Shuster Withdraws FAA Amendment Opposed by Sully Sullenberger

By Frank Filkosky, Contributing Writer

Rep. Bill Shuster has withdrawn his amendment that aimed to, “improve the rule-making process at the FAA” [Federal Aviation Administration], reports Aviation Today.  The amendment had drawn high-profile opposition from hero pilot Captain Sully Sullenberger.

An instant public icon after saving the lives of 155 people in the “miracle on the Hudson” two years ago, Sullenberger openly criticized Shuster’s proposed Amendment saying, “I think it represents a giant step backward in terms of aviation safety.”

Sullenberger appears to have won the day, as Shuster cited the delay his amendment would cause the FAA reauthorization bill in the House – delay resulting from the fact that the amendment was attracting such opposition. Shuster did not mention Sullenberger in his statement.

“It is apparent that the inclusion of my amendment in the FAA bill may slow down conference negotiations and delay the adoption of this critical legislation,” said Shuster.

Shuster said previously that his amendment aimed to streamline regulations, allowing for money to be saved without sacrificing any safety regulations.

Marcellus Impact Fee: Grover Norquist v. Joe Scarnati

By Jared Edgerton, Contributing Writer

The Marcellus shale impact fee debate just got a little more complicated.

Yesterday Grover Norquist, head of the Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to several Pennsylvanian lawmakers, specifically Senator Mary Jo White and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. In the letter, Norquist decreed that the proposed drilling impact fee is indeed a tax, warning that “a vote in favor of Senate Bill 1100 also represents a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”

Currently four State Senators, thirty State Representatives, and Governor Corbett have signed Norquist’s pledge to never raise taxes (a complete list of the members who have signed is below). The list includes five Democrats, including staunch severance tax supporter State Rep. Bud George. Neither White nor Scarnati have signed the pledge.

In the letter Norquist told White, whose committee would need to approve the impact fee, that in November Pennsylvanian voters chose to rectify “the state’s overspending problem,” and that the impact fee would only contribute “money for pet projects,” going as far to calling it a “slush fund.”

Scarnati introduced the impact fee in April as a $10,000 base fee per well that would generate additional revenue based on gas prices. Estimations put the impact fee at generating $76 million this year, $103 million in 2012 and $127 million in 2013. His proposal was tepidly accepted by some environmental groups, but has been generally criticized by others that say his plan falls short of holding Marcellus Shale accountable.

The crux of the environmentalist argument was the impact fee did not properly assess the environmental damages and that additional revenue generated by a stringent tax could offset slashes to education and human services in the budget and “address other state-wide environmental needs.”

Josh McNeil, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of PA, called Scarnati’s plan “written for natural gas drillers.” And Kristy Chrostoff, an environmental activist, opined that Pennsylvanian children would not have “full-day of kindergarten…because gas companies and other corporations are not paying a fair share of taxes.”

Norquist’s letter has reignited these frustrations. A blog post by Pennsylvanian environmental group PennFuture asks, “Who elected Grover Norquist to run Pennsylvania?

The blog also reminded Pennsylvanians of how they are still paying for their past experiences with the “old coal, steel, railroad and timber corporations,” citing that “70 percent of Pennsylvania voters and taxpayers favor the enactment of a tax on the gas drillers.”

Scarnati has also fired back in a letter to Norquist providing four reasons the impact fee is not a tax:

1) Not one penny of the impact fee is deposited into the General Fund.
2) The fee is entirely dedicated to local and statewide impacts associated directly or indirectly with gas drilling.
3) The impact fee is modeled after the municipal waste fee currently set forth in Pennsylvania law.
4) The fee is a fixed amount per well

In the letter Scarnati also disputed Norquist claim that the generated revenue would be a “slush fund” and used for “pet projects.” Scarnati wrote that this claim is simply inaccurate and guaranteed the money from the impact fee will be used for “local roads and bridges, conservation clean-up projects, emergency preparedness, watershed protection, dam safety projects and plugging abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells.

Scarnati is hoping to revise the budget, passed by the House on Tuesday, to include the impact fee.

Time will tell how much of an impact Norquist has on the impact fee. The only thing certain is that the final judge and jury in this dispute is Tom Corbett.

Nicole Houck contributed to this report.

