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Metcalfe backs effort to tighten state's Sunshine Act

By Bill Vidonic
Published: Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:27 p.m

A local lawmaker is supporting legislation that would restrict what publicly funded agencies can talk about in private, coming on the heels of a Butler County tourism group that found itself under scrutiny from advocates of transparency.

“There have been concerns over the years,” said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry. “Some local officials have been using executive sessions to talk about issues that should be talked about in the light of the public eye.”

The Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau changed its bylaws this month to say it would follow the state's Sunshine Act, which governs what business is conducted before the public. Bureau Executive Director Jack Cohen said the board never intended to stop, as some people believed after the agency's board in February made rule changes designed to streamline operations.

Cohen said the board removed a section from the bylaws in February stipulating it follow the Sunshine Act before reducing the annual membership meetings to three from four, eliminating the membership committee, turning over recruitment to the board of directors and dropping the requirement for a second signature on checks exceeding $500.

The board's latest change to the bylaws also requires two signatures on checks more than $1,000.

Cohen, the board president and the board treasurer are the only officials authorized to sign checks. Last month, the board eliminated a $500 threshold.

Cohen said the bureau, with an annual budget of $1.3 million, isn't a government agency, but a nonprofit, so it didn't believe it had to abide by the Sunshine Act.

He said, however, the intent was always to “voluntarily” follow it.

The board said it would enter executive sessions to only discuss legal matters, employment issues and the sale or lease of properties, as allowed under the law.

“We do everything above board, and we always will,” Cohen said.

Metcalfe said he believes that the tourism agency should fall under the Sunshine Act, since its funding is directed by the county commissioners.

“If you're receiving tax dollars, you should be under the Sunshine Law,” Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe is supporting legislation from Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, that would narrow the scope on what publicly funded bodies could discuss in private.

For example, Metcalfe said, discussions about an individual employee could remain in executive session, while overall employment issues or evaluation processes would have to be talked about in public.

“The public should be able to sit down with a school board and local government and say, ‘What's the policy to make sure staff are producing during the workday?' ” Metcalfe said.

The bill also would require state and local agencies to record executive sessions so that a court could decide whether the body violated the law if challenged by a citizen.

Metcalfe is pushing for a committee vote on the bill.


Patroit News

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe calls dibs on moving legislation to end to acceptance of cash gifts

 

By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.comThe Patriot-News
on March 26, 2014 at 2:29 PM, updated March 26, 2014 at 2:30 PM

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The chairman of the House State Government Committee is calling first dibs on his committee being the one to advance legislation banning public officials and public employees from accepting cash gifts.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, issued a news release saying, "the bipartisan effort to ban illegal bribes from tarnishing the halls of the Pennsylvania state Capitol should begin with the House State Government Committee.”

He is the latest in a string of legislators to call for government reforms in the wake of the public corruption scandal arising out of allegations of Philadelphia lawmakers accepting cash-filled envelopes from an informant posing as a lobbyist in exchange for their support on a variety of causes.

Calls for gift bans have arisen a number of times in the past, including as recently as last spring when Gov. Tom Corbett and first lady Susan Corbett's acceptance of more than $10,000 in gifts from lobbyists and business executives got some media attention.

Common Cause Pennsylvania executive director Barry Kauffman, likewise, has been calling for a gift ban for several decades and is hopeful this latest scandal may finally be the spark to get one on the books.

Currently, cash gifts are not prohibited by law, but there are restrictions that require gifts of $250 or more to be reported on a Statement of Financial Interest filed annually. There also are laws that bars public officials from accepting gifts for personal gain or in exchange for a promised action.

Additionally, the Governor's Code of Conduct bars executive branch officials from accepting most gifts from anyone doing business with the state.

Metcalfe said he was seeking support for a proposal to prohibit legislators, public officials and public employees who are subject to the provisions of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act from accepting cash gifts from individuals, including lobbyists and the principals they represent.

Excluded from this limitation is any gifts of a personal nature given by close family members.

Earlier this week, at least four senators, including Sens. Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne County; Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster County; Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery County; and Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, all announced their plans to introduce cash gift ban legislation as well.

Metcalfe, who has been publicly critical of decisions Kane has made in other matters and even threatened impeachment, didn't pass up this opportunity to blast her again for her decision to shut down the sting operation launched by her predecessors that led to the allegations about lawmakers accepting cash gifts.

He said in light of the latest scandal and "due to Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s blatant refusal to prosecute or even fully investigate these alleged acts of corruption, the time is now to ensure that this unethical activity is deemed completely illegal."

Kane's office did not have an immediate comment about Metcalfe's comment.

She has vigorously defended her decision to end the public corruption investigation launched by her predecessors.

She said it was not a case that would be winnable in court. Among her reasons, Kane said, were the credible reports she received about investigators being told to keep its focus on racial minorities, and the damage to the informants' credibility caused by her predecessor's decision to dismiss charges against him for defrauding a state food program for low-income children and seniors out of $430,000.


Butler Eagle

Metcalfe wants English as official Pa. language

March 26, 2014
HARRISBURG — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe recently introduced legislation that would make English the official language of Pennsylvania.
According to a press release, Metcalfe’s bill would require all official acts of state and local governments to be communicated in English.
It would also prohibit governmental entities from enacting a preference for any language other than English, except in the cases of promoting international tourism, when public health, safety or justice requires the use of another language, or in teaching English as a second language.
“Pennsylvania taxpayers simply cannot afford, and should not continue to be required, to foot the bill for government translating and printing infinite amounts of forms, documents and publications in many languages other than English,” Metcalfe said in the release.
He said that 31 states have passed similar legislation.
The bill is expected to be referred to the House State Government Committee, which Metcalfe leads.


Patriot News

Pennsylvania local governments would need better reasons for going behind closed doors, under bill

 

By Jeff Frantz | jfrantz@pennlive.comThe Patriot-News - March 12, 2014

 

A Pennsylvania House proposal would limit the reasons for school boards and local government to talk behind closed doors.

It would also make it easier for citizens to challenge what they believe are unlawful executive sessions.

The proposal received a lot of support Wednesday at a hearing of the House State Government Committee. The hearing came days before the beginning of Sunshine Week, designed to raise awareness about open government.

Four of the five testifiers lined up to explain how the current law lacks teeth, and allows boards to adjourn to talk out of the public eye using a broad reason such as "personnel" or "litigation." Since executive sessions are rarely recorded, testifiers noted, it's difficult for even a member of that board to prove the Sunshine Act had been violated.

"When these boards get behind closed doors and they choose to start talking about other topics that they should be vetting before the public, it's a problem," said committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler. "It's a violation of the law, but it's a violation of the public trust."

Joseph Strauch said that since he's joined the Lackawanna Trail School Board, he's heard discussions about school lunch programs and granting tax concessions to a business get shoehorned into executive sessions.

"This list of violations is as extensive as the number of sessions I have attended," Strauch said. "One of the most absurd discussions was about which lavatories should be used by employees."

The members of the committee who had served on school boards or in local government nodded along.

The proposal, House bill 1671, would require any executive session called to discuss personnel would have to be about a specific prospective, current or former employee. Everything else would have to be done in public.

The bill would also require boards to record all executive sessions, and save those recordings for a year. If the legality of the session is challenged, a court could listen to the recording and decide. Board members who reported violations of the Sunshine Law could be granted immunity from prosecution.

The board's solicitor would also have to sign off on any executive session.

Elam Herr, the Assistant Executive Director for the state Association of Township Supervisors, spoke knowing the deck was stacked against him.

He's concerned the bill, sponsored by Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Washington, would create new cost and disclosure issues for local governments. For example, he said, if the board needs to discuss a harassment case and names a specific individual, the person doing the harrassing might retaliate for being reported.

Herr also worried that a court might eventually rule a recording of an executive session might be discoverable in a lawsuit. Why wouldn't the lawyers suing a township then ask for the recordings pertaining to their case to be turned over, Herr asked.

But the lawmakers present Wednesday largely brushed his concerns aside, saying they could be fixed by fine tuning the bill.

Whether the bill receives the same warm reception from the larger legislature -- or makes it into law -- remains to be seen.


Butler Eagle

Metcalfe to run for re-election

He faces primary challenger in 12th

 

 March 6, 2014 By John BojarskiEagle Staff Writer

 

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, will run for re-election in the state House of Representatives. “I am the leading voice and vote in Harrisburg for citizens who believe in limited, more efficient government and less taxation. Our government spends too much and takes far more than they should to satisfy their insatiable appetite for the money of hard-working taxpayers,” Metcalfe said today in a release. He is chairman of the house State Government Committee because of his seniority in the House Republican Caucus. “I will continue to use my additional influence as a standing committee chairman to advance legislation that protects the individual liberties and pockets of my constituents. I will continue the fight to protect hard-working taxpayers,” Metcalfe said. He said his platform also includes local control for schools and traditional family values. In the May 20 Republican primary, Metcalfe will face challenger Gordon Marburger of Adams Township. Metcalfe said he usually has competition due to the strong stances he takes. He said he is a strong fiscal and social conservative, and that there is a minority of Republicans who do not support traditional GOP issues. “There's always someone who has a target on me,” Metcalfe said. “I'm used to competition.” Lisa Zucco of Cranberry Township, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, will face the winner of the GOP primary in the Nov. 4 election. Although some people thought Metcalfe would launch a primary challenge against incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, he did not. Metcalfe, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2010 and came in third, said he would have run for governor if he had become lieutenant governor. Metcalfe has criticized Corbett for “breaking his word over and over again.” Metcalfe, 51, of Cranberry Township started in the House in 1999. The 12th District covers Adams, Clinton, Cranberry, Forward, Middlesex and Penn townships as well as Callery, Mars, Seven Fields and Valencia.

Butler Eagle

Metcalfe invites Duck Dynasty patriarch to rally


February 26, 2014 - By Jared Stonesifer
Eagle Staff Writer

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has invited Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson to headline his annual Second Amendment rally in Harrisburg.


Metcalfe, R-12, has been holding the rally every year since 2006, which is designed to celebrate and protect Pennsylvanian's rights to bear arms.


In a press release issued Wednesday, Metcalfe said he chose Robertson as a speaker because the reality television star was lambasted last year concerning his views on homosexuality.


Like Robertson, Metcalfe said he is “frequently targeted” for his uncompromising support of the Second Amendment and for his support for a law banning gay marriage.


“The battle against the radical liberal agenda in Pennsylvania includes protecting our Second Amendment rights and protecting traditional family values,” Metcalfe said in the release. “My primary reason for inviting Phil Robertson to headline this year's Second Amendment Action Day is because many Pennsylvanians recognize his leadership and support his uncompromising and principled stances on these issues.”


The rally, called the Pennsylvania Second Amendment Action Day, is scheduled for April 29 in Harrisburg.


Activist: PA’s Open Records Chief Destroying Right to Know Law

By: Media Trackers Staff | February 06, 2014

Simon Campbell believes the commonwealth’s 2009 Right to Know Law is being destroyed by the manner in which the Office of Open Records (OOR) is administering it, and he wants new leadership at its helm.

“The OOR of 2009 – that fledgling new entity that citizens could rely on to get fair treatment against the power of government that instinctively likes to deny access to records – is today killing the law for citizen requesters,” said Campbell, who is president of Pennsylvanians for Union Reform (PFUR).

At the heart of Campbell’s consternation is OOR Executive Director Terry Mutchler’s decision in October 2013 to alter the universal Right to Know form used to request public information from government agencies. The new form includes a check box for open records officers that reads, “I have provided notice to appropriate third parties and given them the opportunity to object to this request.”

Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law does not require government entities to notify third parties that public information about them is being sought by a citizen requester. Campbell said Mutchler’s improvisation is “akin to advocating that the answer of government to requests for public records be subcontracted to private third parties who shall be given ‘rights.’”

In the four years that the commonwealth’s Right to Know Law has been in effect, Campbell has submitted no fewer than 150 right-to-know requests to various state and local government agencies.

Last fall, PFUR asked the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) to release the home mailing addresses of some 230,000 public employees. OOR directed SERS to provide its members notice of PFUR’s request, as well as a form to contest it.

SERS subsequently sent over 187,000 first-class letters to 34 countries. The mailing cost taxpayers a quarter-million dollars, and only 2 percent of the recipients objected to the release of their address.

“OOR’s promotion of third party ‘rights’ is destroying the law for citizen requesters,” Cambell said. “Every appeal being filed with the OOR now comes with a directive from OOR stating that the government agency must issue notice to private third parties.”

“This situation is out of control,” Campbell opined.

Campbell has stated previously that he believes Mutchler’s policy on third-party notice stemmed from pressure by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), which has a dubious lawsuit pending in PA Commonwealth Court claiming the Right to Know Law breaches privacy rights when citizens use it to obtain government employees’ home addresses.

The PA Commonwealth Court has already ruled in two other recent cases that the home addresses of the governor and lieutenant governor are not exempt from the Right to Know Law. In the majority opinion in Office of Lieutenant Governor v. Mohn, President Judge Dan Pelligrini wrote, “No one in this day and age can have a legitimate expectation of privacy in home addresses. In addition to people routinely disclosing their home addresses, those home addresses can easily be obtained by conducting Internet searches.”

Campbell hired attorney Craig Staudenmaier to research what rights, if any, third parties have under the federal Freedom of Information Act or other states’ open records laws with regard to notice of pending right-to- know requests. Staudenmaier reported to Campbell that no jurisdictions require advanced notice to individual third parties, and in only very limited circumstances do any third party rights — such as privacy — overcome the openness of what are otherwise public records.

In a letter to Mutchler, House State Government Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) wrote, “[I] am concerned that the third party notice requirement that OOR has instituted without statutory authority will create a chilling effect and discourage citizens from requesting the government records they need to keep their government accountable.

Rep. Metcalfe continued, “Your actions may also expose citizen requesters to potential intimidation for simply exercising their rights under the Right to Know Law.”

Metcalfe asked Mutchler to identify the specific provision of the Right to Know Law that requires agencies involved in an appeal to OOR to notify parties with an interest in the matter of their right to participate in the appeal. He has yet to receive a response from Mutchler.

The dust settled from the legal wrangling between PFUR and OOR on Jan. 31. Campbell ultimately will receive a third of the information he originally requested.

“There are legal errors with the Final Determination in that OOR ordered some addresses to be simultaneously denied and released,” Campbell said. “We’re assessing our options at this time.”


Butler Eagle

Lawmakers weigh in on Corbett plan
Metcalfe blasts spending hike

Article published February 5, 2014

HARRISBURG — Here is what state representatives and senators said about Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed 2014-15 $29.4 billion state budgets. He released his budget Tuesday.
These are edited comments from their news releases.
• Rep. Brian Ellis, R-11th: “This would be the fourth year in a row that our state budget’s spending is under control. The state needs to continue to spend what we have; no more, no less.
“I remain committed to getting Pennsylvania’s economy back on track and only spending within our means.
“Tough decisions in this process are inevitable. However, the short- and long-term benefits of getting our financial house in order, continuing to close the gap on our state’s unemployment rate, and making smart investments for our future will help make our state a better place to live, work, get an education and raise a family.”
• Rep. Dick Stevenson, R-8th: “I am encouraged to see that this budget proposal focuses on a number of key areas, namely job creation, public education and human services, and maintains our commitment to funding core functions of government, without any increases in taxes for families and job creators.”
Stevenson pointed out that the proposal anticipates dedicating more than $10.3 billion to kindergarten through 12th-grade education, with additional funds for special education, higher education scholarships and early learning initiatives.
• Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, criticized the governor’s budget and said the increase in state spending can’t be justified when people are still out of work.
“How can he justify a 3.3 percent spending increase when inflation last year was about 1.5 percent? His spending increases are more than twice the rate of inflation at a time when many Pennsylvanians are unemployed or underemployed.”
He also blasted the governor’s proposal to increase welfare spending by $400 million since Metcalfe sees the system fraught with corruption and misuse.
“The governor is choosing once again to spend more money on welfare than education,” he said.

• Rep. Lee James, R-64th: “Today’s proposal marks the beginning, not the end, of this process.
The proposal calls for more than $10.6 billion in education spending. That would represent an increase of more than $360 million above the current state budget.
“We are currently spending more state dollars on education than at any time in the commonwealth’s history. The governor’s budget proposal would build on that record level of commitment to our students, teachers and parents.”
• Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-10th, applauded the new $25 million Ready to Succeed Scholarship proposal announced in Corbett’s budget address.
The scholarship would make the cost of a college education more affordable for students from middle-income families.
“As a member of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, I’m well aware of the struggles of middle-class Pennsylvanians to afford a college degree without getting into a mountain of debt.
“I’m proud to be able to use the resources of PHEAA to help constituents in my district, and I look forward to helping them take part in the Ready to Succeed Scholarship program.
“I’m also pleased Gov. Corbett is finally increasing funding for early childhood education and special education funding, though it’s well past due. However, the funding proposed still will not make up for the $1 billion cut our school districts have seen since Gov. Corbett took office.
“I’m also concerned about job growth and the direction Pennsylvania’s economy is headed. Pennsylvania currently ranks 41st in job growth among all states.”
“I believe by restoring proper funding to education and working across the aisle with fellow legislators on new ideas and programs, we can bring jobs back to Pennsylvania and push our economy forward.”
• Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-40: “I am cautiously optimistic about Governor Tom Corbett’s budget proposal.
“While there are some significant hurdles that have to be overcome — the slow economy, revenues meeting forecast, and pension costs — I appreciate the governor prioritizing job growth policies, holding the line on taxes, increasing public education funding, and his commitment to the disabled.
“The truth is, the governor and General Assembly have made difficult choices over the past few years that are now paying dividends. I would like to publicly acknowledge the administration for saving half a billion dollars through his Innovation Office.”
• Sen. Don White, R-41st: “While calling for a modest increase in overall state spending without a tax increase, I am pleased the governor is proposing more money for public education in a specialized and targeted manner to improve literacy, promote math and sciences and provide incentives for high achieving schools to mentor their peers.
“The governor is to be commended for again stepping up to address the escalating cost increases associated with our public pension systems. I have introduced Senate Bill 283, a measure that would convert all members of the Pennsylvania Legislature from a defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan as a way to curb costs and ensure that we as elected officials lead by example.
“What the governor is proposing will not affect current retirees or impact the benefits current employees have already earned. The current pension funds are not sustainable.
“While I am concerned that Governor Corbett is again limiting state support for our state-owned universities to current levels, it is gratifying to see a proposal for a new competitive grant program targeting middle income students who currently receive little to no support for their education expenses.”

Valley legislators want more budget details from Corbett

By Tom Yerace

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 12:21 a.m.
Updated 8 hours ago


Gov. Tom Corbett provided more questions than answers for local legislators in his 2014 budget address Tuesday.

Corbett outlined his $29.4 billion budget proposal that he said focuses on education, jobs, and health and human services, before a joint session of the General Assembly.

Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville, said he wants the details on Corbett's health care and public pension reform.

“I would really like to know what pension reforms, what Medicaid reforms the governor has included,” Evankovich said. “The Healthy PA proposal is something I really don't know enough about.”

Healthy PA would expand Medicare to comply with the federal Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare.

“My understanding is that the reforms that are included in the HealthPA initiative are based on the assumption that the federal government will provide waivers,” Evankovich said. “If they don't provide the waivers, what will that do to the budget?”

He said there were no new policy dynamics in the speech but thinks educational policy should be improved instead of being focused on “line item detail.”

Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, said Corbett's proposal is just a starting point. But he appreciates it is “paying more attention to special needs students and special needs adults.”

“I think it is a good starting framework,” Pyle said. “The skeleton is there; now we have to figure out how the muscle is laid down.”

Pyle will be involved in determining that as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which will hold budget hearings in the coming weeks. He said the increase for the Department of Public Welfare is a non-starter for most of his Republican colleagues.

“DPW's funding goes up 3 percent, which is a little bit more than the inflation rate, and we'll try to get that down to the inflation rate,” Pyle said. “The last I looked it was about 2 percent.”

Democrats: ‘Little to like'

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, said there was little in Corbett's speech for Democratic legislators to like.

Although Corbett proposed a $290 million increase for education programs, most of that is in the form of grants while the basic education subsidy for public schools will be kept at last year's levels.

“School districts will still be strapped, property taxes will still go up, and there will still be 20,000 teachers out of work,” he said. “At least there is an admission that he should be funding special education. We'd been arguing that he needed to fund special education more for three years.”

The governor included a $20 million increase for special education. If divided equally among the state's 500 districts, each would get an additional $40,000.

Dermody said the allocation is “better than nothing” and sounds like a lot, but is woefully inadequate.

Dermody said neighboring states now are debating how to use budget surpluses. He said that's not the case in Pennsylvania despite Corbett's claims that his administration is leading the state to an economic revival.

“The $2 billion in (tax) breaks he has given up to corporations really hasn't resulted in an increase in jobs,” Dermody said. ”He won't implement a severance tax on Marcellus shale, but he wants to drill more on state lands.

“Pennsylvania is struggling,” he said. “To suggest that this recession in Pennsylvania is over is not true.”

Dermody said Democratic legislators are willing to work with Corbett — to a point — to find solutions to the state's problems, particularly on state pension costs.

“We are going to continue to fight for what we think is important.” he said.

Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, said: “I am very concerned that part of the plan for distributing the new education dollars is through a new funding formula. It may not be balanced and will actually escalate the funding disparity and plight of economically-troubled schools.”

He said Corbett did not come up with a “sustainable and responsible plan” to fund public schools.

“I think his taxing policies are unfair because they favor corporations at the expense of everyone else,” said Rep. Joseph Petrarca, D-Vander-grift. “With Marcellus shale we have the lowest tax of any gas-producing state. Why aren't the gas producers paying their fair share?”

Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, said, “While I am concerned that Gov. Corbett is again limiting state support for our state-owned universities to current levels, it is gratifying to see a proposal for a new competitive grant program targeting middle-income students who currently receive little to no support for their education expenses.

“These grants will help provide much greater access for young people to attend our state-owned institutions of higher education.”

Although seated on opposite sides of the aisle, Petrarca, and state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, shared a similar views on some of Corbett's claims, particularly his boast that taxes have not been raised for the three years of his reign.

“I have a question on how the Gov. says he hasn't raised taxes in three years when people are paying 10 cents more at the gas pump because he signed a tax increase before the end of last year,” Metcalfe said.

Petrarca said: “I thought it was certainly disingenuous when he said he didn't raise taxes. After what happened with that gas tax, what he said made no sense to me.”

Metcalfe also took Corbett to task for saying education is the state's biggest expense. He said the Department of Public Welfare's allocation, which he wants reduced, is $11.4 billion under the governor's budget compared to $11.19 billion for education.

“Why would you give a budget address and state things that are just not true?” Metcalfe asked.

Metcalfe said he couldn't get past that and focus on the rest of Corbett's speech.

“If you are going to come out in your opening remarks and tell me something that is not true,” Metcalfe said, “how can I believe anything else that you are telling me?”


Patriot

How Pa. became the second front in the fight between Big Business and Big Labor: John L. Micek

 

By John L. Micek | jmicek@pennlive.com  The Patriot-News
on January 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM, updated January 29, 2014 at 6:54 PM

 

So what’s the difference between a public worker who does political work on the taxpayers’ dime and the state deducting union dues and PAC contributions from that same employee's paycheck?

According to one Republican state lawmaker from Lancaster County, there’s no difference at all.

But Rep. Bryan Cutler’s fight to get the state out of the dues deduction business has turned Pennsylvania into the second front in the ongoing battle between the the corporate right wing and Big Labor.

And, based on experiences elsewhere in the country, it’s one worth monitoring closely.

At first glance, Cutler’s House bill and a companion piece sponsored by Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair, makes sense.

It takes five minutes to set up automatic deductions, linked to your checking account or ATM card, for transactions ranging from magazine subscription renewals to paying the mortgage or electric bill. Thus, setting up your own deduction for union dues or political contributions should be a no-brainer, right?

And maybe it is. But when you scratch below the surface of these bills, the motivation becomes pretty clear: They explicitly target such mega-unions as the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and SEIU, which are a huge political force in Harrisburg and tend to support Democrats.

The bills give a pass to cops and firefighters, whose unions are smaller, and, let’s face it, tend to endorse Republican candidates. The handful of private-sector unions active in the state are also left out of the bill.

Union leaders say the proposals would gut their rights to collective bargaining. There’s nothing in law requiring the state to collect these dues. They’re included in public worker contracts in exchange for concessions on working hours, sick leave and other benefits, labor leaders say. Taking them out would rob labor of a key negotiating tool.

Three years ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made headlines when he successfully stripped public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights. Last August, after saying he’d leave cops and firefighters alone, the Badger State governor said he’d be open to restricting their negotiating rights too.

So it’s tough to blame labor leaders in Pennsylvania for being a little paranoid. Sometimes they really are out to get you.

At a Capitol news conference this week, Cutler and Eichelberger insisted that their bills are about increasing about government transparency — not about neutering Big Labor’s political clout or its ability to raise money.

“What I am questioning is the appropriateness of the government collecting political money,” said Cutler, who was flanked by oversized reproductions of union-funded campaign ads touting President Barack Obama and attacking former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

Added Eichelberger, “There are people who used to work in this building who are now sitting in prison for mixing public money with political money,” he said. “They are definitely using political money that we collect with public resources and that has to end.”

Unions, as you might expect, don’t see it that way.

And on Wednesday, the day after Cutler and Eichelberger’s news conference, hundreds of union activists packed the Capitol rotunda to rally against the bill. The crowds grew so thick that pedestrian traffic in the usually cavernous space was brought to a near-standstill and Capitol police officers tried to shut off access.

“This is nothing more than an attempt to silence the labor movement,” Rick Bloomingdale, the president of the state branch of the AFL-CIO said to thunderous cheers from the placard-wielding crowd.

Dan Drumm, a union firefighter from Altoona, accused Pennsylvania Republicans of Wisconsin-style divide-and-conquer tactics.

“They think we will remain silent while they attack the entire labor movement,” he said.

In an e-mail, PSEA President Michael Crossey said the bill was part of a coordinated attack aimed at “prohibiting voluntary payroll deductions that have almost zero cost to taxpayers, so that wealthy, corporate interests and right-wing special interest groups can silence the voices of middle class people like teachers, and nurses, and public safety workers.

“This legislation is blatantly unfair – it applies to teachers, nurses and public safety workers but does not apply to big business interests – insurance companies, big banks and financial companies, all of whom are involved in politics,” he said

Cutler insisted this week that his bill is a homegrown solution to a local problem and it has no ties to the national push to kneecap Big Labor. But that doesn’t mean those groups aren’t taking an active interest in affairs on the ground in Pennsylvania.

The national astroturf group FreedomWorks has an entire briefing memo on the issue, sometimes referred to as “paycheck protection” on its official website.

Because of Pennsylvania's heavy union presence, the FreedomWorks memo paints it as ripe for the kind of paycheck protection laws in place in six other states: “With labor unions comprising the largest share of political contributions in Pennsylvania in 2012, the Commonwealth is a prime candidate for a paycheck protection program,” the briefing memo reads.

Such efforts have “proved to be effective, so long as they remain comprehensive,” the memo continues. “Given the scope of unions in the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania workers stand to retain greater freedom and more of their hard-earned paychecks if an undiluted paycheck protection program is implemented.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council, the Koch Brothers-funded think-tank that also birthed those utterly awful voter identification and stand-your-ground laws, has model paycheck-protection legislation that state lawmakers can adapt for their own purposes.

So Cutler may well be working alone, but he’s not working in a vacuum.

Cutler is currently crafting amendment language to deal with the collection of so-called “fair share” money which covers the cost of collective bargaining.

And House State Government Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, whose panel has Cutler’s bill, says he's serious about making sure Cutler's bill is ship-shape before he sends it to a floor vote.

“I’m not interested in putting this out there just to have it out there,” he said. “We’re actively working to try to move this policy change in Pennsylvania and we have until Nov. 30 to do it … This is an active piece of legislation. It has my attention. It has the attention of the majority of the members of my committee. And it has the attention of leadership — per the discussions that have been ongoing.”

Gov. Tom Corbett has said he’ll sign Cutler’s legislation if it reaches at his desk, observing at a recent news conference that “there is a desire on the part of many to do that; there is a desire on the part of many to block that.”

The Republican governor told reporters that he’d talk to the warring factions and see whether the General Assembly had the votes to approve the legislation, The Pennsylvania Independent reported.

But Corbett was noticeably silent on whether he’d active push for the bill’s approval. And at this late stage, that’s a good idea.

For much of his administration, Corbett has — sensibly — mostly stayed away from the kind of slash-and-burn tactics employed by Walker and other hardcore conservative governors. And with a tough re-election campaign ahead, the last thing he needs is to hand labor still another club.

But Republicans who control the General Assembly have never lost a vote at the polls by taking on Big Labor. And with this latest push, the fight over dues will be one of the marquee bouts of the 2014 campaign season.


Phily

Pa. voter ID law struck down

Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
Last updated: Saturday, January 18, 2014, 1:08 AM

 

A judge on Friday struck down Pennsylvania's controversial voter identification law, ending for the moment a two-year legal fight between defenders who saw it as a shield against fraud and critics who deemed it an act of voter suppression.

In his 103-page ruling, Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley concluded that the 2012 law placed an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote and created insurmountable obstacles for hundreds of thousands of people, many of them elderly and disabled.

"Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the voter ID law does not further this goal," McGinley wrote, calling voting rights "irreplaceable" and issuing a permanent injunction against the law.

McGinley also concluded that the multimillion-dollar education campaign the state designed to help voters obtain IDs only confused them.

"This is a devastating indictment of Pennsylvania's voter ID law," said Michael Rubin of the firm Arnold & Porter, which represented the plaintiffs.

The ruling was the latest twist in a battle that paralleled similar laws and challenges in other states. Supporters and critics have said they expect the case to end before the state Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania's law, one of the strictest in the nation, was signed by Gov. Corbett in March 2012 after heated legislative debate and public protests along partisan lines.

Republicans said it was designed to protect the election process from voter fraud, while Democrats said it would suppress the vote, particularly among minorities and the poor, who often support Democratic candidates.

Enforcement of the law had been blocked by court orders pending resolution of the constitutional challenge.

Both sides in the legal battle had vowed to appeal an unfavorable decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia on Friday, Gov. Corbett said he had not reviewed the ruling.

In a statement, his top lawyer, general counsel James D. Schultz, said: "We will continue to evaluate the opinion and will shortly determine whether posttrial motions are appropriate."

Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat whose office defended the law on behalf of the commonwealth, said she would await her client's decision.

Witold J. Walczak, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped lead the legal challenge, said that under the decision, "the act was plainly revealed to be nothing more than a voter-suppression tool."

The opinion also sparked criticism. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), who authored the voter ID legislation, assailed McGinley, a Democrat, for what he described as a political ruling.

"In a partisan manner, he struck down a law that should have been held constitutional," said Metcalfe. "He's pretty much taking, hook, line, and sinker, the Democratic position."

The case has bounced back and forth through state courts for two years. Under a preliminary injunction, the state had required poll workers to ask for, but not demand, IDs before voters cast ballots.

During a 12-day trial last summer, the plaintiffs called dozens of witnesses that they said represented the hundreds of thousands of voters lacking acceptable IDs. They argued that the difficulty of getting one might discourage some people from voting.

State officials had defended the law as necessary to prevent fraud, while conceding there was no evidence of in-person voter fraud.

They maintained that voters had ample opportunities to get a valid ID, at one point creating a special Department of State ID - 17,800 have been issued - for voters lacking the proper documents for a standard driver's license or nondriver's identification.

The lead plaintiff in the case, 94-year-old Viviette Applewhite of Philadelphia, said Friday that she did not believe the case would end with the judge's ruling.

"I'm tired of going up there to Harrisburg," she said. "But I'm going to go with it until it's all over with."

Applewhite was able to obtain a PennDot voter ID in August 2012, even though she lacked the required documents - a discrepancy that lawyers said showed that the state's policies had been applied inconsistently.

The administration has spent about $6 million in state and federal funds for voter education about the law and $1 million in state funds to the Philadelphia law firm Drinker Biddle to help defend it.

One critic of the law, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny), assailed the administration as wasting money on a bad law and urged the governor to drop the case.

"The administration has spent millions implementing and trying to defend a law whose only purpose was to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters," he said. "They shouldn't spend another penny defending it."


Trib

Judge spikes photo ID requirement for Pennsylvania voters

By Debra Erdley
Published: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, 9:27 a.m.

Pennsylvania's controversial 2012 voter ID law may be dead as a result of a judge's sweeping, 103-page opinion labeling the law “unconstitutional on its face.”

The March 2012 law that required voters to present official photo identification to cast a ballot was considered among the strictest in the nation, and state courts repeatedly delayed its implementation.

Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley, a Pittsburgh Democrat who presided over a 12-day trial last summer prompted by a challenge from a coalition of civil liberties groups, filed his opinion spiking it on Friday.

Gov. Tom Corbett's administration, which had defended the law as necessary to prevent voter fraud, was slow to respond to the ruling. Corbett did not reply to requests for comment.

“We continue to evaluate the opinion and will shortly determine whether post-trial motions are appropriate,” said Corbett's General Counsel James D. Schultz.

Although 10 other states require voters to present a photo ID, and an Indiana law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, McGinley said Pennsylvania's law failed to provide a safety net for hundreds of thousands of registered voters who lack such ID and might be deterred from voting because of the inconvenience of obtaining acceptable ID.

“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the voter ID law does not further this goal,” McGinley wrote.

He lambasted the state's multimillion-dollar advertising campaign promoting the provisions of the voter ID law as misleading and confusing.

State Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, called McGinley's decision “an activist ruling by a partisan Democrat judge.”

The fact that the law may impose a burden on voters who need an ID “doesn't give you a reason to (disregard) the voice of the people” as expressed by the Legislature, Metcalfe said.

University of Pittsburgh law professor John Burkhoff said McGinley's opinion will be difficult to challenge.

“Judge McGinley analyzes the legal, logical and practical flaws in this photo ID requirement and its shoddy implementation in great and exacting detail, making it clear that these are flaws that would — intentionally or not — keep hundreds of thousands of perfectly lawful voters from even entering the voting booth. His opinion is a virtual judicial stake through the heart of the photo ID requirement,” Burkhoff said.

A spokesman for the NAACP, whose Pennsylvania chapter joined in the challenge, hailed McGinley's decision.

“This Court recognizes that unnecessary barriers to the ballot box are counter to the principle this nation holds most dear — that all citizens should have free and unfettered access to the ballot box. The NAACP, Pennsylvania State Conference, ACLU and other plaintiffs have worked tirelessly for this moment, and we hope to repeat this victory across the nation,” said Jotaka Eaddy, NAACP voting rights director.

Ben Geffen of the Public Interest Law Firm of Philadelphia conceded the fight his firm joined may not be finished. The state Supreme Court could take up an appeal before the spring primary if Corbett opts to file one, he said.

“If the Commonwealth chooses to appeal, we'll be ready. But we hope they don't,” he said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, whose office defended the law in court, was circumspect on Friday. Kane said she is awaiting word from “the client,” in this case, the governor's office.

“I respect Judge McGinley's very thoughtful decision in this matter. The Office of Attorney General will continue to defend the rights of all Pennsylvanians, and we will work with all related Commonwealth agencies to carry out this decision and ensure that all voters have access to free and fair elections,” Kane wrote in an email.

Democrats and civil liberties groups had long opposed the law, claiming it was an attempt to suppress voter turnout among groups likely to support Democrats. Republicans, who control the Pennsylvania General Assembly, said the law was necessary to root out voter fraud.

“Senate Democrats have said clearly and repeatedly that the voter ID law was an overreach that would result in the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters. It was a law that should have never been approved, and we are very happy that the court turned aside the measure today,” state Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said on Friday.

Republican State Committee Chairman Rob Gleason said he was disappointed with McGinley's decision.

“The overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians support a way to protect their right to vote and combat voter fraud,” Gleason said.

Witold “Vic” Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, noted that the state was unable to point to any specific instances of voter fraud during the trial.

“They could not point to a single instance. And to look at it that way, the only fraud that's being perpetrated in Pennsylvania is by the people who support this voter ID law,” Walczak said.


Pa. State Rep Metcalfe Speaks On Strikedown Of Voter ID Law

January 17, 2014 2:11 PM

 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dom Giordano spoke with Pennsylvania State Representative Daryl Metcalfe on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT about a court ruling Friday that strikes down the Commonwealth’s voter identification law.

Metcalfe was harsh in his reaction to Judge Bernard McGinley’s decision, saying he thwarted the will of the people, “just by his incompetence in making a ruling and negligence in carrying out his duty.”

One of Metcalfe’s complaints stems from the timing of the ruling and its proximity to Pennsylvania’s primary season.

“By dragging it out like this, he’s pushing it to the end of the Corbett term when, according to activist judicial ruling and the philosophical disagreements that he obviously has with making sure people are who they say they are when they show up to vote, [and] by striking down voter ID in Pennsylvania, he was just trying to set us up for a lack of time to appeal to the Supreme Court while we have an administration who might actually do that,” Corbett told Giordano during the interview.

