In late 2014 and early 2015, five current and former members of the General Assembly were charged with bribery and other charges related to their acceptance of cash “gifts” from a lobbyist. The House and Senate changed their chambers’ rules to prohibit the acceptance of cash gifts from lobbyists, but the law hasn’t changed. One of the reasons the law wasn’t changed was because banning only cash gifts could raise questions for lawmakers about the kinds of gifts they can still accept.
What kinds of gifts can they accept? Virtually anything as long as they follow the disclosure rules. Lawmakers are required to disclose gifts of more than $250 per year from any source and transportation, lodging, and hospitality worth more than $650. Over the years, those gifts have included everything from Super Bowl tickets to Turkish rugs. As long as they follow the rules, pretty much anything is fair game.
That might finally be changing. On Nov. 18, the House State Government Committee advanced House Bill 1945. Per the co-sponsorship memo:
“The legislation will prohibit public officers, public employees and candidates for public office from accepting a gift of cash in any amount. The same individuals will be prohibited from accepting any gift that has either a fair market value or an aggregate actual cost of more than $50 from any one person in a calendar year. In addition, public officers, public employees and candidates for public office will be prohibited from accepting hospitality, transportation or lodging that has either a fair market value of an aggregate actual cost of more than $500 from any one person in a calendar year…Gifts and hospitality, transportation and lodging received that attain these thresholds will be reported on the individuals’ Statement of Financial Interests along with the circumstances surrounding the receipt of the same.”
At CAP, we generally aren’t a fan of banning things or unnecessary regulations. However, given the sheer number of public officials from Pennsylvania who end up in prison, we think that enacting these changes makes a lot of sense. There is room for improvement in HB 1945, but it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.
We will be keeping our eye on the legislation and will keep you informed about its progress.
Reject Marcy’s Law Amendment — Marcy’s Law, a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, is on the ballot Nov. 5.
The amendment claims to give crime victims “rights” and is being supported by actor Kelsey Grammer and various politicians.
It’s wording is:
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?
The most obvious reason is the question as to why we need a difficult-to-change constitutional amendment when the issue could be addressed with far more flexibility via a statute.
The most significant reason is that the proposed amendment puts the accused in the category of criminal and cements the accuser as the victim. Not all accused are guilty. Not all accusers tell the truth. That’s why we have trials.
The most subtle reason is ballot questions are limited to 73 words but the actual amendment is 500 words and creates 15 new “rights”.
Buying something unseen is always unwise.
The clincher is the amendment is being backed by Bloomberg money. Is this going to be a gun grab?
Gun Rights Mean Civil Rights; Call to Action — Defenders of the Second Amendment and self defense rights are being urged to attend hearings in Harrisburg, Sept. 24-25. Being considered are “red flag” laws which will allow gun confiscation without due process; “universal background checks” which is de facto universal gun registration; and bans for AR-15s which has become the best-selling rifle in America.
It is noted that paid corporate shills wearing red shirts will be in attendance.
The hearings will be 9 a.m. to noon, Sept. 24 and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 25 before the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee in Capitol’s North Office Building, Hearing Room 1.
Pennsylvania’s annual budget process is ripe with problems. Members of the General Assembly are typically given a day to review hundreds of pages of proposed spending, and accounting gimmicks hide the size of spending increases. One of the tricks used to disguise spending is the use of “special funds.” Special Funds frequently become part of the shadow budget with minimal accountability over the spending. One bill gaining traction is the House would add to the problem. HB1410 purports to address a vacated military base that has polluted the water system for the surrounding area.
HB 1410 establishes a Keystone Opportunity Zone around the “qualified former Military Installation.” It allows the municipality to establish a “qualified authority” to fund military installation remediation. The legislation provides a formula to collect a percentage of taxes (CNI, Sales & Use, Personal Income Tax, Realty Transfer Tax, & Local Taxes,) to fund the authority.
HB 1410 directs the State Treasurer to create a new Special Fund known as the Military Installation Remediation Fund to collect monies. Note that the Commonwealth has 36 environment-related special funds. Specifically, Pennsylvania has a safe drinking water special fund, an industrial sites cleanup fund, and a hazardous sites cleanup fund. Any or all of those funds could be utilized for a remediation project such as this if authorizing legislation was passed to allow qualified former military installation projects to be eligible for the monies in these various special funds.
Finally, HB 1410 directing the State Treasurer to establish restricted accounts within the special fund for each qualified former military installation. The funding can be used for funding transportation infrastructure, economic development costs, payment of debt service for construction, infrastructure, site preparation, etc. In other words, it can become a slush fund for pet projects. Raising additional concerns is the provision that allows the State Representative and Senator in that municipality, or an adjacent one, to serve as a board member of the established authority. The Representative who introduced the legislation, Todd Stephens, just so happens to meet the qualifications to sit on the board.
