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The holiday season is always a good time to reflect upon the past year, especially when national events overshadow what is happening in our own back yard.  This email highlights some of the reasons why we are trying to turn PA Blue, and summarizes upon the results of our efforts (particularly the May and November entries).  Hope you find it useful.

January, 2017:

PA House Speaker Mike Turzai introduces HB 250, which would diminish Pennsylvania’s revenues by $75 million in tax credits for corporations making contributions under the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program.  Beneficiaries of these programs can use the money for private school scholarships, regardless of religious bias or academic rigor.

February, 2017: 

Senate passes SB 3, which limits abortions to cases of medical necessity after 20 weeks of pregnancy, rather than the current 24-week ceiling.

Senate passes a SB 166, preventing a union’s political deductions from the paychecks of civil servants and educators.  Senate passes SB 241, which would negate Philadelphia’s recent law prohibiting employers from asking applicants their salary history, a practice which negatively impacts women in the workforce.

State Senate Education Committee chair John Eichelberger (Rep. Blair), told a town meeting in his district that minority students in urban schools – particularly in Philadelphia – should be diverted from academic to vocational tracks since the former track is too much of a struggle for them.  In defending this remark, he claimed that he was actually speaking about the quality of the educational system – not the students’ race.  Yet Philadelphia is under State control. In other words, Senator Eichelberger is criticizing a School system that he had helped to install.  And while Senator Eichelberger claims that contributing State money to Philadelphia (as stipulated by a fair funding formula) would be a waste of money, there are 19 school districts within his legislative district that receive at least $1000 per student over the funding formula.  Seven districts actually receive over $3000 per student.

M.K. Keller (Rep., Cumberland and Blair) introduces HB 671, which would subject municipalities to lawsuits for enacting their own gun control legislation.

PA House Speaker Mike Turzai introduces HB 700 which would add 3000 new charter seats to the Philadelphia School District per year.  PSD Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson has targeted charters as the primary reason for the school district’s financial distress, with an expected shortfall of over $900 million by 2022.

March, 2017:

PA Representative Todd Stephens (Rep. District 151) introduced HB 741,which mandates a minimum prison sentence of two years for individuals with as little as two grams of a controlled substance.

According to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the five-county area represents 39% of the State’s general fund revenues, yet very little of that money makes its way back into the region, as evidenced by the number of underfunded school districts within our region.

April, 2017: 

Scott Wagner, Republican State Senator from York, in a radio interview, claimed that two of the main reasons for global warming were: (1) that every year the earth moves closer to the sun; and (2) that there are more human beings than ever, and their warm bodies generate heat.

May, 2017

Cross-filing in most municipalities allows Republicans and Democrats to run on each others’  ballots during primaries.  Republicans have often been the beneficiaries of this arrangement.   Due to our efforts this year, however, Democrats actually won the Democratic primaries in the races where we campaigned.

But there is also more good news.  Seven of the eight PA House districts where different Turn PA Blue groups had been concentrating their efforts, registered more Democrats than Republicans voting at the polls.  For an off-year primary, this is something quite new in collar county politics.

June, 2017

The House passes HB 1071, sponsored by Frank A. Farry, (R, #142, Bucks County), which would prevent municipalities from charging a fee for plastic bags.

Don White, Republican State Senator from Indiana County, introduces Senate Bill 383 that would allow teachers trained in the use of firearms to carry concealed weapons in schools during normal hours of operation, in the event of being attacked.

August, 2018: At the Pittston tomato festival in Luzerne county, Senator ScottWagner (Rep., York), was filmed, calling George Soros a “Hungarian Jew” who “made a fortune” but has a “hatred for America.”

July – October, 2017

The Budget: The legislature passes a spending bill by the end of June, but the Republican speaker Mike Turzai, sends House members on a six week vacation without fulfilling their constitutional duty to balance the budget.  This results in additional State borrowing which sends Pennsylvania’s Moody’s and S&P status into junk bond territory.  This does not stop Republicans from projecting their culpability onto others.  Jim Christiana, a Republican PA House member from Beaver County, has actually taken this issue one step further by suing the Democratic Governor, Treasurer, and Auditor for fiscal mis-management for borrowing money to meet the State’s financial obligations.  In October, a revenue plan is approved, by authorizing the expansion of casinos, and the additional borrowing of $1.25 billion.

November, 2017

It had been 32 years since a county-wide seat was won by Democrats inBucks County.  On November 7, Democrats win 4 out of 5 of them.  A similar scenario takes place in Delaware County where Democrats will hold Council seats for the first time in 30 years.  County row office seats went to Dems.   But the biggest news is that Democrats dominate the row office races inChester County, officially ending the Republican stanglehold on this county since the time that Republicans became a party here.  In Montgomery County, even in the Republican strongholds of the County, the political spectrum of many of the municipal and school board elections tilt blue.

THAT’S IT FOR NOW!!!!!!  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  LET’S GET READY TO TURN PA BLUE IN 2018!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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