Giordano asked Metcalfe what would be the reaction of the State Supreme Court and Chief Justice Ron Castille, if the Governor Tom Corbett decides to appeal today’s ruling. Metcalfe responded that, “he [Castille] should be intimately familiar with the shenanigans that play out in Philadelphia politics with trying to influence elections in a fraudulent manner. He should be with the people on this decision, the majority of people that believe showing an ID is not an undue burden if you expect to exercise that all important right of choosing who is going to govern you.”

Metcalfe was certain that the law does meet reasonable standards and that, “any logical judge would believe that the state has a specific interest in insuring people are who they say they are and to not do so is to disenfranchise the legally cast votes of every other citizen in the state.”


Trib

Game commission bureau director may be subject of probe

By Bob Frye
Published: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, 10:18 p.m.

It appears as though an ethics investigation involving a Pennsylvania Game Commission bureau director is ongoing.

Last September, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the Butler County Republican who serves as chairman of the state government committee, asked the state Ethics Commission to investigate Bill Capouillez. He serves as director of the Game Commission's bureau of wildlife habitat management.

In that role, he negotiates oil and gas leases for the agency.

At the same time, he's worked in his off hours as a consultant, negotiating leases — often with the same energy companies — for private landowners.

The Game Commission looked into his private work several years ago, when complaints about the fairness of Capouillez's wearing public and private hats first arose. The agency found no fault.

Others, though, including competitors in the industry, have continued to charge that his state job represents an unfair advantage, if not a conflict of interest.

That prompted Metcalfe to call for the investigation.

Robert Caruso, executive director of the ethics commission, would not speak to whether an investigation was opened, or whether it's moved from the preliminary to the active stage, as some have speculated in recent weeks.

“I can't confirm or deny, by law, if any investigation is open, whether preliminary or active,” Caruso said.

But he added that “you can put two and two together, based on what you're hearing.”

No results of any review should be expected soon.

The ethics commission, which has a staff of five investigators, handles about 80 to 100 cases a year, Caruso said. Most take a year to complete, he added.

The game commission, though spokesman Travis Lau, declined to comment on the matter, categorizing it as a personnel issue.

For his part, Metcalfe repeated his contention that the idea of anyone working for the state by day and in the same industry by night fails the “common sense” test.

If the ethics commission decides that Capioullez's outside work doesn't represent a conflict, the law is flawed and needs changed, he said.


Philly Inqu

Pa. gas prices rise, while other states see decline
Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau

Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 8:19 PM

 

HARRISBURG - Motorists across Pennsylvania are feeling the gas tax pinch already, paying a few more pennies at the pump this year compared with drivers in neighboring states, according to a new survey by AAA Mid-Atlantic.

The group attributes the higher gas prices to a provision in the new transportation funding act that increased the wholesale gas tax that retailers then imposed on consumers.

The sweeping transportation bill, approved late last year, lifted the cap on the oil franchise tax as one of the ways to raise $2.3 billion to address highway and transit infrastructure needs.

The new AAA survey found in the first two weeks of the year that gas prices went up an average of four cents per gallon in Pennsylvania, while surrounding states experienced declines by as much as five cents in Delaware and three cents in New Jersey.

"It looks like it correlates," said Jenny Robinson, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, which supported the transportation bill. "Gas prices in Pennsylvania went up in the first few days of the year, and they didn't go up in other states."

As of Jan. 1, wholesale gas taxes were increased by 9.5 cents per gallon under the first phase of changes to the oil franchise tax.

Per-gallon prices are projected to increase by as much 25 cents as the phase-in occurs over four years.

Jim Runk, president of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, which represents 1,300 trucking companies, said it is too early to tell if the increase is connected to the gas tax.

The five-county Philadelphia area gas average stood at $3.55 Monday, down three cents in the last week, according to AAA.

On Tuesday, the price of U.S. oil was up nearly 1 percent, according to industry reports.

Robinson acknowledged that no one wants to pay more for gasoline but said there is a cost to doing nothing.

"This improves safety and everyone's commute," she said. "We also hope market factors will offset some of those costs of wholesale taxes."

She said AAA was pleased to see the increase was small and did not leap to the full amount projected, as some had thought it would.

Critics of the bill said it was no surprise that retailers would pass the cost on to consumers.

"I think that what's happening is exactly what we predicted would happen. We are seeing a gas tax," said Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican, who noticed that prices jumped 10 cents a gallon in his Butler County district between New Year's Eve and Jan. 1.

"Consumers will have to absorb the cost and will not be recognizing the benefit of gas prices going down," said Metcalfe, who is a cosponsor of a bill to repeal the transportation act.

Increases in vehicle registration and driver's license fees - also part of the transportation funding act - go into effect in 2015.

By 2017, with the transportation plan fully in place, it is estimated the additional costs and fees together will amount to about $2.50 a week for every Pennsylvania motorist.


Senators press for same-sex marriage bill

By Danielle Lynch, Delaware County Daily Times

Posted: 01/08/14, 10:28 PM EST|

A group of Democratic state senators renewed their push for a same-sex marriage bill here in Pennsylvania along with a bill that would ban employer and landlord discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians.

The group included state Sens. Daylin Leach, D-17, of Upper Merion, Mike Stack, D-5, of Philadelphia, and Larry Farnese, D-1, of Philadelphia. The news conference took place in Philadelphia.

“I’d like to offer heartfelt thanks to my colleagues for publicly announcing their involvement in this critical cause,” Leach said on Monday. “But today is not just about announcing support for these equality bills. Today is a day to demand legislative action. Together, we ask our fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join our coalition and pass this bill when we return to Harrisburg. Today we ask the governor to support us, and we ask all Pennsylvanians to call their legislators and advocate for the long overdue equality that the LGBT community has waited for and deserves.”

The group of senators tried to call attention to Senate Bill 719, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. Leach, who is running for U.S. Congress, is the prime sponsor of the bill and has introduced the bill since 2009. It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in March of last year. State Rep. Brian Sims, D-182, of Philadelphia, introduced a companion bill in the fall. House Bill 1686 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

The Democratic senators also tried to draw attention to House Bill 300 and its companion, Senate Bill 300, which would ban employer and landlord discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pennsylvanians. Both bills were referred to the state House Government Committee last August.

The chairman of the House Government Committee is state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12, of Butler County. Metcalfe has a reputation for being one of the most conservative members in Harrisburg and a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.

Leach, who has a reputation for being one of the most liberal state legislators, has called on House leadership to move the bill out of Metcalfe’s committee.

“Mr. Metcalfe is not a dictator ... he’s just one person and GOP leaders have a lot of tools at their disposal to move this forward,” Leach said.

Leach suggested House Speaker Sam Smith, R-66, of Jefferson County, refer the bill to another committee or allow for a discharge petition.

Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Smith, R-66, of Jefferson County, and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-28, of Allegheny County, questioned why House Democrats didn’t try to move a bill like House Bill 300 forward when they dominated the House a few years ago.

“Isn’t it hypocritical for them to say something about this issue now?” he asked.

Miskin also argued that Smith cannot just “pluck” a bill out of a committee.

“The Speaker does not have the authority to move a bill from a committee; once a bill is referred, the only way for a bill to move is by a vote of members — either the committee members or by a discharge resolution appropriately filed and voted — that’s it,” said Miskin.

Polls indicate that support is growing for same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania. A Franklin & Marshall College poll that was conducted last May showed that 54 percent of all Pennsylvanians support marriage equality. That represents an increase from a similar survey in May 2006, which showed that 33 percent of all Pennsylvanians support marriage equality.

Metcalfe said he doesn’t bring bills in the state House Government Committee to a vote unless the vote will sail through. He said bills similar to House Bill 300 in other states are used “as a hammer against Christians to accept behavior that they view as immoral.” He described the legislation as “out of touch” with the mainstream population and said it was part of Leach’s “radical” agenda.


York Daily Record

Pennsylvania GOP a party without principles

By Elizabeth Roberts

Updated: 01/02/2014 12:37:07 PM EST


In March 2012, York's Republican Committee Chairman, Bob Wilson, made the following comments regarding the local "tea party" group, the York 912 Patriots: If the leadership of the York 912 group wanted to make a positive impact in York County and in Pennsylvania, they would be focusing their efforts on defeating Barack Obama, Bob Casey and Eugene DePasquale.

 

Each year, the Liberty Index compiles a score for Pennsylvania's legislators based on how well they advance an agenda of limited government and economic freedom. Each earns a grade based on his voting record, and is ranked in order from best to worst.

Let's look at the 2012 Liberty Index scores for some of York's representatives, listed in order:

Seth Grove D+

Will Tallman D+

Keith Gillespie D

Eugene DePasquale D

Ron Miller D

Stan Saylor D

Seth Grove ranked 68th. Eugene DePasquale, Ron Miller and Stan Saylor all tied for 147th. Our senators fared no better.

According to its website, the Pennsylvania Republican Party claims to champion the following: Reducing the size of government, streamlining the bureaucracy, returning power to the states.

The site goes on to say the state Republican Party believes in encouraging ownership and investment, making tax relief permanent, protecting the rights of the unborn and bringing education reform to high schools.

If the GOP was serious, it should have been working to dethrone Ron Miller and Stan Saylor, who don't do such a bang-up job of advancing the party's principles, at least no better than former Democratic Rep. DePasquale.

Thanks to their 2001 vote to increase their own pensions by 50 percent, Miller and Saylor will be handsomely rewarded for their below-average performance in the General Assembly. Like the doctor who leaps from his car after running over a pedestrian and says, "Thank God I was here to help," Reps. Saylor and Miller will be hard at work this year fixing the pension crisis they created.

With no plan to fund the upcoming pension spike, our Republican Legislature felt a $2.4 billion tax increase to fund infrastructure projects was warranted. All their boasting about the passage of the transportation bill should outrage every citizen of the commonwealth.

Maintaining infrastructure should have taken priority in the budget, and other spending should have been curtailed to pay for the repair of roads and bridges. At least two representatives, Stephen Bloom and Daryl Metcalfe, put forth viable plans to pay for infrastructure improvement from existing revenue, so a $2.4 billion tax increase was not necessary.

Unfortunately, Reps. Grove, Saylor, Tallman, Miller and Sens. Alloway, Smucker, Vance and Waugh disagreed, because all supported the massive tax increases in this bill. Their claim that incremental increases in gas prices and licensing and registration fees will minimally impact Pennsylvania's drivers is hogwash.

Did they consider the significantly increased costs to the companies that deliver goods and services across the state, which are always passed to the consumer? Talk about death by a thousand paper cuts.

How having some of the highest gas prices in the nation and imposing crippling licensure fees on commercial vehicles encourages ownership and investment in Pennsylvania is beyond me.

Since the party of tax relief was raising taxes anyway, it threw Philadelphia and Pittsburgh a $500 million bone to subsidize their public transit systems, and $40 million to themselves in the form of walking around money. On the bright side of things, they raised the prevailing wage threshold to $100,000, although nearly every publicly funded construction project far exceeds that amount.

The education reform our Republican representatives are talking about must be the federally led and highly controversial education overhaul, Common Core, as not one, save Will Tallman, made an effort to oppose it -- or even bring it before the General Assembly for discussion. Surrendering to the feds on the education of our children does not quite jibe with returning power to the states.

As for protecting the rights of the unborn, Rep. Grove, Rep. Miller, Sen. Vance and Sen. Waugh all received stellar ratings, 100 percent each, from Planned Parenthood, Pennsylvania's largest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood even went the extra mile for Ron Miller by supporting his 2012 campaign, his reward for voting to allocate millions of tax dollars to the organization.

Fortunately for our Grand Old Party, they absolved themselves from any accountability to their principles by adding to them the caveat, "As the party of the open door, while steadfast in our commitment to our ideals, we respect and accept that members of our Party can have deeply held and sometimes differing views."

Maybe the Pennsylvania GOP should have adopted their party platform from Groucho Marx, who quipped, "Those are my principles; if you don't like them, I have others."

In October 2013, Chairman Wilson once again opined about the York 912 Patriots, "Teaching people to dig holes in the ground for the impending government collapse or zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first, is not contributing anything positive to the political spectrum."

If I had to put my money on which comes first, a zombie apocalypse or the Republican Party actually upholding its principles, I'd have to go with the zombie apocalypse.

Elizabeth Roberts is a member of the York 912 Patriots group. She lives in Dover Township.


ABC LOGO

Mixed reaction to Corbett's stance on LGBT discrimination bill

Dec 19, 2013 8:57 AM EST By Al Gnoza

ABC_CSREEN_SHOT
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Governor Tom Corbett is firmly against gay marriage, but he now says he would support legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Corbett said Wednesday he would support a bill that bans LGBT discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in public accommodations.

But state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe opposes the bill and says people aren't aware of what it would do.

"This legislation would open the door for your wife or your daughter or your mother to be in a locker room or a public restroom and have a man come in that's self-identified as a woman that day," Metcalfe said.

The gay rights group Equality PA commended the governor for his support of the bill.  Executive Director Ted Martin issued a statement which read in part, "Discrimination against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people is real in 2013 and it must be stopped. If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that everyone should have equal opportunity and a level playing field. Thank you, Governor Corbett, for calling out discrimination in all its forms."

Metcalfe thinks the governor is changing stances to win some votes.

"This seems like just another shift to the left for a governor who's hoping political maneuvers can save his low poll numbers," he said.


Philly Inqu

Critics say Pa.'s walking around money is back

Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau

Posted: Sunday, December 1, 2013, 2:01 AM

HARRISBURG - Could WAMs be back?

Three years ago, Gov. Corbett declared he had rid Harrisburg of the long-decried perk: the so-called walking around money slipped each year into the budget for legislators to fund pet projects in their districts.

But skeptics believe the oft-criticized WAMs - or a thinly veiled equivalent - made a comeback last month in the $2.3 billion transportation funding plan the legislature approved and Corbett signed.

That is because in crafting the bill, lawmakers also made certain they gave themselves say over tens of millions of dollars of that money.

"Yes, this bill has WAMs," Sen. Jim Ferlo (D., Allegheny) contended during the floor debate on the bill, adding that he hoped they weren't inserted to garner more votes for the transportation funding plan, which was hotly debated and considered politically risky because it increases fuel taxes and motor vehicle license fees.

Other legislators - Republican and Democratic - as well as Corbett administration officials adamantly denied the transportation money has similarities to WAMs, which Corbett eliminated in a bid to increase transparency in state spending.

They say the bill to fund roads, bridges, and transit systems was a critical and long-overdue cash infusion for the state's crumbling infrastructure and will boost Pennsylvania's economy while creating jobs and encouraging companies to expand or invest in the state.

WAMs were grants, often indiscernible in the state budget, that legislative leaders directed to pet projects - for everything from festivals to playground equipment - in their own or colleagues' districts.

Good-government groups and even some legislators criticized the WAMs as secretive and lacking accountability. Some took it a step further, contending caucus leaders in Harrisburg doled them out as a way to control legislators in their party and ensure they voted a certain way.

The majority of the funding approved last month will be awarded through the Department of Transportation's competitive bidding process.

But legislators also added a provision to the bill to direct a portion of the money - $40 million in the first year, and roughly $60 million in the years after that - through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA), whose board is controlled by legislative leaders.

The CFA money will be used to fund smaller transportation-related projects in communities, such as improving lighting, sidewalks, pedestrian safety, and streetscapes, according to language in the bill.

"I can't comprehend why people would criticize it as being akin to what is commonly referred to WAMs," said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware). "The criticism of those had to do with secrecy and opaqueness. And this [the CFA] is a very open process."

He noted that the CFA, established under Gov. Ed Rendell to administer the state's economic-stimulus money, had regularly scheduled public meetings and had a website listing all projects it funds.

What is indisputable is the sway legislative leaders have over the CFA's decisions. The authority's seven-member board includes appointees from the four legislative caucuses; the remaining seats are held by Corbett administration cabinet members. A supermajority of five board members is needed to approve any action - and four of those votes have to come from the legislative appointees.

The bill also allows for a separate $40 million pot to go to the state's transportation secretary - now Barry Schoch - who can decide where that money should be spent.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler) said in an interview he was bothered more by that allocation than by the money directed to the CFA.

"The problem is allowing any one individual the ability to make these decisions," Metcalfe said. "When you allow a gubernatorial administration to do that, you give them access to tax dollars to use as leverage to get something they want from the legislature. It's a corrupting influence that you are establishing."

Administration officials said Schoch had historically had discretion over spending on certain aspects of transportation projects, and that this was no different.

Corbett spokesman Steve Chizmar said such discretionary money would be used mainly to complete projects that may end up needing some extra funding.

"This is a historic piece of legislation that will be felt across every corner of the commonwealth," Chizmar said. "There are going to be individuals who want to poke holes in this, but the reality is it will benefit all of Pennsylvania."


Trib Logo

What's that smell?: WAMs return to Harrisburg

By Tribune-Review

Published: Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Gov. Tom Corbett's spokesman insists the tax hike at the heart of Pennsylvania's new $2.3 billion transportation plan isn't really a tax hike; rather, the plan is “removing an artificial cap” on the wholesale gasoline tax. So, it figures that legislative leaders insist that $40 million going next year to the Commonwealth Finance Authority, an agency they control, isn't really the return of infamous “walking-around money,” better known as WAMs.

But no euphemism can change how that money — and another incestuous $40 million that the PennDOT secretary gets to spend in consultation with legislative leaders — is as ripe for abuse as WAMs were. And no denial of “quid pro quo” politicking can alleviate suspicions that those dollars — along with promises of projects in their districts — helped flip lawmakers' votes to win passage of the multibillion-dollar package.

That's what Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, contends. He voted against the bill and considers the PennDOT secretary's $40 million a WAM. And on the opposite end of the political spectrum, Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, criticized the bill for reviving WAMs.

A spokesman for House Republicans claims the $40 million for the Commonwealth Finance Authority was intended “to have some legislative input but overall accountability and set standards.” Yet history shows that legislative leaders disdain true accountability.

All this effort to fool the public betrays this funding package's real nature: It's Harrisburg politics as usual


Eagle logo

Metcalfe attacks Kane
Resolution to impeach introduced

GG Eagle Staff Report
Article published November 27, 2013

HARRISBURG — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, wants to push Attorney General Kathleen Kane out.
On Tuesday, Metcalfe of Cranberry Township introduced a resolution in the state House of Representatives calling for her impeachment.
“All public officials in Pennsylvania swear an oath to uphold and defend the constitution and laws of this commonwealth,” Metcalfe said in a prepared statement. “Attorney General Kane's repeated violation of her constitutional, statutory and ethical duties cannot be tolerated if our system of government is to work properly.”
Metcalfe cited a news conference at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia that Kane held to announce that she would not defend the constitutionality of the state's Defense of Marriage Act against a federal lawsuit.
Her decision, Metcalfe said, was based solely on her own opinion that this lawfully enacted Pennsylvania statute is “wholly unconstitutional.”
Metcalfe said the Commonwealth Attorneys Act imposes a mandatory duty on the attorney general to defend the constitutionality of all lawfully enacted statutes, regardless of personal opinion.
No court has ruled that the state's legal definition of marriage between one man and one woman is unconstitutional, he noted.
“This type of misbehavior in office cannot be allowed,” Metcalfe said. “If an attorney general can pick and choose which laws are constitutional and which laws she will defend or enforce, then the will of 'We the People' through our elected lawmakers is thwarted by tyranny.”Metcalfe said that Kane has caused a “constitutional crisis,” and that it is the duty of the House to stop her. He said the resolution has several co-sponsors.
“It is my hope that members of the Legislature will join me in telling Kathleen Kane, 'You're Fired!'” Metcalfe said in the statement.
The House is the legislative body that initiates the impeachment process. If the House votes to impeach, the Senate conducts the trial and convicts the official.
In an interview, Metcalfe said he has no idea how long that process would take.
In a response in the past, Kane said Metcalfe's resolution is an example of partisan politics that state residents are tired of.
“I ran for attorney general because partisan politics are so rampant and ugly, that the people of Pennsylvania are not properly served by their government,” Kane said.
She said one of Metcalfe's main goals is to get media attention, and said he should be more focused on education reform, job creation and improving transportation.
Kane also said Metcalfe has a limited understanding of the law and legal principles.
“I do not believe he cares about facts or the law,” Kane said.

Eagle logo

Pa. transportation bill divides county leaders
Most legislators vote against it

http://www.butlereagle.com/graphics/nothing.gif

HARRISBURG — Although the state House of Representatives voted 113-85 to pass a bill to provide at least $2.3 billion in transportation funding, most Butler County House members voted against the bill.
The bill, passed Thursday, created a new tax for gasoline and raised other fees to put funding toward roads, bridges and mass transportation.
State Rep. Brian Ellis, R-11th, voted against the bill.
“Transportation is a core, essential role of government, and I believe that the condition of our roads and bridges should be improved; however, I do not believe that a substantial tax increase is the solution to this issue,” Ellis said in a statement.
He said that residents have a hard enough time making ends meet these days, and the increased tax will make that worse. He also noted that his district is rural, and driving is essential for getting around.
“The bottom line is that I am here to represent the residents of the 11th District, and I don't feel that the so-called benefits of this bill would match the needs of our area. There are always winners and losers when considering major pieces of legislation. As far as this plan is concerned, the 11th District would not be a winner,” Ellis said.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, also voted against the bill.
Before its passage on Thursday, Metcalfe urged legislators to vote against the bill and called on residents to contact legislators to vote against the bill.
“The 28 cents per gallon Corbett gas tax increase only passed by three votes on Tuesday,” Metcalfe said, saying it would not have been out of the question to change that.
He said the law will give state drivers the highest gasoline tax in the U.S., and also result in increases in vehicle-related fees and fines.

State Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-10th, voted against the bill.
“I realize Pennsylvania's transportation system is facing major issues on multiple levels,” Gibbons said. “However, I do not feel this is the proper way to fix the problem. Passing the burden of funding our transportation issues on to working families, senior citizens and struggling businesses is something I cannot support,” Gibbons said in a statement.
He said the bill amounts to a $2.3 billion tax hike on working residents.
“While Gov. Corbett has repeatedly found the ability to cut taxes for big corporations, he has no problem raising taxes that will significantly burden the average Pennsylvania family. This tax increase will hit local businesses harshly, resulting in rising delivery and transportation costs, which will surely be passed on to the consumer,” he said.

State Rep. Dick Stevenson, R-8th, said that he voted against the bill because it went too far without justification.
He said in an interview that additional money is needed for transportation, but he said that $2.3 billion is too much, especially considering the hard economic times.
Stevenson said that Gov. Corbett's transportation committee last year recommended increasing spending by only $1.8 billion.
One the other hand, Rep. R. Lee James, R-64th, voted in favor of the bill.
“Roads and bridges are fundamental to our economy,” James said in a statement. “If our roads and bridges fail, our economy fails. Workers need roads and bridges to get to their jobs and businesses need road and bridges to deliver products and services to consumers. Fixing our transportation infrastructure is a fundamental responsibility of government.”
An estimate suggests the bill could create up to 50,000 new jobs, he said.
“The investment in our transportation infrastructure will have ripple effects throughout our economy,” James said. “Waiting to fix our roads and bridges would have cost taxpayers more money in the future.”
The bill is expected to be signed into law by Corbett next week. It passed the Senate on Wednesday, 43-7.
Three of the four senators whose districts cover parts of Butler County favored the bill.
They were Sens. Randy Vulakovich, R-40th, Donald White, R-41st, and Robert Robbins, R-50th.
Sen. Scott Hutchinson, R-21st, voted against it.


Trib logo

Gov. Corbett signs transportation bill, heads to Pittsburgh

By Bobby Kerlik

Published: Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, 11:00 a.m.

Gov. Tom Corbett crisscrossed the state on Monday, celebrating the signing of a $2.3 billion transportation law as critics in his own party called the law a tax increase and vowed to make it a campaign issue.

Corbett appeared under the Liberty Bridge, Downtown, flanked by Democrats and fellow Republicans who supported the hotly debated law that pledges to improve the state's highways, bridges and mass transit systems funded through higher vehicle-related fees and wholesale gas taxes.

He said voting for the bill was the right thing to do and said there was “not a chance” of repealing it.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, a vocal critic of the bill, said he planned to co-sponsor a move to repeal the law next month.

“The governor has violated his taxpayer pledge not to raise taxes when today he signed a $2 billion tax increase,” Metcalfe said. “Most definitely, it will be an issue in the election. I will be talking about this next year.”...


Transportation funding bill heads to Corbett's desk

Posted: Nov 21, 2013 10:09 PM EST

By Karissa Shatzer - bio | email

 CBS

Video available here: http://www.abc27.com/story/24039855/transportation-funding-bill-heads-to-corbetts-desk

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

The transportation funding bill is now on Governor Tom Corbett's desk.

The bill passed the Senate Wednesday afternoon 43-7. The House gave its stamp of approval Thursday with a vote of 113-85.

Corbett said he is thrilled that the transportation funding bill passed.

"I'd like to welcome you and Pennsylvania to a new era...to a resurgent and re-energized Pennsylvania," Corbett said.

gThe bill will raise an additional $2.4 billion to fund mass transit systems and improve roadways. For example, there are plans to add a third lane to I-81 between Rt. 581 and Rt. 114. There are also plans to make I-83 six lanes.

The measure will also fund repairs for structurally deficient roads and bridges.

"This is a unique bill that really was aimed at the safety and the growth of this Commonwealth," said Corbett.

The measure will raise some PennDOT fees and services. The cost of vanity plates will increase from $20 to $76. Special funds plates will go from $35 to $54. Accident reports will go from $5 to $22. Title certificates will increase from $22.50 to $50. The cost of ID cards will go from $5 to $19, plus the cost of the photo.

Fines for traffic violations will also increase. If you're caught going one to six miles per hour over the speed limit, the fine will increase from $30 to $45. The fine for 11 to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit used to be $40. It will now be $60. The fine for going 16 to 25 miles per hour over the speed limit will go from $50 to $75.

The bill also eliminates the state gas tax, but increases taxes on oil companies, which will likely lead to higher prices at the pump. Some estimates said that will cost 28 cents more per gallon. But PennDOT Secretary, Barry Schoch, said no one can guess the cost.

"We don't know what the impact's gonna be at the pump. We've said that over and over again. We don't know today how much they're asking. All we know is we just eliminated today $.12.5 cents at the pump and after that it'll be the oil company franchise tax. What happens in January? How much does the price of gas bounce around on a weekly basis? We won't know," Schoch said.

"Nobody wants to pay more than they have to but we need to pay our fair share and protect everyone," said State Representative Sue Helm, a Republican who represents Dauphin County.

State Representative Daryl Metcalfe, who fought against the bill, said state government gets enough in taxes, and lawmakers should find money for roads and bridges elsewhere. He said Midstaters should fight back and call on the governor to veto the plan.

"I think taxpayers should put the heat on the governor to say you signed a pledge saying you wouldn't increase taxes. A $2 billion tax increase is a violation of that pledge and a broken promise to the people of Pennsylvania," Metcalfe said.

Corbett said he will sign the bill into law sometime next week.


Trib Logo

Legislative leaders to advise PennDOT secretary in spending $40 million of transportation money

By Brad Bumsted

Published: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

HARRISBURG — The $2.3 billion transportation bill awaiting Gov. Tom Corbett's signature funnels $40 million next year to a state agency controlled by legislative leaders for projects, which critics claim are a form of so-called “walking-around money.”

The bill stipulates the money going to the Commonwealth Financing Authority is for transportation-related projects.

“It sounds perilously close to the bad old days of WAMs,” said Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause of Pennsylvania, who argued against the discretionary money to lawmakers' pet projects for decades.

Separately, the PennDOT secretary gets $40 million to spend on projects — after consultation with legislative leaders, said Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Republicans.

“The final decision is the secretary's,” he said.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who voted against the bill, considers the money for PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch's disbursement a WAM. It's too much money and power given to one individual, said Metcalfe, R-Cranberry.

Corbett pledged to get rid of WAMs as a candidate in 2010, but his spokesman Steve Chizmar said of this money: “We don't consider them WAMs.”

Corbett has said he'll sign the bill on Monday.

Walking-around money has been part of the legislative process off and on since the 1970s. Typically, lawmakers tuck discretionary grants into the budgets of executive branch agencies — some years as much as $200 million. Legislative leaders control disbursement of the money.

Critics say WAMs helped leaders garner votes and keep rank-and-file-lawmakers in line.

Schoch said he has wide discretion on state spending from the Motor License Fund for needed flexibility on key projects. Asked whether anyone promised to include projects in this bill, or move up planned work on projects, in return for votes, he said: “Absolutely not.”

The $40 million is “money that the secretary has at his discretion to make projects whole,” Chizmar said. “In some smaller counties, they may lack the funds necessary to complete larger projects. This can help with that.”

Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, in floor debate claimed the transportation bill contained WAMs.

Metcalfe charged that road projects were offered to get legislators to vote for a key amendment, which the House shot down on Monday and then approved on Tuesday when several lawmakers flipped their votes. The amendment raises revenue through a wholesale gasoline tax increase expected to be passed on to consumers.

Metcalfe said two legislators told him that they would vote for the bill because they were promised projects. He did not name them but suggested that PennDOT made the promise.

The turnaround on the bill “suggests there were some deals made,” Kauffman said.

Lawmakers were shown publicly released lists of projects that could be completed with additional revenue, Chizmar said.

“In some cases, maybe, we said projects could be moved up in the process,” Chizmar said. “There weren't discussions saying, ‘If you vote for it, we'll do this.' ”

Traditionally, executive branch members seeking votes “talk about projects for districts,” said G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. “There's nothing illegal or untoward about it.”

Stephen Miskin, spokesman for House Republicans, said the idea behind grants to the Commonwealth Financing Authority “was to have some legislative input but overall accountability and set standards.”

In an earlier Senate version of the bill, the four House and Senate majority and minority chairs of transportation committees would have considered grants individually, Miskin said.

“We negotiated for what we thought was a more open process,” he said.

PennDOT said the authority would receive an estimated $40 million in 2014-15, then $61 million for two fiscal years, then roughly $67 million in 2017-18.

Legislative leaders of both parties appoint four of the Commonwealth Finance Authority's seven members; the governor names three. Each legislative appointee has veto power on projects. All four leaders' appointees must cast unanimous support for a project to advance. Five votes are required for project approval. The authority was set up under former Gov. Ed Rendell to disburse money from his “economic stimulus” plan.

The board's makeup lends itself to potential deal-making, Kauffman said.

The authority “receives applications and reviews them to ensure the applications meet the qualifications of the guidelines of the program” as established by its board, said Steve Kratz, spokesman for the Department of Community and Economic Development, which houses the authority.


WPXI

Target 11 investigates counties with most welfare fraud

WPXI Wefare fraud

Video available here: http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/target-11-investigates-counties-most-welfare-fraud/nbzrT/

It’s a ranking Pittsburgh probably won’t be proud to claim. Allegheny County had more cases of welfare fraud than any other county in the entire state of Pennsylvania.

Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle obtained the data and he’s spent weeks breaking it all down. 

The population in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County is much smaller than Philadelphia, but Allegheny County had nearly three times as many welfare fraud cases.  In all, investigators worked 151 welfare fraud cases in Allegheny county just last year alone. 

“Can we talk to you about these welfare fraud charges?" Earle asked.  

“I don’t have anything to say about that.  I’ve moved on,” Andrew Lee told Earle.

Lee isn’t talking about the welfare fraud charges he’s now facing.   But last year Lee had plenty to say to our camera when he filed a protection from abuse order against Pittsburgh Police Commander Rashall Brackney.

This woman is a loose cannon and shouldn't be allowed to carry a gun," said Lee. "I didn't think she'd take it this far."

A judge ultimately dismissed the protection from abuse order, citing a lack of evidence.   Lee was then charged with filing a false PFA.  He was convicted and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and two years’ probation. 

The welfare fraud charges surfaced during the PFA investigation. 

Investigators says Lee lied on his welfare application, failing to tell them among other things that he owned a cigar shop on the North Side, five rental properties and three cars, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators says Lee received nearly $8,000 in food stamps and medical assistance during a two year period.

“Well, I just want your side of the story,” said Earle. 

Target 11 obtained the number of welfare fraud cases for the state.  It jumped from 976 total cases last year to 1106 this year, and the dollar amount also went up from $3.6 million to $4 million. 

Allegheny county led the state in the number of cases and the amount of money.

“If there are people defrauding the system do we want to catch them, absolutely.  Do we want to find abuse.  Absolutely, that's part of our mission.  There will never be enough money to meet the needs and there will never be enough especially if there is waste fraud and abuse,” said DPW Secretary Beverly Mackereth.

Target 11 also learned that DPW detected 12,000 welfare cards used out of state, and they’re looking into 2,000 people with multiple replacement cards, and 1,000 stores with questionable food stamp transactions. 

It’s all part of an effort to crack down on welfare fraud.

But state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from Cranberry, tells Target 11 that all of this fraud, waste and abuse shows a broken system in desperate need of a fix.

“The majority of people don't mind seeing people in real need find some assistance, but there are so many abuses in the system.  I’m hoping we can tackle these types of issues and get some help out of the Governor’s Office to do so," said Metcalfe.

As for Andrew Lee, he faces a preliminary hearing on those welfare charges  in January. 


Trib Logo

Transportation bill makes allies of Dermody, Metcalfe

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 12:56 a.m

When it comes to controversial issues, rarely are state Rep. Frank Dermody, the House Democratic leader, and Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, one of the House's most conservative members, on the same side.

But party alliances couldn't predict votes for the comprehensive $2.3 billion transportation package to fix Pennsylvania's rapidly decaying bridges and roads and fund mass transportation systems such as the Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

But, after a day of intense lobbying, the package that will raise gas taxes at the pumps passed the House 104-95 on Tuesday, with Dermody and Metcalfe opposing it.

The state Senate passed the transportation package on Wednesday and the House could vote on the final bill as early as today.

While most local legislators seemed to agree that the decaying bridges and roads need to be fixed, they disagreed on how to do it.

Many objected to the 28-cent-per-gallon increase on the gasoline tax to be phased in over five years and increasing the threshold for the prevailing wage for workers on local, small road projects.

The proposed gasoline tax increase will cause Pennsylvania to be ranked for having the highest gasoline tax in the nation, according to legislators.

More House representatives serving the Alle-Kiski voted against the transportation package than voted for it.

Dermody, D-Oakmont, house democratic leader, voted against the very bill that he helped negotiate.

“It's a good bill,” he said. “It should have been able to stand alone for transportation instead of injecting ideology.”

Dermody was referring to the prevailing-wage component of the bill.

Currently, state and local governments must pay union wages on non-union jobs on public projects. The proposed transportation package raises the threshold for exemption to those union wages from $25,000 to $100,000.

“That should have not been a part of the bill,” Dermody said.

“We're asking people to pay for projects through taxes and fines and we should pay the people who are building them a living wage,” he said.

As of Wednesday, Dermody hadn't decided on his final vote, pending the senate version of the transportation package.

The bill drew bipartisan opposition and support.

“I think it's despicable that the governor and his legislative accomplices can be this callous to the struggles that ordinary citizens are having in this economy now,” said Metcalfe, R-Cranberry...


Trib Logo

Pa. House rejects $2.3 billion transportation bill

By Brad Bumsted and Tom Fontaine

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, 12:51 p.m

HARRISBURG — The Republican-controlled state House on Monday night defeated a $2.3 billion transportation package to help fix Pennsylvania's crumbling bridges and roads, and to bolster mass transit.

It was a top priority for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who hours earlier urged passage at a rally with union and business leaders. Legislation to pay for transportation improvements has proven difficult to get through the House since the Senate approved a $2.5 billion plan in June.

It was defeated by a 103-98 margin.

After the measure was brought up for reconsideration, it failed by a larger margin, 112-89. Asked if there will be another attempt to vote on it Tuesday, House Republican spokesman Stephen Miskin said “it's always possible.” But he signaled no definite plan to do so.

House Republicans met behind closed doors for hours on the proposal, which has divided the GOP caucus on whether the legislation's funding mechanism is a tax increase.

“Pennsylvanians can wait no longer to be assured their bridges will be safe and remain open, their highways will remain smooth, and their transit systems will be kept in place,” Corbett said earlier on Monday. “No action on the compromise plan that all sides have hammered out in the last few weeks is not acceptable. Pennsylvania will suffer in many ways if this opportunity passes.”

Corbett said transportation is among “certain core functions of government.”

Rep. Brad Roae, a Crawford County Republican, called the legislation “a $2.5 billion tax increase.” It is “absolutely certain” that under the bill, oil companies will pass higher wholesale gas taxes onto consumers, Roae said.

“The Corbett tax increase ... sets us up to have the highest gas tax in the country,” said Rep, Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry...


WPXI

Target 11 investigates food stamp balance of $12K

WPXI-Daryl_Metcalfe

Video available here: http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/target-11-investigates-food-stamp-balance-12k/nbg9H/

 

It certainly caught our attention. A viewer emailed us a grocery store receipt with a food stamp balance listed as $12,000.

We wanted to know how this could happen, we sent Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle out to get some answers.

At first, we thought it might be typo or an accounting mistake, but then we discovered that it is the real thing.

This person actually had a food stamp balance of more than $12,000. And this set off a firestorm of controversy from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg.

We showed the receipt to people who use food stamps and they couldn't believe it.

"I wish I had that money on there. I mean I can really use it. I mean like I said $28, compared to that and I'd be eating like a millionaire," said one food stamp recipient.

"It's really confusing, more than upsetting because I don't quite understand how they did it," said another recipient.