HB 1410 addresses a problem with questionable methods, and grants the board, and potentially select members of the General Assembly, overly broad discretion in what projects to fund. It runs the risk of becoming one more shadow budget item.
Pennsylvania Presidential Popular Vote Bill Pushed By Extremist Dems— SB 270 was introduced, yesterday, July 9, to give Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to the popular vote winner for President
The bill compels Pennsylvania to join The Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote plan being pushed by wannabe dictators.
The sponsors are extremist Democrats Daylin Leach (17), Steven Santarsiero (10), Wayne Fontana (42), Judith Schwank (11), Vincent Hughes (7) and Andrew Dinniman (19).
The Electoral College was largely devised by liberty-loving Founding Father Alexander Hamilton who considered it a bulwark against “cabal, intrigue, and corruption.”
He was absolutely right. How many Americans are convinced in their hearts that massive vote fraud occurs in Democrat controlled big cities and college campuses? Probably about half. Think about it. Really, why the objection to a citizenship question on the census? Why the fight to keep illegals from being deported?
A close popular vote would never be accepted by the losing side.
Only fools or despots want to get rid of the Electoral College.
By the way, Hillary Clinton did not win the majority of the popular vote in 2016. Only a true fool can think 48.2 percent is a majority. Since 1992, only George W. Bush in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, got more than 50 percent of the vote. Only Obama in 2008 got more than 52 percent.
Hat tip Bobby Lawrence
Pennsylvania Presidential Popular Vote Bill Pushed By Extremist Dems
On April 29, 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released the latest version of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Climate Action Plan, announcing that Pennsylvania would join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 24 states committed to implementing policies that support the Paris Agreement — an international collaboration from which the U.S. has withdrawn.
According to the governor, “states like Pennsylvania must take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect our communities, economies, infrastructures, and environments from the risks of a warming climate.”
The plan’s primary objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 80% by 2050 in the Keystone State to reduce the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and keep future increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
Described in the 231-page plan are more than 100 actions intended to reduce GHG emissions, 15 of which are analyzed in detail. Each action involves increased taxation, increased regulation, increased spending or restrictions on citizens’ freedoms.
Some very relevant questions should be answered by the governor and the PA DEP concerning this far-reaching plan that will necessarily have significant negative impacts on the Commonwealth’s citizens and businesses:
Once implemented, what effect would this have on global temperature?
Are the justifications listed in the proposal supported by the science, facts and data?
What costs and negative effects are associated with this plan and are they offset by the alleged benefits?
The overarching goal of the proposal is to lower the Earth’s temperature by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania. However, nowhere does this hefty document estimate a reduction of temperature.
To obtain an estimate, we used the MAGICC simulator (Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change) that was developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research under funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The model estimates how much temperature rise would be averted globally by various reductions of CO2 for the United States.
Calculations using this (Figure 1) assume an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions, a climate sensitivity of 2.0 and the latest estimate of Pennsylvania’s share of U.S. emissions (4.2%) to reveal the following theoretical reductions:
0.0023oF by 2050
0.0061oF by 2100
This extremely small effect should be a very important component in the discussions on whether to impose the significant burdens of the Climate Action Plan on the state and its citizens.
Listed on page 14 of the plan is a section titled “Why Does Pennsylvania Need a Climate Action Plan?” It lays out justifications for why the plan is needed, listing 10 climate impacts that were “already occurring and put Pennsylvanians and local industries at risk.” Many of the impacts it described as occurring are, in fact, not happening and in some cases are improving the state’s ecosystems.
We will look at only a few of the most egregious examples of misinformation due to space restrictions, but these should serve to illustrate that this document is more of a political tool than science-based justification for action. More frequent extreme weather events including drought
Increased demand for energy, particularly during warmer summer months
There is no mention of the reduced energy demand during the winter months.
Most of what was listed as justification for implementation of this far-reaching plan were projections of what may or may not occur many decades in the future. These projections are based on climate models that over-predict warming by 2.5 to 3 times too much. It is important to separate speculation of what may occur in the future based on failed climate models from the actual events that can be empirically observed.
