anthony sing.

PA in the WSJ

We’re having a lull, or else I'm missing a lot.

PA Politicians

Our officials remain very quiet.

PA Businesses

Brief mentions: Starcite a meetings management company in Philadelphia (6/18). There was another brief mention in Thursday’s paper but I’ve now lost the B section and can’t tell you what it was.

The Carlton, a Pittsburgh restaurant is this weeks “Power Table” (6/23)

Other PA

In a wonderful and terrible article about an archive of letters written to the Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, Thomas York of Allegheny is quoted as writing an anguished note asking for news of his 13 year old son who had run off to be a soldier. Annie Mecann of Jenkintown’s search for her brother and the Hospital Directory office in Philadelphia are also mentioned. (“Civil War letters shed light on pain of troop’s family,” by Ianthe Jeanne Dugan 6/22)

Several PA experts quoted this week.

A University of Pittsburgh study on caregivers cited in “Companies help employees cope with caring for parents,” by Sue Shellenbarger (6/21)

Also on the 21st in Shellenbarger’s Work & Family Mailbox, Doughas J. Matthews of Philadelphia’s Right Management and Kenneth R. Ginsburg of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are quoted.

A review of the book “Girls Gone Mild” by Wendy Shalit, Pia Catton reviewer (6/23) mentions a group of Pittsburgh girls who, in 2005 started a boycott of Abercrombie & Fitch, protesting, among other things, t-shirts with “Who needs brains when you have these” written across the front. Let’s hear it for the girls! And shame on you, A&F!

Other Interesting Tidbits

Note this paragraph from “Feeding the Watchdogs,” by David Rogers (6/22):

After devoting months to oversight hearings, House Democrats are steering millions of dollars to inspectors general and regulatory agencies they hope will be their ears and eyes – and even allies – in the executive branch.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Booze, Babes, and Asking Women to Run

Two things crossed my screen this week that seem to go together in some way.

One is an effort by the Womens Campaign Fund, called She Should Run (www.sheshouldrun.com) which asks women to nominate another woman they think should run for office. This strikes me as a grand idea as we could use more women in elected office.

The other was an article in the New York Times on changes to the social life in Albany NY now that Eliot Spitzer is governor, “In Albany life has seeped out of night life,” by Nicholas Confessore, 6/18). Apparantly new rules on lobbying and gifts have put a damper on the bars and nightlife, though coffee shops are said to be booming. (h/t Brett of Pennsyltucky Politics)

This quote in particular struck me:

Some grumble about bad apples ruining it for everybody else. Others say that Albany’s old collegiality owed a lot to lobbyists’ largesse. As one lawmaker, who wished to remain unknown, put it, “It’s funny how when you take away the free booze and take away the babes, people just aren’t as interested in hanging out.”


It seems to me that we have a greater likelihood of getting more women into office once the pathway to political power no longer has a semi-obligatory stop in the lap dance room.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

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.


Other updates this week:

PA GOP Senate
PA Democratic Senate
PA GOP House (daily session updates)
PA Democratic House

Resolutions

The state has declared today “Jimmy Buffet Day” in the commonwealth.

Bills

HOUSE

HB 69 Printer's No. 93. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "mounted specimen"; and further providing for buying and selling game.

HB 441 Prior Printer's No. 509.Printer's No. 1755. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offense of unlawful capture and electronic transmission of identifying information.

HB 496 Prior Printer's Nos. 551, 1440.Printer's No. 1906. An Act amending the act of July 10, 1984 (P.L.688, No.147), known as the Radiation Protection Act, further providing for definitions, for powers of Environmental Quality Board, for nuclear facility and transport fees, for creation of special funds, for response program and for transportation of radioactive materials; and making repeals.

HB 500 By Representatives SANTONI, BARRAR, BOYD, CALTAGIRONE, CURRY, FABRIZIO, GERGELY, HENNESSEY, KILLION, KOTIK, MARKOSEK, PALLONE, REICHLEY, WALKO, YOUNGBLOOD, SIPTROTH, JAMES, MURT and SOLOBAY.
Prior Printer's Nos. 555, 1845.Printer's No. 1909. An Act amending the act of December 20, 1985 (P.L.457, No.112), known as the Medical Practice Act of 1985, providing for perfusionist licensing, qualifications, supervision and scope of practice, regulations and exemptions.

HB 501 By Representatives SANTONI, BARRAR, BOYD, CALTAGIRONE, CURRY, FABRIZIO, GERGELY, HENNESSEY, KILLION, KOTIK, MARKOSEK, PALLONE, REICHLEY, WALKO, YOUNGBLOOD, SIPTROTH, JAMES, MURT and SOLOBAY. Prior Printer's Nos. 556, 1846.Printer's No. 1910. An Act amending the act of October 5, 1978 (P.L.1109, No.261), known as the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act, providing for perfusionist licensing, qualifications, supervision and scope of practice, regulations and exemptions.

HB 1166 Prior Printer's Nos. 1430, 1477.Printer's No. 1640. An Act designating a portion of State Route 2024, known as Dreshertown Road, in Montgomery County, as the Sergeant James R. Miller Memorial Highway.

HB 795 By Representative BUXTON. Printer's No. 914. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for a board of control.

HB 810 By Representatives BISHOP, FABRIZIO, HENNESSEY, HORNAMAN, KIRKLAND, KULA, MUNDY, PALLONE, SOLOBAY, THOMAS, WHEATLEY, YOUNGBLOOD, GIBBONS, K. SMITH, KORTZ, JAMES and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's No. 928.Printer's No. 1883. An Act requiring landlords to grant medical access; providing for termination of residential leases for terminal or mental illness; and making an inconsistent repeal.

HB 917 Printer's No. 1067. An Act amending the act of February 1, 1966 (1965 P.L.1656, No.581), known as The Borough Code, further providing for general powers of borough.

HB 1200 Prior Printer's No. 1661.Printer's No. 1981. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, further providing for the powers of the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority and for authority indebtedness.

HB 1202 Prior Printer's No. 1667.Printer's No. 1982. An Act providing for the sale of transportation fuels containing clean, renewable or alternative fuel content.


SENATE

SB 726 By Senators BROWNE, WONDERLING, GREENLEAF, BOSCOLA, M. WHITE, FOLMER, ROBBINS, TOMLINSON, WAUGH and ORIE. Prior Printer's Nos. 816, 882.Printer's No. 1170. An Act amending the act of August 24, 1963 (P.L.1175, No.497), known as the Mechanics' Lien Law of 1963, further providing for definitions, for waiver of lien by claimant, for right to limit claims to unpaid balance of contract price and for priority of lien.

SB 810 By Senator MUSTO. Printer's No. 907. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey certain lands situate in the City of Pittston, Luzerne County, to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittston.

SB 929 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1112. A Supplement to the act of April 1, 1863 (P.L.213, No.227), entitled "An act to accept the grant of Public Lands, by the United States, to the several states, for the endowment of Agricultural Colleges," making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; and providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations, for a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.

SB 931 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1114. A Supplement to the act of November 30, 1965 (P.L.843, No.355), known as the Temple University--Commonwealth Act, making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations; and providing a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.

SB 932 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1115. A Supplement to the act of July 7, 1972 (P.L.743, No.176), known as the Lincoln University-Commonwealth Act, making an appropriation for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of the appropriation; and providing a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.

SB 933 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1116. An Act making an appropriation to the Trustees of Drexel University, Philadelphia.

SB 934 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1117. An Act making appropriations to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.

SB 935 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1118. An Act making appropriations to the Philadelphia Health and Education Corporation for the Colleges of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing and Health Professions and for continuation of pediatric services.

SB 936 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1119. An Act making appropriations to the Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.

SB 937 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1120. An Act making an appropriation to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia.

SB 938 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1121. An Act making an appropriation to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Philadelphia.

SB 939 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1122. An Act making an appropriation to the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, for instruction and student aid.

SB 940 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1123. An Act making appropriations to the Trustees of the Berean Training and Industrial School at Philadelphia for operation and maintenance expenses.

SB 941 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1124. An Act making an appropriation to the Johnson Technical Institute of Scranton for operation and maintenance expenses.

SB 942 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1125. An Act making an appropriation to the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Delaware County for operation and maintenance expenses.

SB 943 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1126. An Act making an appropriation to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie.

SB 944 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1127. An Act making an appropriation to the Fox Chase Institute for Cancer Research, Philadelphia, for the operation and maintenance of the cancer research program.

