February 28, 2017
The 2017–2018 budget process began with the Governor’s budget address and has continued with hearings of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee.
January 19, 2017
I have a number of goals for the next two years of the 2017 – 2018 Legislative Session, beginning with implementation of Act 16 of 2016 – my medical marijuana initiative.
January 3, 2017
As Senator Argall and I continue to push for elimination of school property taxes with passage of Senate Bill 76, I often think about the impact property has had throughout history.
December 13, 2016
Several years ago, Dr. James Broussard, an esteemed Lebanon Valley College professor, testified at a time when the Senate was considering legislation to change how our Electoral College votes are determined.
November 9, 2016
President Calvin Coolidge once said: “nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.”
October 25, 2016
Toward the end of the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz,” the Wizard ostensibly grants Dorothy’s companions their wishes: the Scarecrow is given a diploma to prove knowledge, the Lion a medal to demonstrate courage, and the Tin Man receives a ticking heart-shaped watch.
October 17, 2016
One of the key principles of my “Promise to Pennsylvania” is improving state government openness, transparency, and accountability.
September 6, 2016
Religious rights and protections for freedom of conscience were key principles in the founding of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
August 29, 2016
In 2006, a “Costing-Out Study” called for a 50% increase in Pennsylvania’s basic education spending: at least $3.17 Billion more (to $6.02 Billion).
August 10, 2016
Jobs and the economy are often the top issues of concern among citizens and many elected officials run for office promising to create jobs.
July 27, 2016
Russell Long, US Senator from 1948 to 1987, once described tax reform as: “Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax the guy behind the tree.”
July 15, 2016
While there are still a few remaining days in the 2015–2016 Legislative Session, I’m pleased with the progress on a number of my legislative initiatives.
July 6, 2016
One of the first reforms I introduced to advance my “Promise to Pennsylvania” was my “Voters’ Choice Act” to eliminate unfair hurdles to ballot access for minor party and independent candidates.
June 24, 2016
Several advocates for the elimination of school property taxes have asked us where efforts to rid taxpayers of this hated tax currently stand.
June 14, 2016
Consider the many federal, state, county, and municipal taxes and fees we pay, which include: taxes on amusements, capital gains, cigarettes, corporations, earned income, services, estates, gas, liquor, sales, per capita, personal income, personal property, property, realty transfers, Social Security, telephone calls, utilities, and unemployment.
June 2, 2016
The preamble to the United States Constitution lists five basic functions of government: (1) to form a more perfect union, (2) insure domestic tranquility, (3) provide for the common defense, (4) promote the general welfare, and (5) secure the blessings of liberty.
May 17, 2016
In his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln said: “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.”
May 3, 2016
In the year since being named chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, I’ve worked hard to advance reforms that are consistent with my “Promise to Pennsylvania”: legislative and political reforms, tax and spending reforms, and labor law and legal reforms.
April 20, 2016
When I was running for the Senate – and again after I was elected – people would ask me: “Mike, how are you going to deal with issues where what you’re voting conflicts with your values?”
February 19, 2016
Leaving the Governor’s budget address, I thought about a line from “Apollo 13”: “Houston, we have a problem”.
January 27, 2016
Article I, Section 2 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution affirms: “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness.
January 8, 2016
Ronald Reagan once said: “The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."
December 22, 2015
Soon after being elected, I started working to implement my “Promise to Pennsylvania:” legislative and political reforms, tax and spending reforms, and labor law and legal reforms.
December 2, 2015
People throughout the 48th Senatorial District have repeatedly told me school property taxes are their biggest headache and they want their elimination to be a top priority of the General Assembly.
November 16, 2015
During the ongoing budget impasse, most of the attention has been devoted to talk about increasing taxes. To me, this is just half the story as we need to find better ways to force government to live within its means.
October 22, 2015
There have been some interesting arguments against my Senate Bill 869 and its goal of protecting people from losing their properties when they haven’t been charged or convicted of a crime.
September 22, 2015
One of my Senate colleagues recently received the following email from a school superintendent using the school’s email system:
September 10, 2015
September 17 marks the 228th Anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
August 25, 2015
American author and humorist Peg Bracken (who also worked with Homer Groening, father of “The Simpson’s” creator Matt Groening) once asked: “Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut save you 30 cents?”
August 3, 2015
The budget impasse between Governor Wolf and the Legislature is about $3.6 Billion.
July 22, 2015
One of the key differences in the ongoing budget impasse between the Governor and the General Assembly is the issue of education funding.
July 8, 2015
One of the first questions anyone asks whenever making a large purchase or entering into a long-term contract is: “how much is it going to cost?”