PA signatories of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge:

4 Senators of 50
Lisa Boscola (D-18)
John H. Eichelberger (R-30)
Mike Folmer (R-48)
Jane Orie (R-40)

30 House members of 203
Stephen Barrar (R-160)
Kerry Benninghoff (R-171)
Stephen Bloom (R-199)
Scott W. Boyd (R-43)
Jim Cox (R-129)
Thomas C. Creighton (R-37)
George Dunbar (R-56)
Brian Ellis (R-11)
Joe Emrick (R-137)
Camille George (D-74)
Mark M. Gillen (R-128)
Ted Harhai (D-58)
Susan C. Helm (R-104)
Rob Kauffman (R-89)
Fred Keller (R-85)
Tim Krieger (R-57)
David M. Maloney (R-130)
Jim Marshall (R-14)
Daryl Metcalfe (R-12)
Gerald J. Mullery (D-119)
Scott Perry (R-92)
Joseph A. Petrarca (D-55)
Jeff Pyle (R-60)
Dave Reed (R-62)
Brad Roae (R-6)
Todd A. Rock (R-90)
Mario M. Scavello (R-176)
Justin Simmons (R-131)
Rosemarie Swanger (R-102)
Katherine McDowell Watson (R-144)

PoliticsPA’s Chiefs of Staff Spotlight: Bill Tighe

At PoliticsPA, we love staffers as much as elected officials. That’s why we’re starting our newest feature, Chief of Staff Spotlight. Each week, we’ll introduce you to one of the people who make the PA delegation possible.

We’ve chosen at random, and this week we present Bill Tighe, Chief of Staff for Rep. Tom Marino (R-10).

Background

1. What’s your name?
Bill Tighe

2. Who is your boss?
Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10)

3. What is your birthday?
December 3, 1977

4. Where did you grow up?
Clarks Summit (Newton Township), Lackawanna County

5. Where did you go to college and what was your major?
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA – BA, International Relations
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA – Master of Public Policy

6. Are you married? Dating? Single? (optional)
Married to Erica Tighe. Met on Capitol Hill, she worked for Rep. Felix Grucci of NY.

7. Do you have any kids? If so, how old and what are their names? (optional)
Three boys; Will (4), Wes (2), and Casey (6 months)

Professional

1. What was your first political job?

I had to get community service hours for my Catholic confirmation so I volunteered in the office of State Rep. Frank Serafini. I answered phones and greeted constituents but my main responsibility was vacuuming the floor, dusting, and washing windows!

2. What was your biggest break in politics?

Getting my first job on Capitol Hill as a Staff Assistant to Rep. George Gekas. And then being hired by Rep. Jim Gerlach in 2003 when I REALLY needed a job.

3. How long have you worked with your boss?

Since January 3, 2011

4. What was your position when you first started in the office?

CoS

5. What’s the worst job outside of politics you have ever had?

Can’t think of one I didn’t like. I’ve done farm work, I worked in a corporate mail room, and in a metal fabrication shop. And yes, there have been days on Capitol Hill when I wished I was bailing hay or standing at a punch press.

Personal

1. What has been your proudest single accomplishment/achievement since working on Capitol Hill?

Becoming a Chief of Staff

2. What is your favorite PA sports team?

(Except for Bucknell teams) None, I was born a contrarian.

3. Where and what do you eat lunch on most days?

No breakfast, no lunch. Generally coffee and Diet Pepsi during the day.

4. Favorite “political” movie?

Thank You for Smoking

5. Blackberry or I-Phone?

Both

6. What political figure do you most admire (excluding your boss), and a sentence or two why?

I genuinely have a lot of respect for anyone who has the guts to put their name on a yard sign. My former boss, Rep. Jim Gerlach, is someone I do really admire. He works hard and plays to win. I don’t think he gets enough respect for the seriousness with which he approaches his work and not enough people understand how challenging the 6th District has been. It’s the single most competitive Congressional district in the nation and no other Republican could have won in that district in 2004, 2006, 2008, or 2010.

7. What makes a Chief of Staff “good” and why?

A good Chief of Staff has to have a little bit of everything. Obviously, the best Chiefs of Staff understand the legislative process and the issues important to the Member and possess good political instincts.

Maybe the most important intangible quality is the ability to listen and ask the right questions. A good Chief of Staff needs to listen and ask questions to fully understand a Member’s goals and concerns. A Chief of Staff also has listen to the advice of the staff and make time to consider their thoughts. Failure to do this wastes good talent and discourages a staff from being creative. A Chief of Staff also has to be able to hear the concerns of constituents. A good Chief of Staff understands that fielding constituent calls can be the most valuable thing you do in a day.