SB 945 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1128. An Act making an appropriation to the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, for operation and maintenance expenses and for AIDS research.

SB 946 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1129. An Act making an appropriation to the Central Penn Oncology Group.

SB 947 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1130. An Act making an appropriation to the Lancaster Cleft Palate for outpatient-inpatient treatment.

SB 948 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1131. An Act making an appropriation to the Burn Foundation, Philadelphia, for outpatient and inpatient treatment.

SB 950 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1132. An Act making an appropriation to The Children's Institute, Pittsburgh, for treatment and rehabilitation of certain persons with disabling diseases.

SB 951 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1133. An Act making an appropriation to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for comprehensive patient care and general maintenance and operation of the hospital.

SB 952 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1134. An Act making an appropriation to the Beacon Lodge Camp.

SB 953 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1135. An Act making appropriations to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh for operations and maintenance expenses and the
purchase of apparatus, supplies and equipment.

SB 954 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1136. An Act making an appropriation to the Franklin Institute Science Museum for maintenance expenses.

SB 955 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1137. An Act making an appropriation to the Academy of Natural Sciences for maintenance expenses.

SB 956 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1138. An Act making an appropriation to the African-American Museum in Philadelphia for operating expenses.

SB 957 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1139. An Act making an appropriation to the Everhart Museum in Scranton for operating expenses.

SB 958 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1140. An Act making an appropriation to the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, for operating expenses.

SB 959 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1141. An Act making an appropriation to the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for operating expenses.

SB 612 By Senators GREENLEAF, COSTA, PILEGGI, MELLOW, FONTANA, WASHINGTON and FERLO. Printer's No. 663. An Act amending the act of January 24, 1966 (1965 P.L.1527, No.535), known as the Landscape Architects' Registration Law, further providing for application for license and qualifications and experience requirements of applicants and for continuing education.

SB 737 By Senators RAFFERTY, PILEGGI, FUMO, BOSCOLA, FONTANA, ORIE, CORMAN, RHOADES, O'PAKE, COSTA, PICCOLA, WONDERLING, GORDNER, STACK, ARMSTRONG, REGOLA, BROWNE, MUSTO, PIPPY and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer's No. 806.Printer's No. 1188. An Act amending the act of December 3, 2002 (P.L.1144, No.141), entitled "An act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages and for inducement of minors to buy liquor or malt or brewed beverages," extending the expiration provision.

SB 846 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 975.Printer's No. 1187. An Act amending the act of July 2, 2006 (P.L. , No.2A), known as the General Appropriations Act of 2006, increasing, reducing and adding Federal and State appropriations for various Executive departments and agencies.

SB 930 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1113. A Supplement to the act of July 28, 1966 (3rd Sp.Sess., P.L.87, No.3), known as the University of Pittsburgh--Commonwealth Act, making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations, for a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.

HB 1286 By Representative D. EVANS. Prior Printer's Nos. 1543, 1907.Printer's No. 1983. An Act to provide from the General Fund for the expenses of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Departments of the Commonwealth, the public debt and the public schools for the fiscal year July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008, for certain institutions and organizations, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007; to provide appropriations from the State Lottery Fund, the Energy Conservation and Assistance Fund, the Hazardous Material Response Fund, The State Stores Fund, the Milk Marketing Fund, the Home Investment Trust Fund, the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund, the Tuition Payment Fund, the Banking Department Fund, the Firearm Records Check Fund, the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority Fund and the Tobacco Settlement Fund to the Executive Department; to provide appropriations from the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account to the Judicial Department for the fiscal year July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008; to provide appropriations from the Motor License Fund for the fiscal year July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008, for the proper operation of the several departments of the Commonwealth and the Pennsylvania State Police authorized to spend Motor License Fund moneys; to provide for the appropriation of Federal funds to the Executive Department of the Commonwealth and for the payment of bills remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007; to provide for the additional appropriation of Federal and State funds from the General Fund, the State Lottery Fund and the Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly Fund for the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Departments of the Commonwealth for the fiscal year July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006.

SB 87 Prior Printer's No. 121.Printer's No. 1197. An Act amending Title 62 (Procurement) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for contracting with veteran-owned businesses; and imposing duties on the Department of General Services and other Commonwealth purchasing agencies.

SB 399 SB 399 By Senators MUSTO, BOSCOLA, ERICKSON, RAFFERTY, FONTANA, STACK, WASHINGTON, STOUT, COSTA, KITCHEN, FERLO, O'PAKE, BROWNE, KASUNIC, LAVALLE, WOZNIAK, DINNIMAN, HUGHES and RHOADES. Prior Printer's No. 446.Printer's No. 851. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for accountability grants.

SB 648 By Senator D. WHITE. Prior Printer's No. 700.Printer's No. 1198. An Act authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Governor, to grant and convey, at a price to be determined through a competitive bid process, certain lands, buildings and improvements situate in the Borough of Ligonier, Westmoreland County; and authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to grant and convey certain lands situate in the City of Connellsville, a third class city, Fayette County, to the City of Connellsville.

SB 752 By Senators ERICKSON, WONDERLING, ORIE, GREENLEAF, BRUBAKER, FOLMER, RAFFERTY, M. WHITE, LOGAN, EARLL, ROBBINS, PICCOLA, C. WILLIAMS and PILEGGI. Printer's No. 828. An Act amending the act of June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the Regulatory Review Act, providing for acceptable data.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Off Topic: Household Rules

There is a great list of household rules on CNN from parenting.com. We use several of them in my house, with some difference in wording. Barbara Rowley tells her children the Dept. of Labor does not allow her to do mom work after 8 p.m. I just tell my kids that I am not a mother after 9 p.m. (after 9 p.m. I am a blogger but that is another story).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Energy Legislation Updates

There is news on energy legislation, on both the state and federal level.

According to America's Hometown, Gov. Rendell's Energy Independence Strategy (HB 1200 and HB 1202) has passed the state house.

On the federal front, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13) has announced that the House Ways and Means Committee (of which she is a member) has approved Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007 (H.R. 2776). This legislation is expected to be part of the comprehensive energy package that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will release around July 4th.

According to Schwartz's press release, H.R. 2776 would make Pennsylvania eligible for $245M in bonds. These could be used for a number of things. Some possibilities are hybrid buses for schools, the greenway along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, energy efficient buildings, and so on. Localties could decide what their own priorities might be.

A few highlights of the bill (full descriptions available as a pdf off of this Ways and Means press release) are:

I. Production Incentives
* Long-term extension and modification of renewable production tax credit.
* Long-term extension and modification of solar energy and fule cell investment tax credit.
* New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds
* Sales of electric transmission property
* Residential energy-efficient property

II. Conservation
Transportation
* Plug-in hybrid vehicle credit
* Cellulosic alcohol production credit
* Extension of biodiesel production tax credit; extension and modification of renewable diesel tax credit
* Extension and increase of alternative refueling statiosn tax credit
* Fringe benefits for bicycle commuters
* Modification of depreciation and expensing rules for certain vehicles
* Restructuring of New York Liberty Zone tax credits

Other Conservation Provisions
* Qualified energy conservation bonds
* Qualified energy efficiency assistance bonds
* Extension of energy-efficient commercial buildings
* Modification and extension of energy-efficient appliance credit
* Five-year depreciation for smart meters

III. Revenue Provisions
Denial of Oil and Gas Tax Benefits
*Denial of section 1999 benefits for income attributable to domestic production of oil, natural gas or primary products thereof
* 7-year amortization of geological and geophysical expenditures for certain major integrated oil companies
* Clarification of foreign oil and gas extraction income

Clarification of Eligibility for Certain Fuel Credit
* Clarification of eligibility for renewable diesel credit
* Clarification that fuel credits are designed to provide an incentive for United States production

IV Other Provisions
Studies
* Carbon audit of the tax code
* Comprehenvise study of biofuels

Labor Standards
* Labor standards for certain projects financed with tax credit bonds

My thanks to Rep. Schwartz's office for making so much information available. It makes my job easier.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gov. Rendell on the PCN Call-In Program: Budget Issues

Gov Rendell on the PCN Call-In Show 6/14

These are my rough notes from watching the archived broadcast of the June 14th PCN Call-In Show with Gov. Rendell. They are rougher than usual because the governor talks very fast and uses a lot of factual data and statistics. He uses notably few filler words (umm, uh) or pauses to gather his thoughts. He just dives in and keeps going, which makes it very difficult to transcribe. To make up for any lapses on my part I have made a special effort to include links for further information on programs the governor mentions, in particular those from the state's website so I cannot guarantee that you are getting a balanced view, but you are probably getting his view.

