Welcome to "Mike's Memo," an update on what's happening in the 48th Senatorial District and the State Capitol. If you haven't done so already, please take a moment to visit my website at www.senatorfolmer.com to learn more about my legislative priorities issues that may affect you and your family.
Week of April 16, 2018
Upcoming Senate State Government Committee Activity
On Monday, April 16 at 10:45 a.m., the Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, will hold a public hearing in Hearing Room One, North Office Building on my and Senator Vulakovich’s Senate Bill 1037 to modernize the Civil Service Commission. Agenda, testimony and live feed can be found here. On Tuesday, April 17 at noon in 8E-A, East Wing, the Committee will hold a meeting to consider Senate Bill 299, Senate Bill 595 and Senate Bill 1038.
On Tuesday, April 24 at 10 a.m. in Hearing Room One, North Office Building, the Committee will hold a second public hearing on proposed redistricting changes.
Medical Cannabis Program Update
Grower/Processor Permit Applications: Up to 13 grower/processor permits will be issued as part of Phase II. The PA Department of Health (DOH) intends to issue one grower/processor permit to the highest-scoring, most-qualified and eligible applicant without regard to location. For the remaining 12 grower/processor permits, DOH intends to issue up to two grower/processor permits in each of the six medical cannabis regions. Application instructions, including the scoring rubric, are available here. The application is available here (document download). The deadline is May 17, 2018.
Dispensary Permit Applications: Up to 23 dispensary permits will be issued as part of Phase II. DOH intends to issue up to nine permits in the Southeast Region, three permits in the Northeast Region, three permits in the Southcentral Region, two permits in the Northcentral Region, four permits in the Southwest Region and two permits in the Northwest Region. The primary dispensary location may be in any county within the relevant medical cannabis region. Application instructions, including the scoring rubric, are available here. The application is available here (document download). The deadline is May 17, 2018.
Academic Clinical Research Center Applications: Applications for approval and certification by the DOH of an Academic Clinical Research Center (ACRC) are available here. The deadline is May 3, 2018. DOH will post a list containing the name and address of each certified ACRC online and in The Pennsylvania Bulletin following the application deadline. I believe this provision of Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis law will make the Commonwealth a leader in research both nationwide and throughout the world.
Column: Remembering Forgotten Founders
March 23rd marked the 243rd anniversary of Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty or give me death” speech. June 7th is the 242nd anniversary of the call for American independence. September 17th will be the US Constitution’s 231st birthday.
As we note these milestones, we should also remember often forgotten Founders who joined to “pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to the independence and creation of our great nation.
Patrick Henry is remembered most for his 1775 speech: “. . . I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” No one who heard this speech ever forgot it.
Henry went on to serve in both the Virginia Assembly and as Governor. He chose not to attend the 1787 Constitutional Convention because: “I smelt a rat.”
Richard Henry Lee’s June 1776 motion in the 2nd Continental Congress called for independence: “Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
It would take until July 2, 1776 to approve this Resolution and another two days to approve a document drafted by Thomas Jefferson offering reasons for independence. However, in writing to his wife Abigail, John Adams predicted July 2nd would be celebrated as the most memorable epocha in American the history.
Lee’s revolutionary spirit continued after independence as, like Patrick Henry, he too refused to attend the Constitutional Convention and he also opposed ratification.
While Lee served in the Continental Congress, George Mason was in the Virginia Assembly helping to draft the Virginia Constitution and 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, which is similar to Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence: “That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
Although Mason served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he was just one of three who refused to sign it.
These “Antifederalists” believed the Constitution needed a bill of rights. They also feared federal power to tax people without the consent of state legislatures – an issue that had led to the Revolution. They warned federal actions would trample state interests – and possibly a majority of the American people given the Constitution’s power for Congress “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper . . . .”
Lee and/or other so-called “Antifederalists” authored 18 pamphlets listing reasons to oppose the Constitution. While the “Federalist Papers” of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay have survived the tests of time, “Letters from the Federalist Farmer” are largely forgotten.
The Antifederalist author(s) called for guarantees of: trial by jury, protection from ex post facto laws, the right of habeas corpus, freedom of press, right against self-incrimination and “infamous punishment,” meeting accusers and witnesses face-to-face, the “right [to] and justice freely and without delay,” security from unreasonable searches and seizures (of persons, houses, papers, or possessions), and judgements by one’s peers.
While the Antifederalists lost their battle to stop ratification of the Constitution, their push for a bill of rights did lead to adoption of the first ten amendments in 1791. These Founders may be forgotten but their work lives on today.
DEP to Host Public Hearing on Brunner Island Discharge Permit
The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will host a public hearing to collect comments on the draft Brunner Island LLC National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The public hearing will be on Wednesday, April 25th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:40 p.m. at the Union Fire Company, 201 York St., Manchester. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. Brunner Island LLC operates a 1,490-Megawatt coal-and-natural gas-fired power plant which discharges treated industrial wastewater and cooling water to the Susquehanna River. DEP issued the draft NPDES permit on January 5th and published notice of it in The Pennsylvania Bulletin on January 20th.
Individuals will have the opportunity to present up to five minutes of verbal testimony. Comments must be limited to the contents of the draft permit. Groups are asked to designate one speaker. All presenters should bring at least one copy of their comments and exhibits for submission to DEP. Those who wish to present testimony are asked to register in advance by contacting John Repetz at email@example.com or (717) 705-4904. Registration will be taken through Tuesday, April 24th.
The Wall That Heals: Telling The Story of Vietnam, One Name at a Time
The PA General Assembly is hosting The Wall That Heals exhibition featuring a replica of the Washington, D.C. Vietnam Veterans Memorial and mobile Education Center. The replica will be located on the grass section in front of the Irvis Building, at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Walnut Street, Harrisburg. Opening ceremony is at 7 p.m. on May 9th, and the free exhibit will remain open 24 hours a day until 2 p.m. on May 13th.
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