Week of March 25, 2019
Happy Belated 100th Birthday to Emily Alice Mummey Stauffer!
I’m a little late in wishing Emily Alice Mummey Stauffer, of Myerstown, Lebanon County, a very happy 100th birthday! Emily is the mother of two sons, Ronald Stauffer, of Wyomissing, and Jack Stauffer, of Beverly Hills, Florida. Emily has seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. I hope you enjoyed your day, young lady!
Colonel Edwards S. Little, Jr. and Brigadier General Mark J. Schindler
It was an honor meeting with Colonel Edwards S. Little, Jr. & Brigadier General Mark J. Schindler, both constituents of the 48th Senate District. Col. Little was nominated for the advice and consent of the Senate for promotion to Brigadier General & BG Schindler for promotion to Major General. Happy to support, and thank you for your service!
Senate Bill 113 goes to Governor
The Senate unanimously concurred in House amendments to Senate Bill 113; the bill now goes to the Governor. This bill strips taxpayer-funded pensions from public employees who commit job-related felonies, requiring pension forfeiture if a public employee or public official is convicted, pleads guilty, or pleads no contest to any felony offense related to his or her employment. Kudos to my colleague, Senator John DiSanto, for leading the effort on this important legislation. I was happy to co-sponsor this measure.
Senate Bill 128 goes to House
Executive Nominations Unanimously Confirmed by the Senate
State Civil Service Commission – Teresa E. Osborne, Scranton
State Board of Accountancy – Michael P. Rollage, Canonsburg
State Board of Dentistry – LaJuan M. Mountain, York
Board of Directors of the PA Economic Development Financing Authority – Laura B. Kurtz, Harrisburg
State Board of Funeral Directors – Scott S. Custead, Hollidaysburg and Carmella M. Imburgia, Brookhaven
State Board of Massage Therapy – Ellyn Jo Waller, Ardmore
State Board of Medicine – Ronald E. Domen, Hummelstown
State Board of Physical Therapy – Brandie J. McClinton, Pittsburgh
State Planning Board – Patrick Marty, Williamsport, Kurt M. Schroeder, Furlong and David N. Sciocchetti, Wallingford
State Board of Podiatry – Michael J. Paris, New Oxford and Robert B. Weber, Trappe
State Board of Psychology – Catherine S. Spayd, Duncansville and Richard F. Small, Wyomissing
State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers – Joseph D. Pasquarella, Fort Washington
State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology – Nancy J. Stimson, Douglassville
Board of Trustees of Torrance State Hospital – Kimberly A. Bowser-Murtha, Smithfield
State Board of Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers and Salespersons – Randall T. Derr, Lititz
Condolences to the Gacono Family
Annville community steward, Mary Jane Bowman Gacono, passed away March 10 at the age of 87. Mary Jane cofounded Gacono Real Estate with her husband, V. Carl, in 1976. They owned and operated the business until 1995, when their daughters Mary Ann and Becky, assumed the management of sales and operations. To Mary Jane and V. Carl’s great credit, they revitalized the Annville Memorial Day Parade nearly 30 years ago, and were instrumental in starting Santa’s arrival at the Allen Theatre and the Annville Tree Lighting ceremony, events that continue to this day.
Mrs. Gacono represented many things to many people, among them a beloved wife and mother, dedicated worker and avowed community steward who generously gave her heart and time to enhance the quality of life of her family and community. Mary Jane was preceded in death by son, Jeffrey. My heartfelt condolences to her husband, V. Carl; sons, Carl, Kory and Kristofer; daughters, Becky Gacono-Harlan and Mary Ann; 12 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren, and; many other family members and friends.
Spotted Lanternfly Informational Session with Secretary Redding
Please join PA Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and me for a Spotted Lanternfly Informational Session on Wednesday, April 3 at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Myerstown Community Center, 101 South Railroad Street, Myerstown, Lebanon County (formerly the Elementary School at the corner of Railroad and Carpenter Streets).
Senate State Government Committee Update
The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, held a meeting this week to consider Teresa E. Osborne, of Scranton, nominee to the State Civil Service Commission. The committee unanimously voted to report Ms. Osborne back to the Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee with a favorable recommendation, who then reported her to the full Senate where she received a unanimous vote on confirmation. The committee also considered Senate Bill 372, to update and modernize the History Code, and House Bill 18, land conveyance legislation. Both bills were unanimously reported as amended to the full Senate. Click here to watch this meeting and hear my questions asked to Teresa E. Osborne.
The State Government Committee will also hold a public hearing on Tuesday, March 26 at 10 a.m. in 8E-A, East Wing of the Capitol, on Senator John Gordner’s Senate Bill 48 to delay the unfunded voting machine decertification and replacement mandate placed upon PA counties by Governor Tom Wolf and the PA Department of State. (See column below for further information on this topic.)
Column: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!
Citizens have a right to expect their votes will be both secure and accurate. It’s a basic duty and a core responsibility of our Constitutional Republic.
After the 2016 Presidential Election and reports of Russian interference, many questions have been raised.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of State issued a directive to every county: “all voting systems purchased on or after February 9, 2018 must be the type that employs a voter-verifiable paper ballot or a voter-verifiable paper record of the votes cast by a voter.”
Following the Department’s decree was another notice every county must have voter-verifiable paper record systems by December 31, 2019. To pay for this mandate, the Administration pledged counties up to 50% reimbursement over six years using state moneys plus $14.15 Million in federal funds. The total cost to replace every voting machine in every county across the Commonwealth is estimated to be $125 Million to $150 Million.
Unfortunately, the Governor’s financial promises to the counties were made without any coordination with the General Assembly, which has sole constitutional authority to make appropriations. Every dollar counties are required to spend in compliance with gubernatorial mandates could translate into very real future county property tax increases.
Pennsylvania has not experienced many of the problems seen in other states – partly because our voting machines are not (and never have been) connected to the internet in any way.
Meanwhile, other states and municipalities have taken actions to change their voting systems. Prior to the 2018 General Election, some invested considerable resources to address cybersecurity concerns that experts had identified. Others simply wanted to improve the tabulation of votes.
Most notably, Broward County, Florida bought three high-speed scanners after the August 2018 Primary to address issues with mail ballots. Voting by mail in Broward County was scrutinized after Florida ACLU reports from both the 2012 and 2016 general elections said voters who cast mail ballots there were ten times more likely to have their votes not counted. Broward County’s new machines were predicted to be able to process about 500 ballots an hour.
During the 2018 General Election, Broward was again the last Florida County to report election results. More troubling, vote tallies fluctuated – especially absentee ballots. It took days to verify results. Meanwhile, voter confidence in the integrity of the election itself fell.
In New York and North Carolina, scanners jammed. A New York City Councilor called his polling place a “mosh pit” because by the time he got to vote, all four of the scanners in his precinct were broken.
Pennsylvania’s rush to replace every voting machine in every county across the Commonwealth before the 2020 Presidential Election has resulted in Senator Gordner’s proposed legislation to delay the planned replacement of voting systems. As chairman of the Senate State Government Committee with oversight over the Pennsylvania Department of State, I plan to hold a public hearing on this bill March 26.
There are simply too many unanswered questions that need to be addressed before anyone can assure Pennsylvania voters the 2020 Elections will not have any of the problems experienced with systems in other states.
If the Governor’s plan is implemented, it will be a test run during a contentious election with high turnout – not exactly the best circumstances to try anything new or to work out any bugs in the system to ensure a smooth rollout.
Should we not delay the mass decertification of current voting machines, who’s going to assure citizens their 2020 votes will be secure and accurate?
As my mother used to say: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
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