On a personal note, the governor looked tired and a little more basset hound-ish than usual.

As always, my apologies for any errors or misrepresentations.

Host: Brian Lockman (BL); guest Governor Ed Rendell (ER)

ER: Apologize for being a little late, giving a graduation speech at Interboro High School, alma mater of host Brian Lockman. Would prefer taking as many questions as have time for. People talking about the budget. But it’s the things that are not exactly part of the buddet the most important. Energy independence fund without one additional dime of taxpayer dollars create 850M bond, no additional debt service, create tens of thousands of new jobs, Gamesa set up wind power in Bucks and Cambria Counties, created thousands of jobs in Philly. Produced 4500 new jobs for economy over 1B in capital investment. One ethanol plant in Clearfield County 250M. utility assessment fee, cost .45 /month part of overall program get 74$ rebate if ask for smart metering out of peak period, Jonas Salk fund help research universities and medical schools build capabilities to research diseases (tobacco fund being redirected) 500M bond issue, life sciences & biotech big driver for new economic jobs, help produce high paying jobs, transportation, mass transit and bridges roads and highways, solved outside of normal budget, health care, prescription for PA does 2 things, lower costs for everyone, knocks down cost of health care system, afford reasonable coverage, affordable to those not covered by health insurance today. Among more crucial things we need to do to keep PA moving forward. Unemployment rate at lowest in 30 year history, 9 of last 11 months broke record of highest level of jobs, billion dollar surplus last year, may have more this year, got to keep going in the right direction, while at the same time stabilizing our traditional industries.

Caller: oil tax, language unconstitutional under commerce clause

ER: SEPTA will raise fares. Unless this [oil tax] works, you’re going to pay more one way or the other, additional gas tax or something, in some states this is unconstitutional in others not. Exxon thinks we can do this, sent letters threatening to pull out of PA. Right now oil companies pay no state tax. Under CNI our oil companies, 7 major oil companies do biz in PA, pay less than 79M dollars, half of that paid by one. Roughly 5 or 6M each, if lower tax and let them out of CNI and only tax profits they will pay more. They ought to pay more but in Washington get tax breaks. Wisconsin doing this also, putting in criminal penalties if pass on to consumers. That’s his proposal, told legislature if they don’t like this find an adequate way to fund mass transit. Have to provide new funding for bridges roads & highwars and mass transit. Essential for quality of life and economic development and safety.

Caller: SB 704 Sen. Vance, changing regulations on personal care homes. Owns a personal care home hoping you will be able to do something about this bill, will hurt her business

ER: Fax him a note and lay out concerns on bill. Pat Vance a GOP senator one of the most thoughtful members of the senate, a nurse, great respect for her, might have done something accidentally that would harm personal care facilities.

Caller: casino gambling with no safeguards to keep loved ones from becoming degenerates. Exclusion lists and 800 numbers only help after problem starts. What about before problem starts

ER: It’s not like Pennsylvanians didn’t gamble before casinos here. If you became gambling addicted there couldn’t get into treatment programs there because not a resident of that state. If there are preventative programs please let him know. They looked around country and only saw treatment programs. Can always amend act.

Caller: five months since you promised on the air to contact inspector general on his problem.

ER: Next day send info over. Until IG investigations concluded no one is given information. If contacted will get back in touch with update.

Caller: Why does the recipient of a state grant have to wait so long for money. Are we going to be assured that casino profits going to tax prop relief

ER: Casino money earmarked for property tax relief does not go into general fund, cannot be used for anything else by law. There is a trigger amount, when reached residents will get prop tax relief. Many seniors will get rebate checks that didn’t get them before or didn’t get as much. Casinos that are open far exceeding projections for income. No doubt will exceed in amount of prop tax relief

BL: Bill DeWeese and table games

ER: way too premature. Have to assess slot machines first, how much revenue, does it cause any problems. Have to look at study what slots have produced before can even consider table games.

Going back to previous question. Sometimes reason grants take so long, send letter to group and they have to send forms in, goes through 4 or 5 offices, too slow a process, working hard to speed it up

Caller: route 80 become a toll road?

ER: does endorse it, part of overall funding problems. Under federal law can toll I-80 but funds can only be used for that road. Helps bottom line because can use funds now spent on 80 can be spent on other roads. Only have a few toll stations so local traffic not charged, mostly out of state charged. If legislature approves have it up and running by 2009.

BL: what about other interstates

ER: we can look at that but funds can only be used on those roads. Probably go one at a time. I-80 lends itself to few toll booths to avoid charging local traffic.

Caller: heard him talk about a high paying jobs, what about lower class people?

ER: thinks median wage, $41K or $42K a year is a good wage. However, increased state minimum wage. Dredging controversy – with dredging can create longshoremen and teamster jobs that pay 60-70$ / year. Want to create jobs for PhDs and MBAs but also regular people. [may have missed something here, broadcast froze]

Caller: active on lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, health care initiative, looks to be a situation where reimbursements to the hospitals get cut?

ER: point well taken, didn’t read it wrong, got timing mixed up, reimbursements from uncompensated care, not dollar for dollar, but compensated. Under plan every Pennsylvanian covered, currently 760K uncovered, so hospitals won’t need to be reimbursed because no uncompensated care. Won’t take it away immediately. Will do it in stages and only after most people covered

BL: 3 caucuses in legislature zeroed out money for education and others

ER: won’t get all of it through before summer recess. Certainly cost saving initiatives should pass. Covering all Pennsylvanians [health care initiative] maybe wait until fall. Problem with legislature: not enough to do nothing. It’s not good enough for legislature to say we aren’t going to fund any of governor’s incentives. Everything viewed as partisan. Jonas Salk fund voted down and only reason given is we didn’t want to let the governor get everything. Can’t run for governor again, not running for anything again. House Democrats working hard, passed a lot of things. But unless get support from rest of legislators. Willing to work through August to get things right.

BL: if legislature sends a budget with none of your initiatives will you veto it?

ER: yes. States that do nothing or go backwards will fail. Transportation not just a Pittsburgh and Philly problem. Underfunding transportation hurts everyone. Altoona curtailing nighttime bus service. We can’t have ordinary working people dealing with these conditions. Let’s get it right for the people of PA. As long as we have the money to pay for progress let’s invest in our future. Microsoft was three guys, $2K and look what happened.

Caller: professor in midst of contract negotiations. Current offer is zero cost of living for 4 years but tripling contributions to health care costs

ER: bargaining process is pretty skewered. Once an offer is put out there it becomes a floor. Both parties put out ridiculous offers. Only in the last few days of the negotiations that serious discussions take place. Your reporting of the facts is correct. But guarantee won’t get 4 zeroes and tripling of health care contributions in final contract. Urged schools to undertake cost saving measures and kept tuition increases down to 2%, below inflation. Got to continue to save money. Call on PHEAA to make more grant money available.

Caller: Act 47, City of Scranton in Act 47 for a number of years. (municipal recovery act, basically welfare for municipalities)

ER: some advantages for a municipality to go into act 47. Like an individual or business going into chapter 11, help reorganizating and getting act together financially. For Easton and Allentown there is something short of Act 47. For Scranton, state only takes you out of act 47 when act 47 supervisors feel municipality on stable financial ground. Wants to help mid-sized cities come back financially. So much of property owned by non-profits, universities, hospitals, etc. not taxable. Supreme Court redefined what charities non-taxable. In Philly went to non-profits and asked for a payment in lieu of taxes. Got $26M, big help. Legislature went in and passed a law taking that power away from municipalities. After budget done want pilot system where charities where CEO earns a million dollars ….. [missed]

Caller: been disenfranchised through human relations commission, file under review. What agency can he go to?

ER: State director of human relations. Send letter to him.

Caller: pre-K programs

ER: my first initiative for education was early childhood education. This year’s budget developed a program called Pre-K counts. Nothing is as important as early childhood education. Too many kids have no pre-k experience or just daycare with no educational component. Too many don’t have full time kindergarten. Classes too big. It’s like building a building, no matter how beautiful floors 5-30 are, if no strong foundation then it will crumble. Every study has shown money spent on pre-k returned [missed statistic] many fold. Write not just your legislator but others. Not many people want govt to spend no money but they write a lot of letters. Tell them pre-K is important to you.