Recommended Strategies: The Plan identified 15 actions that were most impactful for reducing GHG emissions and would require increased taxation, spending and government control, some of which are listed below. In the Energy sector, the Plan would:
Invest in building-scale solar
Incentivize renewable energy
Maintain current nuclear generation levels (bailouts for Exelon)
Tighten regulations on methane emissions
Create a Cap & Trade program for electricity sector carbon emissions
Reduce personal vehicle mileage (no more trips to Home Depot)
Incentivize increased electric vehicle use
Increase use of public transportation
Please note the repeated use of the terms “invest” and “incentivize” as code for spending more taxpayer dollars. Additionally, the Cap & Trade program that is proposed will be a huge revenue generation scheme that would draw large sums of money into Harrisburg for redistribution to favored programs. Pennsylvania’s citizens would not only be burdened by new direct taxation, but additional costs of regulation and higher energy costs would be passed on to customers. While the plan offers no estimates of costs, they surely would run into the millions if not billions of dollars.
According to the Plan itself, the 15 action items would only reduce the state’s GHG emissions by 21%, far less than the 80% targeted. In order to reach the higher targeted goals, ever more onerous and economically crippling actions would be required.
Conclusion Pennsylvania’s Climate Action Plan will impose huge costs on the Commonwealth’s citizens and businesses while burdening them with additional levels of restrictions and regulations. Companies will pass these higher costs on to consumers or absorb the costs, which will deter hiring and new investment. A rise in prices means that consumers will buy less, and companies will drop employees, close entirely, or move to other states where the cost of doing business is lower. The consequence means fewer opportunities for Pennsylvania’s workers, less economic growth, lower incomes, and higher unemployment.
The justifications for imposing this plan are flawed, the costs and regulations are economically crippling, and the result is a temperature reduction so low that it is indistinguishable from zero.
In short, the plan would infringe on the freedoms of people and make them significantly poorer. This plan should be opposed vehemently by the GOP-led House and Senate.
GOP Pushing Gun Grab In Pa. — Virtue-Signaling Philly Suburban Republicans — Delco’s Tom Killion (R-9) in the Senate and Montco’s Todd Stephens (R-151) — have introduced bills that would arguably allow permanent loss of gun rights on the basis of mere allegations.
The bills SB 90 and HB 1075 would amend Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes creating the category of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO).
An ERPO would be a court order that would prohibit a person from having in the person’s possession or control, purchasing or receiving or attempting to purchase or receive, a firearm, based upon a finding that the person presents a risk of suicide or of causing the death of, or serious bodily injury to, another person.
Fine. So how does one get subject to such a thing?
Upon the word of a law enforcement officer or a family or household member. They tell a district judge that you considered suicide or were cruel to a dog or made a threat and you lose your rights, whether you did such a thing or not.
You really think a district judge is going to say no?
There is a duration limit to the ERPO — from three months to a year — but as Joshua Prince points out the ERPO puts you in a federal database and that makes you subject to the feds which is in effect a life-long ban.
Here’s is the wording of the law: Entry into database.–Upon receipt of an extreme risk protection order or an order renewing, vacating or terminating an extreme risk protection order, the Pennsylvania State Police shall cause the order to be entered into the appropriate database so that notice of the order is provided through the Pennsylvania Instant Check System and the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
How about the termination part?
At a termination hearing, the respondent seeking termination of the order shall have the burden of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent does not present a risk of suicide or of causing the death of, or serious bodily injury to, another person
So much for presumption of innocence.
We have some sympathy — or at least we would if we didn’t think they were pandering virtue-signalers — for those trying to deal with loons having access to guns.
We remember Sylvia Seegrist. We remember her mom desperately trying to get her help — and off the street.
The thing with Sylvia, though, is that she committed chargeable crimes such as assault, terroristic threats and vandalism before her murder spree but escaped prosecution due to the bizarre mental health theories of the time.
If ERPOs were based on the commission of crime for which one is charged as opposed to someone’s word, we’d back the concept.
By the way, most of the recent mass shooters could have been or had been charged with crimes before their killings that should have curtailed their access to guns. Nickolas Cruz had had numerous contacts with police, Devin Patrick Kelley had a record of domestic violence, Dylan Roof had drug and trespassing arrests etc.
Another point, gun rights are as important as voting rights. Some people should not be allowed to have a gun. These same people should not be allowed to vote.