July 1, 2015
There have been a number of roadblocks in my ongoing journey to help Pennsylvania’s sick and suffering – especially children with seizures and veterans with PTSD – by bringing medical cannabis to the Commonwealth.
June 19, 2015
Originally designed as a tool to divest drug kingpins of their ill-gotten fortunes, civil asset forfeiture is increasingly used to take homes, cars, and petty cash from ordinary Pennsylvanians.
June 2, 2015
My efforts to help sick children, veterans, and others by bringing medical cannabis to Pennsylvania began with a meeting with two mothers of children with seizures. While the journey has been long, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made over the past year.
May 7, 2015
Openness, transparency, and accountability are key elements of my “Promise to Pennsylvania” and words that sometimes echo through the halls of the Capitol. However, these words apparently have no meaning when it comes to public sector unions.
April 21, 2015
Last Session, I was pleased to lead efforts to bring medical cannabis to our Commonwealth. Twenty three other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.
April 7, 2015
Why does the phrase “mom said” have such magic growing up?
March 26, 2015
I recently read a newspaper story about Governor Wolf’s proposed budget.
March 10, 2015
I’m not a doctor but I’ve always admired their Hippocratic Oath: “Primum non nocere,” Latin for, "first, do no harm."
March 2, 2015
I constantly hear about the challenges of educating today’s students: there’s not enough time in a day and there’s not enough money. These are often cited reasons why schools struggle.
February 19, 2015
Government spending is at an all-time high, and families are hurting as a result. We simply can’t keep demanding more and more from taxpayers.
February 3, 2015
I was honored to serve as the Senate Education Committee chair during the 2013 – 2014 Session of the General Assembly.
January 15, 2015
In his song "The Times They Are A-Changin'," Bob Dylan calls upon Senators and Congressmen to “Please heed the call, Don't stand in the doorway, Don't block up the hall.
December 11, 2014
I believe government should focus on respect for the Constitution, respect for life, personal responsibility, and less government. However, government continues to grow and to expand at all levels– federal, state, and local.
November 21, 2014
Poll after poll has shown well over 80% of Pennsylvanians favor empowering doctors to recommend medical cannabis as a treatment option.
September 8, 2014
When I became chair of the Senate Education Committee, I decided to focus on students and their parents.
September 4, 2014
Why are public policies often contradictory?
August 21, 2014
President Kennedy said: “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
August 6, 2014
The National Institute of Standards and Technology determines official time. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates radio, cable and satellite television, cell phones, and other elements of our vast telecommunications system. Weather forecasts are largely dependent upon the National Weather Service, a government agency.
July 29, 2014
Now that the 2014 – 2015 state budget is final, it’s interesting to note this year’s push for higher taxes.
July 17, 2014
Freedom to petition government for “a redress of grievances” is a fundamental liberty guaranteed by our Bill of Rights: the 1st Amendment.
June 23, 2014
There’s an old proverb: “fire, water, and government know nothing of mercy.”
June 16, 2014
Does this sound familiar: excessive taxes, government officials not following laws, and lack of due process? How to address these issues?
June 4, 2014
My focus as Senate Education Committee chair is students and parents. While I believe education choice would best meet their needs, I realize there’s not enough support to pass choice.
April 7, 2014
The United States is a Constitutional Republic: leaders represent the people in accordance with the Constitution, which limits governments’ authority through the separation of powers. “We the People” are in charge. As Thomas Jefferson noted: “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”
March 25, 2014
I recently read an article that issued a “loud call for work on taxes; school funding.” I hope this effort includes listening carefully to students and parents.
March 5, 2014
Sometimes when I cite the Constitution, people often say: “times have changed; we need to change with them.” This is the theory of a ‘living Constitution,’ it does not need to be amended, just interpreted to fit modern-day.
February 10, 2014
Ronald Reagan said: “We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
January 21, 2014
Legendary 11th Century English King Canute is said to have had his courtiers carry him on his throne to the seashore to command the tide to stop so that the waves would not touch his kingdom or wet his feet and robes.
December 16, 2013
In January 2014, when NFL playoffs begin, and college football’s Bowl Championship Series culminates in the national championship game, referees will enforce only those rules they decide they like.
December 4, 2013
While drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson echoed the sentiments of English philosopher John Locke, who said all individuals are born with certain “inalienable” natural rights. Among these fundamental natural rights, Locke said, are “life, liberty, and property.”
November 7, 2013
The votes have been cast and winners and losers have been declared.
October 23, 2013
In his farewell address to the People of the United States, George Washington wrote: “If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates.
September 25, 2013
Pennsylvania’s public pension system is drowning in sea of red ink.
