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State Committee Roundup

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

The buzz of insider politicking has died down and the committee members have returned home. Here’s what happened at State Committee this weekend.

The Republican meeting was not mandatory, and no official business was discussed. Activists were treated to seminars on organizing and fundraising for county parties.

The Democrats passed two resolutions – one calling for a severance tax on Marcellus shale (more details below), and another about not doing business with companies that crack down on labor organizing.

More interesting were the resolutions that didn’t pass. The party decided not to take up a measure that would have lowered the threshold for party endorsements from 66 percent down to 60.

The committee also set aside a motion that would have enforced statewide endorsements on county committees. Presently, local Democratic committees are free to endorse against the state party (unlike Republicans). People pushing the measure argued that the relatively poor nomination rate of endorsed candidates was hurting the party.

Those opposed said committees should be free to make independent decisions.

Roger Lund is the Dem Chair of Adams County. He was one of just a handful of chairmen and women who endorsed Joe Sestak over Arlen Specter last year. He celebrated in a facebook note.

“Score one for the little guys with the withdrawal of the motion make “binding” State Committee endorsements on county committees,” he wrote. “The rewrite of this motion will include allowing county parties to exercise their 1st amendment rights to hear from other candidates. Denying access to challengers as happened in many counties last year, should not be enshrined in our bylaws to could be interpreted as part of the “binding” endorsement.”

John Morgan of the Pennsylvania Progressive covered the issue – and the meeting – in detail. He also notes that the party has yet to create a “Progressive Caucus.”

Both parties had Marcellus shale on the mind (and on the agenda).

Speaking to Republicans, Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley laid out the debate, talked about the work of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, and cautioned attendees to read newspaper reports with a grain of salt. He said the Commission is exploring all options.

During an earlier meeting, some committee members raised the possibility of attempting to re-brand the impact fee as an “impact tax.” That change in phrasing would diminish its popularity, they argued, if the PA GOP wanted to do that. The question was not resolved.

Any proposal that sends a dime to the general fund is, of course, anathema to that crowd. But this reporter was struck by the sense among committee members that an impact fee would be acceptable – even fair.

Several unfortunate staffers from the Capitol and the Governor’s office found themselves debating the issue with armchair policy wonks at one point or another on Friday evening.

The Democrats, meanwhile, approved a resolution calling for the establishment of a severance tax. The measure was scant on details on how such a tax should be assessed, or revenues distributed, but went well with the anti-Corbett theme of the weekend.

The PA Young Democrats also elected new leadership. Congratulations President Anthony Youngblood (Philadelphia), Vice President Steven Kochanowski (Beaver), and national committee members Vince Gillen (Montgomery) and Sabrina McLaughlin (Luzerne).

Dems’ next meeting is September 9-10 in Gettysburg, the PA GOP doesn’t have theirs up on the schedule yet. But a quick note to both parties: spare a reported some heartburn and don’t schedule them both on the same weekend next time.

One Response

  1. I am the President of the PSEA Democratic Caucus and I would like to include this information in our next newsletter. Is that possib;e if I give you credit for the article.
    Mary Artuso

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