BL: alternative energy. State still has a lot of coal in the ground.

ER: We can get that coal without contributing to global warming. Clean coal gasification plant. Takes coal waste and eventually coal itself, heats it and turns it into steam, can be used in a turbine energy, can be used as a substitute for natural gas, heat again and use as diesel fuel. Still releases carbon but can be sequestered and used.

Caller: You’re doing a fine job. Retired teacher. Haven’t had a cola in 5 years. Would you support.

ER: Sorry to say at this time I couldn’t. In 2000 legislature voted itself a 50% increase in pension. To give themselves a cover gave active state workers and teachers a retirement boost but not current retirees. That caused such an actuarial drain on pension funds. When stock market went through down time in 2002 and 2003. Hope sometime soon can do a cola for oldest retirees. But unless funds do much better those increased funds for current workers will cause problems. Pits current workers and retired workers against each other. Trying to run a pay as you go govt. You deserve it we just can’t pay for it.

Caller: As a state employee, worried about furlough with budget standoff.

ER: Eventually you will get paid retroactively, legislators also paid retroactively. No money in July and August but paid later.

Caller: I-95 and turnpike connection. House has been condemned. Not happy with offer.

ER: Is it the turnpike authority? [no, acquisition company]. You have a right to fight. [understading it that he still needs to be out of his house, he and neighbor have hired lawyer]. Have lawyer send me a summary.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Second Quarter Campaign Finance Reminder

In case you haven’t been receiving reminders from your favorite congressional representatives, the second quarter campaign finance reporting period ends June 30th. For one stop shopping visit ActBlue (www.actblue.com). They even have accounts set up for the 6th and 15th district and funds will go to whoever eventually runs. Sam Bennett, likely candidate for the 15th district, also has a page.

If you prefer to visit specific campaign sites you can donate online directly and some of these pages also provide a postal address if you’d rather send a check.

Patrick Murphy (8th district), www.murphy08.com

Allyson Schwartz (13th district), www.allysonschwartz.com

Joe Sestak (7th district), www.joesestak.com

Not from this area? ActBlue will let you donate to just about any federal or state level Democratic candidates in the state (federal candidates from all states, state level candidates from some other states).

Not a Democrat? By all means, donate to candidates from the Republican or any other party. Alas I am not bipartisan enough to provide links for them but your friend Google will help you out.

I dropped a few dollars in at least one bucket.

Website Updates

With the impending storm my dsl is sketchy at best so the posts will be short this evening. Later this week I’ll have rough notes from Gov. Rendell’s appearance on the PCN Call-In Show to talk about the budget.

In the meantime, entertain yourself with these newly renovated campaign websites.

State Rep Josh Shapiro has redesigned his campaign website. Check out www.joshshapiro.org

Congressman Patrick Murphy has a new campaign site, so update your bookmarks to www.murphy08.com. The more static URLs all seem to be taken. There is another Patrick Murphy running for congress in Massachusetts and that makes things especially tricky URL-wise.

It's Legal, But Is It Right? Part II

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13) sent out a press release noting that she and other congressional Democrats have a plan to close one particular tax loophole. According to the release:

Originally intended to help businesses buy necessary heavy-duty work vehicles, the "Hummer Tax Loophole" has for years allowed write-offs of anywhere from $100,000 to the current figure of $25,000 for the purchase of the largest, most gas-guzzling luxury SUVs, even as concerns over gas prices and dependence on oil have grown. The change would not affect legitimate business investments in trucks or vans, such as plumber and contractor trucks, farm vehicles, construction vehicles, flatbed trucks, cement mixers, and a variety of other vehicles as designated by the IRS.

Since the law's inception in 1984, the increasing size of gas-guzzling SUVs has produced several models that qualify under this law, many of which get some of the worst gas mileage and are the biggest emitters of heat-trapping pollution on the road today.


Taking advantage of that loophole was legal. I wouldn't have done it but that's one reason why I'm not rich and able to spend beaucoup bucks on political donations.

It's Legal, But Is It Right? Part I

There are plenty of things that are not against the law but general public opinion is that they are slimy things to do. There are tons of things that are not against the law that some people think are slimy but others don’t. All depends.

Take the new report out from CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) about Congressional representatives hiring relatives to work on their campaigns or PACS, or working with lobbyist relatives. It is reported on in The Politico, "Congressional relatives on the campaign trail, lobbying” by Patrick O'Connor

If you want to read the full report it is here, but be forewarned – it is something like 160 pages long.

For your reading pleasure I went through and checked for Pennsylvania congressional representatives. You will be pleased to know that, shockingly enough, representatives from the Philly area aren’t on the list. Which either means they're squeaky clean or smart enough to dodge the system well enough not to get noticed. Take your pick. [blogger's note: looking Italian has left the following comment which clarifies matters. My apologies for not reading the executive summary closely enough to note this myself: Door #3 for the Philly-area delegation: Those who don't chair, or who aren't ranking members, of any committees or subcommittees. They were excluded from the CREW evaluation.}

The three Pennsylvania folks mentioned are Paul Kanjorski (D-11), John Murtha (D-12), and Bill Shuster (R-09). As for the specifics:

Paul Kanjorski and his brother own K&K Real Estate which has charged his campaign $12,000 in rent for each of the past three elections cycles; his PAC paid his real estate company $4,500 in rent. His nephew was paid a salary for being his campaign manager. His sister-in-law is the treasurer of his PAC. Another nephew has received $30,000 in consulting fees. Between 1999 and 2002 two companies owned in part by four nephews and his daughter received $9.4 million in earmarks.

Murtha’s brother was a registered lobbyist. The brother was hired by a lobbying firm run by someone who worked for Rep. Murtha for 27 years. The brother lobbied a committee that Rep. Murtha chairs on behalf of contractors in that area. Seven of these contractors received a combined total of $2.8 million in earmarks.

Shuster’s father, a former congressman himself, and his brother are registered lobbyists. They specialize in areas affected by committees the congressman serves on. To be fair the father also specialized in those areas when he was in office himself.

A few observations: Rep. Kanjorski has a lot of nephews. On the matter of rent, I notice the amount paid in rent stayed the same. If it went up each campaign cycle I would be more concerned. Generally I’ve noticed that elected officials and campaign offices tend to be in physical locations owned by people friendly or related to them. On the matter of family serving as campaign managers or staff, I can think of two or three other elected officials in the area who have done the same. I wonder about the ever vague “consulting” jobs.

The lobbying and earmark items concern me much more. Companies owned, even in part, by relatives of elected officials should not really be receiving earmarks from the government. Lobbyists should not be lobbying relatives or elected officials on the same committees their relatives are on.

Those are the spots where I start to draw the lines. You can come to your own conclusions.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Steil and Shapiro on PCN

On Monday, June 11th State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-153) and State Rep. Dave Steil (R-31) appeared on PCN’s Call-In Show to talk about the Speaker’s Commission on Reform, which they chair.

Larry Kaspar (LK) interviewed Shapiro (JS) and Steil (DS). Callers also asked questions.

These are rough notes from the online copy of that program. My apologies for any errors or misinterpretations.

Introductions.

JS: Proud to serve on commission. Dennis O’Brien tapped 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans, got to work right away on reforming rules, now working on statutory rules. Members check partisan affiliations at the door. Got a ways to go but accomplished a lit.

DS: extension of work begun 2 years ago, speaker picked up on that, appointed JS and himself.

LK: positives and negatives

JS: Always hard to make recommendations to change yourself. Pennsylvania govt needs to reform itself. Not too many Pennsylvanians sit home at night worrying about rules in legislature but if we don’t reform ourselves and change culture in Harrisburg we’ll never pass important legislation, bread and butter issues.

LK: ill-fated pay raise had something to do with atmosphere?

DS: no question, raised level of public scrutiny. many people wondered if their reps had a fair opportunity to represent their interests,

LK: What was accomplished in today’s meeting?

JS: discussed cutting cost of legislature, cut $31M out of legislative line item

LK: where coming from

JS: in budget line item for legislature, 12 recommendations for additional cuts

DS: many deal with staffing, staffs now partisan, could combine into bipartisan staffs, reducing number of people to do job

JS: also today took a start with campaign finance reform, caps on contribution. Commission voted to put limits on contributions, 527…

LK: why called 527s?