Earle then showed the receipt to the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, the office that administers the food stamp program.

Earle asked the secretary if the high balance is a concern.

"Yes it is. I don't understand why that is," said Beverly Mackereth, the secretary, who requested a copy of the receipt and vowed to investigate further.

"This is something that we should show the feds. Perhaps they don't even realize this is happening. We will check it out," she told Earle.

According to a DPW spokesperson, under federal law they can't shut down an account unless it's been inactive for 12 months. And the spokesperson said while high balances are unusual they are not illegal. They told Earle they've seen cases where a person is suffering from a mental illness and just doesn't use the benefit, or a person grows their own food and stockpiles the benefits. The food stamp benefits roll over at the end of the month.

"For government to allow that type of a balance to occur, I mean there ought to be audits of every one of these accounts," said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, Cranberry (R), who argued that a person with that high balance doesn't really need assistance every month.

Target 11 discovered nearly two million people in Pennsylvania are on food stamps. It costs taxpayers $231 million every month.

"I think for taxpayers who are working hard every day to make a living to make ends meet for them to see a receipt like this would create outrage and rightly so," said Metcalfe.

We wanted to know how many accounts have high balances, but the state refused to release that information to us. The Department of Public Welfare also wouldn't release any specific information about the account with that $12,000 balance. The department did say, however, that they do investigate any and all suspicious activity.

Right now, there is legislation pending in Congress that addresses this very issue.

It would give individual states the right to shut down an account after only three months of inactivity.


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WPXI

Target 11: As drone use rises, so does concerns about privacy

By Rick Earle, Target 11 Investigator

PITTSBURGH —

The number of drones flying above you is expected to rise dramatically.

The military has used them for years, and now some local universities and businesses want to use them. But with that projected explosion of drones comes some very serious safety and privacy concerns.

At Carnegie Mellon University, researchers are on the cutting edge of drone technology. They’ve developed the Hexicopter, and students and professors gave Target 11 an inside look at this state-of-the-art drone. It costs about $20,000 and relies on a computer and lasers to fly by itself.

“It makes its own map as it goes,” said Jonathan Butzke, a graduate student at CMU.

“It perceives the obstacles and figures out where it should go in order to avoid them,” said Max Likhachev, a CMU robotics professor.

Equipped with a camera and sensors these drones can go where it’s too dangerous for man.

“Hazardous areas such as nuclear reactors, or disaster areas to buildings after the fire. We have been contacted by a nuclear plant and we are discussing whether we can have a drone fly in and exam areas that may have leakage of radioactive material,” said Likhachev.

No longer are drones limited to secret war missions. Channel 11 News spotted this one over Pittsburgh during the arrival of the 40-foot duck that was parked at Point State Park for several weeks.

Crews also used drones to map flood damage in Colorado.

At West Virginia University, students want to use them for mapping projects. And there’s even the possibility of using them for delivering food in the future.

“It's probably faster than a delivery driver, keeps an extra car off the road. Probably better for the environment than driving a vehicle over to deliver a pizza,” Said Butzke.

But right now commercial drone use is illegal, unless you have a permit from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Since 2007, the FAA has issued 1400 permits, most of them to universities for research and to law enforcement agencies for investigative purposes. That number is expected to soar when the FAA opens up airspace to commercial drones in 2015, and that is raising both safety and privacy concerns.

By 2020, the FAA expects anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 drones flying in the skies above you.

“What we want to avoid is some indiscriminate mass surveillance,” said Vic Walczak, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union in Pittsburgh.

The ACLU believes law enforcement agencies should be required to obtain a warrant form a judge before using drones for surveillance.

Some municipalities have already passed laws restricting to the used of drones. State lawmakers in Pennsylvania have also introduced legislation that would make it a crime to use a drone to spy on someone.

“Can you image what kind of privacy issues you'd have if somebody has this technology and is able to fly that over your back yard, and your swimming pool, and up to your bedroom when the shade isn't drawn,” said State Representative Daryl Metcalfe, a republican from Cranberry.

Right now the FAA is in the process of creating six test sites around the country to determine the best way to integrate drones into the airspace.


Post Gazette

Metcalfe calls for Kane's impeachment

Conservative legislator draws

 

By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- When state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would not defend Pennsylvania's law banning same-sex marriage, Republicans said she was abdicating her duty.

Now, one conservative lawmaker says her decision is grounds for impeachment.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, told fellow lawmakers in a memo this week that Ms. Kane, a Democrat, has created a "constitutional crisis" and that he would introduce a resolution containing articles of impeachment.

In an interview, Mr. Metcalfe said he is preparing the resolution because he believes Ms. Kane engaged in "misbehavior in office" -- the basis for impeachment in the Constitution -- by leaving the Corbett administration to defend against a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of same-sex couples.

"The issue is should an attorney general be allowed to say she's not going to defend the constitutionality of a law she disagrees with when the law of Pennsylvania says the attorney general shall defend the constitutionality of all Pennsylvania laws," he said. "This is not partisan. This is not about politics, as she's out to make it. This is about the rule of law, plain and simple."

Mr. Metcalfe is known as a conservative firebrand whose declarations are not always backed by Republican leadership. But caucus higher-ups were not entirely dismissive of the impeachment idea. House Speaker Sam Smith believes the topic is "worth consideration," said spokesman Steve Miskin.

Mr. Metcalfe said he had received inquiries from "a couple" of lawmakers seeking to add their name to the resolution, which he said he will introduce in November.

A day after the memo circulated, Ms. Kane, through her office, issued a lengthy statement saying, in part, that Pennsylvanians should "be revolted that a politician such as Rep. Metcalfe is attempting to thwart an independent attorney general from doing her job."

She suggested "Rep. Metcalfe's call for impeachment should instead be an opportunity for his own introspection."

Chris Borick, a professor of political science at Muhlenberg College, said the claim behind Mr. Metcalfe's call for impeachment is unusual in that the lawmaker holds not that the attorney general has broken the law, but that she has failed to meet the constitutional requirements of her job.

"That's by far not the way that impeachment is usually used or threatened in Pennsylvania or any political environment," he said. "It's a reach on the part of Metcalfe in terms of the reasoning behind his claim, and it's even more of a reach to think he would be able to put together the type of numbers in the state Legislature to move this forward in any significant way."

Impeachments by the House of Representatives are tried by the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is required to convict.

In 1994, state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen was removed from office after being impeached by the House and then found guilty by the Senate on one of seven counts. Larsen had been convicted on a drug conspiracy charge related to prescriptions.


Butler Eagle

Metcalfe to introduce impeachment bill in November

Article published October 23, 2013


HARRISBURG — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said Wednesday that he plans on introducing legislation to impeach Attorney General Kathleen Kane sometime in early November.


The conservative lawmaker didn’t back down from claims he made earlier this week, bashing Kane for her refusal to defend the state in a lawsuit challenging a 1996 law banning gay marriage here.
Kane responded with heated words in a statement Tuesday, calling Metcalfe a bully with “loud, arrogant and misguided claims” about her work performance.


According to Metcalfe, he never read Kane’s rebuttal. But from what he’s heard, it “never addressed the substance of why I am advancing for her impeachment.”


“In some of the feedback I got from some folks from the Capitol, they used words like childish and unprofessional,” he said about Kane. “I think it was more of a campaign type of response rather than an attorney general currently in office kind of response.”


Metcalfe maintained Wednesday that under law Kane must defend the state in all matters and can’t simply pick and choose which cases to litigate.


“It’s very clear in state law that you have a duty to perform, and then you rebelliously in the face of taxpayers refuse to do your job because you think it’s unconstitutional?” Metcalfe said. “You don’t get to determine that if you’re an attorney general. Only a judge can.”


Metcalfe further railed against Kane and said that the attorney general’s sister, who works in her office, received a promotion and a 20 percent raise recently. He also alleged that Kane recently hired a cousin to serve as a personal assistant.


He said it appears as if Kane is “running a family business instead of an attorney general’s office,” Metcalfe said.


Finally, Metcalfe accused Kane of trying to make the issue a political one, being that she’s a Democrat and he’s a Republican.


“She’s trying to make this a partisan-type issue,” he said. “This has nothing to do with parties. It’s just about the rule of law.”


Phily Inqu.

Impeach!

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013, 5:54 PM

 

So says Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), one of the legislature's most conservative members.

Metcalfe circulated a memo to his colleagues Monday, letting them know he plans on introducing a resolution containing articles of impeachment against Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Kathleen Kane.

The reason: Kane's decision over the summer not to defend the state against a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage. At the time, Kane said she could not defend a law that she found to be "wholly unconstitutional."

Metcalfe argues that Kane is abandoning the duties and responsibilities of her job, which include defending the state's laws, whether she agrees with them or not. Others have echoed the criticism, but no one has gone as far as seeking to impeach her.

"Impeachment is a rarely used, but extremely important, tool to address misbehavior in office," Metcalfe wrote in the memo. "Attorney General Kane’s violation of her constitutional, statutory, and ethical duties cannot be tolerated if our system of government is to work properly."

A spokesman for Kane could not be immediately reached for comment.

The memo landed on the same day that two other Pennsylvania lawmakers urged Gov. Corbett to follow the lead of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who today decided to drop his fight against gay marriage.

Reps. Brian Sims and Steve McCarter, both Democrats from the Philadelphia area, are pushing a bill to legalize gay marriage in Pennsylvania.

"It’s a black eye on the state of Pennsylvania that nearly all of our neighboring states have decided to enter the 21st Century and grant equality to all their citizens, yet we still are stuck in the Stone Age,” McCarter said in a statement. “Plain and simple, the fact that Pennsylvanians can now cross a border and be granted more rights than they currently have in their own state is a problem that needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed now.”


KDKA Logo

Transportation Funding Bill Vote Could Come Soon

By Jessica Berardino

October 21, 2013 2:21 PM

 

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – All weekend the House ironed out the details included in Gov, Tom Corbett’s proposed transportation package and a vote could be in the very near future.

The bill includes new funding for roads, bridges, mass transit and bike trails, but neither the Democrats or Republicans have been able to come to an agreement. The Republicans are looking for http://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png less of a burden on taxpayers and are against raising taxes. The Democrats want to tax the people more to pay for the public transportation.

The House members spent the weekend debating on the $2.2 to $2.4 billion dollar http://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png package. Now, they will be in Harrisburg on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but after that, they won’t return to the Capitol until Nov. 12.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe for the 12th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives serves as the Republican Majority Chairman of the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee. He believes there are many other ways to bring in money for funding other than increasing taxes.

“The state collects enough in taxes. There are other ways the state could bring in funding other ways,” said Metcalfe. “We could reduce the welfare budget http://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png, sell the liquor stores or lease land for drilling and use the royalties.”

Metcalfe stresses to all residents to contact their legislators and talk to them about how they feel about this package funding. He adds that if this proposed package goes through, there will be a .28 cents per gallon increase at the pump.

“I’ve driven passed construction sites and witnessed men standing around with their hands in their pockets while one man is working,” said Metcalfe.

He stresses that the people of Pennsylvania need to be the ones to make the decision about where this funding should come from.

Mike Pintek is live weekdays noon to 3 p.m.on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA!


TRIB Logo

Butler commissioners lobby for transportation funding bill

By Rick Wills

Published: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Butler County Commissioners have lobbied state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe to approve a transportation funding bill, but Metcalfe is refusing to do so if the package involves a funding increase.

“This county is No. 6 in the country in job growth. It will not keep that rank if infrastructure is not addressed,” said Bill McCarrier, chairman of the Butler County commissioners.

Letters went back and forth between the county commissioners and Metcalfe this summer asking for Metcalfe's help in getting the funding bill approved, particularly in light of PennDOT's decision to lower weight limits on 1,000 deteriorating bridges in the state. PennDOT said it had to do that to extend the life of the bridges because without the funding bill, the money is not available to fix them.

“If a transportation bill doesn't get passed, it will have a negative impact on this whole area. It's bad for the whole state. We've had several businesses contact us about their frustration with this,” said McCarrier.

In a June letter to Metcalfe, McCarrier and his colleagues, Dale Pinkerton and James Eckstein, said that state funding for roads and bridges has not been adjusted for inflation since 1997 and that federal funding has not changed since 1993.

Inadequate transportation funding is not limited to bridges, Pinkerton said.

For years, traffic on Route 288 in southern Butler County has been a bottleneck.

“I'm sure that people who spend hours each week stuck in traffic on Route 228 would be in favor of a transportation bill. That road should have been widened years ago,” Pinkerton said.

In a letter to the commissioners, Metcalfe says he has never voted for a tax increase and never will.

“Taxpayers are paying enough already. We have to reprioritize how we spend. I will not vote for anything that includes new fees or taxes,” Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe's anti-tax views are problematic, Pinkerton said.

“He does not ever believe in raising taxes or fees. This area has all sorts of traffic issues. When we have bridges shut off and businesses not able to drive to and from their businesses, something needs to be done.”

In June, the state Senate passed a bill that would increase transportation spending by $2.5 billion a year. Leaders of the House Republican majority, including majority leader Mike Turzai of Bradford Woods, would not endorse the Senate bill.

Turzai last week said he would allow a vote on the bill.


Philadelphia Weekly Blog

Well-timed study says living near SEPTA is money

SEPTA may be in a funding fight for its life, and if they lose, don’t say they didn’t go down swinging. The Authority recently commissioned a study to show the effect of access to regional rail on the prices of suburban houses. It’s pretty much a naked attempt to prove their worth to the southeastern part of the state outside the city, and it may be just what Pennsylvania’s largest mass transit system needs right now.

That study, the results of which were released yesterday, found houses located near Regional Rail stations are worth anywhere from $31,100 to $37,300 more than similar suburban homes over three miles from a station.

Titled “The Impacts of SEPTA Regional Rail Service on Suburban House Prices,” the study was paid for with $5,000 of the Authority’s cash and conducted independently by Econsult Solutions, Inc., which is based in Philadelphia. It looked at house transactions between 2005 and 2012 in the five county area, excluding the city, to come up with its conclusions.

The point of the study is clear: If the so-called “Doomsday” budget SEPTA has been toying with happens, it won’t just negatively affect inner-city dwellers who ride from drug deal to flash mob on welfare buses (which is what some legislators in Pennsylvania would have their constituents believe), but the upper-crust suburbanites of Merion and Doylestown would suffer immensely. Pushing the Go button on SEPTA’s doomsday would create a $6 billion aggregate property loss in the burbs, according to the study.

Nine of the 13 regional rail lines would shut down in the given scenario and, conceivably, the property surrounding all of them would decrease in price, adding to an already wounded suburban housing market that hasn’t fully recovered since the 2008 crash.

What could stop the Doomsday budget? A Transportation funding bill. SEPTA’s release of this poll at this time is an obvious, not-subtle and gigantic wink in the direction of the state Legislature to debate and pass a $2.5 billion bill by year’s end. SEPTA says the funds are needed, in part, due to four years of continued reduced funding from the state.

Passed by the Senate in June, the Transportation bill was stalled in the more-conservative Pennsylvania House, at which point it was revealed some rural legislators and their constituents felt it was unfair to have to fund buses in Philadelphia, which they would never use. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) even likened “your buses,” as he called SEPTA, to “welfare.”

Before the recent study was conducted, transportation proponents sometimes noted the Greater Philadelphia area represents the largest single portion of economic activity in the commonwealth. Cutting off residents from their most efficient commute to work would have a negative effect on the state’s larger economy.

SEPTA’s shrinkage wouldn’t happen immediately if the bill fails to pass the House. Rather, lines would be shut down and, in some cases within the city, replaced over three, five, 10, or more, years. New Silverliner V cars would actually be retired by 2023—and a lot can happen between now and then. Like, say, new people being elected, leading, and eventually governing in Harrisburg.


Phili Inq

 

Pa. legislator to probe dual roles of wildlife agent

 
Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013, 10:04 AM

A powerful Pennsylvania legislator has asked for an investigation of an official who oversees natural gas development on state game lands at the same time that he moonlights as a consultant to private landowners on Marcellus Shale issues.

State Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe (R., Butler), the chairman of the House Committee on State Government, said he has asked the State Ethics Commission to investigate conflict of interet allegations against the wildlife agency official, William A. Capouillez.

The Inquirer reported last month that Capouillez, who oversees oil and gas leasing on 1.4 million acres of public game lands, operates a prosperous business in his off-hours negotiating gas leases for private landowners.

Rival gas-leasing agents have complained for years that Capouillez's state job as director of the Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management gives him an unfair advantage. But the game commission has sanctioned the activity and said it does not violate state ethics laws.

Capouillez, who is paid about $76,000 by the state, earns a share of the fees and royalties paid to landowners for whom he negotiated oil and gas leases. Many of the companies he negotiated with in a private capacity also are drilling on state game lands.

"It's highly improper with that kind of daytime job that he would be moonlighting in the same business," Metcalfe said in an interview. "It's almost like inside trading."

Metcalfe said that if the ethics commission fails to find that Capouillez's dual roles violated the state ethics law then he would seek to amend the law to prohibit such double-dipping.

"His behavior makes the case for additional work on the ethics law," he said.

Metcalfe's committee is considering several bills to tighten state ethics rules. His complaints about Capouillez were first reported by the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat.

Capouillez did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Pennsylvania's ethics law prohibits state employees from using confidential information or the "authority" of their employment for "private pecuniary benefit." It also requires employees to declare the sources of the outside earnings.

Capouillez disclosed his outside work, but disclosure does not immunize an employee from conflict, Robert Caruso, executive director of the State Ethics Commission, said in an interview this summer.

He said the Ethics Commission had no record of ruling on a complaint about Capouillez.

Capouillez's superior, Carol Roe, executive director of the state Board of Game Commissioners, declined to comment last month, calling the issue a personnel matter.

But the president of the same commission, whose eight members are appointed by the governor, said that the commission was satisfied with Capouillez's performance.

"I don't know the legalities of this stuff, but I think he's passed muster on everything," said Robert W. Schlemmer, a Westmoreland County businessman who heads the commission.


NewsWorks: Corbett's Medicaid proposal blasted as 'political stunt'

September 17, 2013

By Mary Wilson @marywilson

Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to reform Medicaid and expand federally subsidized private health care in Pennsylvania is causing a bit of a rift in his own party.

Some Republican lawmakers who have favored Medicaid expansion have voiced support for the governor's plan. So has the state Republican Party.

But House GOP leaders haven't come down on either side of the Medicaid plan. And Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is calling the plan a political stunt.

"The governor is not going to get away with at this point in his term coming out and making this type of a proposal and thinking that it's going to save him in next year's elections," Metcalfe said Tuesday, the day after Corbett unveiled his proposal.

The Butler County lawmaker has been the de facto leader of a small, hard-right contingent within the House GOP that has opposed Medicaid expansion and new funding for transportation infrastructure.

This time, he has been alone in his statements against the governor's plan, one that Metcalfe characterized as a shell game.

"The governor is proposing to add more people to welfare in Pennsylvania," he said. "I wish he'd be honest with the people of Pennsylvania and just say that."

Corbett's administration officials said the governor's proposed changes to Medicaid do not require legislative approval -- only a green light from federal officials.


Capitolwire: Metcalfe slams Corbett's healthcare push.

 

By Kevin Zwick & Chris Comisac
Staff Reporters
Capitolwire

HARRISBURG (Sept. 17) – An influential conservative House Republican criticized fellow Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s new healthcare initiative as a politically motivated “shell game.”

“I think the motivation’s political,” said Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, during a press conference Tuesday.

“I don’t think there’s any other reason for him to do it,” he said. “Why else would a Republican governor move us in the direction of having one in four people on government paid-for health insurance – to expand the welfare state to that extreme? To expand the welfare state, why would the governor do it unless he saw a benefit in it for himself in the future?”

Corbett’s campaign and the administration pushed back against Metcalfe’s assertion.

“Healthy PA is a great initiative and the only thing that anyone could say to make it political is that good policy is good politics,” said Corbett campaign manager Mike Barley. “Our campaign is working to remind voters of the litany of reforms that Governor Corbett has championed and Pennsylvanians want us to move forward in that direction for another four years. “

“Yesterday the Governor was joined by many supporters of his Healthy PA plan, including parents, doctors, nurses, EMS officials, school officials and seniors. Many organizations issued statements of support including one released a short time ago from the PA Chamber stating that Governor Corbett’s Healthy PA plan is reasoned and comprehensive,” said Corbett administration spokeswoman Lynn Lawson.

She continued: “The Governor has secured this strong support because the Healthy PA plan is provides common sense reforms and is the right solution for Pennsylvania. Healthy PA provides quality, accessible, affordable health care while also providing a solution to the fiscal unsustainability of the current program.”

On Monday, Corbett announced his proposal to use billions of federal Obamacare dollars to insure over a half-million working poor Pennsylvanians through new federal health insurance exchanges.

Despite making firm requests to reform the Medicaid program, including work requirements, pared down benefits packages to align with private plans, and some cost sharing for current and future beneficiaries, his proposal was panned by conservatives who see the federal healthcare law as an unsustainable expansion of welfare.

CLICK HERE for more about Corbett’s Medicaid proposal and reaction to it. And HERE for other components of Corbett’s “Healthy Pennsylvania” initiative.

In late June, 33 House Republicans including Metcalfe threatened to hold up the state budget after the Senate approved a Medicaid expansion plan. The Corbett administration says it didn’t approve of the Senate-passed legislation because of a provision that would revert to traditional Medicaid expansion had certain reforms not been approved by the federal government. The measure eventually died in the House.

Metcalfe on Tuesday also criticized the delivery of Corbett’s initiative for appearing more like a political campaign speech than a gubernatorial policy announcement. He said he has no plans to challenge Corbett in next year’s primary.

“I certainly wouldn’t do it working as a legislator,” Metcalfe said. “My stand here today is purely to stand up for Pennsylvania taxpayers and to try and stop this continued welfare state expansion the governor is bent on promoting.”

The conservative group Americans for Prosperity Pennsylvania organized the press conference on Tuesday. Two legislators from Arkansas participated in the news conference. That state approved a plan and submitted it to the federal government for review in early August. While the federal government has yet to issue its final decision regarding the plan, the legislators warned Pennsylvania against following their example.

“This private option plan, it’s health insurance that’s paid for by Obamacare – Medicaid expansion by another name,” said Arkansas House GOP Rep. Jim Dotson.

“After it was passed, the Democrats loved saying they got Obamacare. They boasted about it. They said they had to dress it up with a trunk and elephant ears, but they won,” he said. “Republicans who supported it are still trying to appease their base and sell them on the idea.”

Arkansas State Sen. Jim Hendren said his state doesn’t yet know what their private-option plan will cost, because that can’t be determined until federal officials approve it. But Hendren said he’s fairly certain “it’s going to be a bigger bill for taxpayers.”


Patriot News

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe calls for investigation into whether Attorney General Kathleen Kane violated the state ethics law

 

By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.comThe Patriot-News
on September 09, 2013 at 5:00 PM, updated September 09, 2013 at 7:30 PM

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is calling on the State Ethics Commission to investigate whether state Attorney General Kathleen Kane violated the ethics law when her sister was promoted to a higher-paying job within the attorney general’s office.

metcalfe.JPG

 

Metcalfe, R-Butler, made his request for the investigation in person to the ethics commission officials as they sat before him during Monday’s House State Government Committee hearing offering testimony on legislative proposals aimed at strengthening the ethics law.

Afterward, he said he planned to follow up to be sure the commission took his request seriously to look into the Democratic attorney general’s hiring of Ellen Granahan as a chief deputy attorney general in charge of the Child Predator Unit. The promotion came with a 20 percent pay raise that increased her pay from $69,771 to $83,423.

“I think this type of behavior is outrageous,” Metcalfe said. “I think the public believes it’s outrageous.”

Kane’s spokesman Joe Peters accused Metcalfe of playing politics.

“Attorney General Kane is protecting children,” Peters said.

He cited statistics that show the child predator unit has already this year more than tripled the 19 arrests the unit made in all of last year. He said to date, the unit has made 71 arrests with nearly a quarter of them alleged predators who attempted or actually engaged in physical contact with a child.

“We have put in place a team of talented and dedicated attorneys and agents capable of delivering superior results. These results speak for themselves,” Peters said.

Metcalfe responded by accusing Kane of trying to deflect attention away from the possible ethics violation.

“It’s very clear in the law you are not allowed to advance immediate family members in employment either to employ them originally or to advance them in their employment with a financial benefit,” Metcalfe said. “I think it’s very clear in the ethics law.”

In defending the April decision to promote her sister, Kane told the PennLive editorial board in August that she saw her sister as the most experienced person in the office for the job. Her sister formerly worked as a Lackawanna County assistant district attorney in its child sexual abuse unit, before joining the attorney general’s staff in 2008.

In her former post in the attorney general's office, Granahan had been responsible for asset forfeiture and money laundering cases in the Lehigh Valley and her home Scranton / Wilkes-Barre region.

Kane’s spokesman later said the decision to promote Granahan was made by Kane’s First Deputy Adrian King and not Kane. Peters further said that Kane “would not decide matters involving her sister’s performance or employment.”


CNN Logo

Case challenges Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage

 

By Sara Ganim, CNN

updated 2:02 PM EDT, Sun August 11, 2013

 

(CNN) -- A legal fight is under way in Pennsylvania that could decide if the socially conservative state legalizes same-sex marriage.

 

A county clerk in suburban Philadelphia has given nearly 100 same-sex couples marriage licenses, even though the state bans same-sex marriage.

 

D. Bruce Hanes, the elected register of wills in Montgomery County, has been doing this for about a month, and the state Department of Health is now taking him to court to try to make him stop.

 

The case could lead to a reversal of the state's version of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, if a judge were to side with Hanes in finding that the ban on same-sex marriage contradicts the state's constitution.

 

In June, in the case U.S. v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of DOMA, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.

 

Hanes told CNN that about four weeks ago, he was approached by a lesbian couple wanting a marriage license. Instead of immediately saying "no," Hanes and his solicitor reviewed the state's constitution and decided that language about civil rights, happiness and liberty applied to same-sex couples who want to get married.

 

"We've either got to change the constitution -- permit discrimination on the basis of sex, permit civil rights to be frustrated -- or change the interpretation of that marriage act or change the marriage act. You can't have it both ways," he said.

 

Hanes has received dozens of thank-you cards, and his office benches are filling up with same-sex couples driving from across the state to get marriage licenses.

But not everyone is on board.

 

The state filed a petition to make him stop, citing a law passed by the state legislature in 1996 that defines marriage as "between one man and one woman."

At least one lawmaker says Hanes has gone rogue.

 

"He's a lowly elected official in a county office who is not elected to set policy, but to administer the law as it's been passed," state lawmaker Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican, said Friday. "For a man to start violating the law as he has and commit such a lawless act should be offensive to everyone, no matter what side of the issue you're on."

Metcalfe says he believes the marriage licenses are invalid.

 

"It doesn't matter how many licenses he issues, they're not worth the paper he's printing them on," he said.

 

He also said he's drafting legislation to have the state's attorney general, Kathleen Kane, impeached because she said she believed she couldn't defend the state's version of DOMA. His legislation will be introduced when the state legislature returns in September. Metcalfe is also calling for Hanes to be impeached and says he's gotten a lot of support.

 

The petition filed by the Department of Health states that Hanes is in "direct defiance" of that law and that he "risks causing serious and limitless harm to the public."

 

Kane is not commenting on the case, since her office isn't handling the petition. But earlier this year, she said she came to the same conclusion as Hanes: The state's version of DOMA conflicted with the state constitution.

 

"DOMA is wholly unconstitutional. It cannot be fixed," she said in early July when the American Civil Liberties Union sued Pennsylvania after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Windsor case.

 

Danny Cevallos, a prominent Pennsylvania civil and criminal attorney, says this is exactly the kind of case that could end up deciding the fate of same-sex marriage in the state.

 

Laws, he said, are made this way all the time.

 

"The issue is going to be whether or not a reading of the constitution can be read to override the state law ban on marriages," Cevallos said. "The state Supreme Court in Pennsylvania could review this and strike down the state ban."

 

In the meantime, it's unclear whether same-sex couples with marriage licenses in the state would qualify for benefits.

 

But for now, Cevallos says, Pennsylvania has become the 14th state to have legal same-sex marriages.

 

Hanes says he doesn't see himself as a crusader -- just an elected official doing his job.

 

"In the ordinary course of business, two people are coming into my office, sitting on a bench, waiting to get a marriage license, and they're getting those marriage licenses regardless of their gender," he said. "This is the way it ought to be, and that's the way I would like it to be."

 

One thank-you note that arrived at his office reads, "If possible I would like to have your autograph."

 

"That's interesting," Hanes said. "I haven't done that."


Trib Review

Tom Corbett’s Daryl Metcalfe problem

By Brad Bumsted

Published: Saturday, August 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Updated: Saturday, August 10, 2013

Recent verbal jousting between Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe and GOP Gov. Tom Corbett was not only surprising but instructive as to why Corbett didn't win legislative approval for his troika of bills: liquor, pension reform and transportation funding.

Unless the wounds can be healed, it does not portend well for Corbett's chances of getting those priorities passed this fall.

What apparently set Metcalfe off was Corbett saying Metcalfe “should worry about his own business,” according to Metcalfe's web page. Corbett was responding to Metcalfe's criticism, shortly after lawmakers left town for summer recess, that the Legislature passed a late budget because too much time was spent on Corbett's three priorities.

Until that point only Democrats had been saying there was a late budget and the governor maintained it was passed on time. Indeed, the general fund appropriation bill passed before midnight June 30. But there were budget-related bills that lingered after the constitutional deadline.

The budget wasn't finished until July 15, Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe is arguably the most conservative member of the House Republican Caucus. Corbett could fairly be called conservative. Liberal Democrats certainly think so.

The transportation bill Corbett wants could raise gas prices significantly at the pumps. Metcalfe flat out calls it a “tax increase.” Corbett ran against raising taxes. His administration has suggested it's a user fee.

What Corbett would actually do is lift the wholesale cap on gas taxes. Increases in pump prices would be gradual over several years. The taxes could even come down, supporters say.

During the 2010 campaign, Corbett also promised to fix the state's roads and bridges. A lot of Republicans agree with him, especially in the Senate.

Metcalfe, the unofficial leader of the House's right wing, noted that the state budget was the third straight under Corbett without raising taxes. He says he supports the privatization of booze sales and pension reform.

The friction with Corbett over the transportation bill is just part of the story. That bill has overwhelming support in the Senate though the Senate has little appetite for liquor privatization and many senators seem sympathetic to the union representing state store employees.

The level of mistrust between House GOP leaders and those in the Senate is as high as ever.

The message from Metcalfe is that looking out for taxpayers is more important than backing a governor, even of one's own party. The message from Corbett, according to spokeswoman Janet Kelley, is to put “progress ahead of politics and reform ahead of rhetoric.”


Trib

 

Taking care of business

 

Published: Saturday, August 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013

“Mr. (Daryl) Metcalfe should worry about his own business,” Gov. Tom Corbett told the media on July 2. He was responding to my comments regarding his failure to complete the budget on time this year because he spent too much time on his other proposals before the Legislature. He also claimed the budget was “on time.”

The budget deadline is June 30 of each year. On July 1, I was still casting votes on budget-package bills. The Senate rejected a budget-related bill on July 3 and on July 15, we held a voting session to complete the budget process of 2013.

I agree with the governor on two of the three proposals he offered to the Legislature. We should get the state out of the liquor business by privatizing the state stores, and we should change the government pension systems to be more like private-sector retirement plans, which will protect taxpayers.

I disagree with Corbett's gas-tax proposal, which could increase pump prices by 28 cents per gallon. His proposal would also funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into mass transit, not roads and bridges.

I have served in the Legislature during four gubernatorial administrations. As a member of the legislative branch, I have a constitutional responsibility to work as a balance of power to the other two branches of our state government. I opposed Gov. Tom Ridge's use of tax dollars for stadiums. I opposed Gov. Ed Rendell's tax and fee increases. I oppose Corbett's gas-tax increase.

Gov. Corbett said I should worry about my own business. I have a message for Gov. Corbett: State government is my business, and I will continue my fight to protect the taxpayers.

Daryl Metcalfe

Cranberry

The writer is the Republican state representative of the 12th Legislative District, which includes southeastern Butler County.


Life Site

Impeach officials who issue gay ‘marriage’ licenses, refuse to defend marriage laws,: PA lawmaker

by Ben Johnson

Fri Aug 02, 2013 20:32 EST

HARRISONBURG, PA, August 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has followed the lead of Barack Obama and Jerry Brown by refusing to uphold the state's law protecting marriage between one man and one woman. At least one legislator thinks it is time she paid for violating her oath of office.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, has said Kane's actions merit impeachment, because they spread “lawlessness.”

“I think breaking the law is worthy of impeachment,” Metcalfe told local media. “Her duty is to defend the law.

Shortly after her announcement, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, despite the fact that state law forbids such unions. As of Friday afternoon, Hanes had issued 62 marriage licenses to homosexual couples, and 13 of their recipients have completed wedding ceremonies.

“By her example, this Montgomery County official felt emboldened to violate the law also,” Metcalfe said.

He believes Hanes should be impeached, as well. By the laws of the state, Hanes is “charged with carrying out the law of Pennsylvania and this individual breaks the law.”

“Ultimately, I think there might be an impeachment procedure,” he said. “The legislature could remove this individual from office for violating the law.”

Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, instead filed suit to stop the illegal issuing of marriage certificates on Tuesday. His general sounsel, James Schultz, wrote that Attorney General Kathleen Kane's refusal to defend the law "establishes a very troubling precedent" that "will create chaos and uncertainty.”

AG Kane's chief of staff, Adrian King, sent a letter Tuesday to Schultz calling Kane's defiance “a watershed moment” refusing to enact “discriminatory laws.”

Montgomery County Solicitor Ray McGarry, who is defending Hanes, said the registrar is merely following Kane's opinion not to implement a statute that “she believed was unconstitutional.”

The decision to defend marriage delighted the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, which praised Corbett's action.

“I am encouraged by Governor Corbett’s decision to use his authority to stop the intentional breaking of law by a local elected official,” said Sam Rohrer PPN president. “When two elected officials (Kane and Hanes) or any other, think that they can act above the law, demonstrate political tyranny, and encourage lawlessness, it is critical that the citizens know that they will be held accountable to the law by others in elected office who share the responsibility to ensure that law is upheld by all in public office.”

Already, others have said they are willing to act in violation of settled law. State College, Pennsylvania, Mayor Elizabeth Goreham has said she will perform “marriage” ceremonies for homosexuals, if the couples already have a marriage license.

However, at the moment Hanes is the only clerk issuing the certificates. The annual conference of the Registers of Wills and Clerks of Orphans' Court Association of Pennsylvania adopted a resolution this month agreeing to abide by the law


Patriot News

Lawmakers at opposite ends of gay marriage debate clash on lawsuit

 

By Ivey DeJesus

The Patriot-News

 

The federal lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s marriage law this week has generated vocal and at times passionate reaction from ordinary citizens and elected officials.

Among those sharing their opinions on Whitewood v. Corbett are two state lawmakers who have thrust themselves at the center of the gay marriage debate in Pennsylvania.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from Butler County, said he had anticipated such a challenge, although perhaps not quite this soon. The traditional marriage proponent said he is emboldened that no recent legal decisions have struck down state defense-of-marriage laws.

Across the aisle, Rep. Mark Cohen, the Philadelphia Democrat who has introduced legislation that would allow gay marriage, said that while he was confident the court would ultimately rule in favor of the Pennsylvania plaintiffs, the better alternative towards marriage equality would be through an act of the Legislature.

On Tuesday, the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the state law that bans gay marriage. The 23 plaintiffs also seek to have Pennsylvania recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where such unions are legal.

Metcalfe said he was heartened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to dismiss California’s Proposition 8, that state’s initiative banning gay marriage.

The Supreme Court also struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In its dismissal of the Prop. 8 case, the high court cleared the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California. But the Supreme Court did not strike down bans on gay marriage in other states, much to the relief of those defending traditional marriage.

Metcalfe.jpgState Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler)

Metcalfe, who is pushing for a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, views the high court’s actions as an affirmation of the right of state’s to pass laws that defend traditional marriage.

"We have the majority of our country on our side," Metcalfe said. "The majority of states have passed laws and constitutional amendments defining marriage as being between one man, one woman. I expect to continue to see this fought in the courts and on the ballot. This is something myself and colleagues will not back down from. We will continue our fight to defend marriage and continue to push forward with an amendment to our own constitution."

Metcalfe, in fact, proposes to do something similar to the 2008 California ballot initiative, which prohibited same-sex marriage by amending the state’s constitution.

Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples or the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Metcalfe’s legislation would outlaw same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships and "clarify marriage between one man, one woman so we don’t see judges in the future trying to strike down our state law. We expected the fight to come to this point ..that’s why we have been pushing for an amendment."

Cohen said that even if the court were to strike down the state law, it would not necessarily order the state to institute marriage equality in the state.

“My constituents elected me to defend marriage as one man, one woman." - Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler)

“I think it could be a long process,” Cohen said. “I think it will be better if the state Legislature would pass a bill than drawing on what the court and appeals and limitations of what the court does. I think passing a law is very simple matter.”

Under Cohen’s proposed legislation, Pennsylvania would extend all state laws applicable to marriage to civil unions. The state would also recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states as civil unions and provide reciprocity for civil unions performed legally in other states.

