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 November 19, 2018
Column: Looking Forward to 2019
THANK YOU to the voters of the 48th Senatorial District for reelecting me! I’m honored to have received your overwhelming support and I look forward to again representing you in the Pennsylvania General Assembly for four more years.
I will continue to fulfill my oath of office to “. . . support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.”
I also remain steadfast in my ongoing efforts to advance meaningful government reforms, such as redistricting changes and Election and Ethics law amendments. I will pursue these goals with my well established values of civility and consensus.
I won’t be close-minded. I’ll seek information on issues – both pro and con. I know there are many sides to be considered and rarely just one answer to resolve any given matter.
I won’t shut people out, shout them down, or be dismissive of their ideas. I’ll respectfully listen – including those with whom I disagree.
I won’t consider my opinions and beliefs to be morally superior or proven truths. I recognize the perspectives of others rest upon their presuppositional philosophical worldviews. Hopefully, we can all agree to disagree without being disagreeable. We’re all human.
The Founding Fathers were human as well. They too disagreed with one another. Some signed the Declaration of Independence; some didn’t. Those who wouldn’t endorse the Constitution fought against its ratification and became “Anti-Federalists”.
However, the Founders did agree on some basic doctrines – beginning with John Locke’s tenet that all power comes from the people. It’s why the United States Constitution begins with “We the People”.
This is also a key provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution – Article I, Section 2: “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.”
Our constitutions were written to protect people from government overreach. That’s why power is divided among three branches with each checking the other two. National authority was also designed to be checked by the states: the federal government was granted specific delineated powers only.
Our Constitutional Republic protects the rights of minority opinions – unlike a pure democracy where the majority can disregard the minority. James Madison said an unrestrained majority would terrorize minority opinions and devolve into mob rule where expressions of ideas are suppressed, dissent is quashed, and liberties are trampled.
The majority isn’t always right and the minority isn’t always wrong. Demands for conformity are intolerant of other views and too often preserve the status quo. The more minority opinion is ignored, the louder the silence becomes.
I’ll fight for my core values: respect for life, respect for the Constitution, personal responsibility, and less government. However, I’ll also heed my mother’s admonition: God gave us two ears and one mouth because it’s more important to listen.
I’m sure we’ll all agree: there needs to be more civility in our public discussions. Respect comes from each and every one of us.
I don’t believe those who disagree with me are my enemies or evil. If my arguments aren’t successful, I won’t accuse anyone of racism, sexism, or fascism. I simply do not believe vile personal attacks do anyone any good and run the risk of spiraling into violence. We need discussions, not confrontations.
Constituent Highlight: Ingram Micro Honored by PAR
Congratulations to Ingram Micro in Jonestown, Lebanon County, who was recently honored as the Central Region Community Employer of the Year by the PA Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR)! Ingram Micro was recognized for their visionary leadership in increasing diversity and inclusion in its workforce through supportive outreach by human resources, opening the company for tours, and working with employment agencies to set up job shadowing and trial work opportunities. Ingram Micro has demonstrated commitment by being accommodating in hiring and orientation with scheduling and transportation needs, and has developed a rapport with job coaches, while leadership members serve as natural support in the work environment.
“Improving PA’s Dementia Capability” Receives Federal Grant
The PA Department of Aging (Aging), in collaboration with the PA Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Music & Memory® and the Greater PA and Delaware Valley Alzheimer’s Association chapters, received a three-year $650,000 grant to improve the state’s efforts in serving individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD). In addition to the grant, Aging will be allocating a $300,000 as a match.
Called the “Improving PA’s Dementia Capability” project, the grant will allow Aging and its partners to focus on making information more readily available and services more accessible for persons diagnosed with ADRD and their caregivers. These efforts will include enhancing websites with updated information and resources relative to ADRD, creating an improved dementia curriculum for PA Link to Aging and Disability Resource partners, Person Centered Counselors, and Area Agency on Aging Care Managers that will focus on enhancing their ability to identify and communicate in a person-centered manner with individuals diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers, and implementing the Music & Memory® program in the majority of PA’s area agencies on aging.
PA is home to approximately 3 million adults age 60 and older, and more than 300,000 age 85 and older. An estimated 280,000 PA residents are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and when including related dementias, the estimate is closer to 400,000 – translating to one in 12 PA families.
Senator for a Day Program
I recently held my annual Senator for a Day Program at the PA Capitol. Ten schools from the 48th Senatorial District participated this year (pictured below) and did a wonderful job! This day gives students an opportunity to get a glimpse of how government works, serve on a committee, develop positions on legislation, debate issues with their peers and learn what it takes to get a law passed or defeated. Thanks to all of the Senate staff and lobbyists who volunteered their time and knowledge to make this day a success! I look forward to hosting my first ever civics competition for schools in the 48th Senatorial District on March 28, 2019. Teams of four (plus one alternate) will demonstrate their knowledge of civics and history. More information will go out to schools shortly!
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