DS: an organization formed under McCain Feingold, section 527 of IRS Code

JS: we wanted to make sure anyone who contributed to one of those should be disclosed, hope to come up with number for cap, but members of both parties said there should be contributions limits

LK: more audits?

DS: one of the things we looked at was opening up audits at end of each 2 year session. Current routine done by house audit committee, simple audit of expenditures, if they are proper, never tied to invoices, when processed, if properly approved

LK: just making recommendations?

JS: are making recommendations, require supermajority of each part to pass recommendations. In phase one we adopted more than 30 changes in house rules, adopted by house. Now meeting to discuss statutory and constitutional issues, open records, campaign finance, etc.

Caller: getting a masters degree in international relations, does reform take globalization issues into account?

JS: a form of reform, but task force concerned with institutional issues not policy. Has been reading about globalization

DS: We want to make sure every member has the opportunity to present issues before the house

LK: 527s, how much of an impact?

JS: ask John Kerry about Swiftboat, ask Tom Knox about 527 formed at end of camping (he probably would have lost anyway). If you make a contribution we need to know who you are and how much you gave

Caller: game commission, penndot, too many employees

DS: looking at legislature, did vote on size of legislature, compared to cost of other states, it is high, purpose is to look at ourselves first

LK: proposed numbers on reducing size of legislature

JS: conducted thorough investigations, pa house districts are 14th largest in nation, a lot of pushback from legislators, like connection to constituents, issue was cost not number of legislators, looked inside, cut $31M and look in future at further cuts

LK: term limits, voters 75% support term limits

DS: constituents are from other districts. Voters believe that their rep is acceptable but want to get rid of others that don’t think like they do, if people had problems with me they wouldn’t re-elect me

JS: won election by 76% of vote, honored to have support of R & D, but level of support for legislature generally was around 30%. Want to get rid of somebody else’s legislator. Voters feel connection to their own legislator

LK: what are term limits, 8 years?

DS: 19 states have term limits, range from 6 years to 12 years, usually tie house and senate to same number

LK: clip of State Rep. Sean Ramaley (D-16) on term limits (detrimental to process, take away right of people to serve, every 2 years we have to apply for our jobs, they have decision making authority, term limits take that choice away from voters)

DS: believe term limits already in place, 2 years, out of a job unless voters reelect us

Caller: we need term limits, have to stop career politicians, not listening to the voice of the people, most important reason for term limits,

JS: we legislators need to do a better job of listening to people, not sure term limits are the best way, contribution caps would limit special interest, don’t let one or two legislators make decisions but let whole body be involved

DS: people see high return of incumbents but turnover in legislature higher than people realize, this past election 25%, in my first 12 years 50% turnover, natural attrition as members move on to other phases of their life, more uncommon for people to serve more than 20 years,

LK: 50 new faces in legis

JS: brought a new spirit, new expertise to the house, forced the dialogue to change, can’t point to a particular bill but manner in which debate occurs indicates change, only in 2nd term but thinks there is an impact

LK: Do the newcomers stick together?

DS: they do stick together, reform efforts would not have happened without group effort by new people

Caller: term limits not necessary, can vote out, question about pensions, if term limits of 8 years would those term limited have pensions, why can’t people vote on benefits on legislature

DS: constitution guides how legislators are paid

JS: much more comfortable with a commission established to determine pay and benefits than with legislators voting on their own

Caller: 5 years ago school employees received a cost of living adjustment, have a number of retirees receiving less than $1K a month and have to pay health insurance

DS: support cost of living adjustment if paid for out of teacher retirement fund, because of investment issues, not currently fully funded, in private sector no cost of living adjustments

JS: also support a cost of living adjustment

LK: reform, open records, what is current law?

JS: if citizen of PA wants access to govt document has to prove why they should get it, want to reverse that presumption, burden is on govt agency why it shouldn’t be public, wants to restore integrity of process

LK: How does PA rank?

DS: probably right about the middle, looking at debate and record, many states have declared their records open records, produced with tax dollars, people have right to see them, some reasons to keep records closed, contains personal info, etc., reversal of presumption a good thing

LK: records of state universities included? [bloggers note: one sticking point in open records is that it might make Penn State football coach Joe Paterno’s salary public – it is currently a closely kept secret]

JS: important issues with keeping some personal information private, salaries, depend on how funded, public tax money or private donations

DS: in terms of all employees’ salaries, there are some personnel issues, people can compare salaries, with merit aspect of salaries, creates hr problems

Caller: make it easier for people to become involved in the electoral process, easier to get on ballot

DS: several pieces of legislation that would lower number of signatures an independent would need, supports this. Reps have to run every 2 years, sometimes in primaries, independent doesn’t have to do that

JS: reform checklist determined by speaker, not on the list now, state govt committee addressing that issue

Caller: term limits, with tenure comes power and corruption, after hours pay raises, professional politicians rather than public servants

JS: reason pay raise came out after midnight, several reasons, now can’t vote after 11 p.m., in states with term limits one complaint, some have reversed, term limits created career politicians. We may have career representatives, but career politicians look for next office to run for, jump from one office to another, good elected official should be kept, others vote out

Caller: former legislator, first elected in ’64 in for 28 years, loved the house, first salary $6K a year, phone in home, wife took phone messages, he called them all back.

DS: number and complexity of issues has increased, experienced legislators can be important, do people want legislators making decisions or staff and lobbyists making decisions?

JS: we are more to our constituents today than in prior years. Are we spending too much? Yes, which is why commission adopted $31M in cuts. We are too expensive and too bloated.

Caller: casinos and revenue, how much longer do we have to wait for real estate tax relief?

DS: good question, good news in that regard, took awhile for casinos to be up and running, revenue greater than expected, he thought it would be 2009 before relief, but now may be 2008.

LK: didn’t a casino open today?

DS: yes, 5th opened today

JS: Act 1 did have something good for seniors, now 52% of his seniors qualify for tax rebate, will help more as more gaming venues open

Caller: in California costs $10 per person per year to pay for legislature, in PA $23. term limits are a good idea, serve 2 terms and leave, no pensions

JS: issue of cost, again we tried to address that today with $31M and recommendations for more, term limits would increase costs because need more staff and time to learn, knee jerk reactions to problems instead of thoughtful response

DS: those states that have reversed term limits because they are losing experience, could not get budgets and other bills passed because no experienced legislators

Caller: term limits a catch 22 situation. Better off to keep good legislators

DS: experience is the key, my first few terms, first term didn’t accomplish anything because didn’t know how, took into 3rd term to learn how to get things done, if no experience legislators look elsewhere, staff and lobbyists

LK: legislative leave [bloggers note – sometimes also called “ghost voting”]

JS: in most recently passed session, allowed to vote by proxy, did away with that practice in reform. Must be present to vote. Members have a responsibility to listen to debate.

DS: usually we review bills and amendments in advance, but vote can change as a result of listening to the debate.

LK: info on bills posted online

JS: proud of that and commission proud of that, every bill and vote either on the floor or in committee, spending, all now available electronically. Created more transparency and open govt

DS: eliminated private car leases, must be through state general services dept, saves state money, can utilize fleet rates

Caller: fund for motor vehicles protected, but Rendell moving funds? [bloggers note: I did not quite understand this question but it dealt with moving monies from one budget line to another]

DS: compare last years budget to this years, same line items, some things moved from one line to another, [missed some of this]

JS: spending somewhere around 3 or 4%, not a partisan issue, problem is irresponsible spending in DC, must have fiscally responsible budget

Caller: disagree with Steil on experience, have to have fresh blood to get new ideas

DS: institutional knowledge not gained in one or two terms, takes time to learn about issues. Reason I can get bills passed is people who may not know issue know me and know I can be trusted.

JS: working on bill of rights for foster children, most representatives don’t deal with this issue, Rep. Phyllis Mundy put it forth, took a lot of time and knowledge that she has developed over the years. Without someone like that it would have been written by special interests

Caller: propaganda to say term limits already in place, elections are a popularity contest, who you know

DS: votes who ultimately vote for us. I only have to satisfy people in 31st district, even if others in the state disagree.

JS: I am a test case that is it not a popularity contest, when I ran 3 years ago more Republicans than Democrats in my district, first poll showed me down 51 points to former congressmen whose approval rating was in the 90s. but I went out knocked on doors, eventually won. Voters able to make a conscious choice

LK: session hours, late night pay raise, can vote to change hours (11p.m.)

JS: house rules can be suspended with 2/3 vote. Important to end at 11p.m. but must have ¾ vote to stay late and vote after 11. It has worked.