"It’s a practical matter," Cohen said. "More and more LGBT couples are getting married in other states. Just recognizing them would be big step forward."

The ACLU already is drawing on the findings of recent polls showing an increased tolerance and approval for same-sex marriage.

In February, a Franklin & Marshall College Poll found that 52 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters approve of same-sex marriage, while 41 percent oppose it. A Public Policy Polling survey found state voters almost evenly divided over gay marriage, with 45 percent saying it should be legalized and 47 percent saying it should not. Those numbers reflected a 14 percent increase statewide for support for gay marriage over 18 months ago.

Support for same-sex civil unions drew 74 percent in the state poll, with 24 percent opposing it. The poll also found that 68 percent of Keystone Republicans support gay marriage or same-sex civil unions.

Metcalfe said he subscribes to a different kind of poll.

"They can point to any poll they like but ultimately the poll that matters is who was elected to the General Assembly," he said. "My constituents elected me to defend marriage as one man, one woman. They don’t want to see special interest groups redefining marriage. The poll that matters is the poll done on election day."

Metcalfe warned that state residents and even those of the nation are increasingly growing frustrated with the courts and the executive branch violating the constitution. He predicted that people across the country would eventually rally in protest.

"Their day will come and I think it’s going to be sooner than later that people have had enough of the courts and the executive branches continually doing things in violation of our constitution," Metcalfe said.

Cohen said that while he is prepared for a long process, he is confident of the outcome. He said he will continue to advocate for gay marriage equality.

"The public overwhelmingly supports it at this point," he said. "I would hope Republicans would join Democrats in passing it."


Philadelphia Inquirer

Kane: Cannot defend Pa. law against gay marriage

Jeff Gammage and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Staff Writers


Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013, 10:09 AM

Pennsylvania Republicans denounced Attorney General Kathleen Kane on Thursday after she announced that she would not defend the state's ban on gay marriage - a declaration celebrated by activists as "an earthquake moment."

"We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, and I want to start acting like that," Kane said at a raucous news conference at the National Constitution Center.

Her proclamation brought dozens of supporters of same-sex marriage to their feet. But Republicans in Harrisburg weren't cheering.

"What law will she ignore next?" wondered state GOP Chairman Rob Gleason, who called it unacceptable for the Democratic attorney general "to put her personal politics ahead of her taxpayer-funded job by abdicating her responsibilities."

One legal expert said Kane's stance put her in a gray area.

"It's not her job to substitute her judgment [on the law's constitutionality] for that of the courts," said Bruce Ledewitz, a Duquesne University law professor. "And though I don't like the law, that is our law. And she is not serving the people of Pennsylvania by not defending it."

State law says the attorney general must defend Pennsylvania laws, but can ask lawyers for the governor's office or executive-branch agencies to step in if that is in the state's best interest.

Gov. Corbett, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, had no immediate comment Thursday. Kane said she did not speak with him before announcing that she would not defend the ban against a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Corbett's general counsel, James Schultz, said the administration was surprised that Kane, "contrary to her constitutional duty," had decided "not to defend a Pennsylvania statute lawfully enacted by the General Assembly."

The administration was awaiting formal notification of Kane's decision and an accompanying legal justification, he said.

House Republicans sent Kane a letter quoting James Madison on the dangers of tyranny and essentially saying: Do your job.

"There are any number of Pennsylvania statutes with which we may personally disagree," said the letter. "Nevertheless, we do not ignore them to suit our political preference."

In Philadelphia, Kane described a continuum of civil rights laws that allowed women to vote, struck down segregation, and eliminated bans on interracial marriage.

"I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania's version of DOMA," she said, referring to the Defense of Marriage Act. "I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional."

The decision by the state's top law enforcement official may ultimately mean little in the court defense of the 1996 law. But it was heralded by activists and gay couples as a victory in the court of public opinion.

"It's absolutely huge and emotionally powerful," said Molly Tack-Hooper, one of the lawyers in the ACLU suit.

That suit, filed in federal court in Harrisburg by 10 gay couples and others who say their rights have been trampled, came less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, and amid national polls that show growing support for gay unions.

Kane spoke on a crowded second-floor area of the Constitution Center, faced by television cameras, supporters, curious tourists, and a Boy Scout troop that was touring the center.

"I'm speechless. That was great," said Dara Raspberry, there with her spouse, Helena Miller, and their 6-week-old baby, Zivah. The Philadelphia couple, married in Connecticut, is among the plaintiffs in the ACLU suit.

State Rep. Brian Sims (D., Phila.), who last fall became the first openly gay candidate to win a seat in the legislature, posted on Twitter Thursday morning: "Attorney General Kathleen Kane, if you were a man I'd marry you!"

He later wrote, "Marriage equality will happen in Pennsylvania, the only question remaining is 'when?' "

But State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), one of the most vocal supporters of the ban, called Kane's decision "a political maneuver" and "a dereliction of duty."

"She has a duty to defend the laws of the state, whether she agrees with them or not," said Metcalfe, chairman of the House State Government Committee.

Metcalfe said he supported the ban because "throughout history, marriage has always been between one man and one woman, through multitudes of religions and multitudes of cultures."

He said that if Kane "doesn't want to do her job, then she should resign and allow Gov. Corbett to appoint someone who understands the responsibilities and duties of that office."

Montgomery County pastor Bill Devlin said Thursday night that he and other clergy across the state would soon press Kane with the question: What other laws will you not defend?

"She swore an oath to uphold the constitution of Pennsylvania, which includes supporting laws she may personally disagree with," said Devlin, cochair of a group called Right to Worship. "How dare she not stand up for the citizens of the Commonwealth who in a representative, democratic fashion have said we believe marriage is between a man and a woman?"

Kane is named as a defendant in the ACLU suit, as is Corbett. With her withdrawal, the general counsel's office would be in charge of defending the state, Kane said.

Philadelphia lawyer Mark A. Aronchick, whose firm is working with ACLU, called her stance "one of the most principled and professional actions I have ever seen from a public official." To hear the state's chief law enforcement officer basically agree with the plaintiffs was "an earthquake moment," he said.

The suit seeks to prevent state officials from stopping gay couples from marrying. Lawyers in the case believe it could reach the U.S. Supreme Court, along with similar cases from elsewhere.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. New Jersey legislators approved a same-sex marriage bill that Gov. Christie vetoed, saying the issue should be decided by referendum.

Kane's announcement made national news.

"We applaud Attorney General Kane for doing the right thing, standing up for equal justice under the law and fighting legally sanctioned discrimination in her state," said Matt Mittenthal, spokesman for New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

On Thursday, Kane quoted Robert F. Kennedy, who in a famous 1966 speech in South Africa said that when a person stands up for an ideal, "he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

That failed to resonate with Republicans.

"She is blatantly politicizing the highest law enforcement office in our commonwealth," Gleason said, "at the expense of a core responsibility of the Attorney General's Office."


Patriot News

House GOP lawmakers say re-prioritize spending, don't raise taxes for transportation

 

By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.comThe Patriot-News
on June 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM, updated June 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM

What the House is calling a $2 billion transportation funding plan, Rep Daryl Metcalfe calls a gas tax increase.

Speaking in protest of that plan that passed the House Transportation Committee on Thursday as well as the $2.5 billion plan the Senate passed earlier this month, Metcalfe, R-Butler, called on citizens today to reach out to Gov. Tom Corbett and their legislators to tell them to oppose this public works plan.

He insists that government already takes enough of people’s money and it’s just a matter of re-prioritizing how that money is used, along with making a few other changes.

“We need to pass things like prevailing wage reform so we can reduce the cost of roadwork. We need to sell the liquor stores so that we can use that money for road projects. It can be done without increasing taxes. Increasing taxes should not happen,” Metcalfe said at a morning Capitol news conference.

House GOP spokesman Steve Miskin acknowledged that there are divergent views about the proposal to generate $2 billion in new spending on transportation within the Republican caucus. And he said members are concerned about raising revenues of any kind for any purpose in the current economy. But he blamed the Democrats and former Gov. Ed Rendell for creating the need to address the issue.

They "did absolutely nothing for transportation except put it off and now Governor Corbett made it a priority," Miskin said.

Corbett has asked lawmakers to send him a transportation funding plan by June 30, along with a balanced budget, liquor privatization plan and pension reform.

But he confirmed that the plan, as it now stands, lacks the 102 votes needed to pass the chamber and leaders are working on ways to alter the bill to achieve the necessary support.

Metcalfe said he has heard lots of opposition from GOP lawmakers and citizens to the proposed increases in taxes and fees that Corbett and some lawmakers are calling for.

All of the plans put on the table call for uncapping the oil franchise tax, which when fully lifted could potentially raise prices at the pump by as much as 28 cents a gallon.

Meanwhile, Metcalfe said the majority of people he has heard from supporting the plan are the business owners and their employees who “are going to be feeding out of the trough it is filling.”

At the same time, he said those same business owners are asking him to oppose efforts to postpone the elimination of the state’s tax on business assets.

“The hypocrisy is outrageous,” Metcalfe said.

Joining him at the news conference on the day before the House is expected to begin debating possible changes to the plan that the House plan were nine other lawmakers. They took turns at the podium to lampoon the plan for various reasons. A popular one was the way it requires motorists to pay to subsidize mass-transit even more.

About 79 percent of the $2 billion the House plan raises would be devoted to roads and bridge repairs, while 16 percent would support mass transit agencies.

Democratic lawmakers have already signaled that they see mass-transit getting short-shrifted and will push for it to receive a bigger slice when the bill is debated on the House floor on Saturday.

Rep. Brad Roae, R-Crawford, made his point against giving mass-transit more money by rattling off the charges that people who own and operate cars pay: federal gas taxes, state gas taxes, inspection fees, vehicle registration fees, driver’s license fees, sales tax on their auto purchase, a tire tax, tax on their car lease, parking fees, parking tickets, tolls and traffic fees.

“People who ride mass transit pay for part of their bus fare. That’s it. They contribute nothing to roads and they contribute nothing to bridges,” Roae said. “They want people who own and operate cars to subsidize mass-transit riders even more. I’m not going to do it.”

Reps. RoseMarie Swanger, R-North Lebanon Twp., said she hears complaints from constituents about mass-transit buses in Lebanon County that travel around with only a few passengers aboard.

“I cannot in good conscience add to the cost of gasoline at the pump,” Swanger said.

However, she said the transportation plan’s call for increasing fines on certain traffic violations is one part of the House transportation plan she could support.

But Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny, said not him. He thinks it will lead to police officers not writing tickets because they don’t want to impose a burdensome fine on senior citizens and people struggling to make ends meet.

Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-North Middleton Twp., indicated there was no way he was supporting the House plan. He said government already takes too much of taxpayers' hard-earned money.

He said, “In a state that already has one of the most burdensome tax environments, a state that already spends nearly $7 billion a year on transportation, a state that spends the 11th highest amount on transportation compared to any other state and the 11th highest amount per-road mile, I find it hard to believe we’re being asked to consider an increase in taxation on our hard-working taxpayers and business people.”


Philadelphia Inquirer

The Pennsylvania gun club holds a meeting

 

John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist

Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 3:01 AM

CRAIG HETHERINGTON, a 44-year-old Bedford County trucker, held a sign reading, "Pat Toomey, You Are Fired."

Kay Hartman, a Mifflin County "tea-party patriot old enough to be wise," carried a large white flag featuring a black AK-47 over the words "Come and Take It."

Another woman held a sign: "Gun Control is False Hope; Jesus Christ is the True Hope."

And a bearded man wearing a "Don't Tread on Me" red vest held a sign: "We Come Unarmed (this time)."

Welcome to the Pennsylvania gun club.

These folks were among several hundred at the eighth annual "Second Amendment Action Day" rally on the steps of the Capitol on Tuesday.

Pro-gun citizen activists came fresh off a win in the U.S. Senate, where efforts last week to expand criminal background checks - co-sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey - died.

So they were lively. They waved signs and flags, cheered speeches about gun rights and booed loudly when Toomey's name was mentioned.

They reflect a significant force in Pennsylvania, one that has kept the state bulletproof when it comes to gun-control legislation.

They represent a vivid example of why Guns & Ammo, "the world's most widely read firearms magazine," rates Pennsylvania more gun-friendly than all of its neighbors, including Ohio and West, By God, Virginia.

And yet the pro-gun faithful are not happy. They are not satisfied. They are focused on further, fuller protection of the Second Amendment in the Keystone State.

Hence, House Bill 357 (get it?), referred to by supporters as "The Firearms Freedom Act."

It's sponsored by the organizer of the annual rally, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County.

It would make any federal law attempting to "register, restrict or ban a firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm" unenforceable in the state.

And it provides for criminal penalties against federal or state officials seeking to implement any such law: a third-degree felony. One to seven years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000 - or both.

The bill carries 70-plus bipartisan co-sponsors, including agenda-setting Republicans such as House Speaker Sam Smith and Majority Leader Mike Turzai.

(This measure strikes me as somewhere between plum crazy and an iffy states' rights issue. And Penn Law professor Seth Kreimer, a constitutional expert, says, "It's pretty settled law, dating back to the Civil War, that states can't prevent the federal government from enforcing federal law.")

I sat down with Metcalfe this week in his Capitol office to get his sense of the gun debate.

"I've never seen in my 15 years here, on any issue I've worked on, as much intensity on protecting gun rights as I've seen in the last four or five months," he said.

He attributes the heightened fervor to a post-Newtown, Conn., school shooting "reaction of the left to try to restrict rights." And the Senate vote last week, he said, "stoked the fires in people's hearts across the state."

That was clear at Tuesday's rally.

But afterward, Shira Goodman, executive director of the gun-control advocacy group CeaseFirePA, who for a time stood at the fringes of the rally, told me that despite the state's pro-gun history, "There's a changing tide in Pennsylvania."

She pointed to Toomey's effort and Sen. Bob Casey's support of it (after being a longtime pro-gun Democrat), as well as state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's actions to tighten state rules on concealed-carry permits.

"Pennsylvania's slow to change," Goodman said, "[but] Toomey's action and Casey's support is a big deal."

Maybe so.

Still, the Wall Street Journal reports that since the Connecticut shootings in December, 15 states have passed laws expanding gun rights, and 13 of the 15 have Republican-controlled legislatures. Just like Pennsylvania's.


Tribune review

Enthusiasts cheer Pa. bill to make federal gun ban unenforceable

 

By Brad Bumsted

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 1:24 p.m

HARRISBURG — A week after the U.S. Senate nixed a gun control measure pushed by President Obama, gun advocates in Pennsylvania said they will lobby for a state House bill making any federal law to ban guns unenforceable in Pennsylvania.

H.B. 357, authored by Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Cranberry, holds that any federal law that “attempts to register, restrict or ban a firearm or to limit the size of a magazine” would be unenforceable in Pennsylvania.

Lawmakers said 74 legislators co-sponsored the bill, which would make it a felony for any federal, state or local government agent to enforce a federal gun control law restricting gun owners' rights.

Hundreds of gun enthusiasts cheered the lawmakers on Tuesday at a rally on the Capitol steps. Metcalfe used his eighth annual Second Amendment Action Day to promote the bill, filed in January.

Busloads of supporters from Westmoreland, Beaver and Butler counties were among those who attended with dozens of legislators, including several House leaders and a few Western Pennsylvania Democrats.

“Let's move it through,” said Rep. Rick Saccone, a Republican from Elizabeth.

A Duquesne University law school professor said the bill sounds unenforceable.

“I don't want to overstate it, but I think we settled this at Appomattox,” where the South formally surrendered to end the Civil War, said professor Wes Oliver. “That's just crazy,” he said of the bill.

Kansas recently approved a similar bill that exempts Kansas-made guns from federal gun laws, Metcalfe said.

Separately, CeaseFirePA urged lawmakers to enact “common-sense laws” to reduce gun violence.

“Law-abiding gun owners should join in our work,” CeaseFirePa Executive Director Shira Goodman said, “because we are focused on taking steps that keep guns out of the wrong hands and make us all safer.”

At the rally, many in the crowd wore NRA hats, signifying membership in the National Rifle Association, and carried signs with sayings such as, “Don't Tread on Me,” “Stop Obama” and “Pat Toomey, You are Fired.”

Toomey, a Republican U.S. senator from Lehigh Valley, co-sponsored legislation that would have required background checks on rifles and shotguns sold at gun shows and on the Internet. The Senate last week defeated that provision and other gun-control measures.

“The Senate, yes, handed us a victory but the campaign continues on many fronts,” said retired Capt. Sean Parnell of Butler County, an Army Ranger, author of a bestseller “Outlaw Platoon” and featured speaker at the event.

“You're going to send a clear message today,” said Rep. Matt Gabler, a DuBois Republican who filed a bill similar to Metcalfe's that stalled last year.

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com


Post Gazette

Pennsylvania store sales should fund roads, GOP group says

April 16, 2013 12:05 am

By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- The issue of whether to privatize the state liquor system is still being debated in Harrisburg, but legislators already are fighting over where the proceeds of a sale of state stores should go.

Several Republican House members Tuesday announced their support for putting the funds toward repairing roads and bridges -- contrary to Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to use the money for education programs such as school safety and science, technology, engineering and math initiatives.

"When you give the money to the education establishment like this, it's like throwing it into a black hole. All it will be used for is to drive those salaries up that are continuing to be one of the main drivers for our pension problem," said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, a co-sponsor of House Bill 220, which earmarks liquor proceeds for infrastructure improvements.

Mr. Metcalfe's comments were echoed by several other Republican House members speaking at a news conference Monday.

House Majority Whip Stan Saylor said giving one-time liquor money to school districts would result in the districts counting it as part of their regular subsidy and they would not want to see those funds go away when sales are completed.

Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill, the main sponsor of the legislation, said while putting up to $1 billion in possible liquor proceeds toward education or pension costs are worthy causes, transportation is a more pressing need.

"Transportation is an issue that affects all Pennsylvanians," Mr. Knowles said. "If you drive a car, if you ride a bus, if you walk over a bridge, if you ride a bike, you are affected by roads and bridges."

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, will hold a news conference today to unveil his transportation legislation.

In March, the House passed legislation that would allow private sales of wine and liquor while phasing out state-run stores. The issue is expected to be discussed in the Senate later this month, where its passage is far from guaranteed, as prominent members have said they support more gradual change to the system.

Pollster G. Terry Madonna said Mr. Knowles' plan speaks to a growing view that transportation is a top priority with billions in funding needs, as well as Republican reluctance to increase taxes.

At least for now, he added, using money from liquor store sales is a moot issue "until the Senate decides what it wants to do," he said.

A spokesman for Mr. Corbett said using the potential funds toward education is still the governor's priority, but the fact that there is even a discussion about what to do with the proceeds is encouraging.

"That shows that there's optimism that we're going to get this done," Eric Shirk said. "There's a lot of discussions that will be had in the Legislature as this moves forward."

"The governor has a good idea," Mr. Knowles said. "It's just that I have a better idea."


Patriot News

Pennsylvania House Republicans chide Sen. Pat Toomey for his proposed gun legislation

 

April 10, 2013 By Ivey DeJesus | idejesus@pennlive.comThe Patriot-News

Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe on Wednesday sent Sen. Pat Toomey a letter signed by 75 other Republican House members chiding the fellow GOP lawmaker for his proposed gun legislation.

“A lot of people believe Senator Toomey has violated the trust we had extended to him through our support of him in the way he represented himself over the years,” said Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican. “What he has done today has really harmed law abiding citizens and it’s going to hurt his support base.”

Toomey on Wednesday drew criticism among conservatives for his proposed gun legislation, which would expand background checks to gun sales at gun shows and over the Internet. Toomey brokered the deal with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin ahead of an expected Senate vote on gun legislation.

Metcalfe has introduced legislation in the state House that would make new federal gun control laws unenforceable in Pennsylvania. That bill is in the Judiciary Committee.

Metcalfe said the letter to Toomey signed by 75 state House Republicans delivers a clear message: “We encouraged and expected him to stand with us in defense of the Second Amendment and not support any more gun control measures, including expanded gun control measures that have been talked about.”

“No matter how he tries to define his actions today with the deal he cut, he has compromised the freedom of Pennsylvanians and American citizens,” Metcalfe said. “The expanded background checks as he is arguing to be done will do nothing to control crime but will do everything to continue to obstruct the right of law abiding citizens and ability to bear arms.”

The eighth-term lawmaker said he has been speaking on gun rights across state over the past two months and has seen a different tone among constituents.

“I’ve never seen this kind of energy around this issue,” he said. “It has created more energy and more contact at the state legislative level as the concerns people have about the federal attempts to create more gun control and restrict rights of law abiding citizens.”

Toomey was also criticized by the Heritage Action for America and the National Rifle Association, which has historically rated him a strong gun-rights supporter.

“Obviously he is not listening,” Metcalfe said.


Sharon Herald

Rally gathers Gun Advocates

 

By Tom Davidson

Herald Staff Writer

Sun Mar 24, 2013, 11:41 AM EDT

SHARON —

Greenville resident Warren Shaw just wants to protect himself.

In Pennsylvania, he’s permitted to conceal and carry his derringer-style pocket pistol that shoots .410 shotgun shells.

When he travels, he’d like not to have to wonder if a particular state honors Pennsylvania gun permits, he said.

“You need to be able to protect yourself,” Shaw said, and at 71-years-old he’s not fit enough to physically fend off potential attackers, so he carries the gun.

About 140 people like Shaw came out to a gun-rights rally held Saturday at the Sharon City Building.

People walked along a sidewalk lined with signs drawn with pithy slogans: “GOD, GUNS, GUTS, Made America Free,” “Target Crime Not Guns,” and “Guns = A Free Press,” among them.

The event was organized by an group of Mercer County gun enthusiasts led by Mike Beveridge.

People are concerned about the potential of stricter gun laws being enacted in the wake of the most recent spate of gun-fueled bloodbaths, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Mercer County Sheriff Gary Hartman said.

He lamented the exploitation of that shooting for political purposes.

“It bothers me deep inside to use that tragedy to advance a political agenda,” Hartman said.

Stricter gun-control laws won’t decrease violent crimes, he said.

“A firearm is an inanimate object. How can we blame that (violence) on a gun?”

It’s time for common sense to prevail he said, adding that the gun laws the commonwealth has in place are working just fine.

“We have a system in place that works,” he said.

The present political climate is also the perfect sales pitch for gun sellers and people like Hartman, who as sheriff is the official who issues concealed carry permits.

“Obama” is the best gun salesman, Hartman said.

Prior to Obama’s election, about 50 permits were issued each month in Mercer County.

Now it’s “well-over 2,000,” per month being sought, Hartman said.

The event was headlined by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th District, Cranberry Township, Butler County.

A representative for 3rd District U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly also spoke briefly.

Known for his conservative views, Metcalfe was the sponsor of the voter ID law that was passed last year that liberal groups decried as an attempt to suppress the vote.

He was a supporter of Act 10 of 2011, the state’s Castle Doctrine that allows residents to defend themselves in their homes.

“If someone is coming in your door in the middle of the night, they’re not coming over to bake cookies,” he quipped.

He spoke against what he called a “government gone astray,” under the Obama Administration and said if Second Amendment rights are lost, “we’ll lose (the rest of) our freedoms.”

Matcalfe’s also in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration and making English the official language of the Keystone State.

Metcalfe’s latest legislative lobby is House Bill 357, a proposed law that he says will trump any federal attempt at gun control.

Known as the “Right to Bear Arms Protection Act,” the law, would flout any national gun laws and require the state to defend residents of the Keystone state facing federal charges because Federal gun law violations.

State Rep. Michael Brooks, R-17th District, Jamestown, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which is in the judiciary committee.

The ultimate enforceability of the proposed law is subject to debate. Some believe federal laws supersede state laws on specific matters, while Metcalfe maintains the Constitution ultimately places power with the states and the people.

Metcalfe warned of the “increasing erosion of our freedoms.”

“The best deterrent to crime is an armed, law-abiding citizenry,” Metcalfe said.


Trib Logo

House reps in favor of privatizing state stores

By Brad Bumsted
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Updated: Saturday, March 23, 2013

HARRISBURG — Butler County's House delegation helped pass a House bill aimed at privatizing the state's liquor stores.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, a longtime supporter of getting the state out of the liquor business, said he is willing to take less than Republican Gov. Tom Corbett proposed to help the bill become law.

HB 790 passed the House 105-90 Thursday night.

A modified version of Corbett's bill, without automatic elimination of the liquor stores, won approval this week in the House Liquor Committee. The bill the House OK'd proposes to phase out 619 state stores. It also does not include education grants, financed via liquor license auctions, that Corbett sought.

Metcalfe would prefer to see license revenue used for road and bridge improvements.

Providing block grants to school districts amounts to giving it to the teachers' unions, he said. “It's like throwing the money away,” Metcalfe said.

Grocery stores could sell beer and wine if they have an eatery and an “R” or restaurant license. Beer distributors would be able to sell liquor, wine and beer.

Rep. Brian Ellis, who represents the city of Butler and the central part of the county, was one of the 14 Republicans who approved the compromise bill in committee last week. Ten Democrats voted against it.

“I think ultimately the fact that a lot of folks didn't get exactly what they wanted shows the product was on the right path,” Ellis said.

Ellis said beer distributors in his district are split about 50-50 on the bill.

Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Butler County, said he is undecided and needs to look at the bill more carefully as it goes to the Senate. “I do not want to see anyone get hurt,” he said.

Rep. Jaret Gibbons, an Ellwood City Democrat whose district includes portions of Butler, Beaver and Lawrence counties, was one of 90 Democrats who tried to halt privatization.

A pro-union Republican from Bucks County, Rep. Gene Digirolamo voted with the Democrats in committee to kill the proposal and voted “no” on Thursday.

Rep. Dick Stevenson, a Mercer County Republican who represents northern Butler County, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

As for spending the revenue on education, Stevenson said, “That's a discussion we should have after this is done.”

The money could be placed in trust until that decision is made, he said.

Rep. Lee James, a Republican who represents Venango County and part of Butler County, voted for the bill, as did Metcalfe, Ellis and Stevenson.


WND

2 gun-control measures become law

Manufacturer now looks to leave Colorado as other states roll out red carpet

March 20, 2013

 

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado signed gun-control laws today that are some of the toughest in the nation.

One law limits ammunition magazines to 15 rounds; another requires universal background checks for gun sales or transfers; and a third requires gun customers to pay for the costs of the background checks.

Critics say the background checks will cripple private gun sales in the state.

The background checks will apply even to used firearms and require a fee. Critics say the fee is basically a tax.

Colorado now joins New York as the first states to pass laws restricting gun rights since the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and President Obama’s subsequent call for stricter measures.

As WND has reported, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said he and many other county sheriffs “won’t bother enforcing” the new laws in Colorado because they are unconstitutional and impossible to enforce.

He says the laws are “feel-good, knee-jerk reactions” and would “give a false sense of security.”

Cooke said he and other sheriffs are considering filing a lawsuit to block the laws.

Cooke is one of at least 340 sheriffs who have vowed to uphold the Constitution against gun-control measures that violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights.

The magazine law has prompted a Colorado gun-accessories manufacturer, Magpul, to make plans to leave the state.

“Our moving efforts are under way. It’s going to be a phased approach, and until the move is complete, we’re going to continue manufacturing magazines in Colorado,” Doug Smith, Magpul’s chief operating officer, told the Denver Post. “Within the next 30 days we will manufacture our first magazine outside the state of Colorado.”

Magpul estimates a move will cost hundreds of jobs and at least $85 million. Other states want Magpul’s business and those jobs.

Smith said he will meet with representatives from Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming in the next few weeks.

Pennsylvania would also like to land Magpul. That is considered unlikely, given the distance from Colorado. But two state lawmakers are inviting gun manufacturers in states passing laws restricting gun rights to move to Pennsylvania.

Republican state Reps. Seth Grove and Daryl Metcalfe announced they are reaching out to several out-of-state firearms makers, including Magpul, Beretta and Remington.

“We’ll be more than happy to have additional manufacturing,” Grove said. “Pennsylvania is known all over the country for clinging to its guns, and it’s time that we use this reputation to our advantage.”

Metcalfe said that with America’s largest per-capita representation of National Rifle Association members and more than 1 million licensed hunters and anglers, Pennsylvania “is a natural fit for any of our nation’s major producers of guns, ammunition or accessories that are currently looking for a new home.”

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/2-gun-control-measures-become-law/#I89zxPZ5153KC05Y.99


Phily

PA lawmakers to gun makers: Gun-clingers welcome you

POSTED: Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 8:35 AM

 

Two House lawmakers have a message for embattled gun manufacturers: Pennsylvania wants your business.

State Reps. Daryl Metcalfe (R.,Butler) and Seth Grove (R.,York) said they are reaching out to fire arms manufacturers located in states that have passed or are considering tougher gun laws to urge them to relocate their plants to the Commonwealth.

Metcalfe, the most outspoken pro-gun legislator, said with high NRA membership and hundreds of thousands of hunting license holders, Pensylvania is a "natural fit" for gun and ammunition makers.

Metcalfe, who is the prime sponsor of the Right to Bear Arms Protection Act, known as House Bill 357 (357 get it?) that would make new federal gun laws unenforceable in the state. (Constitutional scholars say such a bill would have zero chance of passing muster because federal laws have primacy over state laws.)

Grove says Pennsylvania should embrace its gun loving reputation.

“Pennsylvania is known all over the country for clinging to its guns, and it’s time that we use this reputation to our advantage,” Grove said. “By enticing these three companies to Pennsylvania, we are sending a clear message that we welcome their industry, and we also welcome the hundreds of jobs and multi-million dollar economic impact this would bring to the Commonwealth.”

Grove and Metcalfe say Beretta may be looking to leave Maryland, which is seeking to ban assault weapons, They are also interested in bringing Colorado-based Magpol, a maker of weapons components and high capacity magazines, and New York gun maker Remington to Pennsylvania. In January the New York state assembly enacted the toughest gun laws in the nation, including bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

“Recent reports have indicated that gun manufacturers are disappointed with the actions of the federal government and several state governments which want to enact legislation undermining the firearms industry,” Grove said.

“We wholeheartedly believe in defending our Second Amendment rights, and if other states are looking to legislate an industry out of existence, then we should capitalize on this opportunity to deliver to our constituents good, family-sustaining jobs.”

 


WHYY Newsworks

Kane says 'Florida loophole' is closed for Pennsylvanians

February 8, 2013

By Tom MacDonald

In one of her biggest moves since taking office last month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane is closing off a back-door means of getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"The 'Florida Loophole' is officially closed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Kane announced to a crowd in Philadelphia. She has re-written the reciprocal agreement between Florida and Pennsylvania governing firearms permits and convinced Florida officials to approve the changes. Since 2001, that deal has allowed Keystone State residents to get concealed carry permits through the mail from Florida and use them here. It's considerably easier to get a permit in Florida.

"Anybody who is a resident of Pennsylvania and who has a Florida concealed carry permit will have 120 days to get a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit," said Kane. "After 120 days, we will no longer recognize that permit issued from the state of Florida and you will be in violation of the law."

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says this is a start to fighting gun violence in the city.

"A lot more has to be done at the federal level, but enough is enough, our children need to be able to believe that they have a future and not think that their life is going to end at 17 or 18 years old and that's an unfortunate reality for a lot of our children," said Ramsey.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County) says he's not sure Kane can do this on her own. Metcalfe says back when Governor Tom Corbett was Attorney General, he told Metcalfe such a change needs legislative approval.

"From what I've heard initially and what our previous Attorney General had said that he did not have the statuary authority to do so is going to require me to go back and take a look, a very hard look at her policy and our current law to see if she overstepped the authority in law to do what she just did," said Metcalfe.

Metcalfe says he may challenge the move in court.


Trib Review

Valley lawmakers take issue with budget plan

By Mary Ann Thomas

Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 12:16 a.m.
Updated 8 hours ago

Predictably, local Republican legislators liked most of Gov. Tom Corbett's budget, especially the focus on pension reform and continued persistence to sell off the state liquor system.

Also not a surprise, Democrats were not happy with many of the proposals, including cutting business taxes and some of the ways to pay for education.

Among other things, state Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, criticized Corbett's call to kill off the capital stock and franchise tax and reduce the corporate net income tax.

“We would feel better about these proposals if he was also talking about closing tax loopholes that allow the biggest corporations to get away with paying almost no tax in Pennsylvania,” Dermody said in a statement.

“And what about the jobs?” Dermody asked. “Wasn't that supposed to be the point of all of these reductions in corporate taxes?

“Where are the jobs? For the first time in years, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate went above the national rate, and it has stayed at or above the national rate for five months now.”

While state Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, said that he is pleased with some of the ideas in the budget, he took issue with education funding.

“I am disappointed that he is proposing that some of the additional funding be contingent upon legislative approval of his liquor privatization and pension-funding schemes,” Brewster said in a statement.

“The education of our children is too important to be used as a bargaining chip.”

State Rep. Joe Petrarca, D-Washington Township, also took issue with Corbett's funding of education.

“I'm upset that the governor's budget does little to restore the $860 million or so of cuts that he slashed from education in his first year,” Petrarca told the Valley News Dispatch. “The money he's proposing for basic education doesn't even cover inflation over the last several years, let alone the cuts.”

Petrarca also criticized the idea of using money from the privatization of the state's liquor system to fund education.

He questioned whether the short-term influx of cash would be worth the loss of liquor system jobs and long-term loss of revenue generated by the system.

Other factors Petrarca didn't like was the lack of expansion of Medicaid, possible privatization of the state lottery system and changes to gasoline taxes, which he believes will lead to a 20-cent-per-gallon increase for consumers.

“There were a lot of holes in this budget,” he said.

Republicans weigh in

Local Republicans in the Legislature liked the governor's budget but were concerned with some proposals, including what might amount to higher costs for consumers at the pump.

State Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, said in a release: “This year's budget proposal is a significant improvement from what we've seen over the past 10 years, which wavered from significant spending increases to — most recently — unavoidable severe cuts in state support for many programs and services.

“The governor is proposing a modest increase in overall state spending without a tax increase. He's proposing more money for public education, which is welcome.”

While Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, was happy with the governor's budget of “living within our means,” he is opposed to what he calls as “huge tax increase” on motorists.

The oil company franchise tax is imposed on distributors of liquid fuels and fees on all taxable fuels on a cents-per-gallon basis, according to the state Department of Revenue.

“When they lift the cap on the oil franchise tax, they are expecting to raise billions of dollars for infrastructure,” Metcalfe said. “Ultimately, it will be passed down to the consumer at the pump.”

Metcalfe said that the state should raise money through other means such as cutting the state Welfare Department.

Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville, took issue with the governor's proposed 3 percent increase in the state's welfare budget.

“If the Department of Welfare budget increases 3 percent each year, is the income of the residents of Pennsylvania going to increase 3 percent a year?” he asked.

Evankovich said he wants to see the state's expenditures in line with income growth.

“We need sustainable budgets moving forward,” he said

Wall Street Journal

Pennsylvanians' Right to Work

By STEPHEN MOORE

 

On Michigan's heels, Pennsylvania may become the 25th state in the nation to adopt a right to work law. This week a group of Republican lawmakers, led by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, introduced legislation that would end compulsory unionism.

Republicans are touting the growth of jobs in right to work states, which are mostly located in the South and West. A study by the American Legislative Exchange Council finds that new factories and facilities are much more likely to open in states without forced unionism.

One possible obstacle is Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Mr. Corbett is said to be lukewarm to the idea, which he believes is too politically divisive. But he has hinted that if the bill were to come to his desk, he would sign it. That has emboldened Republicans to move ahead. They argue, as the GOP did in Michigan, that their political majorities should be used to do big and consequential things to improve the state. Unless Mr. Corbett changes his mind, the law won't go far. Supporters note that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder didn't back right to work until he became persuaded of its value in creating jobs.

Labor bosses are threatening to wage political war against Republicans who vote for the measure. And some GOP lawmakers took union campaign contributions, which could make right to work a tough vote.

The latest Department of Labor data show unionization across America slipping to its lowest level in more than 50 years. In 2012 less than 7% of private sector workers were members of a union—though the public sector share is about five times higher. Unions lost 400,000 members in 2012, and right to work will continue to shrink their ranks and influence.

 


Washington Times Logo

Obama’s gun control push moves states to fight it

By David Sherfinski

The Washington Times

Monday, February 4, 2013

Even as some governors and mayors eye tighter restrictions on firearms in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings, state legislators across the country are launching pre-emptive strikes against federal gun control proposals that may never even make it through Congress.

More than half of the states have seen lawmakers push measures to make any new federal gun restrictions illegal within the states or exempt firearms made and sold within the states from federal regulation.

The push, supporters say, is a direct response to President Obama’s proposed controls, which include bans on military-style semi-automatic firearms, high-capacity ammunition magazines, universal background checks for gun purchasers, and 23 executive actions, many of which are directives to federal agencies.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said he took his cue from a proposal in Wyoming called the Firearm Protection Act that would invalidate any federal restrictions on firearms or gun magazines.

