Last week I was surprised to have two gentlemen from the Azerbaijan Embassy visit my office and ask to meet with me.
The month started off, thanks to a faithful friend who invites me yearly, with my attending the Greater Pittsburgh Community Leaders Prayer Breakfast on March 1.
On February 5, 2013, the Governor addressed the Legislature to present his annual budget. Privatizing the state stores, pension reform and transportation funding were some of the issues he mentioned during his address. As proposed by the Governor, each of these action items would require legislation, in addition to the appropriations bill, in order to be enacted.
On January 1, 2013, I was sworn into my eighth term of service in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. I am reminded of the first time I raised my hand and took the oath to defend the Constitution at the age of 17 when I joined the U.S. Army. Many veterans still embrace their original oath. I believe that it is important for every patriotic American to embrace the duty of defending our Constitution.
The “fiscal cliff” has been a focal point for news across the nation, as Obama plays chicken with Congress, placing the fruit of American taxpayers’ labor at risk. The Congress representing the people in this duel with other people’s money is not the one we elected in November, but rather the lame duck Congress.
The ACLU and their leftist allies were defeated in their first attempt to stop our new voter photo ID law. As expected, they filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the court is scheduled to hear oral arguments beginning September 13, 2012.
Across the Commonwealth, property tax increases loom as many school boards work to thwart allowing taxpayers to vote on tax hike decisions.
This week was the House of Representatives’ last week of voting session for the first quarter of 2012. I left home bright and early Monday morning to head for the State Capitol. During the drive, I utilized my hands-free cell phone technology to contact staff and return phone calls to a local school superintendent and a Philadelphia reporter for an interview.
On February 7, I rose from my seat on the House floor and turned toward the center aisle to welcome members of the State Senate as they entered the House chamber for a joint session of the General Assembly. As they passed, I shook many hands and exchanged greetings with many of the senators. During our exchanges, I learned that the Senate Republicans were counting votes to gauge the support for my voter identification legislation.
Earlier this month, I sent a letter to the Governor to request, if possible under state law, that his administration reject my local school district’s request for a waiver to allow them to increase property taxes above the state calculated index without voter approval. I have received a lot of feedback from constituents in reaction to this most recent tax increase push by the tax-and-spend school board members. It is a problem in school districts across the Commonwealth.
A reality of individual job performance that I experienced in the private sector was the thought of “achievements made today and yesterday are appreciated, but what are you going to do to earn your paycheck tomorrow?” I use that philosophy through the demands I place on our government as I represent and serve you in Harrisburg. At our recent weekly district staff meeting, I reviewed our 2011 accomplishments with my staff and thanked them for their contributions in achieving those objectives. An important part of our meeting included discussions to plan for our 2012 legislative objectives.
“Read my lips: no new taxes,” is a historic quote from a politician who broke his word and then paid the price as he was defeated the following election. A recent debate in Harrisburg brings this 1980’s “no new taxes” quote to mind. The debate was on the Marcellus Shale natural gas opportunities that we are blessed with here in Pennsylvania. For me, the Marcellus Shale means job creation, lower energy prices and energy independence. For many other elected officials, it means new taxing opportunities to enable them to control spending of the new wealth they had nothing to do with actually creating.