DS: changes to rules committee itself. Ensured that the rules committee that was no longer repository of bills that were changed without vote on amendments

Caller: remember education sales tax, how much goes to education, govt structure in PA out of control, every year we don’t pass a budget on time, governor comes up with wild eyed spending

JS: confident we will get a budget on time, members sobering to fact that tough choices to be made. It is a negotiation, it is a bargain. Each of Rendell’s budgets passed with Republican and Democratic support. First time he has a house with Democratic control. Important issues to deal with outside budget, mass transit, governor’s energy proposal, health care proposal. Confident if not June 30 then shortly after. Now have 24 hour waiting period before voting on a bill, more legislators involved in budget process, more people involved.

DS: now that bills posted, look at votes most bills have bipartisan support

Caller: in favor of term limits, tax relief is really tax shifting, most PA voters do not look at issues and how state representative votes. Unless media brings to attention the mistake a rep makes voters don’t notice

DS: agree that voters need to be more involved in the process. When legislators have town meetings or breakfasts and only 8 people show up this is bad

LK: preview of next big issue:

JS: term limits for members and committee chairs and open records

DS: term limits issue is a rules issue. That recommendation can go directly to house rules. Open records – who will be included and who won’t

LK: thank you to guests and callers

Saturday, June 16, 2007

PA in the WSJ

Things picked up this week.

PA Politicians

Our officials remain very quiet.

PA Businesses

Campus Apartments, Inc. of Philadelphia is buying more properties, per “Dorm Mates,” by Jonathan Karp, Alex Frangos, Ryan Chittum and Kemba J. Dunham (6/13)

Brief mentions: Journal Register of Yardley (6/12), Safeguard Scientifics of Wayne (6/13)

Other PA

Dr. Paul Offitt of Philadelphia Children’s Hospital is quoted in “Debate over vaccines’ role in autism heads to a court,” (6/11).

Pennsylvania’s loss of college graduates is discussed in depth in “Stopping the brain drain,” by Lauren Tara LaCapra (6/11). An encouraging note near the end of the article: “But there are signs that Pennsylvania’s effort it working on some.”

“Vital Signs” on 6/11 has a number of charts and graphs. Pennsylvania ranks #21 in the country for the total local, state and federal tax burdens as a percentage of each state’s income. Our state’s percentage is 31.9%, less than the national average of 32.7. We rank 6th in investments in venture-backed companies, 2006, with 102 deals, or $777,783,000. We ranks 16 in the number of feature films produced or partially produced, 2005, with 15. We are #12 in patents issued with 2,992. We rank #30 in percentage of people living below the poverty level, 2005, with 11.9%, below the national average of 13.3%.

“Investing in the fast lane,” by Joanna Slater (6/13) mentions the PA Turnpike in passing.

This past October’s court case between Wal-Mart and employees not paid for off-the-clock work, from “Missouri, New York courts split on Wal-Mart pay,” by Gary McWilliams (6/13)

While the 10 other regional banks report an upbeat outlook, Philadelphia and Richmond report acceleration in growth, from “Consumer-spending uptick eases drop-off fears,” by Mark Whitehouse (6/14)

The new tv series “Heartland” takes place in Pittsburgh, “Doctor’s dilemma,” by Dorothy Rabinowitz (6/15)

The contrast between children’s books available in stores and libraries in Chestnut Hill and Kingsessing is mentioned in “It seems to exist, but how to measure class gap in reading,” by Carl Bialik (6/15)

An entire article on the bread-eating carp of Linesville, “Loaves and fish: piscine gluttony in Pennsylvania,” by James R. Hagerty 6/16, provides a lot of fascinating information about one of the state’s more unusual tourist attractions.

An obit for Peter Wright who founded Keystone Helicopter Corp, appears on 6/16.

A staged explosion in Wilkes-Barre at a WWF event in Wachovia Arena led to rumors of the death of WWF chairman Vince McMahon, “News flash: pro wrestling is fake,” by Tim Hanrahan (6/16)

Other Interesting Tidbits

If you’ve said something foolish or someone smears you online you may need the services of the companies outlined in “Firms tidy up clients’ bad online reputations,” by Andrew LaVallee (6/13)

Friday, June 15, 2007

weekly legislative update

This is a list of bills that passed the Pennsylvania State House or Senate this week, as well as links to other weekly updates. Standard caveats -- sponsors omitted if the list is longer than 3 lines in the original format.

Other updates:

our accountant friends at PICPA

Senate GOP

Senate Democrats

House GOP (daily session)



House

HB 635 An Act amending the ct of August 9, 1955 (P.L.323, No.130), known as The County Code, further providing for meetings of auditors and for audit of accounts by auditors and financial report to Department of Community and Economic Development.

HB 872 Printer's No. 1027. An Act designating the bridge carrying State Route 15, known as Lycoming Creek Road, over Bottle Run, Old Lycoming Township, Lycoming County, as the John Gross Memorial Bridge.

HB 1367 Printer's No. 1632. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, further providing for medical assistance payments for institutional care, for definitions, for authorization, for amount, for repayment, for regulations and for time periods; and providing for the Senior Care and Services Study Commission.

HB 179 Prior Printer's No. 205.Printer's No. 1525. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1907 (P.L.560, No.373), entitled "An act designating the official flag of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and describing the same; providing for the carrying of such flag by the regiments of the National Guard of Pennsylvania; authorizing the Secretary of the Commonwealth to provide, and have deposited in the office of Secretary of the Commonwealth, a model of said flag, and making an appropriation therefor," further providing for specifications for the official flag of the Commonwealth.

HB 284 Prior Printer's Nos. 316, 1630.Printer's No. 1754. An Act amending the act of November 24, 1992 (P.L.732, No.111), known as the Pennsylvania Quality Improvement Act, further providing for legislative findings and intent, for establishment of the Keystone Alliance for Performance Excellence Awards, for the Keystone Alliance for Performance Excellence Advisory Council; repealing provisions relating to board of examiners and panel of judges; further providing for establishment of the foundation, for awards and for restriction on funds from Commonwealth.

HB 420 Printer's No. 484. An Act amending the act of April 23, 2002 (P.L.298, No.39), known as the Main Street Act, further providing for the Main Street Program.

HB 972 Printer's No. 1136. An Act mandating health insurance coverage for cancer prevention and early detection programs; and providing for powers and duties of the Department of Health.

HB 999 Prior Printer's Nos. 1165, 1534.Printer's No. 1658. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for restoration of operating privilege.

HB 1280 Printer's No. 1541. An Act amending the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known as the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, further defining "traditional neighborhood development"; further providing for grants of power to municipalities, for standards and conditions for traditional neighborhood development designations and for manuals of written and graphic design guidelines; and providing for subdivision and land development ordinance provisions applicable to traditional neighborhood development.

SENATE

HB 906 Prior Printer's Nos. 1058, 1264, 1417, 1526.Printer's No. 1887. An Act amending the act of July 31, 2003 (P.L.73, No.17), known as the Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Act, further defining "volunteer ambulance service"; further providing for guidelines and procedures, for award of grants and for expiration of authority; providing for publication and notice, for special provisions; and repealing an obsolete act.

SB 799 By Senators M. WHITE, GORDNER, FERLO, COSTA, SCARNATI, ROBBINS, ORIE, STOUT, RAFFERTY, WASHINGTON, KASUNIC and REGOLA. Prior Printer's No. 891.Printer's No. 1165. An Act amending the act of June 30, 1987 (P.L.163, No.16), known as the Rural Pennsylvania Revitalization Act, further providing for board of directors and for grants.

SB 844 Prior Printer's No. 978.Printer's No. 1142. An Act amending the act of February 19, 1980 (P.L.15, No.9), known as the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act, defining "qualified association"; further providing for prohibited acts and for duties of licensee generally; and providing for handling of deposits and other escrows.

SB 877 Printer's No. 1039. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, in public assistance, adding definitions; and further providing for prepayment for contracted medical services and for established drug regimens.

HB 876 Prior Printer's No. 1031.Printer's No. 1446. An Act amending Title 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the employer contribution rate.

SB 385 By Senators CORMAN, WONDERLING, COSTA, C. WILLIAMS, TOMLINSON, KITCHEN, PUNT, TARTAGLIONE, M. WHITE, WOZNIAK, WASHINGTON, FERLO and FONTANA. Prior Printer's Nos. 433, 1087.Printer's No. 1152. An Act amending the act of July 9, 1990 (P.L.340, No.78), known as the Public Safety Emergency Telephone Act, providing for interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol service; and establishing the VoIP 911 Emergency Services Fund.