“When I saw what was happening with [Mr.] Obama and [Vice President Joseph R.] Biden, we thought it would be a good idea to do something similar in Pennsylvania” to what Wyoming has done, Mr. Metcalfe said. “We wanted to send a strong, clear message, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Mr. Metcalfe’s legislation would prohibit enforcement of any new federal restrictions on guns or ammunition and require the state to intercede against any federal attempt to register, restrict or ban guns that are currently legal.  Read more at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/4/obamas-gun-control-push-moves-states-to-fight-it/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS


Pennsylvania Record

 

Pa. state lawmaker unveils bill making federal gun control laws unenforceable in the commonwealth

January 25, 2013 6:55 AM
By
Jon Campisi

A lawmaker from Southwestern Pennsylvania has joined a growing number of legislators from across the country aiming to put legislation on the books that would make any potential future federal gun control laws unenforceable within a state’s borders.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a conservative Republican from Butler County, announced on Jan. 23 that he would soon be unveiling House Bill 357, (a reference to the .357 magnum firearm), which would prohibit enforcement of any new federal registration, restriction or prohibition requirement for privately owned firearms, magazines and ammunition within the commonwealth.

The bill, modeled after legislation introduced in Texas and Wyoming, and titled the “Right to Bear Arms Protection Act,” would also require the commonwealth, including the Attorney General’s Office, to intercede on behalf of Pennsylvania citizens against any federal attempt to register, restrict or ban the purchase or ownership of firearms and gun accessories that are currently legal products.

The law would mean that anyone, including federal agents, who attempt to enforce any type of gun control restriction within the commonwealth’s borders would be subject to arrest and felony charges.

“Passage of my legislation will send the message that there will never be additional gun control, anywhere in Pennsylvania,” Metcalfe said in a statement issued by his office. “Whether by White House executive orders, congressional fiat, or judicial activism, we will never allow the left to benefit from the wicked acts of murderers in order [to] advance their senseless gun-grabbing agenda which would only succeed in replacing one of our most sacred personal liberties with the chains of government tyranny.

“The right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned,” Metcalfe continued, quoting Article 1, Section 21 of the commonwealth’s constitution.

The lawmaker said the state constitution makes it “crystal clear that no level of government, especially the federal government, has any authority whatsoever to impose senseless restrictions on law-abiding firearms owners, or worse, the confiscation of legally owned firearms.”

Metcalfe said the purpose of his bill is to force “any gun-grabbing federal official to count the costs of unconstitutionally disarming or denying Pennsylvania citizens their God-given right to keep and bear arms.”

Laws such as these are sure to create a legal showdown between state governments and the feds.

If challenged in court, the Obama Administration would likely argue that under the U.S. Supremacy Clause, which says federal law trumps state law, measures such as these would be null and void.

Those on the other side have argued that states have the right to disregard federal laws that fly in the face of the constitution.

A handful of states have also passed their respective versions of something called the Firearms Freedom Act, which was originally passed in the state of Montana, and declares that any firearm made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states.

According to FirearmsFreedomAct.com, a version of the law has also been passed in Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona, Alaska and Tennessee, with many other states across the country considering passage of the act, including Pennsylvania.

The FFA, the website states, is primarily a Tenth Amendment challenge to the powers of Congress under the “Commerce Clause” with firearms as the object.

The Tenth Amendment Center, an advocacy organization, says on its website that in many ways, today’s federal government has suspended the legislative power of state assemblies by assuming control over powers not delegated to it by the United States Constitution.

The amendment, the center states, was intended to confirm the understanding that at the time the U.S. Constitution was adopted, powers not granted to the federal government were reserved to the states or to the people.

 

Post Gazette

Each side of gun debate rallies at Pennsylvania Capitol

January 24, 2013 12:07 am

By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

 

HARRISBURG -- Dueling demonstrations at the state Capitol Wednesday aired two sides of the debate over regulating firearms that has grown louder since state lawmakers returned to session.

During a morning event on the Capitol steps, about 150 people stood amid temperatures in the mid-teens as speakers organized by a group called Pennsylvania Responsible Citizens urged active opposition to any new gun laws being crafted in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

"We seek to remind our legislators and our citizens that the Second Amendment is not about hunting or sports or any other misleading notion," said Bob Sklar, of Philadelphia, who pointed to the amendment's "shall not be infringed" phrasing as strong protection for gun ownership.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, told the crowd that he has introduced House Bill 357 -- the number alluding to a type of handgun, drawing cheers and chuckles.

His measure would require the new attorney general, Democrat Kathleen Kane, to intervene against any federal gun-control efforts.

"Holding on to your liberty is going to take eternal vigilance," Mr. Metcalfe said. "We cannot rest because the liberals who want to take away your freedom will not rest."

A noontime rally held inside by CeaseFirePA drew a similarly sized crowd, with some attendees holding pictures of relatives who were killed by gunfire.

"I'm tired of watching children die," said Mary Beth Hacke, whose 14-month-old son, Ryan, was killed by a stray bullet in Homestead in 1997. "How many of our children do we have to bury before action is taken to reduce this epidemic of gun violence that is sweeping across the commonwealth?"

As she and others spoke -- including other mothers who lost sons to gun violence and a Philadelphia deputy mayor whose father was shot in front of him as a child -- some participants from the morning gun-rights rally held pro-Second Amendment signs and watched.

State Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat from Squirrel Hill, said lawmakers are organizing a "PA Safe Caucus" to work on "an adequate response" to the recent shootings.

"All of us have to come together to find common sense solutions that respect the individual liberties of all while at the same time advancing safety and protection for every single Pennsylvanian," Mr. Frankel said.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave an initial endorsement Wednesday morning to a resolution that would create a task force looking at the causes of gun violence, with a particular emphasis on preventive steps related to mental health services.


Trib Review

Cranberry lawmaker’s legislation goes after “liberal gun grabbers”

 Brad Bumsted

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 11:58 a.m.

 

HARRISBURG — A Cranberry lawmaker wants to prevent the enforcement of federal gun control measures in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe‘s proposed bill would make it a felony for anyone, including federal agents, to attempt to enforce gun restrictions or ban the purchase of firearms in this state. It is similar to legislation pending in Texas and Wyoming.

Metcalfe, a Republican, spoke about the bill Wednesday at a gun owners‘ rally that drew about 150 people to the state Capitol steps in freezing rain. They gathered to “show those liberal gun grabbers your rights are important,” Metcalfe said

It‘s likely the bill is more a statement against federal infringement than viable legislation on the track to approval in the General Assembly.

“Passage of my legislation will send the message that there will never be additional gun control, anywhere in Pennsylvania,” Metcalfe said. “Whether by White House executive orders, congressional fiat or judicial activism, we will never allow the left to benefit from the wicked acts of murderers in order to advance their senseless gun-grabbing agenda.”

Several hundred gun control advocates attended an afternoon rally, where several victims and survivors of shootings told their stories amid calls for “common sense” gun control legislation

“I‘m here to tell our governor and state officials I‘m tired of watching children die,” said Mary Beth Hacke of West Mifflin, whose 14-month-old son, Ryan, died in a random shooting at a Homestead gas station 16 years ago. Hacke is a board member of CeaseFire, which organized the gun control rally.

Metcalfe stirred the crowd at his rally by asking who has questioned Second Amendment rights and then ticking off several names: President Obama, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and CNN‘s Piers Morgan.

“A Brit on our soil questioning the Constitution,” Metcalfe said about Morgan.

Prompted by Obama, Congress could consider federal legislation to restrict the sale of military-style weapons in response to the December shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in which 20 first-graders and six adults died. The shooter, Adam Lanza, also killed his mother and himself, police said.

Obama has said he might act on some anti-gun measures through executive order.

Every member of the Pennsylvania legislature is sorrowful about Newtown, said Rep. Jeffrey Pyle, R-Ford City, but it is “a liberal myth that guns kill people,” Pyle said. If Obama sidesteps Congress to implement anti-gun measures by executive order, “to me is tantamount to being treasonous,” Pyle said.

Don John, 69, a former union welder from Middletown, said he twice voted for Obama because he thought the president would help create jobs and protect unions. Now John worries about an erosion of gun owner‘s rights.

“I really don‘t think (gun control laws) will stop crazy people from doing crazy things,” John said.

At the CeaseFire rally, Hacke said her “a criminal firing an illegal handgun” killed her son.

“My heart is broken, and I am forced to live with this pain every day,” she said.

Richard Negrin, deputy mayor of Philadelphia, recounted how a .45 caliber bullet from a Mac-10 pistol killed his father when Negrin was 13.

“There is no legitimate use for this gun,” he said.

Retired psychiatric nurse Sheila Kier of O‘Hara said she doesn‘t oppose the idea of having a gun for home safety or hunting but thinks military-style rifles and other semiautomatic weapons should be for the military and not the public.

“You don‘t need a semiautomatic to kill a deer,” Kier said


Post Gazette

Gun factions line up their Pennsylvania protests

January 21, 2013 12:16 am

By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- Standing quietly at Saturday's gun-rights rally here was Sheila Martin, who listened to speeches on opposing tougher firearm laws while she held a sign stating that gun control leads to unnecessary deaths.

The 26-year-old from Lancaster County, clad in a black Harley-Davidson jacket and earrings, said she came to the rally -- which was among a series of demonstrations across the country Saturday -- because she is a proud gun owner who believes that her constitutional right to bear arms is "under direct attack."

"I see a lot of the people in government who I think are trying to do away with the Second Amendment, do away with our rights, and that is wrong," Ms. Martin said. "If we do not speak up now, we will lose it."

That message will be heard again at the state Capitol on Wednesday, when the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association will be holding an event to counter a demonstration by CeaseFirePA, which is advocating for new gun-control measures.

Organizers with CeaseFirePA list a handful of policy goals they'll be seeking on the state and federal level, where the debate over regulating firearms has reignited since the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"I think Sandy Hook changed things," said Shira Goodman, CeaseFirePA's executive director. "People said, 'How did we get here?' I think it's gotten people woken up to the toll it's taking."

Requiring background checks for all private gun sales and mandating the reporting of lost or stolen guns are among CeaseFirePA's goals.

The group also is pushing to close a loophole that allows Pennsylvanians denied a gun permit here to seek one out of state, as well as for a ban on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, which Ms. Goodman acknowledged would be a "tough lift."

"A 50-state solution may be more effective, but people want to have that conversation here," she said.

Ms. Goodman said buses will bring some attendees from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for Wednesday's noontime event. Speakers will include elected officials, teachers and survivors of gun violence.

Organizers with the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association did not return a message seeking information about their event. A forum thread on the group's website urged participants to act respectfully and to leave long guns at home "given the current emotional environment of the public."

Among those speaking at the gun-rights rally will be state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, who will be hosting his fifth "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" event in April.

In an interview Friday, Mr. Metcalfe said that while he does not believe additional gun-control measures will be approved at the state level, the national push for further regulations has made him and others uneasy.

"We've built a solid coalition of Second Amendment supporters," he said, pointing to last year's approval of a broadened law allowing for the use of deadly force against attackers as one example of that support.

"It's been strong since I came into the Legislature," he added. "Right now we're stronger than ever and will grow stronger still as we oppose the national efforts."

Mr. Metcalfe said he'll be introducing legislation this week that would prohibit the enforcement of any new federal gun measures, and would require the state to intercede on behalf of citizens against federal restrictions on firearm ownership.


Philadelphia Inquirer

A range of details surround Obama's overhaul of immigration rules

January 21, 2013|By Michael Matza, Inquirer Staff Writer

Unable to win congressional reform of immigration in his first term, President Obama forced changes by fiat. He halted deportation of eligible youth. He prioritized enforcement against illegal immigrants who commit crimes over civil violators who just overstay visas.

Propelled to reelection on a wave of votes by naturalized Latinos, Obama soon will propose an omnibus overhaul of immigration law.

Its centerpiece: a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, including 160,000 in Pennsylvania and 550,000 in New Jersey.

"We want a long-term solution [for] undocumented members of our community, who in many cases are separated from their families," said Natasha Kelemen of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), an umbrella group of advocates.

"Keeping people in the underground economy . . . keeping parents separated from children, makes no sense morally or economically."

White House sources say Obama likely will present his initiative at Monday's inauguration.

Judi Bernstein Baker, director of the nonprofit legal-services group HIAS Pennsylvania, said "the only way to get permanent change" that doesn't depend on the occupant of the White House is through Congress.

In 2006, President George W. Bush championed a bill to provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and fund 300 miles of tougher security on the border with Mexico. The legislation enjoyed limited bipartisan support but ultimately foundered after conservatives called amnesty a reward for lawbreakers, and liberals said the bill failed to provide enough "family reunification" visas.

The limited supply of those visas is a painful issue. When legal immigrants sponsor family members for immigration to America, they petition for the reunification visas, which usually are capped at about 225,000 a year. In many years, there are far more applicants than available visas, leading to backlogs that can stretch a decade or more.

In addition to Obama's anticipated plan, Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House are drafting various proposals.

Should there be a path to citizenship?

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors reduced immigration, thinks not.

"The previous big amnesty [in 1986] . . . was a colossal failure," he wrote in an article circulated by his Washington group. "We should admit fewer foreign workers, not more. . . . Amnesty is appropriate at this time only for illegal immigrants who've lived here since they were infants or toddlers."

One outspoken critic of illegal immigration, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler) puts it more bluntly:

"Yet another betrayal of the American people by this president. You take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Your responsibility is to the citizens of the United States, not to foreign nationals who have violated our borders, violated our laws." .....


Butler Eagle

Right to Work law to be introduced

Published: January 5, 2013

HARRISBURG — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said Friday he will introduce legislation to ban compulsory union membership in Pennsylvania.
If passed, the law would affect tens of thousands of public sector employees in places such as school districts and municipal and state governments, employees who are forced to pay mandatory dues to unions even if they refuse to join them.
Metcalfe, R-12th, is capitalizing on national momentum built in states such as Indiana and Michigan, both of which recently passed versions of Right to Work legislation.
The Cranberry Township politician has advocated for the issue since his election to the Legislature in 1999.
He’s been the prime sponsor of the bill for 10 years and has seen plenty of opposition in the past. However, there is a different feeling in Harrisburg now, Metcalfe said.
“I’m optimistic that we have a better chance this year, in this session, than we’ve ever had before,” Metcalfe said. “People are realizing this policy makes sense in a bad economy; it makes sense overall in America and for anyone who believes in freedom.”
Metcalfe blasted unionism in Pennsylvania and said no one should be forced to pay dues. Doing so makes people de facto members of unions despite their wishes to remain independent.
“In forcing dues you are forcing default membership,” he said.
Marcus Schlegel, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest public sector union, railed against Metcalfe’s bill and said the politician isn’t accurate in his description of unions here.
“There is no such thing as compulsory unionism in Pennsylvania, period,” he said. “I don’t care what Metcalfe says. It does not exist here, and nobody is forced to join a union here.”
Schlegel said the teachers’ union does enforce a “fair share fee,” where employees wanting to remain independent of the union still have to pay a “very small fee” to the union.
That’s because the union under state law is required to represent every employee, union member or not, in labor disputes with employers.
The “fair share fee,” he said, is just a small way for those nonunion members to contribute to the costs associated with representing them. That fee is one small way to compensate the union for the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to represent every employee, he said.
Not only is Right to Work legislation not necessary in Pennsylvania, Schlegel said, but it also could have a detrimental effect on local economies.
“I know that in almost every state where there’s Right to Work legislation you have lower wages, worse benefits,” he said. “By and large you have people who don’t have the right to what every American has the right to, which is to come together and collectively advocate for themselves.”
Metcalfe took the opposite stance, saying unions are inherently anti-American in their policies and structures.
If anything, union members should welcome such legislation, as it would make their leaders more accountable, Metcalfe said.
Metcalfe said he will likely introduce a package of bills at the end of this month.


Trib Logo

 

State to check workers’ status on public projects

By Jason Cato

Published: Saturday, December 29, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pennsylvania next week begins its quest to block undocumented workers from jobs paid with public money, and one legislator behind the new law wants to expand the electronic verification rules to all employers.

“This is just the first step,” state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, said about the law that goes into effect on Tuesday, which will require employees of companies hired for public construction projects of $25,000 or more to vet workers through the federal E-Verify system maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.

Contractors and subcontractors on state public works projects must check employees‘ personal information against federal databases in the E-Verify system to ensure they are legally permitted to work in the United States. The state Department of General Services will oversee compliance, expected to cost the state $1.3 million in the first year.

Penalties for not complying with the new law range from warnings to three-year bans from state projects and fines up to $1,000.

“I have been working here in Pennsylvania and with state legislators across the United States to advance policies that shut off the economic incentives that draw illegal aliens to our state and country,” Metcalfe said. “Requiring the use of the free federal E-Verify system is a common-sense policy that will ultimately stop illegal aliens from stealing American jobs.”

In the near future, Metcalfe said, he plans to reintroduce legislation “to require the use of E-Verify for all employers in the commonwealth.”

Although industry officials say they generally accept the new law as a cost of doing business, immigration advocates criticize such measures.

“We think the mandates are problematic because at their core they really don‘t provide solutions,” said Emily Tulli, a policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center in Washington. “What we need is a way for workers to become qualified and aboveboard. E-Verify does nothing toward that.”

Tulli said other states have shown that many employers do not comply with the laws, and the E-Verify system can produce false results for which there is no clear appeals process.

“E-Verify mandates create unfair competition for high-road employers,” Tulli said. “And the more people you apply it to, the more errors you are going to have.”

The federal E-Verify site shows more than 350,000 employers enrolled nationwide.

Pennsylvania becomes the 22nd state to pass E-Verify legislation; 20 states have voted down such bills, according to the law center.

Instead of state-by-state employment verification laws, a national system with a legalization component is needed, Tulli said.

Plum Contracting Inc. of Greensburg voluntarily began using E-Verify last year, said President Jack Mills. The fact that it will become mandatory should have no impact, he said.

The Westmoreland County company employs between 40 and 200 people, depending on the season, Mills said. It has state contracts for work in Bethel Park, Jeannette and Salem.

“It‘s just more paperwork,” Mills said. “It‘s not going to be a big deal for us at all.”

Richard Barcaskey, executive director of the Beechview-based Contractors Association of Western Pennsylvania, said he does not recall any immigration issues with public works contractors in the region during the past 15 years.

In large part, Barcaskey said, most public works contract bidders divulge employee rosters to government agencies as part of pre-qualifying and prevailing wage programs as well as using union members and working on projects paid for with federal money, which require E-Verify checks.

“For regular public works contractors it would be very hard to use workers who are not documented to work in the United States anyway,” Barcaskey said. “I think (lawmakers) want to tackle this one step at a time. And the first people you aim at are the ones you have the most control over.”

Future laws, he speculated, could target residential contractors and other industries.


Phiuly Inq

After Conn. tragedy, some in Pa. look again at gun laws

 

Amy Worden and Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012, 3:01 AM

HARRISBURG - For the last two years, the words gun control vanished from the political debate in the state Capitol.

With Republicans controlling the legislature and the Governor's Office in a state that issued thousands of hunting licenses in 2012, the only controversial gun-related legislation under consideration was a bill to expand gun rights under the so-called castle doctrine.

That bill, allowing individuals to use deadly force when threatened anywhere outside their homes as well as inside, passed easily.

Now, after the massacre in Newtown, Conn., several Democratic lawmakers plan to reintroduce long-buried bills that would place new limits on gun ownership.

"There appears to be some evidence that the sheer magnitude of this tragedy has brought us to a tipping point," said Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery). "Everyone supports the right to have a weapon, but do we need people having assault weapons? These weapons were made for one thing: killing lots of people."

Leach wants to resurrect bills restricting gun purchases to one a month and requiring gun owners to report missing or stolen firearms, to address so-called straw purchasers - people who buy guns for felons who are barred from doing so.

But Gov. Corbett and the legislature's most vocal gun-rights proponent say that as horrific as the recent tragedy may be, it does not change their position against any additional gun-control measures.

"The governor's position is, we have enough gun-control laws in Pennsylvania and in this country," said his spokesman, Kevin Harley. "Additional gun-control laws would not stop these tragedies. Gun control is not going to stop madmen."

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), chairman of the state government committee, closed the door Monday on any debate on gun-control measures in his committee.

"There will be no additional gun control in Pennsylvania," said Metcalfe, who organizes a popular rally in support of Second Amendment rights each year at the Capitol. "I will not allow the left to use this horrific act to advance their gun-grabbing agenda. The support is not there in Pennsylvania."

Former Gov. Ed Rendell disagrees on the support issue, citing a recent poll of NRA members and gun owners that suggested a majority supported some tightening of gun restrictions.

"The NRA has taken positions their membership is against," Rendell said Monday. "There is a disconnect between the NRA and its membership."

Rendell thinks federal legislation such as restoring the assault weapons ban or limiting gun magazine capacities has the potential for the greatest impact on crime reduction.

But he said a measure such as reporting of lost and stolen weapons would help curb gun violence in Pennsylvania. As governor, Rendell fought unsuccessfully for additional gun restrictions, including a reporting measure and a one-handgun-a-month limit.

State Rep. Todd Stephens (R., Montgomery) on Monday sent a memo seeking cosponsors for a bill he plans to introduce requiring state police to send mental-health data within 90 days to the federal database used to screen gun purchasers.

"Those who have been committed to a mental institution are prohibited from possessing firearms, but unless we include our mental-health data in the nationwide database, these individuals may fall through the cracks and improperly be permitted to purchase firearms despite mental-health issues."

Mayor Nutter, who was in the Capitol on Monday for the meeting of the state's electoral college, said that he supports "reasonable" gun-safety laws, such as an assault weapons ban and tightening background checks, and that he wants to ensure adequate funding of mental-health services.

"We need to remove the stigma for those who may have mental-health issues that they are facing and bringing those to light - not shoving people to a corner and then being surprised if later on serious problems develop," he said.

State Rep. Steve Santarsiero, a Democrat who represents parts of Bucks County including its own Newtown, announced on Facebook that he would sponsor an assault weapons ban bill.

Though no single approach will solve gun violence, Santarsiero wrote, "we should not use that fact as an excuse for doing nothing."


Phily

Pennsylvania, New Jersey unlikely to pass right-to-work laws

 

Angela Couloumbis,Maria Panaritis,and Joelle Farrell, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 10:17 PM

HARRISBURG - Every legislative session for the last 14 years, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has worked the Capitol hallways to make Pennsylvania a "right-to-work" state.

Every time, the conservative Republican has seen his bills languish, not even mustering enough momentum for a committee vote.

"It's an uphill battle," Metcalfe, of Butler County, told The Inquirer on Wednesday. "Like pretty much any issue that threatens the power of the union bosses, it is quickly attacked and stifled."

Others might not use such lively terms for labor leaders and their clout. But the scenario Metcalfe described is unlikely to change anytime soon in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, even after another longtime bastion of organized labor, Michigan, became this week the highest-profile industrial state to let workers opt out of joining unions or paying dues as a condition of employment.

Like Michigan, Pennsylvania has a Republican-controlled legislature and governor's office. And like Michigan, Pennsylvania has a storied labor history that has produced financially strong and politically influential unions.

But as Gov. Corbett put it earlier this week, his state lacks the political will to get a similar law passed. And the governor has set his immediate sights on fighting unions on a different front: public employee pensions. He is unlikely to spend further political capital on an issue that only a handful of Republicans have marked as a priority.

"There is not much of a movement to do it," Corbett said during an appearance on the Dom Giordano radio program on WPHT-AM in Philadelphia. "Until I see a strong will to get legislation passed, we have a lot of other things that we have to get passed."


Post Gazette Logo

Metcalfe: Bar UN polling observers

Published by Tim McNulty on .

 

United Nations elections observers are "integrity-deficient" and could exert "a fraudulent or corrupt influence" on Pennsylvania's elections, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe wrote in a letter to the state's top election official today, and should face prosecution if they improperly enter polling places Tuesday.

There are 44 election observers in the U.S. from the Organisation for Security & Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) this fall observing polling nationwide at the invitation of the U.S. government. Two observers from United Nations-tied group will be in Pa through Nov. 9, but Metcalfe -- the Butler Republican and sponsor of the state's voter ID law -- wants them nowhere near polling places.

"The United Nations and its foreign nationalist subdivisions have no legal authority to even enter our polling places and should certainly not be welcomed by any level of government to inspect Pennsylvania elections," Metcalfe wrote on his website today. "United Nations monitors have no right or jurisdiction whatsoever to intrude upon the sanctity or integrity of the Commonwealth's election process."

In a letter to Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, he continued:

"Instead of welcoming these observers with open arms, we should rather encourage these individuals to monitor our election process from the same vantage point as our media: standing outside of the polling place. Better yet, they should just stay away, along with any other integrity-deficient individuals or foreign nationals who wish to exercise a fraudulent or corrupt influence on the 2012 election. OSCE observers should be held to the same criminal prosecutions as any other individual for violations of state election law."


WPXI

 

Pa. lawmaker refuses to say Pledge of Allegiance at House meeting

Oct. 16, 2012

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. —

A state lawmaker is coming under fire after refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance at a recent house committee meeting.

Democratic Rep. Babette Josephs said the words "under God" in the Pledge make it a prayer, and she refused to say it.

When Republican Chairman Darryl Metcalfe, who represents Butler, asked Josephs to lead the pledge, she refused.

As everyone was standing to say the pledge, Josephs said, "Based on my First Amendment rights and based on the fact that I really think it's a prayer, I don't pray in public."

After the incident, Metcalfe told reporters, "I think it is shocking that any elected official would not pledge allegiance to the flag. It's a person's right to not say the pledge, but I don't believe anybody should be in elected office that holds that position, and I think a majority of Americans wouldn't elect somebody if they held that position."

Josephs, who represents the Philadelphia area, is retiring in a few days.


PBS Logo

Pa. Judge Rules Strict Voter ID Law Will Go Into Effect Year After Election

Oct. 3 2012

Watch Pa. Judge Rules Voter ID Law Effective Year After Election on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.


Butler Eagle Logo

Metcalfe takes aim at judge in voter case

CRANBERRY TWP — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said Friday that the judge deciding the fate of the state’s new voter identification law would be an “activist judge” if he strikes down parts of the provision, which Metcalfe says is likely.
Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson held hearings last week regarding the case at the request of the state Supreme Court. His ruling on the legality of the bill, which Metcalfe sponsored, is expected by Tuesday.
In an interview Friday, Metcalfe said Simpson would overstep his authority if he grants an injunction on the law or if he makes provisions to allow some people to vote without valid identification.
“That’s not really the court’s place to do that,” Metcalfe said. “If the judge does that, he’d be overstepping his given authority and acting as a judicial activist rather than a judge making a ruling based on the constitution and the law.”
Metcalfe, R-12th, added the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that voter ID laws are not “too great a burden for any citizen to comply with” and that a lower court in Pennsylvania shouldn’t go against that sentiment.
“Is (presenting a photo ID) too great a burden to expect from a citizen so they can vote?” Metcalfe said. “No, and the Supreme Court found that.”
In addition to his statement regarding Simpson, Metcalfe also stood by comments he made last week on a Pittsburgh radio show in which he called some voters too lazy to get photo identification.
“That’s not debatable,” he said. “There are plenty of people out there who have an entitlement-type mentality, people who don’t mind living off the fruits of their neighbors’ labor.
“Are they going to have enough work ethic to secure the documents needed to get a photo ID? Some folks are too lazy to do that, and the state cannot fix that.”
The state representative added that a recent poll showed 99 percent of respondents agreed that voters should have to show some sort of identification at the polls.
The American Civil Liberties Union disagrees with that sentiment and has taken the matter to court to nullify the law before the Nov. 6 election.
Sara Mullen, a spokeswoman with the ACLU in Pittsburgh, said Friday that the group has responded too many times to Metcalfe’s comments and that the group didn’t have anything else to say about the controversial state legislator.
“We don’t believe his comments merit a response,” she said. “You can quote us on that.”


Trib lOGO

 

Pennsylvania voter ID mastermind says law too relaxed

By Brad Bumsted

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m

 

HARRISBURG — The chief architect of the voter ID law said he’s disappointed in the way that the Corbett administration is implementing the statute, suggesting it is on its way to being watered down as it moves through the courts.

Lowering the requirements for obtaining a newly made, state-issued photo ID allows the potential for fraud — the very thing the law aims to prevent, said House State Government Chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry.

“We respectfully disagree with Representative Metcalfe,” said Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley. “Our interpretation of the law is the state does have the authority to issue (new) voter ID. We’re trying to implement the law in a fair and effective manner, and to provide a photo ID to voters who don’t have one.”

A Commonwealth Court judge who upheld the law in August might rule as early as Thursday on whether he will allow its use in the Nov. 6 election.

The state Supreme Court last week sent the case back to Judge Robert Simpson to issue an injunction unless he’s convinced the state has made every effort to make sure voters are not disenfranchised.

“I think the executive branch has gone farther than what the law allows them to do,” Metcalfe, the law’s prime sponsor, told the Tribune-Review.

There’s nothing in the law that allows for alternate state-issued ID from the Department of State, or the relaxed standards the department issued this week, Metcalfe said.

Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Department of State, said the law allows for photo ID issued by the “federal government or the commonwealth.”

The intent of the law was for voters to primarily use drivers’ licenses and secure nondriver ID issued by PennDOT, which require a higher standard of documentation, Metcalfe said. The law also allows voters to use military, university, nursing home and municipal government-issued photo IDs.

Voter ID brought a raging partisan and legal battle. The GOP-controlled Legislature approved it, and Corbett, a Republican, signed it in March. Democrats opposing the law say it’s intended to suppress Democratic votes in urban areas among low-income voters and minorities. They say there’s no proof of voter impersonation in Pennsylvania.

In a hearing before Simpson on Tuesday, the state announced new standards making it easier for voters to get the Department of State ID, which was first offered in late August. Alfred Putnam, the state’s lead lawyer, said the state was trying to meet the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law. He said it would be central to the state’s argument against the need for an injunction to halt the law.

A coalition of civil liberties’ groups and the NAACP are seeking the injunction. Simpson said he might issue an injunction of some sort. He must rule by Tuesday.

A nondriver’s ID from PennDOT is free. It requires a Social Security card, a birth certificate with a raised seal, and two documents proving residence. Applicants also can use a passport or certificate of citizenship, said Jan McKnight, a PennDOT spokeswoman.

The Department of State required two documents proving residence but eliminated that requirement this week. A registered voter can get the Department of State card without any documents by providing name, address, date of birth and a Social Security number, McKnight said. Those are cross-checked in databases, officials said.

“The voter ID law has been a moving target with frequent changes in procedures and now a brand new type of ID,” said Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

The policy center in a joint project with the Service Employees International Union visited 44 licensing centers and concluded voters are receiving little information about the new form of identification and in some cases were discouraged from seeking a Department of State ID.

“The commonwealth is still falling short when it comes to ensuring that voters have access to free ID,” Ward said.

PennDOT customer service representatives initially encouraged people to get the more secure form of ID, McKnight said. She noted the survey was done in September only shortly after the Department of State cards were created. Workers now offer the Department of State cards first, McKnight said.

A study by a Swarthmore College professor for Senate Democrats released on Wednesday found 4 percent of voters did not have photo ID. Keith Reeves, director of the Center for Social and Policy studies, conducted a survey of 277 voters at Philadelphia precincts in the April primary when photo ID was optional.


Huffington Post

Daryl Metcalfe, GOP Lawmaker: If People Are Too 'Lazy' To Get Voter ID, Pennsylvania Can't Fix That

 

The Huffington Post  |  By Luke Johnson Posted:

Video at link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/daryl-metcalfe-pennsylvania-voter-id_n_1898514.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012 

Daryl Metcalfe, a Pennsylvania state House member who originally sponsored the state's voter ID law that is currently in legal limbo, said on a local radio station Wednesday morning that the state shouldn't be responsible for people who are too "lazy" to obtain the needed ID.

"Ultimately, the burden isn't on the state to make sure every individual does what they need to get their ID card. I mean, individuals have certain responsibilities in securing their ID," the Republican lawmaker told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA, in a clip circulated by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. "They have to present the documents needed. The state doesn't have that burden. I think the individual does, and ultimately it's a great travesty of justice to violate the rights of millions to have their legally cast vote protected for the special interests of a few individuals that are too lazy to get out there and get done what they have to to get their ID card."

The host asked whether Metcalfe was convinced that no legitimate voter would be disenfranchised. Metcalfe said he was. "As Mitt Romney said, 47 percent of the people ... are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors' hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can't fix that. But the process is put in place to get an ID card. There's a free ID available if someone needs one."

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a lower court's decision to uphold the law and sent it back for reconsideration. "We are not satisfied with a mere predictive judgment based primarily on the assurances of government officials," the high court's majority wrote of arguments that no voters would be disenfranchised. The majority was not convinced "that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth's implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election."

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/daryl-metcalfe-pennsylvania-voter-id_n_1898514.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012 


PA Independent

Law would strip tuition waivers for profs’ families

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — A Republican lawmaker wants to end the free ride for families of state university professors and employees.

State Rep. Brad Roae, of Crawford, introduced the Keep Tuition Affordable bill package aimed at reforming spending at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

The House State Government Committee heard testimony on four bills in the package Tuesday, including one that would remove tuition waivers for employees, their children and their spouses.

Some 2,569 tuition waivers — worth more than $10.1 million — were granted in the 2010-2011 school year, according to PASSHE data.

Roae said state colleges should end the free ride for students, who, in some cases, are “children of tenured professors who earn more than $100,000 a year,” he said.

In 2010-2011, $7.9 million in full waivers went to children of employees, according to PASSHE. Children of professors received $2.4 million in full waivers. The rest went to children of other faculty and staff.

These benefits contribute to PASSHE’s spending and tuition increases, Roae said. Other bills in his package include eliminating sabbaticals for state university professors and mandatory student activity fees as well as placing a moratorium on specific building projects.

“PASSHE’s mission is providing the lowest possible cost for our students,” Roae said. “With the excessive union contracts, the building sprees, things like that, they’re going to get away from that mission pretty quickly.”

Tuition at PASSHE institutions jumped 3 percent this academic year, following a 7.5 percent bump last year.

Roae said dropping the tuition waiver would save each student nearly $83 annually. While admitting that’s not a lot of money, Roae said students who pay nothing raise the cost for everyone else.

“When you have the cost to run a PASSHE university, that cost has to be divided by the number of students,” he said.

PASSHE Chancellor John Cavanaugh said during committee testimony that eliminating tuition benefits, along with sabbaticals, would hamper efforts to attract quality faculty.

A PASSHE survey of public universities showed that 70 percent offer tuition waivers to children of employees and 72 percent to spouses.

Jonathan Robe, administrative director with Washington, D.C.-based research institute The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, said removing fringe benefits, like free tuition for relatives, would increase spending.

Institutions might have to raise employee pay to compensate for the lost benefit and remain competitive, Robe said.

“This is a decision best left to the individual institutions,” he said.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, chairman of the House State Government Committee, said Roae’s package is unlikely to be addressed with less than two weeks in the legislative session, but the Legislature must address the issue, citing professors’ contracts as driving tuition increases.

“When you have administrations that negotiate contracts with very little input from the Legislature that has to appropriate the expenditures to cover those contracts, that is a problem,” he said. “And it’s a problem in the way Pennsylvania has dealt with that policy over the years and I think it needs to be changed.”


Newsworks

Pa. panel digs into pension proposals

August 14, 2012

By Mary Wilson

A joint panel of state House lawmakers is reviewing proposals to reform Pennsylvania's pension system for state and public school workers.

It's expected to be a protracted debate.

Lawmakers have tried to wrap their heads around the complicated mess of problems plaguing the state's pension system, such as the bad economy and shortsighted underfunding.

They're considering proposals to change state retirement plans from one that sets a certain benefit, to a another 401(k)-style plan that locks in the employee's and employer's contribution.

Andy Biggs, a scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, says he favors defined contribution plans because they don't hang the funding of a pension on an optimistic view of the economy or a political decision.

"These are interactions, so the economic and financial factors, and the funding rules, and human nature," he said. "And human nature is, if you can take a vacation from funding, you will do that."

Testimony from a liberal-leaning research group warns switching to defined contribution plans could pinch the pocketbooks of public employees.

"You've taken the one place in our economy where food service workers and bus drivers and school secretaries can have a secure retirement -- you've denied them that opportunity and you've transferred the money to financial services firms," says Steve Herzenberg, director of the Keystone Research Center.

It's a concern voiced by one Democratic lawmaker, who says the discussion of pension reform has been marked by a lack of empathy.

"Their retirement security, their level of income in retirement. And if people have no money to spend, whether it's in retirement or as employees, that affects the economy because there are no goods and services being purchased," said state Rep. Phyllis Mundy of Luzerne County.

But the joint committee's Republican chairman says his empathy is for the taxpayers.

"Those are the individuals, the majority of which elected me to be here, that I'm looking out for their interest, for the taxpayer's interest," says Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County. "They're being asked to pay too much to receive far too little."


Politics PA

Philly Dems Call for Gun Control After Colorado Murders

Written by Patrick McAteer, Contributing Writer

This weekend, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other prominent city officials joined a growing group of national voices advocating strengthened gun control laws in the U.S. after 12 people were killed during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, CO.

“While the attention of the American people is focused on Aurora and the irrational acts of an armed assailant, I am appalled by the pervasive problem of gun violence in our malls and parks and on the streets of our cities and towns,” Nutter said in a statement released Friday.

“This truly sad moment should be an occasion to strengthen gun safety laws, to call for national reform and to better ensure the safety of the public.”