Ultimately, a Chief of Staff has to remember whose name is on the door, be conscious of how much the Member and his family sacrifices to serve, and never take yourself too seriously!

5/26 Morning Buzz

PoliticsPA is starting a new feature today. We are going to spotlight a different Chief of Staff each week. Today, we start with Rep. Marino’s Chief of Staff, Bill Tighe.

Rep. Altmire & Rep. Holden took a trip to the desert, where they participated in a tour of the US-Mexico border sponsored by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords office.

Check out our take on the state budget passed through the state house on the strength of the GOP majority.

Finally, the talk in Washington this week has been the Middle East. A lot of that talk came from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference which wrapped up on Tuesday. We have Sen. Toomey and Sen. Casey’s speeches from the conference covered.

PoliticsPA Reports

PoliticsPA’s Chief of Staff Spotlight: Bill Tigthe
Each week of our newest feature, Chief of Staff Spotlight, we’ll introduce you to one of the people who make the PA delegation possible. We present Bill Tighe, Chief of Staff for Rep. Tom Marino (R-10).

Altmire & Holden Get The Giffords Tour Of The US/Mexico Border
The office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords hosted two of Pennsylvania’s own Blue Dog Democrats this weekend. Reps. Jason Altmire and Tim Holden are well known for their moderate stances on a variety of issues – including, it turns out – border security.

Pa. House Passes Budget Solely on GOP Votes
With all but two GOP votes and no Dems, the PA House last night passed a $27.3 billion budget that taxes at the same level, gives more to education and less to the Department of Public Welfare.

Casey & Toomey Hit The Right Notes At AIPAC
Casey and Toomey delivered crowd-pleasing speeches to the annual conference of America’s most powerful pro-Israel lobby on Tuesday, as each man sought to distance himself from President Obama’s remarks last Thursday.

Philadelphia (and Suburbs)

WHYY Newsworks: Flags To Fly At Half-Staff Today For Fallen Soldier in Afghanistan
Pennsylvania Ave.: Toomey: Most Conservative
AP: Rep. Barletta Bans Public From Recording Town Hall Meetings
WHYY Newsworks: EPA Urged To Push Forward With Mercury Regulation
Pennsylvania Ave.: Rep. Gerlach’s Fish Tank Saves The Day
WHYY Newsworks: Former Pa. DEP Secretary Endorses Patrick Murphy for Attorney General WHYY Newsworks: Fumo Case Returns To Court As Both Sides Seek New Sentencing
Inquirer: Fumo Judge May Have Erred
Philly Weekly: Commission Weighs Gas Drilling in the Delaware River – Philly’s Source of Drinking Water
The Intelligencer: Montco Election Officials Disciplined
WHYY Newsworks: Is GOP Race For Mayor Finally Over?
PhillyClout: Council Still Unsure How To Handle School’s $$$ Request
Philly Weekly: City Leaders Seek Alternative Solutions To Close School District’s Deficit
PhillyClout: Schools Supporters Flood Council To Lobby For Support
Philly Weekly: Mayor Nutter Faces A Stiff Crowd To End DROP
WHYY Newsworks: Philadelphia City Council Says Nutter Doesn’t Have Votes To End DROP
PhillyClout: Councilman O’Neill Says He Doesn’t Plan On Enrolling In DROP
WHYY Newsworks: Poll Finds More than 70% Of Philly Voters Support Paid Sick Days
Inquirer: Ex-PHA Chief’s Townhouse On The Market
Bucks Local News: Bucks County lawmakers react to House passage of state budget
Bucks Local News: Gov. Corbett prepared to make cuts
Montgomery Media: State Rep. Tom Murt votes to approve House budget

Pittsburgh and Southwest

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Senate Votes Down Toomey budget plan.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: State likely to back out on hospital’s accord.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: State Rep. to PA utilities: Buy more Solar Energy.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Woman files suit over Marcellus wastewater.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Steel Valley votes to furlough 41 employees.
PATCH: Area lawmakers react to house passing the state budget