SB 834 By Senators RHOADES, MUSTO, FONTANA, RAFFERTY, ERICKSON, LAVALLE, COSTA, FERLO, LOGAN, EARLL, TOMLINSON, PILEGGI and BROWNE. Printer's No. 970. An Act amending the act of June 14, 1961 (P.L.324, No.188), known as The Library Code, further providing for appointment, qualification and tenure of members of the Advisory Council on Library Development.

SB 413 By Senators BROWNE, WONDERLING, WASHINGTON and BOSCOLA. Printer's No. 460. An Act amending the act of July 28, 1953 (P.L.723, No.230), known as the Second Class County Code, further providing for assessment of signs and sign structures; and making related repeals.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

In the News: Maybe Not So Good Things

Two examples of what not to do in the news lately.

1) Do not invite 14 year old girls to a party and suggest they wear bikini tops. ("Bikini parties draw ire," by Melissa Busch, PhillyBurbs, 6/14). Even if your stated rationale is to charge people a $10 entrance fee, remember that parents tend to frown on such things.

2) Things posted on the Internet can be read by anyone with access to a computer. And they never ever really go away. And, yes, it can affect your job. No matter how many times the media and blogs report on people who are fired for what they post online someone new comes along who is shocked to find this out. The latest "learn the hard way" case is an employee of a state senator who wrote some hard core comments on a Lehigh Valley blog. ("Lawmaker's aide quits over blog," Inquirer 6/14)

In the News: Good Things

A few items from the papers lately:

Philadelphia is taking the initial steps to make the city's Inspector General an independent office. As reported in the 6/13 Daily News ("Panel OKs independent insp. general," by Mark McDonald):

And as the current inspector general, R. Seth Williams, testified yesterday in City Council, "Anytime in the future a mayor theoretically could be upset about our investigations or maybe it hits too close to home and by a mark of the pen, 'poof!' you eliminate the office of IG. I think we don't want that to happen."

later
Joyce Wilkerson, Mayor Street's chief of staff, noted that the IG at present can't investigate allegations involving Council and the offices of other elected local officials. The new bill would give the IG that authority.

The Inky's piece on the same subject ("City Council moves to give wider power to Inspector General," by Patrick Kerkstra) has some additional information:

In a letter to Council, City Controller Alan Butkovitz identified 15 flaws in the proposed legislation, including no provision that the office be well-funded and a lack of clarity as to the "scope" of the inspector general's mission.

The committee amended the legislation to address some of his concerns, and further amendments seem likely once Council revisits the matter in September following its summer recess. Since the changes require an amendment to the City Charter, voters would have to approve the modifications, perhaps in November's general election.

A lingering concern is that a beefed-up Inspector General's Office may end up fighting for turf with other local investigatory agencies and bodies, such as the controller, the new ethics board, the district attorney and the state attorney general.


On another subject, the efforts to make Pennsylvania documents more accessible are picking up. According to the Inky ("Big boost for public records initiative," by Mark Scolforo 6/05) the state senate majority leader is supporting the change. The open records website (www.passopenrecords.org) is reporting that the Speaker's Commission is also in favor.

To Inky: Hire More Copyeditors

I'm reading along in the Inquirer this morning, enjoying an article by Mario Cattabiani on Josh Shapiro ("Pa lawmaker on fast track to top") when I see this section:

A former top aide to U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D., Pa.), Shapiro got to Harrisburg after pulling off an improbable victory in 2004 over a well-known candidate, former Rep. Jon Fox.

Neil Oxman, the political consultant from Philadelphia, received an e-mail from Chris Mottola, a GOP strategist, congratulating him on his work on Michael Nutter's mayoral campaign. It surely was Oxman's best work to date, Mottola wrote.

Not so, replied Oxman. It was what he did for Shapiro in what looked to be a doomed campaign to unseat incumbent Fox.


Ummmmm, it was an open seat. Incumbent Ellen Bard decided to run for Congress, leaving her state house seat open. True, Fox had held the seat before Bard, and had then been in Congress himself, but he was not in elected office when he and Shapiro vied for the 153rd house seat.

This was just too much of a wowser to pass up mentioning. I can't imagine Mr. Cattabiani making that error and surely Mr. Oxman did not, so let's assume it was put in somewhere along the editorial process. But, wow, that's major.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PCN Smackdown

I've had PCN on in the background while blogging tonight (woo hoo! party time!). State Rep. Dwight Evans and State Rep. Sam Smith have been going at it hammer and tongs. It was all cloaked in smiles and flowery language but basically boiled down to Did So! Did Not! They were talking about whether or not the Democrats intended to meet with the Republicans to go over the proposed state budget. After beating around the bush for a while Evans said they weren't going to negotiate on the budget proposed by the Republicans. State Rep. Bill DeWeese said some document had been "molested" in the legislative process. Sir, that isn't how that word is usually used.

A note for Mr. Evans -- where were the smiles and charisma when you were running for mayor?

Legislation on Homeless Veterans

I don't usually write about legislation unless I can actually see it and read it but will make an exception this evening. According to a press release I received from Rep. Patrick Murphy's office (D-08), Murphy introduced legislation today to assist homeless veterans. Murphy estimates that there are over 3,300 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania and at least 550 in the greater Philadelphia area alone.

As it happens one of Mr. J's sisters, who lives in another state, has worked with homeless veterans for a number of years. I gave her a call to run the provisions of this legislation by her. In one of those cosmic convergences she had planned to call us this evening because a co-worker of hers plans to move to Bensalem and she wanted to ask us about the area for him. So, heads up Bucks County, another taxpayer is moving in soon.

In any event, the four bullet points listed on Murphy's press release are:

* Congressman Murphy's bill eliminates the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to adjust the grants and per diem payments that Homeless Veterans Service Centers receive because of other income. In other words, community-based organizations that aid homeless veterans have no reason to seek additional funding because an increase in private dollars will simply be offset by a decrease in VA funding. This eliminates the inevitable decrease.

* The bill also makes permanent a program to identify service members on active duty who are at risk of becoming homeless after they are discharged or released. The program will work to prevent these members from becoming homeless.

* Homeless Service Center Grants are expanded to also provide funds for staff.

* The Department of Veterans Affairs is instructed to take steps to make their homeless vets programs more accommodating for female veterans.


Mr. J's sister said these are all good ideas. She added a few information points. For example on identifying those at risk, she said there are people who are asked to leave the military because of drug or alcohol problems; making sure they are referred to a service agency or rehab or support group would be a good idea as they are otherwise likely to continue a downward spiral. She also said that in some places patient advocates were traveling from Dept of Defense hospitals or areas with veterans and their families to their home of origin or record or wherever they are going, to make sure they connect with all service agencies to which they are entitled.

Regarding women veterans she said that she is sometimes called out of her administrative office to do casework with homeless women who are not comfortable talking with the male caseworkers. Many of the women she talks to have been subjected to sexual trauma, often at the hands of their fellow soldiers.

Another items she brought up, and one I hope to write on at greater length in the future, is the increased incidence of brain trauma among veterans.

When I can get a bill or resolution number and link to the text and the press release, I will post it.

What is a Mandate?

Last week my fellow blogger across the aisle, Matt Best at Courage of Conviction, asked us to think about mandates, specifically what a mandate is. A flippant answer would be a mandate is when everyone in my house agrees on what we should have for dinner. A more political explanation is probably what Matt had in mind.

The Webster's dictionary we have at home lists a number of definitions for mandate. The most applicable one is "an authorization to act given to a representative." We tend to think of it as something indicated by a lopsided electoral vote. There is no understanding on what that percentage is. Pres. Bush claimed he had a mandate with a bare majority (if that). I would tend to think you would have to have somewhere close to 70% to say you have a mandate. You could probably get a 70% agreement on the need for immigration reform, health care reform, and the need to end the war in Iraq. Where things get sticky is now the what but the HOW. How should we change health care? How should be get out of Iraq? How should we change our immigration laws? The devil is in the details.

I don't know if this answers Matt's question, it's just what came to mind.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Inky: Women Lag in Political Contributions

From today's Inquirer ("Women give less in campaign donations,") by Cynthia Burton:

Women control 51 percent of the nation's wealth, but account for just 27 percent of federal political donations, according to a report released yesterday by the Women's Campaign Forum Foundation.