Echoing Nutter’s calls for gun control reform was Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. During an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” Ramsey noted the obvious need for a national conversation on reform, but said it was unlikely one would arise.

“Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, the list goes on and on,” Ramsey said.

“Unfortunately, in my opinion, the answer is absolutely nothing (will change). There will be a lot of talk, a lot of debate, but this will fade into the background like the other incidents that have occurred. People will continue to get their hands on guns.”

Ramsey also recommended a ban on assault weapons in the U.S., a provision originally contained within Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The act expired in 2004 and initiatives to renew it have not reached the floor for a vote.

Ramsey’s and Nutter’s comments come after Philadelphia once again found itself inundated with gun violence over the last year. In fact, during a single week last April, the city reported 144 crimes involving firearms.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell joined Nutter and Ramsey by labeling the National Rifle Association’s influence on Congress’s ability to pass gun control legislation as “an act of cowardice.”

“We’re terrified of the NRA. We Democrats are as bad as the Republicans. Everyone is scared of the NRA,” Rendell said Friday on MSNBC. “There are some things worth losing for in politics, and to be able to prevent carnage like this is worth losing for.”

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) is arguably the strongest gun rights supporter in PA. In a Facebook post Monday, he said that communities are better off when responsible citizens own guns.

“The callous leftists who hope to disarm America are at it again since the Colorado murders,” he wrote.

“Our communities are safer when law abiding citizens are able to bear arms in defense of themselves, their family, their friends, their neighbors and their property. Our society would be better off if murderers were labeled as evil or wicked rather than crazy or mad.”


Philydot

Posted: Thu, Jul. 19, 2012, 3:01 AM

Report turns up Philadelphia voting irregularities

By Bob Warner

Inquirer Staff Writer

A report on Philadelphia voting irregularities issued Wednesday by Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt was immediately overwhelmed with partisan rhetoric over Pennsylvania's new voter ID law.

Schmidt's staff took a detailed look at election operations in the April 2012 primary, focusing on roughly 15 divisions - less than 1 percent of the city's polling places - where a preliminary analysis suggested there were more votes recorded than the number of people who showed up at the polls.

That turned out not to be the case in most of the divisions Schmidt investigated. But his review pointed to various other problems, any of which could make a difference in a tight race decided by a small number of votes, he said at a news conference.

Among the irregularities Schmidt cited:

One woman, whose name was not disclosed, apparently voted twice at two polling places in two West Philadelphia wards. Schmidt said he was referring the case to the district attorney.

Six unexplained votes appeared for Republican candidates in a division in Mayfair's 55th Ward.

Citywide, 23 people who were not registered to vote were allowed to vote anyway, because the election officials at their polling places did not follow the prescribed procedures for dealing with people whose names did not appear in poll books.

Eight people were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary in West Philadelphia's Sixth Ward, even though they were registered in other political parties.

Because some voters were sent to the wrong voting machines, where two or more divisions were voting in the same building, three people cast votes in legislative races in districts where they didn't live.

Inquiries from federal immigration officials led this year to the discovery that 19 registered voters in Philadelphia are not U.S. citizens, and therefore not legally registered. Most of them didn't actually vote, but over the last 10 years, seven of the 19 have voted in at least one election, Schmidt said.

Schmidt's review of the primary election did not disclose any previously unreported instances of voter impersonation, ostensibly the major reason for the state's new voter ID law, which requires all Pennsylvania voters to present a driver's license or other specified form of photo ID when they go to the polls in November.

But he threw in a two-page description of the only known voter impersonation case in Philadelphia in the last five years - the still-mysterious case of someone who has registered twice, originally in 1990 as "Joseph Cheeseboro," using a South Philadelphia address that later became a vacant lot, and again in 2003 as "Joseph J. Cheeseborough," using an address that belonged to a 7-Eleven store.

Cheeseborough didn't vote under either name in the 2012 primary. But he had voted under one name or the other in eight elections over the last five years, and in the 2007 primary and general elections, he voted twice, using both names, Schmidt reported.

Schmidt said his report was designed to describe the kinds of irregularities that occur in Philadelphia elections, not to play a role in the continuing controversy over voter ID, which faces a critical test in Commonwealth Court beginning next week.

But it did just that. Various state Republican leaders jumped on Schmidt's report as evidence of massive corruption in Philadelphia elections, justifying voter ID and maybe more.

"Commissioner Schmidt's report finally confirms what leading Democrat opponents of voter photo ID and those in the mainstream media have been denying all along," said a news release from State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), who chairs the House State Government Committee.

"Philadelphia is, without question, one of our nation's most infested epicenters for rampant election fraud and corruption," Metcalfe added, promising future hearings "to combat election fraud throughout Pennsylvania."

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele seconded the alarm. "It is clear that some of the alleged crimes would have been prevented if Pennsylvania's voter ID law had been in place in previous elections," she said.

State Republican chairman Rob Gleason said Schmidt's report "should silence all those partisans and pundits who have been saying that there are no cases of voter fraud. . . . Voter ID legislation takes a step forward in combating threats to our election process."

Schmidt's colleague in City Hall, City Commission Chairwoman Stephanie Singer, a Democrat, said his report "includes serious allegations of voting irregularities . . . that certainly warrant a more thorough investigation."

But she added she saw "no conclusive evidence that the new voter photo ID law will help mitigate the incidences described."


USA Today

In Arizona law's wake, other states to forge ahead

By Alan Gomez, Richard Wolf, Dennis Cauchon and Chuck Raasch, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court's split ruling Monday on Arizona's controversial immigration law did nothing to settle the debate — providing little clarity on how far states can go to police their borders and solidifying the topic as a key election-year issue.

The court, in Arizona v. United States, upheld a key provision that requires state and local police to check the immigration status of people they've stopped or detained if a "reasonable suspicion" exists that they're in the country illegally. Though this pillar of the law survived the federal government's challenge, the courts are likely to see it again once it is fully implemented.

The justices, in a 5-3 vote, struck down three other provisions that created new state crimes targeting illegal immigrants, arguing that Arizona had usurped federal authority in the area of immigration enforcement.

The court battle pitted Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the immigration bill into law two years ago, against President Obama, whose Justice Department sued the state to block it. Both Brewer and Obama claimed victory, suggesting just how difficult it will be to reach a consensus on how local police can approach, question and arrest the country's 11 million illegal immigrants.

"The Supreme Court has really sent us a mixed message," said Arizona state Sen. Steve Gallardo, a Democrat and opponent of the bill.

The Supreme Court allowed one of the key provisions of Arizona's immigration law to stand while striking down three other parts in its decision announced today.

Brewer said the "heart of the bill" was upheld, and state legislators around the country sounded emboldened, arguing that the ruling will not only help similar laws survive constitutional challenges but will lead to more laws when state legislatures reconvene in January.

Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group, said the court upheld the "heart of the problem." But activists held out hope that because the majority of the law was gutted, similar laws across the country — or those under consideration — will suffer a similar fate.

As other states targeting illegal immigration sort out the legal fallout from the ruling, the decision swiftly moved into the political realm as Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney weighed in.

The president said he remained "concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision" and that it could open the door for racial profiling. In fact, Obama's Department of Justice announced late Monday that it had set up a telephone hotline and e-mail address to field reports of civil right complaints when the law goes into effect, which will happen after a federal injunction is lifted.

Romney said the ruling underscores how Obama has failed to develop a national immigration strategy that does not force states to fend for themselves: "This represents yet another broken promise by the president."

The political heat will only increase on Thursday when the justices are expected to issue another highly anticipated ruling on the president's health care law.

The Arizona ruling follows Obama's decision this month to halt the deportation of young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. The decision affects an estimated 800,000 people.

Although Arizona officers will soon begin the immigration checks of people in the state, Department of Homeland Security officials said Monday that it simply won't take action in many cases brought forward by the state.

Homeland Security has established a priority list of illegal immigrants they target for removal, including people who are threats to national security, people with dangerous criminal records and repeat border-crossers. If Arizona officers start calling for immigration checks of people who don't fall in line with those priorities, DHS won't pick them up or initiate deportation proceedings against them, said a senior DHS official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Other states see vindication

After Arizona passed SB 1070 in 2010, GOP-led legislatures in five other states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — followed its lead in 2011 by passing similar laws. Portions of all of those laws were blocked by lower courts, and efforts in other states stalled during state legislative sessions this year.

While both opponents and supporters of state-led immigration crackdowns said Monday's ruling will help their causes, legal experts weren't so sure.

Catherine Gage O'Grady, a law professor at Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, said the court did not give a full-throated endorsement of the portion of Arizona's law that it upheld. Instead, the court said that part of the law needs to go into effect before courts can get a sense of how it will be used.

"All the court did was say that the timing of this is such and the language of the statute is such that we cannot say on its face that it is pre-empted (by federal law)," O'Grady said.

State legislators supportive of the Arizona law say the portion that survived will help their laws withstand court challenges.

In Alabama, the House majority leader, Republican Rep. Micky Hammon, said the "real teeth of Arizona's law" survived, meaning their law, and others like it, should be just fine.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Nathan Deal echoed that sentiment. "It appears the court has upheld the major thrust of our state's statute, that states have the right to assist in enforcing federal immigration law," Deal said in a statement.

Legislators eager to enact their own laws to fight the tide of illegal immigration saw hope in Monday's ruling.

"The decision reaffirms our position that we do have a place in this debate," said Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the Republican founder of State Legislators for Legal Immigration. "We do have a right to protect our citizens from the illegal alien invasion." ........


Butler Eagle

Metcalfe fires back against alien policy

Published June 20, 2012
 
HARRISBURG — State Legislators for Legal Immigration, founded by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, announced its opposition to President Obama’s policy to allow some illegal aliens to stay and work in the United States.

Friday’s executive order would allow illegal aliens, who came to the U.S. as children, to get work permits and be safe from deportation if they meet certain criteria.
It is estimated this would cover about 800,000 illegal aliens.
In a news release, Metcalfe said, “This is just yet another attempt at backdoor amnesty that violates the balance of power established by our Founding Fathers and it is a blatant attack on our Constitution.
“Obama continually chooses to represent the interests of foreign national illegal aliens over the interests of the American people.”
The SLLI release noted that Congress has not passed the DREAM Act, which deals with illegal immigrants and includes sections that are covered under Obama’s executive order.
“The fact that he had to do an end run around Congress to get it done makes it all the more unacceptable,” said SLLI member, Nebraska state Senator Charlie Janssen in the release. “We have a floundering national economy with over 8 percent unemployment, so it’s unconscionable to think that the president wants to throw almost 1 million illegal aliens into the job force.”
Metcalfe of Cranberry Township said, “By imposing another round of executive branch amnesty, the Obama administration has effectively downgraded the federal government from AWOL in fulfilling its Constitutional duty to protect the lives, liberty, property and jobs of American citizens against the illegal alien invasion to a fully complicit accomplice in eroding America’s national and economic security.”

 

Lifeline

Planned Parenthood Does One Abortion Every 97 Seconds

by Jennie Stone | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 5/29/12 11:00 AM

 

AddictingInfo.org blogger Stephen Foster recently tried to refute claims made by Pennsylvania Representative Daryl Metcalfe about Planned Parenthood, titling the article “Pennsylvania Congressman Falsely Claims That Planned Parenthood Performs An Abortion ‘Every 95 Seconds.’” Sorry, Foster, but this assertion is pretty accurate. I’ll break it down for you.

Planned Parenthood performs 330,000 of the 1,200,000 abortions in America annually. This means that Planned Parenthood performs about 27% of all American abortions, or 887 of the 3,287 abortions performed daily.

There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Divide the 887 abortions Planned Parenthood commits on a daily basis into the 86,400 seconds PP has to do them, and you have an abortion performed by Planned Parenthood every 97 seconds.

If you want to consider the numbers logically, though, we should assume a twelve-hour day instead of a twenty-four-hour one. This would mean that Planned Parenthood aborts a baby about every 49 seconds during the day.

Regarding Planned Parenthood’s abortion numbers, Metcalfe claimed that “Planned Parenthood performs an abortion every 95 seconds on 91 percent of all the pregnant mothers that walk through their doors. For every one adoption referral made by America’s largest abortion-on-demand provider, 391 babies are aborted. Each year, Planned Parenthood aborts more than 320,000 innocent lives and over 16,000 of those abortions occur in Pennsylvania.”

Metcalfe is claiming that 91% of all pregnant women who walk into Planned Parenthood get an abortion, but that is simply a lie.

No, it’s not a lie. According to their latest annual report, Planned Parenthood performed 329,445 abortions, provided prenatal care to 31,098 clients, and made 877 adoption referrals, for a total of 361,384 services specifically for pregnant women. Simple math: over 91% of pregnancy services Planned Parenthood provided to pregnant clients were abortion services.

Foster goes on to promote the “only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions” claim, but I have a feeling he doesn’t realize that eleven percent of PP’s clients obtain abortions, nor that the one service PP claims to want to “prevent” garners the organization millions upon millions of dollars to make up nearly 15% of its overall billion-dollar income every year. PP’s own numbers prove it.


Trib

Bill would shift state money for women's health


By Clara Ritger

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 12:56 p.m.

HARRISBURG -- A Cranberry Republican introduced a bill Wednesday that would redirect state funding from health care providers that offer abortions to comprehensive women's health clinics that do not perform the procedure.

The legislation would strip Planned Parenthood of more than $14 million, said sponsor Rep. Daryl Metcalfe.

"The war on women is taking place in every abortion clinic across the state of Pennsylvania," he said.

Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, called the legislation part of a nationwide coordinated attack on Planned Parenthood by Republicans. He called the denial of a woman's right to choose a "war on women."

"Planned Parenthood is the largest provider nationally to uninsured and disadvantaged women. To think they will be taken care of in the private sector is disingenuous," he said.

Rebecca Cavanaugh, vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, said the group served 28,000 patients last year.

"For every $1 we get from the state, we get $9 from the federal government," she said. "If we lose state funding for those people, we lose federal too."

Planned Parenthood in Pennsylvania received $4 million from the state and $10 million from the federal government, all of which would be cut, Metcalfe said.

Gov. Tom Corbett's office said it could not comment until it was more familiar with the legislation.

Metcalfe said that the language of the bill ensures that abortion providers would not get any taxpayer money. The bill instead would send the money to hospitals, rural health care providers and other federally approved clinics.

"Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize abortionists and their facilities," Metcalfe said.

Abortions account for 5 percent of Planned Parenthood's services. Sari Stevens, executive director at Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, said the organization served 120,000 men and women last year, providing more than 44,000 breast exams, 200,000 tests for sexually transmitted diseases and 40,000 cervical cancer screenings, as well as birth control and family planning consultations and routine annual exams.

No taxpayer money funds abortions, the group says. Tom Shaheen, vice president for policy with the Pennsylvania Family Institute, calls that a numbers game.

"Every taxpayer dollar that goes to Planned Parenthood for anything frees up another dollar to fund their massive abortion operation," he said.

 


 

Huff Post

 

Planned Parenthood In Pennsylvania May Be Defunded

Posted: Updated: 05/22/2012 5:36 pm

 

Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) will introduce legislation on Wednesday that would defund Planned Parenthood, adding his state to a list of four others that have pending bills to strip public funds from the family planning provider.

Metcalfe's bill, the Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act, would put health care providers that offer abortion services at the bottom of the priority list for state funding. The anti-abortion activist group Susan B. Anthony List and the Alliance Defense Fund co-wrote the bill, which closely resembles the one Arizona lawmakers used to defund Planned Parenthood earlier this year.

Planned Parenthood clinics receive a substantial percentage of their money through state and federal government funding streams, including Medicaid and Titles V, X and XX. The clinics use the funds to offer breast cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, pap smears, maternity care and other medical services for low-income and uninsured patients. None of this money can legally be used to pay for abortions, which make up less than 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood performs, but anti-abortion activists regularly make the argument that any money the organization receives will indirectly fund abortions.

Mallory Quigley, communications director for SBA List, called the bill an "upgrade" for women's health services because it directs money away from Planned Parenthood clinics and toward hospitals and other kinds of family planning clinics that don't provide abortions.

"The emphasis is on comprehensive whole woman care, so instead of them going to Planned Parenthood to receive one type of service, they will now be going to qualified health clinics where they can get mammograms, treatment for hypertension and depression, dental care, all these things Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide," Quigley said. "All it is is an upgrade of women's health care without any additional cost to the taxpayer."

The problem with cutting funding from a major nationwide family-planning provider is that many Planned Parenthood patients live in low-income, rural and medically underserved areas where there generally aren't other viable providers of the same types of services. For instance, Tennessee lawmakers cut Title X funding from Planned Parenthood in 2011, and that law has left many former patients unable to afford health care.

"In the past our clients would qualify for services for free, but now we have to charge them a fee," said Jeff Teague, president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. "It's put a burden on people, obviously. We've seen a ten percent decrease in patient numbers, and we've worked very closely with health department to see if they've seen a corresponding increase, and they have not. We have a serious concern that there are a number of women not receiving or delaying care, which is a bad situation either way."

In Pennsylvania, Republicans hold the majority in the state House of Representatives and Senate. Gov. Tom Corbett (R), during a debate over a transvaginal ultrasound bill that would have required all women seeking abortions to receive one, said that women who didn't want the procedure should just "close [their] eyes."

Six states enacted legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011: Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee. District judges in all of those states except Wisconsin have since determined that those laws were unconstitutional and have temporarily blocked them.

So far this year, Arizona successfully stripped funds from Planned Parenthood, and legislators dropped similar proposed laws in Iowa and New Hampshire. Maine cut $400,000 for family planning services out of the state budget this week, and five other states -- Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania -- are currently considering bills that would directly defund Planned Parenthood.

A Planned Parenthood spokesperson estimates that total state funding cuts could leave well over 350,000 patients without health services. That estimate does not include Pennsylvania, because the numbers of patients the bill would affect are not yet available.

If presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney follows through on his promise to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood funding entirely, the number of affected patients could climb to five million.

"What’s happening in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kansas is a preview of what would happen in all 50 states if Mitt Romney is elected," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Planned Parenthood won't let politics interfere with the health care that one in five women in America relies on at some point in her life. Planned Parenthood doors are open, and they’ll be open tomorrow."


 

Lawmakers rated on Marcellus shale votes

By Liz Hayes
VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH

Monday, April 2, 2012

 

Several local lawmakers — even one who fared well on the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Scorecard — say they don't place a lot of weight on the environmentalists' grades for legislative voting related to natural gas well drilling.

"With all due respect to the environmental groups, I'm not preoccupied with scorecards," said Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Pittsburgh, who received a perfect score.

Four environmental advocacy organizations -- Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment and Sierra Club -- in March scored all state legislators on their votes on Marcellus-related legislation that came before the Legislature in 2011.

The scorecard reflects eight votes in the Senate and 13 in the House leading up to and including passage of Act 13, formerly known as House Bill 1950, which established impact fees on gas wells in exchange for more universal drilling regulations.

The environmental groups oppose Act 13, which they say "tramples" municipal zoning laws, does not provide adequate separation between building and gas wells, and enacts extraction fees that are too low.

Adam Garber, a field director for PennEnvironment, said the scorecard was the first collaborative effort among the four organizations. It also was unique in that it focused on one issue rather than many.

"This year we decided that because Marcellus shale gas drilling would have such a huge impact on Pennsylvania's environment and the health of its citizens, that it was worth just focusing on that issue," Garber said. "(Passing the bill) was such a saga, that it was worth making sure constituents understood where their legislators voted throughout the process, who tried to fix the bill, who didn't and how everyone voted in the end."

Garber said the results were somewhat unique in how party politics and regionalism factored into the scores compared to past environment-based report cards.

Whereas some Republicans have received low grades on past scorecards, the highest Republican score was 50 percent on Marcellus issues, Garber said. Conversely, Garber said there were Democrats who received failing grades this time around.

"Some of the usual environmental champs this time decided to side against their constituents' interests and with drilling companies," he said.

Kathryn Klaber, president of Pennsylvania-based trade group Marcellus Shale Coalition, objected to the industry being categorized as unconcerned about the environment.

"We live, work and raise our families in these communities, and are absolutely committed to ensuring that our air, water and public health are protected," Klaber said. "There is no higher priority. And as President Obama recently said, 'The development of natural gas (is) proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy.'"

Perfect scores

Locally, three legislators received a perfect score on the environmental scorecard: Sens. Ferlo and Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and Rep. Dom Costa, D-Stanton Heights.

Ferlo said he recognizes the importance of energy independence and that sources such as natural gas play a role, but he'd like to see more emphasis on the development of cleaner, renewable sources.

He also believes it's possible to craft regulations that support the economy and protect the environment -- something he doesn't think Act 13 does.

"It is a horrendous piece of legislation: weak on environmental protections and in no way raises the necessary revenue," Ferlo said. "It's completely contrary to Republican rhetoric on property rights. It decimates the power of local people and local governments."

At the bottom of the scorecard was Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, the only local legislator to receive a zero.

White said his record on the environment should stand for itself, irrespective of the Marcellus scorecard.

"A scorecard arbitrarily developed based on selective votes has no relevance," White said.

"During my time in office, I have focused a lot of time and effort securing funds to remove raw sewage and acid mine discharges from our waterways. I have also aggressively pushed coal-fired power plants, such as Keystone and Homer City, to install modern emission controls," White said. "My efforts to protect our environment are evident throughout the district I represent."

The environmental groups gave 22 legislators a zero -- most of them senators and all but one of them Republicans.

Nearly 60 legislators received a score of 100 percent -- all of them Democrats.

Several more received a 92 percent, including Reps. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont; Anthony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills; and Joseph Markosek, D-Monroeville.

"Rep. Dermody supports natural gas extraction as long as it is done responsibly with public safety and environmental protection in mind," said Bill Patton, Dermody's press secretary. "His high score on the report card reflects those priorities.

"This industry can support many jobs, but industrial drillers also need to pay for the local impacts caused by their activity," Patton added.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, was one of the higher-scoring local Republicans -- he and Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysvile, both earned a 31 percent. Only Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, came in slightly higher with 38 percent.

Metcalfe said he doesn't consider the organizations who compiled the scorecards to be true environmental advocates: "They're leftist activist groups trying to seize more of our rights."

He joked that he is accustomed to receiving zeros from such groups: "I was actually disappointed that I scored higher than zero."

Metcalfe said he believes Marcellus shale natural gas can hold a key to American energy independence and job growth.

"I think we have a very robust regulatory arm that is working to ensure companies developing Marcellus shale are doing so responsibly," Metcalfe said. "I've been an avid outdoorsman. We love clean water. We love a clean environment."...........


 

Trib Logo

Metcalfe gun-law bill raises ire of mayors

By Bob Bauder
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A controversial gun bill drew criticism on Tuesday from several Pennsylvania mayors who say it would undermine local ordinances requiring firearm owners to report lost or stolen guns.

 

Sponsored by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the bill would permit gun owners who challenge such ordinances to collect legal fees and damages from municipalities.

 

Pittsburgh City Council in December 2008 passed legislation requiring owners of lost or stolen handguns to report them missing within 24 hours of discovering them gone.

 

The city's law department, however, issued an opinion the same month declaring the ordinance unenforceable, citing existing state law and legal precedence, as well as the city's Home Rule Charter.

 

Still, the ordinance remains on the books. In more than three years, police have yet to charge anyone with violating it, according to City Solicitor Daniel Regan.

 

"I am not aware of a set of facts that would have led to it being enforced," he said.

 

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and several other mayors criticized Metcalfe's bill at the state Capitol. They blamed the state Legislature for failing to pass statewide gun-control measures.

 

"There's no theories here," Nutter said at a news conference. "No one is theoretically dying in Philadelphia -- 316 homicides last year, 85 percent with guns, all of which were illegal. That's what we're talking about. That's all that matters."

 

Metcalfe said his bill is intended to ensure compliance with existing state law banning local gun-control ordinances. He called the critics "brazenly arrogant."

 

"No elected official is above the law, and when they pass their own ordinance and ignore the state law they're putting themselves above the law," Metcalfe said.

His bill is pending in the House.

 


 

News Busters

 

CBS Plays Up Voter Suppression Charge in Pennsylvania; Ignores Voter Fraud

By Matthew Balan | March 16, 2012 | 19:07

 

On Thursday's CBS Evening News, Elaine Quijano touted a charge from Pennsylvania Democrats that the new voter I.D. law there "targets poor and elderly voters." Quijano also spotlighted that, according to unnamed "Pennsylvania court officials," there were no cases of "voters convicted of fraud in the last five years." However, in late 2010, the AP reported on a credible allegation of voter fraud in the state.

Anchor Scott Pelley introduced the correspondent's report by trumpeting how "Pennsylvania has just enacted one of the toughest voter I.D. laws in the country. It will require voters to provide a photo I.D. at the polls this November. Republicans say it's about preventing voter fraud. Democrats say the real target is the poor."

Quijano began by noting that "the effort to pass Pennsylvania's voter I.D. law was led by Republican State Representative Daryl Metcalfe." She first asked the state legislator, "Why did you that think that this legislation was necessary?" Rep. Metcalfe answered, in part, that "we've had a history in Pennsylvania of election code violations, voter fraud, fictitious registrations."

The CBS journalist then outlined that "Pennsylvania joins eight other states that have passed laws that require voters to have photo I.D. In Pennsylvania, the issue has been a partisan battle. All the Democrats in the state's assembly voted against it. They argue the law targets poor and elderly voters, who may not have the money or transportation to get a photo I.D."

Quijano turned to a Democratic state representative and let her all but accuse the Republicans of racism. She forwarded that charged accusation in her second question to Rep. Metcalfe:

VANESSA LOWRY BROWN, (D), PENNSYLVANIA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We all know that if you initiate this, that you will silence a group of people who will consistently vote for one particular party.

QUIJANO (on-camera): To suppress Democratic voters.

BROWN: Exactly- to suppress the Democratic vote, because this population of people are registered Democrat. They have already done the demographics. They know the numbers.

QUIJANO: And the accusation that this is about suppressing the Democratic vote?

METCALFE: I think it's outrageous for the accusation to have any legs at all. It's- when you talk to voters across the state, when you look- survey after survey- voters at the base, across party lines, want to ensure that their vote is protected.

The correspondent added, "We asked Pennsylvania court officials how many individual voters have been convicted of fraud in the last five years. They found none, in a state with more than eight million registered voters."

This doesn't tell the whole story, however. In November 2010, the AP, which can't be accused of having conservative leanings, distributed an editorial that originally ran in the Bucks County Courier-Times that called for a further investigation into an allegation of voter fraud in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia: "Republicans caused quite a stir...after they noted unusually large number of absentee ballot applications that had been rejected because of bogus signatures, birth dates that didn't match voter records and invalid excuses for not voting in person at the polls." The editorial went on to note that the Pennsylvania state Democratic committee replied by accusing the GOP of "threatening and misleading" behavior.

Another news outlet in the area, BucksLocalNews.com, reported on October 30, 2010 that the Bucks County Board of Elections "voted to sequester a little more than 8,000 absentee ballots during a special meeting Friday morning after questions were raised on Thursday by Republican Congressional candidate Michael Fitzpatrick over their legitimacy." Despite voting against the move, board member Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia stated that "she agreed...that by sequestering all 8,000 ballots no harm would be done. 'It's just creating work that’s not necessary.'"

Quijano could have done the Internet research to unveil this voter fraud allegation from the last election cycle, but it definitely didn't make it into her report.

The full transcript of Elaine Quijano's report from Thursday's CBS Evening News, which began 39 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour, can be found at MRC.org.


 

 

CBS Logo

 

Strict voter ID law passes in battleground Pennsylvania

 

 


 

Fox News Logo

 

Voter ID battle comes to Pennsylvania

 

Greta B

 

Click here to view the video.

 

 

Trib logo

State Senate passes voter ID bill

 

HARRISBURG -- The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved a House bill to require Pennsylvania voters to show photo identification before they can vote.

Supporters, including Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County, said the measure will "protect the integrity of the electoral process." Detractors such as Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, called the legislation the "voter suppression bill."

The bill was approved 26-23 after more than three hours of contentious debate and amendments. The amended measure must return to the House for a final vote before it would go to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.

If the bill clears the House hurdle, "(Corbett) has said he would sign it," said Secretary of State Carol Aichele, a member of Corbett's Cabinet.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the bill's sponsor, agrees with the Senate changes and hopes the House can act next week. If all approvals are secured in time for the November general election, Pennsylvania would join 15 other states that require a photo ID to vote.

Acceptable ID would range from a Pennsylvania driver's license or a passport to nursing home and university IDs. About 1 percent of eligible voters -- about 80,000 -- do not have valid ID, Aichele said. Providing them with photo ID cards would cost about $1 million, she said, not the $11 million that critics cited.

Democrats claim the ID requirement is an issue pushed by Republican governors and GOP legislatures across the nation to dampen turnout among low-income people who usually vote Democratic. Proponents say the bill is aimed at combating fraud.

Three Republican senators joined Democrats yesterday in opposing the bill. They are Mary Jo White, R-Venango County; Jane Earll, R-Erie; and Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery County.

Opponents say little fraud has been proved and the legislation has the potential to prevent some people from voting.

"This is a solution looking for a problem," said Sen. John Wozniak, D-Johnstown.

Supporters said legitimate voters should know that fraudulent voters are not tainting their decisions.

"Protecting our electoral process should be a team sport, but I'm shocked that Democrats continue their attempts at blocking a clear way to give each Pennsylvanian ... equal say electing our representatives," said state Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason.

If Corbett signs the bill, there would be a dry run in the April 24 primary, Metcalfe said. Voters would be asked for photo ID but still could vote without it. Officials would advise them that they need the identification for the general election, said Metcalfe, chairman of the House State Government Committee.

Putting the plan in place in a presidential year is a "mistake," said Sen. Andrew Dinneman, D-West Chester, who said people will have to wait in long lines while IDs are checked

 


 

Butler Eagle

Metcalfe not unreasonable in persistence over Act 1

Published: March 7, 2012
Whether state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe succeeds in blocking Seneca Valley School District’s desire to raise its property tax beyond what is permitted under state law will play out in coming days or weeks.

His initial attempt to have Gov. Tom Corbett reject the district’s application for an exception to its permitted 2012-13 tax-increase limit was unsuccessful. The state Department of Education contends that the governor has no role in determining or influencing the exception application of Seneca Valley or any other school district.
Seneca Valley’s inflationary index set by the state — the rate by which it is allowed to raise taxes, effective July 1 of this year — is 2 percent, or 2.11 mills.
Despite the initial rejection, Metcalfe has persisted, again requesting that the governor use his executive authority to sideline Seneca Valley’s and other districts’ attempts to increase their property taxes beyond their respective indexes without a taxpayer referendum.
Act 1 of 2006 requires districts to put their above-index tax-hike proposals before the voters, but the law also contains waiver provisions that districts have used to circumvent the referendum process, such as pension fund payments and increased special education costs.
The bottom line is that the waivers have allowed districts to skirt the spirit of Act 1, which was indended to give taxpayers a voice regarding sizable tax increases.
Metcalfe is right in pressing the point that, if taxpayers are supposed to be given a voice, they should have it — at least in such tax-increase proposals. If the law is going to be consistently stripped of any effectiveness, it should be repealed.
Just as important, districts should not be saddled with busywork to meet conditions of a law that isn’t really doing what it is intended to do — especially from the taxpayers’ perspective.
In his second letter to Corbett, Metcalfe said his initial letter “incited quite a public outcry, not only from taxpayers in the Seneca Valley School District but also from cash-strapped residents across the commonwealth.”
Metcalfe said it appeared Corbett was not evaluating the full scope of the process by which school districts can apply for an Act 1 waiver, and he might be right.
“It’s important the governor utilize the law to ensure taxpayers are not taken advantage of,” Metcalfe said.
Education Department bureaucrats are unlikely to change their opinion about Corbett’s lack of authority in the waiver process, but taxpayers will be interested in how Corbett reacts to Metcalfe’s second correspondence.
Many of the commonwealth’s school systems are in a financial bind due to the 2011-12 state subsidy levels and those proposed for 2012-13. Seneca Valley faces a projected $4.8 million budget deficit that it must resolve by June 30.
But many taxpayers, still feeling the effects of the recession, job losses or employee concessions, have seen their ability to endure substantial tax increases eroded.
And, like it or not, Seneca Valley and many other school districts would not be in the dire straits they are in if they had worked harder to cut costs — including taking a hard line against sweetheart employee contracts — before the state’s fiscal mess turned into commonwealth school subsidy austerity.
For the taxpayers, Act 1 was envisioned as a tool to help control education costs, especially those tied to overly generous teacher and administration contracts.
Metcalfe wants Corbett to establish a written policy and an administrative hearing process to ensure school districts are not writing their budgets to bypass taxpayers’ rights.
Corbett should accept that recommendation, if the taxpayers’ best interests truly are among his top priorities.

 

Morning Call Logo

 

Gun bill could put Allentown on defensive

 

NRA wants owners of firearms to take cities with reporting laws to court.

By Peter Hall, The Morning Call

10:31 PM EST, February 25, 2012

 

Allentown and other cities with laws that require gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons could soon find themselves staring down the barrel of costly lawsuits by gun rights advocates.

Under proposed state legislation, any person who might be subject to the laws could sue the cities and collect damages and attorney's fees, multiplied by three. It would also give organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, whose members are affected by the laws, the right to sue on their behalf.

Supporters of the bill, which passed the state House judiciary committee this month by a 19-4 vote, say it's needed to rein in cities that have usurped the state's authority to regulate guns and ammunition. The state specifically reserves that right under the Uniform Firearms Act, they say.

"Local elected officials are not above the law, and I think it's arrogant and disrespectful of the citizens of this state when you have a local elected official who thinks they can pass any law they want willy-nilly," said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican who is the bill's prime sponsor.

Metcalfe said House Bill 1523 puts teeth in the firearms act and the money taxpayers would pay out is just punishment for their city council members' defiance of the law.

"For me, I would put these individuals in jail, but I don't think that would pass in the House," Metcalfe said.

But those who advocate for laws requiring reporting of lost or stolen guns say the bill is an attempt to change the rules after Pennsylvania's high court twice struck down the NRA's challenges.

"This is legislators trying to do a favor for the NRA and change the rules for the way one special interest group interacts with our state law," said Max Nacheman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, a Philadelphia-based gun violence prevention group.

They also say the threat of massive court awards will scare municipal leaders out of standing up for the ordinances in court. But even if a city decides not to fight a lawsuit and repeals its lost or stolen gun law, plaintiffs would recoup damages and attorney fees.

"It is insane," Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski said. "All this is going to do is allow frivolous lawsuits against cities."

The legislation is the latest move in a fight over gun control in Pennsylvania that has simmered for years with mid-state legislators resisting efforts by those from the large cities to control how guns change hands.

After the Legislature rejected proposed regulations, including the requirement to report lost or stolen guns, cities began adopting the regulations locally.

Allentown's council passed the lost-or-stolen gun law in October 2008, making it the first Pennsylvania city after Philadelphia to adopt such a law. Easton considered a similar law, but council voted it down after hearing that it might not stand up to a challenge. Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan proposed a similar law, but council never considered it.

The NRA challenged a set of Philadelphia gun control ordinances and Pittsburgh's version of the lost-or-stolen-gun law, but in both cases, the state Supreme Court found the plaintiffs lacked a reason to sue because they hadn't been prosecuted and couldn't show how they had been harmed.

Since then, 30 municipalities, including Wilson, have adopted lost or stolen gun reporting requirements. The goal is to stop straw purchases, in which a person buys a gun for someone with a criminal record who is barred from buying firearms.

"You have this scenario where people are illegally selling weapons onto the streets and when the guns are traced back, they say, 'Oh it was stolen,' " Pawlowski said.

The NRA opposes a requirement to report lost or stolen guns whether it's a state or local law. Such requirements cast a broad net that could snare otherwise law-abiding gun owners who don't realize that a firearm is missing until after police recover it, spokesman John Hohenwarter said.

He also dismisses the laws as "feel-good legislation" that do little to stop gun crime. He said the laws are unnecessary because the sale of a gun to a felon in Pennsylvania is itself a felony offense.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin said he agrees the reporting laws are ineffective, and he has instructed Allentown police not to enforce the city's ordinance.

But Daniel Vice, an attorney with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said such gun laws are valuable tools for police because they give investigators leverage to turn street-level gun traffickers against their bosses.

It's difficult for police to prove a gun trafficker's sale of a weapon to a felon unless an undercover officer is there to witness it, Vice said. By putting gun owners under a requirement to report missing weapons, "you take away that alibi of, 'I lost it,' " Vice said.

And some people who believe a requirement to report missing firearms is common sense share the concern of opponents about the patchwork of municipal gun ordinances that now exists in Pennsylvania.

State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, said he supported the missing firearms reporting requirement when it came before the Legislature, but voted for Metcalfe's bill to encourage challenges when it came before the House judiciary committee, where he is minority chairman.

Caltagirone said he agrees with the bill's basic purpose, to reinforce the state's authority over firearms regulation, but said he expects it to be significantly changed by the time it emerges from the House.

Pawlowski said he believes the bill is too extreme to pass.

"My hope is that common sense and cooler heads will prevail and this bill will actually go nowhere," he said. "But I've been wrong before when it comes to the state Legislature and the NRA."