Pennsylvania Welfare Reform Bills Before Wolf — We got the below email, yesterday, from Nathan Benefield at Commonwealth Foundation:
Great news! Late last night (Oct. 17), the General Assembly sent two game-changing welfare reform bills to Governor Wolf’s desk! The Senate passed Rep. Matt Dowling’s HB 2138 (30-19) and the House passed Sen. Mike Regan’s SB 6 (124-62). Thank you to the representatives and senators that voted for this legislation! HB 2138 will help healthy, childless adults enrolled in Medicaid move from dependency to self-sufficiency through work or volunteer requirements. Similar reforms to food stamp programs in Kansas and Maine had incredible results: Beneficiaries saw their incomes more than double. Exactly one year before this vote, we published a groundbreaking report on work requirements by our welfare policy expert, Elizabeth Stelle. This research was cited countless times by lawmakers supporting the bill, and we are proud that the work we’ve put in this past year—and long before—can help pave a path to prosperity for thousands of our fellow Pennsylvanians. The second bill, SB 6, protects the integrity of the welfare system by addressing waste and abuse. SB 6 limits benefits for drug felons and non-compliant sex offenders, and increases penalties for welfare fraud, amongst other reforms. If Gov. Wolf wants to help hundreds of thousands of able-bodied Pennsylvanians overcome generational poverty and protect the welfare system for those who need it most, he should sign these bills immediately. We’re so glad to have your support as we continue advocating for reforms that offer everyone the opportunity for independence.
When Commonwealth Foundation celebrates we all should. We are not holding our breath, though, about Wolf signing those bills.
On Tuesday (April 17) the Pennsylvania House passed HB 2138 with bipartisan support. This legislation would make important changes to Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance (MA) program. Welfare programs too often measure their success by the number of people enrolled; not how many people achieve independence. HB 2138 reforms the MA program by adding work requirements for able-bodied adults. Work requirements should be a cornerstone of any welfare reform proposal. According to the sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Matt Dowling, 51 percent of able-bodied MA recipients do not work.
At one-time MA was truly limited to the neediest, but that changed with Obamacare. Now nearly 20 percent of the US population are enrolled in MA plans. By adding work, job search, and training requirements, Rep. Dowling is ensuring that people who can work are encouraged to attain independence. It is worth noting that HB 2138 exempts several groups of people from the work search requirements. The exemptions include some of the most vulnerable members of society like pregnant women, people who are in a mental institution, children and senior citizens.
Adding work requirements does increase administrative costs for the state. However, those costs will be more than offset by the savings generated by people who are able to move off of MA. There are thousands of empty skilled labor and manufacturing jobs across the state, helping people prepare for that work and off of public assistance is a win for everyone.
A simmering issue is heating up in Pennsylvania’s Gubernatorial Primary to be decided on May 15. Confusing campaign ads and ambiguous language are hiding the truth causing Pennsylvania to appear to be another corrupt swamp in need of draining!
The emerging battle has divided Conservatives and is challenging the paradigm of the Republican Party, turning them against the PA GOP itself!
Let’s simplify the situation for voters.
Current PA Governor, (D) Tom Wolf will be challenged in November by one of three Republican primary candidates: Laura Ellsworth, Paul Mango, or State Senator Scott Wagner.
The divisive issue has to do with the “Bathroom Bill” otherwise known as the PA Fairness Act. Though the “Fairness Act” has a pleasant ring to it, the controversy lies within the ambiguous wording of proposed Senate Bill 974, which seeks to add “gender identity & expression and sexual orientation” to Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act.
The confusion arises because the language in the Bathroom Bill doesn’t actually include the word “bathroom” but instead says “Public Accommodations.”
The new law would state:
State law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity, age, religion, and handicap, among other characteristics, in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Public accommodations are places that provide goods and services such as restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, and public schools.
If sexual orientation and gender identity were added to the anti-discrimination law, which is co-sponsored by Scott Wagner in SB 974, then public accommodations could NOT exclude transgender people from the restrooms that correspond to their gender identity!
What does that mean to your children, their schools and their safety?
Biological males and females will have the right to access bathrooms, locker rooms and showers of the opposite sex!
Biological boys who believe they have a girl’s brain, and are trapped in a boy’s body, will be allowed full access to all girl’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.
Biological girls who believe they have a boy’s brain, and are trapped in a boy’s body, will be allowed access to all boy’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.
Men who “feel” like women will be permitted to waltz into the women’s locker rooms of the YMCA where my daughters are changing for their swim classes.
My unwillingness to share my locker rooms with men isn’t a matter of mere discomfort. It’s a matter of safety.
Women don’t fear transgenders in the spaces; they fear men in their spaces. How can we distinguish between a transwoman and a predator until it’s too late?
Ironically, women’s shelters, places often sought to escape dangerous men, would be forced to admit men who “feel” like women. According to research published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as many as 57 percent of the women in shelters report domestic violence as the primary cause of their homelessness. What does it look like when those men are allowed to claim female “gender identity” and follow them in?
Paul Mango, vows to veto any “bathroom bill” legislation that violates privacy for bathrooms and public facilities, ensuring women & children our privacy, safety and protection of religious liberties.
True Conservatives in Pennsylvania plan to elect Paul Mango.