Lehigh Valley

Express: Hanna Votes ‘No,’ Calls GOP Budget Plan ‘Unfair’ and ‘Irresponsible’
Express: The Final Countdown: With Recount Finished, Race for Prothonotary Heads to November
Lehigh Valley Live: Northampton County’s Gov. Wolf Building in Easton Shut by Power Problems
Lehigh Valley Live: Easton Council Committee Reviews Recycling Rewards Proposal
Lehigh Valley Live: Northampton County Officials Heading to Chicago to research Prison Boot Camp Idea
Pocono Record: PA House GOP Passes Budget Over Objections
Pocono Record: Barletta Bans Public From Recording Town Hall Meetings
Reading Eagle: Don Spatz: Council Complains but Takes No Action
Republican Herald: Schuylkill County Enjoins Sale of Bath Salts
WFMZ: Former Soviet President to Speak at Local College
WFMZ: Same-Sex Partners Likely to be Allowed Benefits in Easton Next Year
WFMZ: Local DA Files Lawsuit to Ban Sales of Bath Salts

NEPA

The Times Leader: Pasonick pleads guilty to bribe
The Times Leader: Residents unhappy with EPA answers
The Times Leader: Luzerne County officials: Baseball franchise work $18 million
The Citizens Voice: Hanover Area cuts turn personnel
The Citizens Voice: Meals to remain exempt from Luzerne County’s 5 percent hotel tax
The Citizens Voice: Gas royalty owners lament ‘gutted’ bill
The Standard Speaker: $5.6M deal to address city debt
The Standard Speaker: Barletta, Marino : Don’t record
The Standard Speaker: Six Hazleton Area administrators retiring
Times News: Tamaqua block grant program facing drastic loss in funding

South Central

AP: Pa. House Democrats Fail To Force Consideration Of Natural Gas Drilling Tax
Patriot-News: Former Pa. Lawmaker Mike Veon’s 2nd Corruption Trial Postponed Until 2012
Patriot-News: Lawmakers at odds over bill to revise benefits for jobless
Patriot-News: Legislation Would Require Voter Approval Of School Property Tax Increases Over Inflation Rate
Patriot-News: Silver Spring Township Couple Sues Cumberland County, Claiming Prosecution In Sex Case Was Unjustified

North by Northwest

Erie Times-News: Millcreek legislator invited to Canada to discuss wind industry development
Erie Times-News: Ruling awaited in Erie cyber-spying lawsuit
Observer-Reporter: Rep. Critz to hold town hall
Beaver County Times: Democrats fail to force considerations of gas tax
Beaver County Times: US Court dubious of ex-PA. Sen. Fumo Sentence
Beaver County Times: PA labor board dismisses police union complaint

Opinions

John Baer, Inquirer/Daily News: GOP Presidential Hopefuls…An Obama Plot?
Daily Times: Toomey’s attitude more politics than economics
Marc Lamont Hill, Daily News: Black pols vs. pols who are black
Philly Weekly: Megan’s Flaw: When A Sexual Predator Is Not One In The Eyes Of The Law
Baer Growls: The Rapture Budget
Bucks County Courier Times, Editorial: Conflict of Interest
Karen Heller, Inquirer: The City Council Race Is On Up In ‘God’s Country’
Reading Eagle: Superintendents’ Forum: History Shows Decline in State Funding for Public Schools, Dr. Paul Eaken
Young Philly Politics: Is the School District of Philadelphia Paddling Its Books on Central Office Administration?
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “Bibi” votes Republican

Altmire and Holden get the Giffords Tour of US-Mexico Border

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

The office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords hosted two of Pennsylvania’s own Blue Dog Democrats this weekend.

Reps. Jason Altmire and Tim Holden are well known for their moderate stances on a variety of issues – including, it turns out – border security.

Rep. Giffords survived a tragic shooting that gained wall-to-wall national headlines in January, and is currently recovering from surgery in a Houston rehab clinic. Like Altmire and Holden, she has the reputation of a centrist Democrat.

According to Giffords’s chief of staff, the tours are a part of the Congresswoman’s continuing effort to inform other legislators about the dangers of an unsecured border in the U.S.

Along with Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., Altmire and Holden visited a variety of sites of interest along the large border between Arizona’s 8th Congressional district and Mexico.

The main area viewed by the Congressmen was the border fence that has become a leading issue in the topic of immigration reform. The group also visited the Douglas Port of Entry and the area where rancher Robert Krantz was killed, east of Douglas, Arizona in March of last year. Many believe that Krantz was a target of Mexican drug smugglers.