 

Butler Eagle

 

Article published February 11, 2012

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK


Committee OKs gun legislation
The state House Judiciary Committee on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, to impose financial penalties against any city, township or other jurisdiction that illegally adopts a local firearm ordinance.
Metcalfe introduced his Private Firearm Ownership Protection Act in response to cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that have already violated Section 6120 of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code that specifically prohibits local firearm laws.
If enacted, the measure would require the offending local government to reimburse any plaintiff or organization that successfully challenges the illegal ordinance for actual damages, reasonable attorney fees and other legal costs.
“The purpose of my legislation,” Metcalfe said, “is to financially deter and/or punish any local government body or official who blatantly violates the clearly established boundaries of our state law and our Constitutions by arbitrarily enacting gun control measures that leave law-abiding citizens disarmed and defenseless against violent intruders.”
His bill now advances to the full House for consideration.

 

Butler Eagle

Voters should be given say in SV tax-increase proposal

Published: January 25, 2012

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, in taking aim at the Seneca Valley School District’s application for a waiver to allow a big 2012-13 property tax increase without voter approval, also is focusing overdue attention on the weak tax-reform law that would permit the increase.

Under the law in question — Act 1 of 2006 — Seneca Valley is permitted to impose up to a 2.11-mill tax hike for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, without a voter referendum. However, a tax hike well above that rate — without voter approval — is one of the options being considered by the district, thanks to a lenient provision in the law.
The district projects a $4.8 million budget deficit when the current fiscal year ends on June 30. The district reportedly will have a fund balance exceeding $8 million that could erase that deficit without the need for a higher tax rate. However, the school board prefers not to draw down the fund to that extent, keeping that money as a safety net for future needs.
The state Department of Education would rule on the exemption, if Seneca Valley moves forward with its request.
Metcalfe has labeled the district’s attempt to avoid a referendum Seneca Valley’s “latest scheme” to raise taxes rather than make the tough decisions to balance next year’s budget.
Act 1, which was signed in June 2006 by former Gov. Ed Rendell, has done virtually nothing to give voters a voice regarding higher-than-inflation-rate tax increases. For the current fiscal year, all 228 Pennsylvania school districts that applied for referendum exceptions were granted a waiver, although some ended up not actually needing to raise taxes to the extent originally anticipated, or not at all.
Even a measure signed into law last June 30 by current Gov. Tom Corbett, reducing to three from 10 the number of permitted exceptions to the law’s requirement for a voter referendum for tax increases above the cost of living, carries minimal benefits to property owners.
That’s because, as the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition notes, the three remaining exceptions account for most of the waivers that the Education Department has approved.
The coalition is dedicated to equitable tax funding of schools in the commonwealth.
The three exceptions that remain are special education costs that increase by more than the cost-of-living index; increases in retirement payments, fallout from the General Assembly’s unconscionable 2001 pension grab, which Metcalfe downplays; and school construction.
Metcalfe’s lobbying against an exemption for Seneca Valley — by way of a letter to Corbett asking the governor to reject it — raises another important fact:
If school boards are going to be virtually assured of getting a referendum waiver anytime they seek one, there’s no reason for Act 1 to be on the books.
Metcalfe asked Corbett to “strongly encourage your administration to carefully scrutinize” what he termed Seneca Valley’s “latest maneuver” to raise taxes without a referendum.
If Act 1 isn’t going to allow district voters to rule on an above-inflation-rate increase, as the law provides, the law should be stricken from the books, ending the illusion of voters having a voice.
Unfortunately, Act 1 has proven to be a sham.
As long as Act 1 remains in effect, Seneca Valley voters should be allowed to rule on whatever big tax increase the school board chooses. So should voters in other districts.
Taxpayers must live within their means; why not school districts?
Metcalfe is right to address the issue, but the lawmaker also should acknowledge state government’s role in school districts’ budget problems, particularly the costly impact of the 2001 pension boost — an impact that is destined to worsen, not get better.

 

 


 

Butler Eagle

 

Article published January 4, 2012

Sick pay abuses making news, being addressed in contracts

— J.L.W.III

Recent articles about abuse of sick pay benefits have raised some questions. Is sick pay an employee benefit that pays for limited days when a worker is unable to work, or is it an opportunity for extra paid days off or a big check at retirement?
Sick pay misuse has been a problem in many states and major cities for years. This week, a Pittsburgh newspaper noted that Pennsylvania will pay out $49 million to retiring workers for unused sick days.
The misuse of sick leave has been mostly a below-the-radar problem for years. But in 2009, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made national news when he focused attention on Parsippany, where the city paid $900,000 to four retiring police officers for their accumulated unused sick pay. Again, in 2010, Christie highlighted the fiscal harm of sick-pay bankrolling when the city of Hackensack had to borrow $4.6 million to pay the accumulated sick pay obligations for a wave of city retirements.
Republican Christie’s position is simple: Sick pay is for when a worker is sick.
Sick pay is abused by workers taking paid days off when they are not sick. Sick-pay benefits are also abused, though legally, when workers rack up years of unused sick pay to collect a large payment upon retirement.
In both cases, it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars and it’s wrong. Around the country, there are efforts to end both practices.
In Harrisburg, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County, wants Gov. Tom Corbett to target the expected $49.6 million payout to state workers for unused sick pay as a step toward closing the state’s budget gap.
In some of the New Jersey cases of big bonus checks, the problems are limited to employees hired decades ago because more recent hires no longer can bankroll unused sick days. The practice is rare in the private sector.
Most municipal workers probably only take sick days when they are ill. But some employees view sick days as vacation extenders. Seeing that, some municipalities have cracked down after noticing sick leave often spiked on days before or after an official vacation day.
Christie wants to end the practice of bankrolling unused sick pay. New Jersey Democrats sent him a bill capping accumulated unused sick pay benefits at $15,000. Christie vetoed it. They came back with a $7,500 cap, but Christie says that the cap should be $0.
Using sick days for extra vacation or bankrolling it for a big check on retirement is wrong and should be stopped.
Commenting on sick pay abusers, Christie said, “They should not be allowed to play me or you for chumps.”
But Leah Wright, spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union Local 668 in Pittsburgh, has a different view. Wright has no problem with the lump-sum payments, telling a Pittsburgh newspaper, “It’s fair that they get paid for it at the end. It’s part of their compensation package.”
While it might be part of some workers’ benefits package, it never should have been allowed. It’s encouraging to learn it’s being curtailed or removed from most contracts these days.
Sick pay is intended to provide help when people are sick. If they are not sick, they should not be paid for not working.
Corbett should follow Christie’s lead and work for taxpayers by ending the big payments for unused sick pay.

 

Tribune Review

 

Taxpayers shell out $49M for retiring employees' sick time

By Amanda Dolasinski, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, January 2, 2012

 

Cash-strapped Pennsylvania paid more than $49 million to retiring employees who walked away from their jobs with unused sick time.

Of those, 4,000 retirees, seven — two state police majors, a deputy commissioner, three captains and a lieutenant — cashed out with at least $100,000, records indicate. The average payout was $14,600.

"If employees aren't using their sick time, then they've earned that time," said Leah Wright, spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union Local 668 in Pittsburgh. The union represents about 20,000 home care workers, janitors, engineers and others across the state.

"It's fair that they get paid for it at the end," Wright said. "It's part of their compensation package."

But critics say otherwise.

"I definitely think it could be spent elsewhere," said Nate Benefield, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation, a Harrisburg-based think tank. "This is huge money that's costing taxpayers, and you're getting nothing for it. You're not building a bridge or fixing a road -- it's additional compensation for people who are leaving."

Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to propose cuts of $750 million in next year's budget. The state is trying to close a $3.5 billion funding gap for its crumbling bridge system. Given the state of the economy, Corbett's administration should consider eliminating the payouts, said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County. He called the payouts "bonuses."

"That is just unbelievable," Metcalfe said of the $49.6 million payout. "What a slap in the face to taxpayers to pay that kind of money out to people for coming to work when they were supposed to."

Retired state police Maj. Terry Seilhamer accumulated 413 sick days during almost 32 years of service and received a payment of $122,781, state records show.

Seilhamer, who oversaw 19 counties in Western Pennsylvania, is back on the public payroll as police chief in Jackson Township in Butler County, records indicate. His salary is $72,373, according to township records.

Charles Skurkis Jr., a retired state police major, also accumulated 413 sick days to collect $122,781, records show. In his time with the agency, he oversaw the Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards and the Department of the Discipline Office, among others.

Neither Seilhamer nor Skurkis returned multiple phone calls seeking comment.

The payouts to state employees last year prompted officials to reassess the policy. The state is negotiating with 20 labor unions to reduce the number of annual sick days from 13 to 11, which could save about $14 million annually, said Dan Egan, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Office of Administration. The rate a worker is paid for an unused sick day is usually set in the worker's union contract.

"We're looking at a budgetary situation," Egan said.

Numerous calls to Gov. Tom Corbett's office were not returned.

The benefit is rare in the private sector where many firms have use-it-or-lose-it policies.

In Allegheny County, where officials approved a budget with a $31 million deficit last year, 46 retiring employees collected almost $300,000 for unused sick time in 2010.

The 10 highest payouts last year made up about 90 percent of the total payout. Those payments went to six county police officers, two probation officers, a deputy sheriff and a corrections officer. The remaining 10 percent of the payout — about $29,000 — was divided among the other 36 employees.

Daniel Meinert, a retired Allegheny County police officer, topped the list with a $38,249.65 payout after 20 years of service.

Calls to Meinert for comment were not returned.

The cash-out policy is intended to cut down the amount of sick time, maintain productivity and reduce overtime costs, Allegheny County spokeswoman Judi McNeil said.

"This policy isn't something that's a grave concern," she said. "Certainly, we want to cut costs, but it's nearly impossible to try to negotiate a benefit that's been ingrained in all the collective bargaining agreements for literally decades."

Last year, taxpayers funded $148,563.89 in unused sick-day payouts for 70 public employees in Westmoreland County. The 10 highest payouts went to an assistant county detective, a county caseworker, two deputy coroners, an executive secretary, an adult probation director, a district judge secretary, a food service worker, a staff nurse and a court assistant.

The highest amount went to retired Assistant County Detective George Boyerinas, who cashed out with $26,962. He saved 200 sick days during his 36-year tenure.

"From an employee standpoint, I'm sure some use (sick days) yearly for when they're not really sick," he said. "I've never done that. I only used my sick leave when I was very sick, so obviously (it) accumulated," he said.

The policy entices employees to report to work rather than call off and force the county to pay overtime for another to fill in, he added.

Rural Indiana County capped its unused sick time payouts at $3,300 per employee last year - or $15 per day, which worked out to be 220 days. Any additional days are thrown out, said Lisa Bower, Indiana County financial supervisor.

Dora Murdick, the former second deputy register and recorder, topped Indiana County's list, cashing out $3,240 last year. She accumulated 216 sick days during 41 years of service. A county corrections officer was paid $1,676.40, the second-largest amount.

Washington County caps its unused sick time payouts for employees. Depending on the labor union contract, some stop accumulation at 225 days, others are capped at 180.

Once employees retire, they must receive a pension within two months to be eligible for the unused sick days, county Deputy Controller Joshua Hatfield said.

The two largest payouts went to Donald Roach and Nancy Mizia, who cashed out $7,875 each. Roach, a flood control technician, served for 19 years, and Mizia, a magisterial district judge secretary, worked for 22 years.

In Fayette County, only one union allows workers to cash out unused sick time. Other retiring employees have to use sick time, or lose it at the year's end.

"When you retire, you give up your sick time," said Jeannine Wrona, chief deputy controller. "Otherwise, you wouldn't know how to budget for it."

 


 

USA Today

 

States make daily life harder for illegal immigrants

By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY

December 21, 2011

 

State legislators looking to crack down on illegal immigration in 2012 are turning away from the law enforcement laws that dominated state houses this year, and instead are pushing other measures that can make life just as difficult for illegal immigrants.

Much of the international furor over state immigration laws in states such as Arizona and Alabama focused on the portions that granted local police the ability to conduct roadside immigration checks of people stopped for other crimes.

Alabama leaders are now considering revisions after foreign workers at Mercedes-Benz and Honda car making plants in the state were detained under the new law. The U.S. Department of Justice has sued to block four state enforcement laws — Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah — and Arizona's law will be in limbo until at least next summer when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on its constitutionality.

"(Immigration enforcement) bills in other states that were advancing, you may see them stall until we can get clarification from the Supreme Court," said South Carolina state Sen. Larry Grooms, a Republican whose enforcement bill passed this year.

That political and legal turmoil has left few legislators in other states pushing new law enforcement laws.

Mississippi state Sen. Joey Fillingane, a Republican whose enforcement bill passed the state Senate and could pass the House with a new Republican majority there this year, said he won't let potentially-lengthy reviews of Arizona's enforcement law stop him from pushing a similar measure.

"We understand from being attorneys and dealing with appeals that rulings can take a long, long time," Fillingane said. "I don't think that's any reason … to stop everything in its tracks."

But Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has helped Arizona and other state legislators craft laws cracking down on illegal immigrants, sees that as the exception. He said legislators will continue expanding the use of E-Verify, which businesses can use to check the immigration status of job applicants, Secure Communities, which allows police to check the immigration status of people booked into local jails, and laws that restrict illegal immigrants from accessing public benefits.

Yet it's a new provision in Alabama's law that has caught the eye of many state legislators. Kobach said Alabama was the first state to invalidate all contracts entered into with illegal immigrants. A strict reading of the law could mean that any contract, including mortgages, apartment leases and basic work agreements, can be ruled null and void.

"That is one that has a much greater effect than some people might expect at first glance," Kobach said. "Suppose an illegal alien is doing some roofing business and wants to rent some equipment. Some short-term or long-term rental suddenly becomes more difficult to do."

Another aspect of Alabama's law forbids illegal immigrants from conducting any "business transaction" with a government agency. An Alabama federal judge ruled that the state must stop using that provision to prohibit illegal immigrants from renewing permits for their mobile homes, but it's being applied elsewhere.

The combination of those provisions "has led to nothing short of chaos in the state," said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, which was part of a lawsuit against Alabama's law. "They've been applied to a striking range of activities, from getting tags on your cars to getting public utilities to changing title on your cars."

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican and founder of State Legislators for Legal Immigration, which pushes for federal and state laws that restrict illegal immigration, said he will wait for the Supreme Court to rule on the Arizona law before pushing anything similar in his state. But he said the recent success of Alabama banning contracts and business transactions by illegal immigrants has placed them on his "wish list" for the upcoming session.

"That's a very good way to expand the fight to shut down access to revenue that they get," he said.

North Carolina state Rep. Harry Warren, co-chairman of the state's Select Committee on the State's Role in Immigration Policy, said he is intrigued by the Alabama's law ability to prevent illegal immigrants from securing utilities such as heat and gas. He said that could be part of a package that the committee recommends to the Legislature some time in 2012.

But he worried about some of the unintended consequences that the contract and business transaction provisions have had in Alabama. Legal residents had to wait for hours in lines to renew their car registrations because they had to prove their citizenship.

"Going to the DMV is a long line already," Warren said. "The only thing you can do in your state is make it less attractive (for illegal immigrants) to come to, a little harder to live here legally. But the flipside is unforeseen circumstances. We need to really try to see what the ramifications would be of the laws that we would pass to try to accomplish those means."


 

The Philadelphia Record

DARYL VS. BABETTE: Round 1 For A Statewide Race?

December 8, 2011

 

BY TONY WEST/ In other years, the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee hasn’t been an arena that set pulses pounding. This session of the General Assembly, it’s different. A clash of wills and philosophies between its new Majority Chair Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) and its long-serving Minority Chair Babette Josephs (D-S. Phila.) has drawn security guards into the committee room and left observers agape.

That they should clash is no wonder. Josephs, 71, is a card-carrying liberal from worldly Center City. Metcalfe, 49, hails from the remote Pittsburgh suburb of Cranberry Township, nestled amid rolling countryside about as far from Philadelphia as you can get in this state.

Which probably doesn’t bother Metcalfe, since he is as conservative as Josephs is liberal. Over the last eight years, Bob Guzzardi, the small-government activist from Wynnewood, has usually rated Metcalfe the top legislator on his Liberty Index. This score would make Metcalfe the farthest-right politician in Harrisburg.

Since the 2011 session began, the two Chairs have been dueling fiercely over procedure. When Josephs was Majority Chair in the last General Assembly, she ran things one way; Metcalfe runs things another way. Josephs and her fellow Democrats are effectively shut out of the action now and are crying foul.

Josephs is a fan of patient study. “The public has demanded openness, accountability and transparency,” she said. She also takes pride in her fairness to the opposition. “When I was Majority Chair, I advanced 28 Republican bills,” she noted.

State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre), who served Minority Chair of State Government in the last General Assembly, paid tribute to Josephs’ style. “I appreciate the way she ran Republicans’ bills,” he said. “Though she may have opposed our views, she was always respectful. My members liked the way we worked together.” Her slow, painstaking reviews often improved Republican initiatives in a “collaborative learning process,” he said.

Then came the mashup. Right before the end of the last General Assembly, the old Intergovernmental Affairs Committee was folded into State Government. An opening arose on the Finance Committee, a plum assignment, and Benninghoff leapt at a chance to take it over as Majority Chair. That left Metcalfe, the Republican Chair of Intergovernmental Affairs, as ranking GOPster in the new State Government Committee. So when he took over as its Majority Chair, Josephs and he had never worked together.

They still haven’t. Metcalfe’s style could not be more different from Josephs’. He comes with a ready-made agenda and sees his committee as a vehicle to advance it, chop-chop. If minority members want to sit and watch, they’re welcome to; if not, they can leave.

“I think [Josephs] is having a hard time adjusting to the fact she doesn’t run the committee anymore and cannot set its agenda or moderate its discussion,” Metcalfe commented. As for working with Chairs across the aisle, he said Intergovernmental Affairs wasn’t very active, so there wasn’t much to interact with Democrats over.

Although Metcalfe and Josephs sit side by side, he will not recognize her when she asks to speak. She now communicates with him, bitterly, by letter.

Metcalfe brought with him a number of junior Representatives, some of them elected by the 2010 Tea Party movement. Metcalfe, who has been in the legislature since 1999, proved a natural leader for them. “Before he ever heard of the Tea Party, he believed in all its causes,” observed Robert Nix, a Philadelphia lawyer and a Hispanic Republican activist who has often dealt with Metcalfe.

“My speculation is he got 15-20 members who would vote with him and he threatened the leadership with something – maybe holding up the budget. Then he got a chance to handpick his members,” Josephs mused.

Metcalfe promptly used his new committee as a vessel for his top issue: a crackdown on illegal immigration. Metcalfe has earned prominence among state legislators nationwide in this cause. He introduced a 16-part package of legislation into State Government to combat the crime, welfare and school costs he says stem from their presence.

All 16 parts sit on the committee’s agenda like a millstone, at every meeting. Testimony is not circulated in advance. No one knows which parts will actually be discussed, so Representatives have no way to bone up for the day’s discussion.

Not that there will be much discussion, at least for Democrats. Metcalfe “has not let us speak in committee. He has had the question called twice in committee. When I asked around if anyone has ever heard of a committee hearing before where debate was cut off, the answer was no,” Josephs said.

Frustrated, Democrats are acting up. “If he tries to cut us off, we keep talking,” said Josephs – even during votes. “He has not advanced one Democratic bill anyway; we have nothing to lose.” Metcalfe has responded by stationing Capitol security in the hearing room – a rare move – and threatening to eject members from the hearing room.

Metcalfe’s interests range far beyond “the illegal alien invasion,” as he puts it. He targets everything else on the Movement Conservative hit list: gun laws, environmental regs, climate science, abortion, homosexuals, Muslims, vote fraud, taxes, unions, public workers. Metcalfe uses State Government as a forum for many of these hot-button campaigns.

Josephs complains many of them don’t belong in State Government and suspects a deal with a fellow Westerner, Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson). Another Republican observer doubts this, however: “I don’t agree with Metcalfe much, but I think everything he is handling in committee is germane to State Government.”

Regardless, Metcalfe’s hard-hitting, wide-ranging style has turned State Government from a sleepy sideshow into a dynamic venue for big ideas.

Latest out of the chute is congressional redistricting legislation (HB 5), which Metcalfe sped to the House floor despite the efforts of Josephs to slow it up enough to permit public hearings and input.

Metcalfe is a veteran who worked as an engineer before he went to Harrisburg. A Republican colleague described him as “very bright and methodical about his maneuvers.” People who know him describe him as straightforward and sincere. “He is a little bit like the Soup Nazi on ‘Seinfeld’, said Nix. “He lives by the principles that he espouses for others.”

“Daryl has some specific core principles he believes in and lives his life by being fairly rigid to them,” said Benninghoff. “But even people who disagree with him respect the fact he will stand up for them.”

Metcalfe also likes to play his cards close to his chest. “He ran a stealth Lieutenant Governor race in 2010 and did very well,” Benninghoff recalled. “He kept it all under the radar until he filed.”

Josephs charges other Republicans are “afraid” of Metcalfe. That may be a stretch. But his causes are hot nationally; the freshmen look up to him; there is no project so big he won’t tackle it; and he is still young. He has already taken a lick at statewide office and might like to follow in Gov. Tom Corbett’s shoes.

But Pennsylvania is more than just Cranberry Township. “Metcalfe is a fine gentleman,” said State Rep. Jewell Williams, “but he needs to get more sensitive to other people’s cultures and struggles.”

Meanwhile, chairing Finance now, Benninghoff mused, “In my current position, I have a Minority Chair with me and I have tried to operate by what I learned from Babette, utilizing some of the same techniques she showed me.”


 

Partriot News

 

Pennsylvania bills would crack down strongly on illegal immigrants

Published: Wednesday, November 02, 2011, 12:00 AM    

CHARLES THOMPSON, The Patriot-News
 

It’s not every day that lawmakers in Harrisburg gird themselves for votes against illegal immigrants.

But that pervades Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s ongoing fight against illegal immigrants in Pennsylvania — a battle over what demographers say is a relatively small slice of the state’s population.

Pollsters also say the matter grabs even less of the general public’s attention, but it seems likely to dominate the social justice agenda for the rest of this two-year legislative term.

Metcalfe’s “National Security Starts At Home” package includes bills requiring:

— Verification of legal status for anyone 18 or older applying for public benefits such as welfare or food stamps.

— Employers seeking public-works contracts to use the voluntary federal database “E-Verify” to authenticate employees’ Social Security numbers; and higher penalties for firms that have hired illegal immigrants.

— Police to verify a person’s immigration status if that person is stopped for a crime and reasonably suspected of being in this country illegally.

Metcalfe, along with like-minded lawmakers from other states, has also proposed a special noncitizen birth certificate for the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants to prevent their families from gaining privileges.

Only emergency medical treatment is spared.

“From one human to another,” Metcalfe said Tuesday, “you can’t allow someone’s life to be put at risk because they violated an immigration law.”

In part, the focus comes because of the new Republican majority in the state House, which has given Metcalfe — who has introduced similar bills for years — a platform to push them as chairman of the House State Government Committee.

But the fight also echoes a national trend that has seen lawmakers in several states acting on immigration issues in the face of rising costs and federal gridlock on meaningful reform.

Metcalfe said his package is designed to shred the economic cover he says too many illegal immigrants use to grab public benefits and take jobs.

The annual public cost from illegal immigration in Pennsylvania has been estimated at $1.4 billion by the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has applauded Metcalfe’s efforts.

“The states are paying an enormous price for the failure or refusal of the federal government to enforce the laws,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for FAIR. “They shouldn’t have to roll over and endure millions, and in some cases billions, in annual costs.”

To opponents, the effort is at best a waste of time, and at worst courts economic suicide through a brand of de facto racism.

“Pennsylvania cannot afford new laws that show people that they’re not welcome here,” said Andy Hoover, state legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, citing a population growth rate of minorities in the state that is only about one-third the national rate.

“We need to welcome people as much as possible, and what [Metcalfe] is doing does not achieve that.”

It’s not just civil libertarians who are raising caution flags. Some in the state business community are worried the bills will force them into a police role and expose them to potential lawsuits if they incorrectly flag a potential hire.

Brad Hollabaugh, an orchard owner in Biglerville, Adams County, said he hires about 25 immigrant workers each summer. All are checked in accordance with federal requirements that require them to show a green card, work visa or other proof of ID.

“It’s not just fly in off the street, pick some fruit, get aid in cash at the end of the day and see you later,” Hollabaugh said. “If they don’t present the appropriate documentation, we can’t hire them, and we won’t.”

Hollabaugh acknowledged that some of the documents he sees might be frauds. But, he added, his family doesn’t have time to take on the role of investigators when the crop is in, and he has never turned away a local resident because of the migrants.

“American citizens aren’t coming to the farms to work. It’s just the reality,” he said.

Pennsylvania is an unlikely stage for this debate.

Fruit orchards not far from Harrisburg have relied on foreign-born labor for years to bring in the peach and apple harvests.

While there are large pockets of Hispanics in some towns and cities, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates there are 160,000 illegal immigrants statewide. The 110,000 in the workforce, the center adds, amount to 1.7 percent of the workforce; the national average is three times higher, at 5.2 percent.

On the other hand, Pennsylvania has always been known for a strong streak of social conservatism and difficulty in dealing with change. Local efforts such as those of former Hazleton mayor-turned-U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta against illegal immigrants there made national headlines.

Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican whose wife is a naturalized German, argues that his fight serves to honor the role of the legal immigrant in American history. He attributes his zeal for the issue to his fiscal conservatism and military service.

He takes poll results that show the economy as the top concern of Pennsylvanians and turns them into a tool, arguing that if people are worried about finding jobs, “then it’s our responsibility to find ways to see that there are jobs available for Pennsylvanians.”


 

Herald Standard Logo

Fayette Patriots present award to lawmaker for defending Constitution

 

Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2011 2:00 am

WHARTON TWP. — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, says the most important part of his job as an elected official is to uphold and defend the Constitution, something he swore to do as a soldier and again as a requirement of taking public office.

Metcalfe received the first Patriot Award from the Fayette Patriots, a local chapter of the Tea Party, for his dedication to upholding the Constitution at a fundraiser dinner held Thursday evening at the Summit Inn.

 Dave Show, founder of the Fayette Patriots, praised Metcalfe for sticking close to the Constitution and said the organization chose to honor him with the inaugural award because “when you have somebody who has the courage enough to stand up in front of it all, to take the blasts when you have to, for the right reasons, they deserve to be recognized.”

“When you’re defending (the Constitution) as a soldier,” Metcalfe said in his keynote address, “it’s not just the document you’re defending, but a way of life.” As an elected official, he said he has retained this principle, and said, “With every vote we cast, we should be holding that up against the Constitution to see if it fits or not.”

Metcalfe spoke about key pieces of legislation he supported, such as the recently passed “castle doctrine.”

The doctrine was signed into law this summer, and gives Pennsylvanians the right to use force to protect themselves and their property both inside and outside of their home. Under the old law, people were permitted to protect themselves in their home, but the new law expanded those protections to the garage, driveway, yard or vehicle.

Formerly, people in those latter areas had a duty to retreat before using potentially deadly force, and could have faced criminal charges.

“The Second Amendment, to me, is one of the most important amendments,” Metcalfe said, because citizens may need to use guns to defend themselves. “That’s what really motivated us to get the castle doctrine signed into law.”

Metcalfe added that the Second Amendment isn’t just to protect people from home invasions, but also to protect citizens from a tyrannical government.

“We have the ultimate reset button in the Second Amendment,” he said.

Metcalfe also discussed the voter identification bill requiring citizens to show state- or federally issued identification in order to vote, which passed through the House and is now under consideration in the Senate. He mentioned other legislation he supported, such as prevailing wage reform, school choice, privatization of liquor stores and legislation that would prevent public school teachers from being able to strike.

Another issue Metcalfe addressed was immigration. He specifically mentioned two anti-immigration measures: one bill would crack down on “sanctuary cities” by holding cities liable for damages from crimes committed by illegal aliens and another would require employers to forfeit their professional licenses if they knowingly hire illegal aliens.

“I would love to put them in jail for an extended period of time with substantial fines, but we’re prohibited by the government from doing that,” Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe emphasized government accountability as well.

“It’s so important to hold elected officials accountable while they’re in office,” he said.

He encouraged people to vote for good leaders, and to make sure those leaders are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

The awards dinner also featured speaker Katy Abram, policy analyst for Americans for Prosperity.

“Don’t be armchair activists,” Abram said.

Abram encouraged the audience to “get involved in one way or another, whether that’s working at the polls, helping out on a campaign,” or engaging in social media activism. Sparring with the left on Twitter or Facebook, she said, “is activism; that’s doing something.”

Abram added, “Stick to your word and deed as opposed to the leftists, show them really who you are and what you believe in — know who you are — and you will be able to change a multitude of people’s decisions when it comes to walking into that polling place November of 2012.”


 

Scranton Times

Western Pa. conservative calls for action on illegal immigration

BY BORYS KRAWCZENIUK (STAFF WRITER)

Published: October 29, 2011

SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. - Pushing government toward conservative principles requires day-to-day monitoring of public officials rather than waiting until their next election and can only happen if ordinary citizens are active, one of the state's leading conservative Republican voices said Friday.

"We'll only be able to it all with the help of people like you," state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12, Butler County, told about 100 people gathered for the annual fall dinner of the Lackawanna County Republican Party at the Ramada Inn.

Mr. Metcalfe, a representative since 1998, praised Gov. Tom Corbett for producing the first state budget that he could vote for, one that sharply reduced spending. He also ran through a lengthy list of conservative ideas that he believes must pass for the nation to regain its liberty, he said.

They include privatizing state liquor stores, requiring state or federal identification cards to vote, passing a right-to-work law that forbids forcing workers to pay union dues, prevailing wage laws that artificially prop up wages, school choice and tough anti-illegal immigration laws, He spoke at length about illegal immigration, saying tough laws in other states are pushing illegal immigrants into Pennsylvania.

"Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians out of work, but there's work here for illegal aliens because they'll do it for an undercut price," he said.

Mr. Metcalfe recalled encountering two teenagers in the Capitol who spoke English well but were illegal immigrants along with their parents.

"And it's sad that their parents put them in such a situation that they grew up in a foreign nation when they're citizens of another nation," Mr. Metcalfe said. "And somebody has to pay the consequences for their parents' criminal acts. They crossed our border knowing it was a crime ... They existed in our community, in our country ... by violating one law after another. There is no good illegal alien. They each violate (laws) to exist here."

Mr. Metcalfe urged the audience to get out and work for Republican candidates in the upcoming local election because the successful ones will become the candidates for future state and federal elections. Next year, he said, Republicans must ensure defeat for President Barack Obama and Sen. Bob Casey.

"Next year, we've got to take Obama off the political stage," he said. "And we need to send Casey somewhere else he's not going to do damage."

Contact the writer: bkrawczeniuk@ timesshamrock.com


 

Groups against voter I.D. bill make their case

Written by  Mary Wilson

 

About 20 people gathered for a rally against the state House bill that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

 

Representing older voters, black voters, and voters with disabilities, the speakers said the measure would put an unnecessary barrier on people who are unlikely to have state-issued photo I.D.

 

The bill’s sponsor, Butler County Republican Representative Daryl Metcalfe, stood a few paces away from the press conference, watching and taking interviews.  He said the people who organized the conference were “aiding and abetting” voter fraud by challenging his legislation.  He referred to 2008 instances of voter registration fraud in Philadelphia.  

 

Metcalfe’s bill requires that people show state-issued photo I.D. before they vote – but not before they register to vote.  Karen Buck, who runs the SeniorLAW Center in Philadelphia, said one has nothing to do with the other.   

 

“Voter registration and voter impersonation at the polls: the fraud is very different and distinct,” said Buck.  “And the only type of voter fraud that this unnecessary legislation would prevent is someone going to the polls and pretending they are you.”

 

Supporters of voter I.D., including the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Carol Aichele, argue that photo I.D. is required for so many things these days, it’s only common sense to require it at the ballot box.

 

“You get a library card, you show photo ID,” said Metcalfe.  “You go get your new eye glasses, like I did the other day, you show photo ID.  You drive your car, you show photo ID.”

 

He continued, “You go out into the woods to harvest a deer during whitetail season, you have to have a photo ID to show that you are who you say you are when the game commission officer challenges you for that tag that’s on your back.”

 

Tim Stevens was among the unconvinced.  He spoke on behalf of the Black Political Empowerment Project.  He said regardless of what other services require, the state shouldn’t be finding obstacles to prevent its residents from voting.

 

“Voting is a right.  A right for every U.S. citizen.  This is not just a prerogative type of an issue.  This is a right,” said Stevens.  “And the United State of America, including Pennsylvania, should be finding ways to encourage people to vote.”

 

It would cost the state $4.3 million to issue photo I.D. for registered voters who don’t already have it.  About 82 percent of Pennsylvania adults are registered to vote.

 

Metcalfe said whatever the price tag is, it’s worth it.

 

“There’s an associated cost with good government.  Taxpayers support paying for their government.  They don’t support paying for inefficiency and waste and fraud in their government, which is what we’re trying to combat.”



The Reading Eagle

Illegal immigration topic for Patriots

Lawmaker tells group such people cost state taxpayers about $1.4 billion a year

 

10-21-11

 

A package of bills is moving through the state Legislature to control the influx of illegal immigrants, state Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe said Thursday during the monthly meeting of the Berks County Patriots.

Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican, said the intention of the package known as National Security Begins at Home is to protect citizens from crimes committed by illegal immigrants and prevent them from getting benefits, stealing jobs and stealing citizenship for their children.

"The cost to our taxpayers (in Pennsylvania) has been estimated at $1.4 billion a year, and well over $100 billion a year for the nation," Metcalfe said. "Illegal aliens in jails and prisons are costing us millions of dollars.

"We are losing because the feds aren't doing their responsibility."

Metcalfe said many of the bills in the package are moving through the House State Government Committee, on which he serves as chairman.

One passed last week would take away the professional license of anyone who knowingly employs an illegal alien, he said.

Another proposed by state Rep. Jerry P. Knowles, a Schuylkill County Republican who represents part of Berks, would hold cities that serve as sanctuaries for illegals accountable for damage suffered by anyone during a crime committed by an illegal alien, Metcalfe said.

That should pass to the full House in the next week or two, he said.

Efforts also are under way to make English the official language of the state, as 31 other states have done, Metcalfe said.

That would save about $3 million spent annually on printing literature in other languages, he said.

The money could be used to offset the cost of another proposal, which would require all voters to present photo identification every time they vote rather than just the first time they vote, as current law requires, Metcalfe said.

More than 200 people attended the Patriots meeting at the Leesport Farmers Market.

Sheriff Eric J. Weaknecht told the group about the new state Castle Doctrine, signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Tom Corbett.

The law allows a person to use deadly force to protect himself if someone comes into his home - including a patio, carport or garage - unlawfully, Weaknecht said.

A person also can use deadly force anywhere he has a legal right to be, if the person threatening him is armed with a deadly weapon, he said.

Police will investigate and turn the information over to the district attorney, who will determine whether the killing was justified, Weaknecht said.

If it is justified, the survivors of the person killed cannot sue for damages, he said.

County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt gave an update on county government.

He said he and Commissioners Mark C. Scott and Christian Y. Leinbach are approaching the sixth budget year without a tax increase.

The board has saved $144 million and generated a $125 million surplus, which is helping to pay for an upgrade in the countywide emergency radio system, he said.


Trib Logo

Metcalfe pushes for Right to Work
By Joe Napsha
Friday, October 7, 2011

ERIE -- Pennsylvania's workers and its economy would be in better shape if employees are not forced to join a union or pay dues at a unionized company or government agency, supporters of Right to Work legislation claimed Thursday.

"This could be an economic stimulus that would not cost us anything," Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, told a receptive audience of about 60 business representatives at a Manufacturers & Business

Association forum here.

Metcalfe claimed the 22 states that have the Right to Work legislation --- primarily in the South and West --- lead Pennsylvania and other states in economic growth, higher net jobs, lower taxes and growth of workers covered by private- or employment-based health insurance.

Claiming that the legislation is not anti-union, Metcalfe said that it is really about giving workers their basic right to choose whether they want to belong to a union.

"You are forced to pay (dues). You are forced, by default, to be a union member," Metcalfe said.

Right to Work legislation, however, should be called "union busting" because it is aimed at "conquering and dividing the work force," said Todd Clary, coordinator of United Steelworkers' Pennsylvania team that responds to plant closings and layoffs.

Pennsylvania is one of the stronger states in terms of union representation, with about 830,000 union workers -- equal to 15.9 percent of the work last year and down from 16.2 percent in 2009, when 844,000 belonged to unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The lowest percentage of union membership is in Southern states, where right-to-work laws have been enacted. North Carolina has the lowest union membership in the nation at 3.2 percent, with Arkansas and Georgia at 4 percent, and Mississippi at 4.5 percent.

Metcalfe's position was supported by the others at the forum yesterday -- Toni Theis, assistant state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses; Jennifer Stefano of Philadelphia, policy director for labor and energy for the Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania and co-chair of one of the state's largest Tea Party groups; and Simon Campbell of Pennsbury, president of Stop Teacher Strikes.