September 9, 2013
The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the “Bill of Rights,” guarantee freedom of speech, religion, association, assembly and due process of law.
August 22, 2013
How many times have you heard the statement government should run like a business?
August 5, 2013
The recent City of Detroit bankruptcy filing highlights my call to ban “swaps,” contracts where a municipality and a financial institution agree to exchange – swap – cash flow payments.
July 22, 2013
Former U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen is credited with saying: “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” With today’s billion dollar state budgets and trillion dollar federal budgets (and deficits), tax dollars are often treated like play money.
July 10, 2013
The right to petition government is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the . . . right of the people . . . to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
June 11, 2013
The Senate Education Committee, which I chair, recently held a public hearing on cyber charter school funding.
May 1, 2013
Etched on the steps leading up to the State Capitol Building is a quote from Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
April 11, 2013
Article III, Section 14 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution, “Public School System” requires that: “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”
March 14, 2013
From time to time constituents, staff members, and colleagues share ideas for my list of contradictions, which I first wrote about a year ago. Initial contradictions made included quarterback Tim Tebow’s expression of faith being questioned by those who called for tolerance of alternative life styles, and pro-choice advocates who oppose parents’ right to choose where their children go to school.
February 25, 2013
When Bob Woodward was investigating Watergate, his “Deep Throat” source told him to “follow the money.”
February 5, 2013
When President Thomas Jefferson delivered his second Inaugural Address, he asked, “What farmer, what mechanic, what laborer, ever sees a tax-gatherer of the United States?”
January 8, 2013
A key part of a person’s faith is their “presuppositional philosophical worldview:” the belief systems which determines how they view the world in which they live and how they live their life.
December 24, 2012
In 1897, eight-year-old Virginian Hanlon wrote to the New York Sun, "Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?" The reply was, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."
December 17, 2012
As we are in the season of giving, consider the largest giver of all, government. The government offers many services and programs - some core functions, some not.
November 21, 2012
German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck is credited with saying "Laws are like sausages; better not to see them being made."
November 5, 2012
These are abbreviations used to identify and track federal funds.
October 9, 2012
The "Law of Unintended Consequences" wasn't passed by any Congress or legislature - it's a fact of life: unanticipated and often undesirable outcomes sometimes happen.
September 20, 2012
Eliminating school property taxes is an elusive – but attainable – goal.
September 11, 2012
The 2012 – 2013 state budget is a $27.6 billion spending plan and for the next year, $75 million tax dollars will be spent per day, $3 million spent per hour, $52,619 per minute, and $877 each second.
August 28, 2012
In 1815, Thomas Jefferson and fellow Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush lamented about the condition of the America they helped to establish.
August 2, 2012
In columns written earlier this year I raised various contradictions, including how some criticize quarterback Tim Tebow's expressions of faith yet call for tolerance of alternative life styles, and how some pro-choice/abortion-rights advocates oppose parents' right to choose where their children go to school.
July 17, 2012
In the days of billion and trillion dollar state and federal budgets, the value of each hard-earned tax dollar is often lost.
July 3, 2012
As we celebrate the nation's 236th birthday, I cannot help but wonder if the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be criticized today for being part of the so called "1 percent."
June 26, 2012
In 1773, Benjamin Franklin wrote a satire, "Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One," listing twenty ways the British Empire could ruin itself.
June 4, 2012
I recently received an e-mail from a constituent who demanded that I oppose House Bill 1307, legislation to address the problems of distressed schools.
May 15, 2012
May 25 marks the 225th anniversary of the convening of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, a gathering which ultimately produced the U.S. Constitution.
May 2, 2012
If Cain slew Abel today, there would be demands for government to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
April 16, 2012
I recently wrote a column on contradictions and raised the point how some criticize NFL quarterback Tim Tebow's expression of faith, yet call for tolerance of alternative life styles.
March 26, 2012
There has been a lot of talk and media generated about "Occupy Wall Street" and similar protest groups, as well as the "99%" and the "1%."
February 23, 2012
I recently learned I have lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that occurs when white blood cells that normally help to protect the body from infection and disease begin behaving abnormally.
February 15, 2012
An issue during the NFL season was how Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow showed his faith before, during and after games.
January 26, 2012
We're a long way from President Kennedy's challenge in his 1961 Inaugural Address: "…ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country."
January 11, 2012
During a recent awards show, an entertainer attempted humor by deriding those who call for less government, saying they complain about taxes, call the president names, and are anti-immigrant. Such rhetoric doesn’t add to the debate over the proper role of government.
December 15, 2011
"Just do it" is not just a Nike advertising slogan; in government it is a common demand from voters frustrated by the lack of legislative action on issues.