“It was a great honor to support Gabby’s cause and a opportunity to learn more about our border protection.” said Holden. “We have an illegal immigration problem in Pennsylvania and it originates from places like this.”

“This weekend I was proud to see firsthand that the U.S.-Mexico border fence is now being constructed with American-made steel, a direct result of a rule I helped create in 2007,” said Altmire.

“One of the highlights of this trip was meeting border patrol agents who do an outstanding job under very difficult circumstances. Through our various stops, Congresswoman Gifford’s staff and her constituents helped explain that despite the progress that has been made, much more needs to be done to secure our borders.”

Casey & Toomey Hit the Right Notes at AIPAC

By Jared Edgerton, Contributing Writer

Both Pennsylvania Senators spoke at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey addressed mounting concerns over the special relationship between the United States and Israel, a major focus since President Obama’s recent call for Israel and Palestine to use the 1967 borders as a starting point for peace negotiations.

Following President Obama’s speech last week, Senator Toomey issued a press release saying he was “extremely disappointed.” He emphasized that a call for Israel and Palestine to start negotiations with 1967 borders undermines undermines Israel’s negotiating position. (Obama seemed to back away from that position in his own speech to AIPAC on Sunday).

During his remarks to AIPAC, Toomey reiterated his strong support for Israel and called American aid to that country vital. He also discussed the Arab Spring revolutions saying he was hopeful the revolutions would help future generations be free of the “dictatorial regimes” that has dominated the Arab world for so long.

Senator Casey’s AIPAC speech also addressed the border question and sought to contrast his views from the unpopular interpretation of Obama’s Thursday remarks. “Israel’s borders must be defensible and must be determined by parties on the ground,” Casey declared, responding to a concern voiced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week.

He also reiterated America would be “sticking by our friends in these increasingly uncertain times,” and “as long as I am in the Senate, you will have a friend that will fight for these resources that are so vital to Israel’s security.”

Senator Casey got his best reaction from the crowd after he asserted “Jerusalem must be the undivided and eternal capital of Israel.”

Both Senator Toomey’s and Casey’s speeches found common ground in their stance toward Iran. Senator Toomey called Iran “the greatest security threat to American and the existential threat to Israel,” saying it is a country “we cannot take our eye off.”

And Senator Casey warned the United States must stay “vigilant” and “prepared to act” if Iran acquires nuclear weapons and threatens Israel.

Their policy positions were mostly consistent except for Senator Casey’s support for a two state solution and Senator Toomey remaining mute on the issue. Toomey ended his speech by describing excited he is for a trip to Israel he is going on this weekend.

Casey and Toomey both know the politics of Israel in the U.S.

As Senator Casey gears up for his 2012 reelection campaign support – or at least indifference – from powerful pro-Israel groups will be vital.  He needs no further instruction than the 2010 campaign to see the danger of being on the wrong side of the issue.

Last year, Congressman Joe Sestak was repeatedly questioned on his support for Israel. The Emergency Committee for Israel hammered Sestak with TV ads asking, “Does Congressman Joe Sestak understand Israel is America’s ally?

The attack stemmed from Sestak signing a letter criticizing Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Although Sestak continually denied being anti-Israel, the issue resurfaced again in the campaign after retired Senator Chuck Hagel endorsed him and The Republican Jewish Coalition released an ad calling, both Senator Hagel’s and Sestak’s attitudes and records on Israel a “deep concern in the Jewish community.”

Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.

PA House Passes Budget Solely on GOP Votes

PA House Passes Budget with All GOP Votes

By Jared Edgerton and Judith Ayers

After nine hours of debate today, and three hours yesterday, the $27.3 billion GOP budget was passed 109 votes to 92. The budget keeps taxes at the same level and gives more to education and less to the Department of Public Welfare than the budget proposed by Governor Corbett two months ago.

Every Republican voted in favor of the budget except Reps. John Taylor and Denny O’Brien, both of Philadelphia. Every Democrat opposed the proposal.

House GOP members have praised this budget “for its fiscal restraint and lack of new taxes.”

It is prioritized spending, it is responsible spending, and it does not increase taxes, it does not borrow and it will be done on time,” said Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) in a statement.  “This budget spends $27.3 billion… that is billions of dollars to help Pennsylvanians who need it and billions to help students.”