There is a link on the article to highlights of the report and the full report is available via email. I couldn't tell from the brief methodology on the highlights but I do have a few questions. One is, if part of the data is derived from reviewing giving trends in federal elections, what safeguards were in place for evaluation donations from married couples? In my household I am responsible for all charitable and political donations. Many, but not all, of these are made by check and both names are on the check. I sign them but it is not uncommon for follow up invitations or mailings to be addressed solely to Mr. J. He finds this humorous but it annoys me; offenders seldom get a second check. Far too many organizations and campaigns will automatically file the donations under the male name listed. Households with two surnames present additional problems since some software products designed to do accounting and mailing lists for non-profits and political campaigns can't accomodate two names in one field. Even if there are two name fields they are still indexed primarily under the male name. Just sayin'....

Nutter Live Chat

The Next Mayor invited Michael Nutter for a live chat on their website today. Al Taubenberger is up next Thursday at 10:00 a.m. These aren't like those nifty webchats that Dwight Evans had. These are unmoderated free for all strictly text chats. I connected and hit refresh every once in a while to see what new things had been posted but it was hard to follow. The questioners started chatting (arguing) with each other. Nutter, bless him, tried to keep up. The topics went from the broad and general (crime, education) to the very specific (why isn't my street plowed?).

Wendy at The Next Mayor tried to put the answers with the proper questions and divide it by topic. The transcript is up on their blog. Some of the extraneous questions (you're really a Republican, aren't you?) are not included. This is okay with me.

Nutter is really trying to get some feedback from the citizenry and the Next Mayor is providing a real service offering these chats.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Inquirer Changes

Chris Satullo is stepping down as editorial page editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Whether you agreed with his editorials or not, I think it is universally agreed that his work with Citizen Voices a civic engagement program he helped found in 1996, has been a positve force in the area. A buddy of mine was involved in this some years ago and told me it was a great experience. In Sunday's paper, in the Center Square column where he makes this announcement, he also lists some regrets and some accomplishments. About a year ago he and I emailed a bit and I found him intelligent, interesting, and genuinely interested in getting more people involved in the social fabric of the region. I wish him all the best in his new ventures. He will continue to write Center Square and work with Citizen Voices.

Koufax Nomination

Hey hey!! This blog has been nominated for a Koufax Award, in the Best Coverage of State or Local Issues category. As you may know, Koufax Awards are for lofty blog writing. Unbelievably enough, only one other Pennsylvania blog is on the list. I'm am proud and pleased to share the honor with Gort42. Huzzah!!! As always, I am pleased just to be nominated.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Call for Mandate Definitions

Fellow blogger Matt Best at Courage of Conviction (www.courageofconviction.org)is asking people to think about answers to the question "What's a mandate?" I've been working on it but nothing cogent has come to mind yet. So help me out and leave some comments. I'll post a definition later this week.

Request from Michael Nutter

Democratic mayoral candidate is asking people to tell him what their top priority for the city should be:

“Imagine that Michael Nutter has shown up at your home, and is sitting across the kitchen table from you. You have his undivided attention.

“So, complete the following sentence: “Yo, Mike, the one thing I really need you to do is ...”

“The key to this exercise is not to list seven things, 11 things, or 32. They key is to think hard, then narrow your wish list to the single thing most important to you as you live your life in this city or region.

“Once you’ve done that, write down how you’d finish that sentence in a little essay of 150 words or so.”


Send your thoughts to the Inquirer's Great Expectations blog:

PA in the WSJ

Another slow week.

PA Politicians

Our officials are being very quiet these days.

PA Businesses

A half page ad announced the new president of Fox Chase Cancer Center (6/06)

Hershey mentioned briefly in “General Mills raises price on line of ‘Big G’ cereals,” by Julie Jargon (6/06)

Yardville National Bancorp, which has branches in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, has agreed to be acquired by PNC Financial Services Group, as mentioned in “For small banks, beware ‘takeunders’,” by Robin Sidel (6/08)

Holland Art House of West Chester is mentioned in “From Wall Street to Walker Evans,” by Laura Landro (6/08)

Mark Zandi of Economy.com in West Chester is quoted in “Economists see housing slump enduring longer,” by James R. Hagerty, Jonathan Karp and Mike Whitehouse (6/09)

Chef Marc Vetri of Vetri restaurant is profiled in “A Philadelphia chicken story,” by Raquel Pelzel (6/09)

Brief mentions: Innovative Solutions & Support (6/06)

Other PA

Widener University School of Law mentioned in “How health-law degree can open new career opportunities,” by Aja Carmichael (6/05). Widener University again mentioned in “Student-loan probe expands into possible discriminatory practices,” by Anne Marie Chaker (6/07)

Pennsylvania included in a bar graph but not mention in “As insurers flee coast, states face new threat,” by Liam Pleven (6/07)

Heads up dinosaur fans, Beltzville State Park in Lehighton is having a dino dig on Aug. 23, from “The oldest crop” by Kelly Crow (6/08)

Other Interesting Tidbits

Nothing that really caught my eye.

Friday, June 08, 2007

weekly legislative update

Here is a list of the bills that passed the Pennsylvania House and/or Senate this week. Standard caveats: list of sponsors deleted if it ran over three lines in the original format, resolutions not included.

Other weekly updates:

our accountant friends at PICPA
PA GOP Senate
PA Dem Senate
PA GOP House (daily session notes)
PA Dem House


HOUSE

SB 437 By Senators REGOLA, WAUGH, LOGAN, ROBBINS, WONDERLING, BOSCOLA, RAFFERTY, McILHINNEY, O'PAKE, BAKER, BROWNE, FONTANA, TOMLINSON, D. WHITE, EARLL and VANCE. Prior Printer's Nos. 163, 425.Printer's No. 853. An Act amending the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, further providing for the adoption of regulations.

HB 161 Printer's No. 182. An Act amending the act of November 6, 1987 (P.L.381, No.79), known as the Older Adults Protective Services Act, further providing for the definition of "exploitation."

HB 483 An Act establishing the Mine Families First Program; providing assistance to persons whose family members are trapped, injured or waiting rescue during an underground mine emergency and for duties of the Department of Environmental Protection.

HB 1169 By Representatives DERMODY, DeLUCA, MARKOSEK, PETRONE, PRESTON, LEVDANSKY, DeWEESE, McCALL, FRANKEL and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's No. 1433.Printer's No. 1535. An Act designating the bridge carrying State Route 2073 over Plum Creek between the boroughs of Oakmont and Verona in Allegheny County as the Roger F. Duffy Viaduct.

HB 1214 Prior Printer's No. 1474.Printer's No. 1660. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for organization of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

HB 1228 Printer's No. 1513. An Act redesignating the Clarion River Bridge on Main Street in Ridgway, Elk County, as Rear Admiral Paul H. Speer Bridge.

SB 218 Prior Printer's Nos. 23, 39, 981.Printer's No. 1056. An Act amending the act of December 31, 1965 (P.L.1257, No.511), known as The Local Tax Enabling Act, providing for local services taxes; repealing provisions relating to emergency and municipal services taxes and to continuation of occupational privilege taxes; and making editorial changes.

SB 760 An Act designating the section of State Route 219 that is situated in Somerset County as the Flight 93 Memorial Highway.


SENATE

SB 8 Prior Printer's Nos. 477, 896, 1089.Printer's No. 1091. An Act establishing the Medical Safety Automation Fund; and providing grants to implement medical safety automation systems.

SB 100 By Senators TOMLINSON, WONDERLING, BOSCOLA, RAFFERTY, ERICKSON, LAVALLE, FERLO, BROWNE, PILEGGI, STACK and LOGAN. Prior Printer's No. 135.Printer's No. 1037. An Act providing for the regulation of home improvement contracts and for the registration of certain contractors; prohibiting certain acts; and providing for penalties.

SB 116 By Senators COSTA, GREENLEAF, FONTANA, TARTAGLIONE, ORIE, KITCHEN, STOUT, EARLL, MUSTO, O'PAKE, C. WILLIAMS, WASHINGTON, WOZNIAK, LAVALLE, BROWNE, MELLOW, FERLO and LOGAN. Prior Printer's No. 93.Printer's No. 1038. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for selection of prospective jurors.

SB 221 Printer's No. 258. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offense of firearms not to be carried without a license and for license to carry firearm.