In response to the vote Democrats are sounding off, characterizing the budget spending cuts as extreme and detrimental for veteran’s program, human services and education.

In a press release following the vote the House Democratic Caucus called the Republican budget “short-sighted and counter-productive to the goal of moving Pennsylvania forward,” arguing that cuts to education will undermine future economic growth.

Democratic Whip Representative Mike Hanna also voiced his displeasure, tweeting I voted no” on the budget and called the budget irresponsible and unfair.” Representative Steve Santarsiero followed suit tweeting “the budget makes unfair cuts,” adding that it rejects the “new [tax] revenue.”

The Pennsylvania House Democrats twitter account also posted the GOP budget will force tax hikes and teacher firings in Beaver County and warned Pennsylvanians “the brutal cuts were on the way for schools, seniors, the disabled and working families.

Even State Senators responded to the budget vote.  In a press release Senator Jay Costa said he looked forward to working with his Republican State Senate colleagues and acknowledged that the House GOP has moved to take some of the Democrats suggestions, but emphasizing there still has to be “substantial restorations to education funding.”

State Senator Vincent Hughes echoed Senator Costa’s position stating “in the coming weeks, we will work with our Senate Republican colleagues to concentrate on the many shortcomings of the House GOP and Corbett budget plans.”

Democrats have focused their criticisms on the budget arguing the $506 million surplus, generated by more tax dollars than anticipated, should be used to scale back some of the spending cuts. The Democratic House Leadership even estimates  that additional tax revenue will increase to $1 billion by the end of the year.

Turzai noted he had counted over $1.5 billion that Democrats would like to spend on top of the GOP proposal. “Who are you taking the money from?” he asked.

In the PA Senate, meanwhile, Republican leaders are pushing for a proposal that spends the surplus.

State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, said rolling back K-12 funding to 2008-09 levels is necessary because federal stimulus dollars are no longer infusing coffers.

“The education establishment has certainly let their voices be heard, but the people at large are encouraging us to move forward with a common-sense spending plan that doesn’t raise taxes,” Kauffman said.

Yesterday and today Democrats used most of the debate to urge the proposed budget to be sent back to committee instead of offering amendments.

House Democratic spokesman Bill Patton explained this strategy calling the GOP plan “beyond fixable.

Speaker Sam Smith responded to criticism yesterday in an interview calling it the “same spend every penny we have’ mentality’…[that] got us into this problem.”  Speaker Smith believes the surplus should be put into a rainy day fund to avoid future budget impasses.

However, he indicated there might be some room for compromise in spending increases if the Corbett administration increases its estimate of how much money will be coming into state coffers next year.

The House GOP is determined to have the first budget passed on time in 8 years.

5/25 Morning Buzz

On almost totally partisan lines, and after a marathon session of 74 speakers, the PA House passed a $27.3 billion budget last night. It doesn’t raise taxes, increases education funding from Governor Corbett’s proposal, but cuts from the Department of Public Welfare. Now it goes to the PA Senate, where Republicans are more open to spending the state’s $500 million estimated surplus.

While state lawmakers were cooped up in Harrisburg last night, Reps. Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach and Meehan, along with Governor Corbett, bumped elbows with the New Jersey Republican State Committee. Governor Chris Christie and the NJGOP crossed the river into Philly for a fundraiser that was expected to bring in tens of thousands of dollars. We here at PoliticsPA will never criticize anyone who wants to get out of New Jersey for an evening.

You may not think that the Green Party and the Libertarian Party have much in common. You’re right. But one issue uniting those disparate third parties this year is their antipathy for GOP Superior Court nominee Vic Stabile. As a GOP party official, Stabile oversaw efforts to block third parties from the ballot in PA. They say that reflects a bad attitude about free and fair elections, and disqualifies him for the court.

Allyson Schwartz is movin’ on up. The Congresswoman will take over (now DNC Chair) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s position at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, heading up candidate services. There, she will help DCCC recruits build strong campaigns. This comes on top of her recruitment duties for the D Trip.

PoliticsPA Reports

PA House Passes Budget Solely on GOP Votes
With all but two GOP votes and no Dems, the PA House last night passed a $27.3 billion budget that taxes at the same level, gives more to education and less to the Department of Public Welfare.

Gov. Corbett, Pa. Pols Cosponsor Philly Fundraiser for NJ GOP
A number of PA politicos are also expected to roll out the welcome mat at an event that is expected to generate tens of thousands of dollars.

Mike Fitzpatrick Tours Gitmo, Calls It “Invaluable”
PA United States Representative Mike Fitzpatrick toured the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison last week. The facility that became synonymous with American torture and abuse in 2004, is under a new executive order from President Obama to be reorganized. Fitzpatrick said that the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to American soil would be “wrongheaded.”

Allyson Schwartz Adds To Her Responsibilities With The DCCC
Adding to her duties as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s recruitment chair, U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz will now manage the organization’s candidate services efforts as well, according to an announcement emailed by her campaign team Tuesday morning.

Third Parties Slam GOP Superior Court Candidate
Both the Pennsylvania Green and Libertarian Party representatives slammed the GOP’s choice for Superior Court judge, Vic Stabile, citing his efforts as a Republican party official to knock third party candidates off of ballots in PA.

Pa. House Approves “Sexting” Bill
Monday, the PA house voted 178-20 to approve a legislation change for the punishment of teen “sexting.” Under the new House bill 815, teenagers will no longer be convicted of a felony, but rather a second-degree misdemeanor for sending explicitly sexual photographs.

Philadelphia (And Suburbs)
Delaware County Times: Sen. Toomey: We can balance the budget in 10 years
Inquirer: Grand Jury Gives Pa. Gaming Board An F
Inquirer: Montco Candidates Castor and Brown Take A Strong Stand For Israel
Inquirer: Antitax Campaigner Holds a Lot of Sway In Harrisburg
Delaware County Times: Majority of Pennsylvanians Support Tougher Teen Driving Laws
WHYY Newsworks: Gov. Corbett Tours Lafayette Hill Factory, Talks Jobs
The Intelligencer: Gov. Appoints New Hope Man
The Intelligencer: Pa. Senate Passes E-Verify Plan For Contractors
Bucks County Courier Times: Szafran Appointment Confirmed By Pa. Senate
Inquirer: Brown Solidifies Lead For GOP Mayoral Nomination
Daily News: Johnson Beats Capozzi By 46 Votes in 2nd District Dem Council Race
Bucks Local News: State adopts resolutions recognizing Sept 11 national memorial trail, garden of reflection in Bucks County
Philly.com: Bucks officials overturn gun ban in country parks
Associated Press: Republican backed budget nears approval in PA House
Inquirer Harrisburg: Anti-tax campaigner holds a lot of sway in Harrisburg

Pittsburgh and Southwest PA
Post-Gazette: State Senate Committee approves emergency rules for gas wells.
Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh Pension Fund Still Precarious, Auditor General Says.
Post-Gazette: Democrats at impasse with GOP over budget.
Post-Gazette: Raja resigns from Mt. Lebanon to focus on campaign.
Tribune Review: Hospitals: cuts jeopardize improvements
Tribune Review: Vehicles envisioned running on natural gas
Tribune Review: Drilling amendment back with Murrysville council
Tribune Review: Lawmaker: gas industry should be able to police itself
AP: Medicare overhaul proposal causing GOP stress
Early Returns: Shields writes to supporters

Lehigh Valley
Bloomberg Businessweek: PA Newspapers Oppose Relaxing Legal and Rules
Daily Local News: State Budget Vote Takes Center Stage
Daily Local News: Downingtown Lifts its Filter on LBGT Information
Lehigh Valley Live: Greenwich Township Approves Budget, Increases Taxes 6 Percent
Morning Call: Santorum to Make Announcement Within Weeks
Morning Call: Schwartz’s National Recruiting Role Expanded
Morning Call: House Passes ‘Sexting’ Penalty Fix.
Morning Call: House Passes Budget
Morning Call: Survey: Valley Residents Happy with Where They Live, But Edgy About the Future
Morning Call: Valley Split on Corbett’s Performance

NEPA
The Times Leader: Judge denies motion to suppress evidence in Musto case
The Times Leader: Police union complaint vs. city dismissed
The Times Leader: Controller wants safety inspection of Sterling
The Citizens Voice: Nanticoke Area School District must make serious cuts
The Citizens Voice: Tank deal gives Dallas School Board pause
The Citizens Voice: Sterling’s fate still uncertain
The Citizens Voice: NEPA Tea Party to discuss school choice proposal
Wayne Independent: Commissioners, Mayor recognize Boy Scouts, POW/MIA
Wayne Independent: WEDCO explores countywide Broadband potential
Times News: Township to require developer to pay for 3 EDU’s to sewer system
Times News: JT district passes 2 mill tax hike
WNEP Channel 16: Elimination of all sports an option at school
WNEP Channel 16: Middle Smithfield Township Supervisor not leaving quietly
Standard Speaker: Violations mount for Greco owners
The Standard Speaker: Attorney wants audit of Black Creek super’s pay
Pocono Record: Newspapers, Local Governments Go Head-to-Head in Public Hearing

South Central
Associated Press:  Pa. House Republicans muscle through 2011-12 state budget proposal over Democratic objections
Associated Press:  Judge postpones former Pa. Rep. Mike Veon’s 2nd corruption trial until early next year
Associated Press:  News from the Pennsylvania General Assembly
Associated Press:  Pa. Senate approves bill to preserve extended jobless benefits, House measure bogs down
Associated Press:  Pa. Senate committee approves bill requiring location data, emergency plans for gas wells
Fox 43:  State House Votes to Approve General Fund Budget
The Patriot News:  Lawmakers at odds over bill to revise benefits for jobless

North By Northwest
Erie Times-News: Environment Erie forum to address urban water quality
Erie Times-News: Erie County Executive, councilman to meet over solicitor interference claims
Beaver County Times: PA judge hears arguments over tracking software
Beaver County Times: Unemployment system overhaul bogs down in House
Observer-Reporter: Political sign ordinance frustrates local resident
Tribune Democrat: Auditor General Opposes Bill to Publish Legal Notices Online
Opinions
Chaka Fattah and Adam Garber, Inquirer: Support EPA’s fight against mercury contamination
Daily News Editorial: Will the City write a big check for schools?
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Saving the American Dream.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Here’s a case for reason in the Middle East.
WFMZ Allentown, Think Tank: Allentown’s Future: A Bicycle and Pedestrian Friendly Community

Corbett, PA Pols Cosponsor Philly Fundraiser for NJ GOP

By Keegan Gibson and Jamie Brackman

For the record, PoliticsPA has never criticized anyone for wanting to get out of New Jersey.

That’s why we welcome the New Jersey Republican State Committee to Philadelphia for their fundraiser at the Union League.

A number of PA politicos are also expected to roll out the welcome mat at an event that is expected to generate tens of thousands of dollars, according to the Strictly Politics blog of the Courier Post.

Our colleague across the Delaware, Jane Roh reports that U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach and Patrick Meehan will be bumping elbows with Governor Chris Christie and other New Jersey Republicans.

Our Governor’s office confirms that Mr. Corbett will be there as well, but he’ll probably be taking it easy. According to a spokesperson of the Hazleton Chamber of Commerce, the Governor cancelled an event there today to better recover from his recent back surgery.

Christie campaigned for Corbett last year, but has recently chosen to compare himself to popular New York Governor and Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

In Harrisburg, GOP lawmakers are trying to pass a budget that’s politically tenable and also meets Corbett’s criteria.

Mike Fitzpatrick Tours Gitmo, Calls it “Invaluable”

by Jamie Brackman

PA United States Representative Mike Fitzpatrick toured the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison last week.  The facility that became synonymous with American torture and abuse in 2004, is under a new executive order from President Obama to be reorganized.  Fitzpatrick said that the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to American soil would be “wrongheaded.”

On Saturday Fitzpatrick’s office released this statement regarding  the representatives visit to Guantanamo Bay.  The visit was described as an inspection of living facilities and detention operations in the facility. Fitzpatrick said that the facility had provided invaluable information to the US Military.  He also stressed that the prison was treating it’s inmates humanely, leaving past controversy unmentioned.

“The United States Department of Defense has proven its commitment to ensuring that all detainees are kept in a safe, secure and humane environment…” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick’s support for the prison should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with his nearly wholly conservative voting record.

Fitzpatrick’s election in 2010 was aided by Obama’s low approval ratings, along with many of his Republican colleagues.  With Obama’s approval ratings improving but unstable, highly conservative Republican congressmen like Fitzpatrick are likely to face a tougher election in 2012, and hot-button issues like Guantanamo Bay could be a factor.

“JTF GTMO, through its military and government employees, provides an invaluable support to intelligence collection, law enforcement and war crimes investigations.” Fitzpatrick said in his report.

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