Metcalfe is trying to push his legislation through a Republican-controlled House and Senate, with a Republican governor possibly willing to sign it.

About 70 to 80 legislators support House Bill 50 -- short of 102 necessary for passage in the House, said Metcalfe.

Metcalfe is the prime sponsor of an "umbrella" bill that would eliminate requirements of all workers in Pennsylvania joining a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.

Three other bills sponsored by other Republican legislators take "incremental steps," Metcalfe said

The measures would permit teachers and other school employees -- as well as state, local and county employees -- to opt out of a union. One bill would eliminate requirements that non-union workers in a unionized workplace pay a "fair share" of union dues to cover the cost of collective bargaining and representing them in disputes with employers. Unions would not have to represent those workers in a dispute.

"We have quite a mountain to climb," Metcalfe said. "We need the governor to be a leader on it and not just sign it."

Corbett is not leading the effort because "there are a lot of major issues in the forefront this fall," and there doesn't appear to be sufficient support, said his spokesman Kevin Harley.

Political observer Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said there is no indication that Corbett would push for passage.

"He's got so much on his plate -- such as the Marcellus shale tax -- and a limited time to do it. It's a big thing to do," Madonna said.


 

Post Gazette

Voting changes raising concern

New laws could deter 5 million in 2012, center says

Monday, October 03, 2011

By Michael Cooper, The New York Times

Since Republicans won control of many statehouses last November, more than a dozen states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification at polls, cutting back early voting periods or imposing new restrictions on voter registration drives.

With a presidential campaign swinging into high gear, the question being asked is how much of an impact all of these new laws will have on the 2012 race.

State officials, political parties and voting experts have all said that the impact could be sizable. Now, a new study to be released today by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law has tried to tally just how many voters stand to be affected.

The center, which has studied the new laws and opposed some of them in court and other venues, analyzed 19 laws that passed and two executive orders that were issued in 14 states this year, and concluded that they "could make it significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012."

Republicans, who have passed almost all of the new election laws, say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, and question why photo identification should be routinely required at airports but not at polling sites. Democrats counter that the new laws are a solution in search of a problem, since voter fraud is rare. They worry that the laws will discourage, or even block, eligible voters -- especially poor voters, young voters and African-American voters, who tend to vote for Democrats.

The Justice Department must review the new laws in several states to make sure that they do not run afoul of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter identification law in 2008, saying that while it found no evidence of the fraud the law was intended to combat, it also found no evidence that the new requirements were a burden on voters.

In Pennsylvania, the administration of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has endorsed a bill mandating voter photo IDs that was sponsored by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, and approved by the House in the spring. The Senate has yet to act on the measure.

"This year there's been a significant wave of new laws in states across the country that have the effect of cracking down on voting rights," said Michael Waldman, the executive director of the Brennan Center, who noted that 5 million votes would have made a difference in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. "It is the most significant rollback in voting rights in decades."

Just how much of an impact the new laws will have is a matter of some dispute. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who held a hearing on the new laws last month, said they "will make it harder for millions of disabled, young, minority, rural, elderly, homeless and low income Americans to vote." Republicans note that states like Georgia and Indiana moved to require photo identification from voters and that turnout there improved.

Some of the new laws have been introduced by Republicans for years, but passed only this year after the party made so many gains at the state level.

Five states passed laws this year scaling back programs allowing voters to cast their ballots before Election Day, the Brennan Center found. Ohio passed a law eliminating early voting on Sundays, and Florida eliminated it on the Sunday before Election Day -- days when some African-American churches organized "souls to the polls" drives for members of their congregations. Maine voted to stop allowing people to register to vote on Election Day -- a practice that had been credited with enrolling some 60,000 new voters in 2008. Voters in Maine and Ohio are now seeking to overturn the new laws with referendums.

The biggest impact, the Brennan Center said, will be from laws requiring people to show government-issued photo identification to vote. This year, 34 states introduced legislation to require it -- a flurry of activity that Jennie Bowser, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, called "pretty unusual." Before this year, only two states, Indiana and Georgia, had "strict" photo identification requirements for voters, according to conference. This year, five more states -- Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas -- passed laws to join their ranks.

The Brennan Center estimates that 11 percent of potential voters do not have state-issued photo identification. By that measure, it finds that the new laws would affect 3.2 million voters in the states where the change is scheduled to take effect before the 2012 elections.


 

Capitolwire: Bill would change regulatory definition of 'small business.'

By Kevin Zwick
Staff Reporter
Capitolwire

 

HARRISBURG (Sept. 27) – Perhaps a guided-missile and space vehicle manufacturing company or a crude oil and natural gas extraction company aren’t two things that come to mind when one thinks about “small businesses.”

 

But according to federal regulations, they are just two of many businesses that receive special regulatory treatment from the federal Small Business Administration’s Small Business Size Regulations.

 

Bradford County Republican Rep. Tina Pickett sponsored House Bill 1349, seeking to add “small businesses” to the existing list of stakeholders on economic impact statements, she said.

 

The bill was reported out of the House State Government Committee on Tuesday, which amends the Regulatory Review Act by requiring state agencies to consider the impact of proposed regulations on small businesses.

But, just what constitutes a small business irked Democratic members during Tuesday’s off-the-floor meeting. They questioned whether larger firms could create smaller divisions to benefit from the regulatory flexibility.

 

“I think the key there is that we’re not going to impact, will not allow for the regulations” to adversely impact health, safety, environment or welfare, said Chairman Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler. “The bottom line is, no regulation should be promulgated that isn’t backed up by an associated statute.”

 

Metcalfe said the bill "goes a long way to providing very common sense regulatory review on how to reign back in some of these excessive regulations."

 

Under the federal small business standards, oil and gas related firms with 500 or less employees are considered a small business.

 

Included among the federal standards are:

• Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas Extraction mining company with 500 employees or less;

• Drilling Oil and Gas Wells company that mining activities support company with 500 employees or less;

• Natural Gas Distribution utility with 500 employees or less;

 

“The number of employees or annual receipts indicates the maximum allowed for a concern and its affiliates to be considered small,” according to the federal standards document.

 

For instance, a Heavy Construction and Civil Engineering firm that specializes in Oil and Gas Pipeline construction is considered a small business as long as its revenue does not exceed $28.5 million, according to the federal standards.

 

Pickett’s legislation requires “a regulatory flexibility analysis” for small businesses be conducted by an agency proposing new or change to existing regulations. This flexibility would allow less stringent compliance or reporting requirements; alternative schedules or deadlines for compliance, simplification or consolidation of compliance; alternative performance standards; and an exemption for all or part of the proposed regulation.

 

The legislation also says the regulatory flexibility analysis should be consistent with health, safety, environmental and economic welfare.

 

In addition to their other concerns, Democrats complained that the bill was model legislation provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national conservative think tank.

 

“I believe this was model legislation being advanced by ALEC in many states, and that’s probably why you’ve seen it adopted in 18 states,” Metcalfe said, responding to Democratic concerns in a brief interview after the meeting. “And I think a lot of those successes were based on work that people had done at ALEC.”

 

Metcalfe said ALEC is the more conservative of the three national legislative organizations, the National Conference of State Legislators and the Council of State Governments.

 

Several Democrats said a hearing should be held on the changes proposed in Pickett's bill. Rep. Florindo Fabrizio, D-Erie, motioned that the “bill be tabled until a hearing is held.” His motion, along with several Democratic amendments, failed on party lines.

 

Metcalfe said the legislation had passed both chambers before and that now a public hearing was not necessary.

 

“This issue has been fully vetted. I think it would be a waste of tax dollars to turn the lights to try to hold a hearing just to answer questions that are really being asked just to stymie our efforts,” Metcalfe said.


 

 

Butler Eagle

 

Metcalfe backs Ariz. law, governor
Article published September 20, 2011


HARRISBURG — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, said Monday he filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding an immigration lawsuit.


The suit asks the court to review the Ninth Circuit Court ruling in favor of the Obama administration’s Department of Justice federal lawsuit that struck down several key provisions of Arizona’s illegal immigrant apprehension and deportation law.


This brief supports Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer.

 
The amicus brief highlights the importance of maintaining a balance of power between the federal and state governments,

 
It points out the failure of the federal government to uphold Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution which affirms that “the United States ..... shall protect each of them against Invasion.”


Metcalfe of Cranberry Township and his group, State Legislators for Legal Immigration, view illegal immigrants as an invasion of the states.


 

Tribune Review

Bills would tighten Pennsylvania's immigration enforcement

HARRISBURG -- It's illegal and immoral to take resources from state taxpayers and give them to people without proper documentation, a national Tea Party leader says.

 

H. John Stahl, a former Pennsylvania legislator from Berks County and founding member of the Tea Party Immigration Coalition, is pushing for legislation in Pennsylvania and other states to ensure that illegal aliens don't get taxpayer-paid benefits such as welfare, take jobs from Pennsylvanians or have an opportunity to commit crimes.

 

"There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that lends itself to the taxpayers being taxed for the benefit of illegal aliens," Stahl told the House State Government Committee last week.

 

A package of bills pending before the committee would require proof of citizenship to obtain public benefits; penalize employers who hire illegal aliens; require employers to use the federal E-Verify systems, in which applicants are checked against 455 million records; and let state and local police enforce immigration laws.

The "misguided proposals" would "harm and even criminalize" immigrants and communities, said Pamela Linares, of Community Insight, once an immigrant and now a legal resident.

 

"Instead of targeting immigrants, Pennsylvania's Legislature should work toward finding solutions to our broken federal immigration system," Linares testified.

 

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the committee chairman, said members will meet after the House returns to session the last week of this month and debate which bills they want to make a priority or amend.

 

During the first half of 2011, 1,592 bills dealing with immigration were introduced in the 50 states -- up 16 percent over the first half of 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. As of June 30, more than 150 bills had passed in 40 states. Eighteen states now have the E-Verify system for employers that Pennsylvania is considering.

 

"Pennsylvanians don't want to spend $1.4 billion a year on people who shouldn't be in the state in the first place," Metcalfe said.

 

Metcalfe based his figure on information provided to the committee by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

 

Jack Martin, special projects director for that group, testified that Pennsylvania's illegal alien population is about 140,000. The $1.4 billion annual cost is from K-12 schooling for children of immigrants, English language instruction, and free or reduced-price school meals. Other costs include law enforcement, incarceration and general government expenses for transportation and safety.

 

Pennsylvania faces many challenges, but the "inflow of hardworking immigrants isn't one of them," said Daniel Griswold, director of the Cato Institute's center for trade policy studies.

 

Pennsylvania ranks 30th among the states with foreign-born residents. In 2009, about 5.5 percent of residents were immigrants, compared with 12.5 percent nationally, he said. Pennsylvania ranks 40th among the states with illegal immigrants at 1.3 percent of the population, compared with 4 percent nationwide, said Griswold, citing figures from the Pew Hispanic Center.

 

But states such as Pennsylvania have no choice but to enact legislation minimizing adverse effects of the federal government's lack of enforcement, said Michael Bekesha, an attorney at Judicial Watch in Washington.

"Although Americans overwhelmingly want the rule of law enforced, the federal government continues to look for ways to avoid enforcing the law," Bekesha testified.

 

Kay Hollabaugh said she employs "hardworking and polite" people to pick fruit at her family's Adams County fruit farm. Many domestic applicants won't take the jobs, she said. "I have grown very resentful of the attitude that immigrant laborers have no place in our country," Hollabaugh said.

 

If broad legislation becomes law, there's little chance her business can survive, she said. "We do not reduce wages" or tolerate "adverse working conditions," she said.

 

Hollabaugh contends the E-Verify system is flawed and will create nothing but headaches for small businesses.

Said Hollabaugh, "If we are required to use E-Verify system and if our workers are found to be illegal, where is the work force that is ready to step to the plate to harvest our fruits and vegetables?"

 

 


 

Post Gazette

Metcalfe touts proposals to 'halt Pa.'s illegal alien invasion'
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

HARRISBURG -- A battle over proposed laws targeting illegal immigration was waged at the state Capitol today.

 

There was conservative Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Cranberry, who has vowed to rid Pennsylvania of "illegal aliens," vs. Sister Janice Vanderneck of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, who said the Bible "compels us to welcome the strangers among us."

 

There was Tea Party member John Stahl, a former state legislator from Reading, claiming immigrants who are in the state illegally are driving up public education costs, taking Social Security and Medicaid benefits they don't deserve -- often through stolen Social Security numbers -- and causing an increase in crime.

 

He was opposed by Andrew Hoover of the American Civil Liberties Union, who called one proposed bill -- to take away the automatic citizenship rights of the children of undocumented workers born in Pennsylvania -- unconstitutional. He said those rights are guaranteed by the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 

Mr. Hoover also criticized legislation that would give state and local police power to round up and deport "undocumented aliens," people without papers showing they had entered the country legally. He said enforcement of immigration laws is solely a federal government responsibility.

 

But that contention was disputed by Robert Najmulski of the Federation of American Immigration Reform, who said the idea that only the feds can deal with immigration "is unrealistic, restrictive and a hindrance of state and local law enforcement."

 

He said he has 28 years experience in enforcement, in southern California and Lima, Ohio, where he helped "arrest and remove over 300 criminal aliens."

 

Mr. Metcalfe has a package of 14 bills called "National Security Begins at Home," which he hopes the House will act on this fall. He is chairman of the House State Government Committee, which heard testimony for and against the bills today.

 

Democratic Reps. Greg Vitali of Delaware County and Flo Fabrizio of Erie questioned how serious the problem of illegal immigration is in the state. Mr. Najmulski said it's hard to get an accurate count on illegals because "people are living under the radar. They are working with stolen identities," such as using other people's Social Security cards.

 

Mr. Stahl said one Welfare Department worker in Reading "was almost fired because he had the temerity to ask his supervisor what to do with a 'customer' who had 27 Social Security cards."

 

Mr. Najmulski estimated that $1.3 billion a year is spent in Pennsylvania on for education, medical and welfare benefits for persons who have entered the U.S. illegally, Mr. Stahl said estimates of illegals in the U.S. vary widely, from a "ridiculously low'' 12 million to as high as 30 million.

 

Before the hearing began, a crowd of 100 people, many of them from the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, rallied in the Capitol rotunda against the legislative crackdown.

 

"This legislation is motivated by fear and will spawn fear," said Sister Janice. "It has the spirit of meanness."

 

Some critics said the bills are aimed at getting rid of Hispanics, just as 150 years ago there were efforts to try to stop immigrants from Ireland, Italy and eastern Europe.

 

Mr. Hoover of the ACLU criticized a bill that would force businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to check on the Social Security numbers of their workers, saying the system had many errors.

 

Some fruit-growing firms fear that the bills could put them out of business by deporting immigrants who pick the fruit, jobs which many Americans don't want to do.

 

But proponents of the bill said that some companies intentionally take jobs away from American workers by hiring illegals, who don't ask for health or pension benefits and accept low wages.



Politics PA

 

Metcalfe: Obama “Treasonous” on Immigration

By Brittany Foster, Contributing Writer  - 08-30-11

 

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is throwing some fire at Barack Obama today, criticizing the President’s recent executive order calling for a review of deportation orders.

 

“This deplorable act of treasonous deceit circumvents the balance of power established by our Founding Fathers in Article 4, Section 4 of the United States Constitution, established to protect all 50 states against invasion,” said Metcalfe. “Halting the deportation process to individually review each and every deportation case is a premeditated executive action to obstruct all deportations in favor of blanket amnesty.

The executive order instructs the Department of Homeland Security to individually review more than 300,000 illegal alien deportation cases with the aim of shifting agency resources from “low-priority” illegal aliens to those of higher risk. These low priority aliens include individuals who have been in the country since childhood, pregnant or nursing women, minors and elderly adults. The initiative also encourages leniency on illegal immigrants pursuing an education.

 

Metcalfe’s comments come on behalf of his conservative organization the State Legislators for Legal Immigration. Legislators from 41 states are members of this group created to demand full cooperation among governments to eliminate all economic attractions and incentives that entice illegal aliens to enter America.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 31% of Americans favor some sort of amnesty policy for immigrants that are already in the country. Metcalfe obviously finds himself in the other 61% who view stricter border security as the priority.


 

Post Gazette

 

Corbett administration backs voter ID requirement
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The state's top election official came out today in support of a GOP-backed effort to require voters to show photo identification every time they cast a ballot in Pennsylvania.

 

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said that the proposed requirement for photo IDs would make it harder to commit voter fraud.

 

She made her remarks this morning in Lancaster at the Pennsylvania County Election Officials Conference.

 

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, has been the most vocal proponent of the change in election law but has been unable to get a bill passed in both chambers. With Republicans now in control of both the state House and Senate, the proposal is gaining ground.

 

Democrats largely oppose the proposal, saying that it would be unnecessarily burdensome, especially for Pennsylvanians who don't have driver's licenses.

 

Mr. Metcalfe said his legislation ameliorates that concern because it would provide for free photo IDs for non-drivers.

 

Ms. Aichele, who was nominated by Republican governor Tom Corbett, said her goal is to protect the integrity of every vote.



Post Gazette

 

Panel considers proposals to reduce state Legislature
Tuesday, August 09, 2011

HARRISBURG -- Supporters and opponents of several bills to trim the size of state Legislature, currently the nation's largest and costliest full-time assembly, sounded off before a House panel today. But even if one of the bills were to be enacted, a reduction in lawmakers wouldn't happen for years.

 

The State Government Committee, run by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, heard from House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney, on his plan to cut the House to 153 members -- down from the current 203. He wouldn't reduce the 50-member Senate.

 

"There's nothing magical about 153, but I think it would be a more workable group. I think the legislative process would become more effective," said Mr. Smith, a 25-year veteran who's opposed such reductions in the past.

 

Other GOP legislators, including Rep. Mark Mustio of Moon, suggested different reduction plans. Mr. Mustio is looking for 185 House members and 37 senators. But under his bill, a Senate term would be six years (up from the current four years) and a House term would go from two years to four years.

Rep. Robert Godshall, R-Montgomery, favors 121 House members and 30 senators.

 

The panel may vote on a bill this fall, but any changes to the Legislature's size likely wouldn't occur until after the 2020 census. It will outline state population shifts from 2010-20. In January officials will unveil a new map that redraws the boundaries of the 203 existing House districts and 50 Senate districts to reflect the population changes from 2000 to 2010.

 

Polls have shown that cutting the number of legislators is popular among voters, as a way to reduce the state budget, but it's a slow process because it requires a constitutional amendment. That requires passage of the same bill in two different legislative sessions and then approval by voters in a statewide referendum, a process that takes three to five years.

 

If the House were cut to 153 members, work to redraw the district lines would likely wait until after the 2020 census, officials said.

 

Some rural legislators oppose a smaller Legislature, saying they'd have more land to cover and more people to represent, which could slow services. Each House district now covers 60,000 people and each Senate district 250,000.

 

Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia, opposed any cuts, saying it would make campaigning more expensive by forcing candidates to contact more voters, and said the cost savings to the state would be negligible. But others say the growth of computers and other technology, such as email, has made it easier to keep in contact with constituents.



My Fox Philly

'Draconian' Budget Heads To Corbett

A state budget that supporters defended as a product of hard choices in bad economic times but critics warned would devastate education and human services was sent to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday without a single Democratic vote.

The 109-92 vote forwarded the budget to the governor in time for him and Republican leaders to fulfill their goal of having the first on-time budget in nine years. The new fiscal year starts at midnight Thursday, and it was unclear when Corbett might sign it.

During a lively floor debate, even basic facts were disputed by members of the two parties, including the total spending figure, whether it contains new taxes and the size of the revenue surplus.

Republicans called it a $27.2 billion plan with no increased taxes, while Democrats put the total at $27.7 billion and called a higher hospital "assessment" a tax increase.

Two Philadelphia Republicans voted with the Democrats. The budget passed the Senate a day earlier on a strict party-line vote.

Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, said the budget eliminated wasteful spending, did not add to the state's debt load and contained none of the legislatively directed grants known as "walking around money."

"This is a historic budget in that it is fiscally responsible, prioritized and on time," Turzai said.

Many more Democrats than Republicans spoke during several hours of floor debate, and many predicted deep cuts in education spending will translate into higher local property taxes, fewer teachers, larger class sizes and higher college tuition rates.

"Our voices have been stifled, our constituents have been disenfranchised and debate has not been allowed to take place," said Rep. Dan Frankel of Allegheny County, the Democratic caucus chairman. "This is a prime example of what a budget looks like when Republicans are the deciders."

Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, told members the bill restored $30 million for public schools and $300 million for higher education above what the House had previously approved, as well as more funding for such programs as breast cancer and domestic violence and for critical care hospitals.

Other Republicans praised the budget for a spending reduction of about 3 percent from the current year.

"We'd like to be happy-go-lucky, handing out money here and there and yonder," said Rep. Scott Petri, R-Bucks. "This budget surgically goes line by line by line to try to ensure that services can be delivered at more efficient dollars."

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, said he would be voting for the budget for the first time in 13 years.

"It is in line with what so many taxpayers have expressed that they would like to see state government do, and that is protect them from excessive spending," he said.

Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, said schools have already begun laying off employees in response to the budget bill.

Republicans "own these cuts," Mundy said. "We could do much better than this. We should do much better than this for our families, our vulnerable citizens."

The budget spends about $200 million of the current year's surplus, revenues that have outpaced projections by some $700 million, Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said.

Democrats said they were getting conflicting answers about the surplus and argued the money should be used to decrease reductions in education and human services.

"This budget says, 'Hooray for me and the heck with you,'" said Rep. Bud George, D-Clearfield. "It says, 'The rich get richer and the poor get babies.' Today our economy is called the Great Recession, but I call this pending plan the great recession of compassion, of common sense and of kindness."

Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, failed in his efforts to increase funding for the Department of Environmental Protection, saying "draconian cuts put the health and safety of Pennsylvanians at risk."

Also Wednesday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would give the Corbett administration more power to change policies in a range of human services and welfare programs.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, said the 23-page amendment would allow more flexibility as the administration works to reduce costs and increase efficiency, in an effort to achieve spending cuts in the budget bill.

Democrats and advocates for the poor warned that the amendment, which they'd barely seen before Republicans brought it up for a vote, would allow the imposition of new regulations without public input. They said the state could then increase co-pays, eliminate eligibility, curtail services and deny public assistance to a person convicted of a felony drug offense who refuses to take a drug test.

There is traditionally a crush of lawmaking in the days before the General Assembly takes a break from Harrisburg for the summer.

But midway through the final week of the fiscal year, the Legislature has not given final approval to bills that would impose new regulations for abortion clinics, limit school property tax increases or prevent the city of Harrisburg from seeking bankruptcy protection.

The House on Wednesday also sent Corbett a bill establishing PennWATCH, a public website that will provide detailed information on state finances.

Imposition of a fee or tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction was apparently put off until fall, at least, after Corbett said Tuesday he would veto anything that passes before his hand-picked commission reports back to him next month with recommendations.

"We face the potential for environmental catastrophe, and yet we are passing a budget this week, and once again we are passing by an opportunity to do the right thing and tax this industry," said Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks. "Something the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians support."

School vouchers, a priority of Corbett's, were declared dead for the time being, as lawmakers will soon depart Harrisburg for their customary two-month summer break.

Associated Press writer Marc Levy contributed to this report.


 

Patriot News

Analysis: Pennsylvania budget plan is lean and on time

Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 11:51 PM     Updated: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 12:50 AM

By CHARLES THOMPSON, The Patriot-News The Patriot-News

Pennsylvania soon will have a state budget that cuts spending more deeply than most folks have seen in a generation.

Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign a $27.15 billion budget today that includes no tax increases or new taxes. The new fiscal year begins Friday.

The 2011-12 budget cuts spending by 4.1 percent. It dramatically reduces aid for schools, colleges, economic development and welfare programs. It contains about $300 million in tax cuts and credits for business interests.

It is the first budget to spend less than the prior year since 2002 and for only the third time in four decades, according to House Republicans.

Is the austere budget a one-year blip prompted by lagging tax revenue and looming deficits? Or is such lean spending a sign of the new normal with Republicans controlling the governor’s office and the Legislature?

State lawmakers offered perspectives on whether the plan reflects one year’s needs or is a sign of things to come.

"This is a small step in the right direction," said Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, a leader of the fiscal conservatives. "But we have far more to do to actually protect taxpayers of this state from the excesses of the past."

Other Republicans cited the hundreds of millions of dollars in obligations hanging over the state as a reason to go slowly with any spending growth. Those obligations include pension costs, money owed to the federal government for jobless benefits and a past transfer of $800 million from a medical malpractice fund that is subject to a court challenge.

"Until we get some of that at least reasonably under control, I think there’s going to have to be an air of caution and restraint," said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg. "We don’t want to end up like some of these other states that just have to completely eliminate everything to pay the bills. That’s not good for anybody, either."

Others, however, expressed hope that spending in some areas could move back toward prior levels in the years to come.

"I assume if we get reasonable growth then some of these lines, particularly education, will grow again," said Sen. Jake Corman, the Centre County Republican who is a leading advocate for funding for Penn State and other universities.

"I wouldn’t think restoration to what they were getting previously is automatic by any stretch," said Corman, whose district includes Perry County. "It just all depends on what the revenues allow us to do."

Still, Republicans were cognizant of the pain the budget cuts will bring.

"This isn’t a budget to be proud of, other than getting it done on time and no new taxes," said Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona.

Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said Corbett isn’t driven by spending ideology as much as he wants to make sure spending matches revenues. State government got out of that habit during Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration, Zogby said.

"It’s about fiscal discipline. Gov. Corbett doesn’t take any pleasure out of the fact that he’s had to do all this cutting," Zogby said. "But this is a problem that he was left with. ... This is a legacy from the prior administration that he’s been handed."

Critics of the budget had a different view.

They considered it unnecessarily harsh, given the availability of $700 million in unanticipated revenue and the prospect of more in 2011-12. The GOP budget used only $200 million of that to restore some of Corbett’s cuts.

State tax collections are bouncing back nationally toward pre-recession levels, said Lucy Dadayan, a senior policy analyst at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government’s Fiscal Studies Program.

In the first quarter of 2011, state tax revenues nationwide grew for the fifth straight quarter, though they are slightly trailing the peak year of 2008, she said.

Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia, said Democrats are concerned that the Republican governor and his legislative allies might be more focused on reducing spending than meeting basic needs.

"It’s not been proven to us that this is a direction that is focused on meeting the real needs of real Pennsylvania citizens. They had an opportunity to express that in this budget and they chose not to," Hughes said.

Critics talked about the loss of adultBasic, a state-subsidized health insurance program for the working poor, and cutbacks in the Homeowner Emergency Mortgage Assistance program that helped families avoid foreclosure.

They also voiced concern about deep cuts in education that are causing schools to lay off thousands of teachers, eliminate programs and close schools. And they might result in fewer course offerings and larger class sizes at public universities.

"It certainly is going to leave a mark in that there are going to be people fall through the cracks," said Tony Ross, president of the United Way of Pennsylvania. "The money may go away, but the people’s needs will not."

Rep. Glen Grell, R-Hampden Twp., had a different way of looking at it, and he believes his view will be shared by the majority of Pennsylvanians.

"For a welcome change, the Pennsylvania taxpayer is a priority this year," he said. "The years of overspending are being reversed in this budget."

Staff writer Jan Murphy contributed to this story.

© 2011 PennLive.com. All rights reserved.


Tribune Review

Budget passes House, on its way to governor

By Brad Bumsted
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

 

HARRISBURG -- A $27.15 billion state budget that cuts funding for higher education, K-12 schools and environmental and economic development programs passed the House Wednesday night and is on its way to Gov. Tom Corbett's desk.

Closing a $4.2 billion deficit was Corbett's top priority upon taking office in January.

That deficit stemmed from the loss of federal stimulus money and what Corbett said was years of overspending.

The budget, approved 109-92, meets Corbett's goals of erasing the deficit while not raising taxes and, according to Republican lawmakers, without spending more than Corbett's cap of $27.3 billion. It cuts spending by $1.2 billion, or 4.2 percent, from last year.

"Today, we're doing what some said couldn't be done," said Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Cumberland County.

"I'm ashamed of it all and it didn't have to be this way," said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, arguing against it.

Corbett, who negotiated the budget with Republican legislative leaders, is expected to sign it by Friday's deadline, which is set in state law and implied in the state constitution. It would end an eight-year run of late budgets under former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.

"We are sending a signal to the business community and to taxpayers that years of overspending are being ended in this budget," said Rep. Glen Grell, R-Cumberland County.

But Democrats attacked the budget as a document that passes on costs and higher taxes to local governments. Rep. Camille "Bud" George, D-Clearfield County, called it "a cynical document of despair."

"This is a pass-the-buck budget," said Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer County.

It will hurt the chronically ill, handicapped, elderly and children, said House Appropriations Chairman Joe Markosek, D-Monroeville. He decried "horrendous cuts to education."

Democrats contended it will lead to higher school property taxes -- and increased tuition for students. The State System of Higher Education, which oversees 14 state-owned universities, would see an 18 percent cut in state funding. The state-related universities -- Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln -- face 19 percent cuts.

House Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware County, made light of the Democrats' arguments. "The sky is falling, the world is ending and yes, the world of uncontrollable spending is coming to an end," Adolph said.

Separate legislation is pending to let voters decide whether to raise property taxes above inflation -- with likely exceptions being for school special education and pension costs.

Later Wednesday night the House by a 99-98 margin approved an amendment from Rep. Seth Grove, R-York County, to tighten existing language in state law covering referenda. "It is designed to prevent property tax increases," said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, told his colleagues a vote for this budget was "a vote to protect taxpayers."

Read more: Budget passes House, on its way to governor - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/regional/s_744554.html#ixzz1QlMCBxFt


 

Capitolwire: House sends $27.149 billion budget to Gov. Corbett's desk.

By Kevin Zwick
Staff Reporter
Capitolwire

 

HARRISBURG (June 29) – After hours of debate and attempts by House Democrats to amend the budget, the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives voted Wednesday mostly on party lines, 109-92, to send the $27.149 billion budget bill to the governor’s desk.

The budget bill, negotiated by Gov. Tom Corbett and Republican leaders in both chambers, is set to pass by the state’s constitutional deadline after eight straight years of deadline-missing state spending plans.

Republicans said it was a 4-percent decrease, the biggest state spending cut in at least 40 years. Some budget analaysts believe even if the spending cut turns out to be closer to 3 percent, it may be the biggest reduction since 1929. State records could not be found to verify budget reductions further back than 1970.

House Republicans said it was a "no-tax-hike budget." House Appropriations Committee Minority Chairman Joe Markosek, D-Allegheny, noted it hiked a hospital tax, used by hospitals to draw down federal funding, by $50 million.

GOP lawmakers responded that most of the hospitals would get far more from the tax than they would pay through the levy.

The state welfare code and fiscal code are yet to pass both chambers and be sent to the governor for his signature.

During the nearly six hours of highly partisan debate, Republicans argued that the $27.149 billion budget represents a “tightening of the belt,” while Democrats said the budget demonstrates “misplaced priorities.”

"I heard the word devastation, I heard the word draconian, painful, the sky is falling, the world is ending and yet, the world of uncontrollable spending is finally over,' Majority Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, said.

"Our schools will remain open, and they will be held accountable. Our hospitals will give our citizens of Pennsylvania the best possible medical care that this world has ever seen. And also, those vulnerable citizens, those vulnerable citizens that need our services will receive because this general assembly has seen fit to take care of those who need it the most,” he said.

......Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, said there was “an excessive appetite” spending under former Gov. Ed Rendell’s reign.

This budget “protects taxpayers from excessive spending,” Metcalfe said........


 

Post Gazette

 

State House passes bill to require ID to vote
Friday, June 24, 2011

HARRISBURG -- The state House signed off on a voter identification bill Thursday after nearly 10 hours of sharply partisan floor debate over three days, sending the legislation to the Senate for consideration.

 

House members voted 108-88 to pass the divisive bill, which would require most voters to show photo ID before casting a ballot. Sponsor Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, said the measure is necessary to cut down on "significant voter fraud plaguing Pennsylvania's elections."

 

No Democrats voted to support the bill, unsuccessfully challenging its constitutionality more than five times during floor debate. They warned that enacting the legislation would cost tens of millions of dollars on a problem that doesn't exist and would shut out thousands of eligible voters who lack proper ID.

 

Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson said "many members" of the majority caucus are interested in passing voter ID legislation, though he could not say how soon Mr. Metcalfe's bill could come up.

"We will review the House bill before determining a course of action," Mr. Arneson said.

 

In all, the bill faced more than 120 amendments filed in the House, most by Democrats looking to limit the number of voters who would be required to show ID. House Republicans voted down more than 15 of those amendments before sponsors withdrew the rest.

 

The bill includes exceptions for voters with religious convictions against being photographed, as well as individuals living in nursing homes or care facilities that serve as their polling place.

 

More than 30 Pennsylvania groups lobbied against the legislation, including the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the NAACP and AARP Pennsylvania.

 

The deeply partisan struggle in Pennsylvania reflects a national trend -- spurred by conservative lawmakers who swept into office during the 2010 midterm elections -- toward stricter election laws that Democrats say could shut out minority and elderly voters.

 

Thirteen states now require photo identification. Sixteen ask for non-photo ID. Figures published periodically by the New York University School of Law show black, Hispanic and Asian voters are 5 to 10 percent more likely not to have the ID necessary under voter ID laws.


 

 

Butler Eagle

 

Voter identity bill nears final vote in state House

June 22, 2011

By the Associated Press

HARRISBURG — A Republican proposal to make Pennsylvania voters produce government-issued photo identification at the polls moved a step from a final vote Tuesday in the state House with the defeat of a succession of proposed Democratic amendments.


Majority Republicans used sheer numbers and parliamentary maneuvers to turn aside proposed exemptions for victims of domestic violence or people with mental and physical disabilities, to have voting information printed in Spanish, or to provide additional information to voters about the change in law.


It was the second straight day the House’s floor action was dominated by the voter ID bill.


Democrats have argued there is no evidence the state has a significant problem with voting fraud, and warned the bill would needlessly impose a new barrier to voters.


The prime sponsor, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, argued for a clean bill that would closely mirror an Indiana law that has been upheld on appeal. If the measure passes the House, it will be sent to the Senate, where members of the GOP majority have expressed an interest in it.


http://www.butlereagle.com/article/20110622/NEWS02/706229942

 


 

Patriot News

 

GOP House members call for a 2011-12 state budget that holds fast to $27.3 billion spending limit

 

JAN MURPHY, The Patriot-News The Patriot-News
June 17, 2011

 

Nearly two dozen GOP legislators signed on to a letter to taxpayers opposing any 20-11-12 state budget that exceeds the $27.3 billion spending limit in Gov. Tom Corbett's budget proposal and in the budget that passed the state House last month.

Among those signing the letter are Reps. Stephen Bloom, R-North Middleton Twp.; Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg; and Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg. I

The letter states they are taking this stance to protect taxpayers from "the dangers of excessive government spending" and "to further enable Pennsylvania's economic recovery and future job creation."

The question remains as to whether this stand by 23 House Republicans creates a potential wrinkle in the House's ability to pass a budget where Republicans hold a 112-91 seat majority.

A House Republican leadership source said House GOP leaders don't see it as an issue and that the caucus' negotiators "understand their concerns and are working towards meeting them."

Whether or not it's a complication may center around how the tobacco settlement funds are treated and whether those dollars are a revenue source outside the general fund budget or are moved into the general fund as both Corbett and House Republicans propose.

Senators from both parties have advocated keeping the tobacco funds out of the general fund budget to pay for health-related programs but using some of the state's $540 million surplus to backfill the hole that would create in the governor and House budget to keep spending at the $27.3 billion level. The surplus dollars could then be directed toward partially restore some of the funding cuts to education and hospitals, along with other programs important to lawmakers.

"I know that there are some members in both chambers that would like to spend less than the governor proposed and some would like to spend more than the governor proposed," said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County. "We're going through a process to find out the right combination that gets us to 102 votes in the House, 26 in the Senate and the governor's signature."

Both he and House leadership sources say budget talks are progressing and they anticipate completing a budget by June 30. But all admit a lot of work remains to be done.

Pileggi said he anticipates the Senate will vote on a budget bill next week.

The letter:

Dear Pennsylvania Taxpayers:

House Republican Leadership deserves credit for crafting and advancing to the state Senate a fiscally-responsible state budget (House Bill 1485) with reduced spending compared to last year’s budget and no tax increases. These proposed spending reductions are the first step in the right direction to continuing the decrease in state government spending.

In the interest of protecting YOU the taxpayer from the dangers of excessive government spending, and to further enable Pennsylvania’s economic recovery and future job creation, we the undersigned fiscally conservative members of the House Republican Caucus are opposed to any future or amended budget legislation that exceeds the $27.3 billion spending limit established by both Governor Tom Corbett’s original budget proposal and House Bill 1485.

We will continue our work to advance fiscally conservative policies that hold our state government accountable and to protect taxpayers’ rights to financial security.

For fiscally responsible government,

  • Representative Daryl D. Metcalfe
  • Representative Kerry A. Benninghoff
  • Representative Tom Creighton
  • Representative Scott E. Hutchinson
  • Representative Curt Schroder
  • Representative Ryan Aument
  • Representative Stephen Bloom
  • Representative Jim Cox
  • Representative Bryan Cutler
  • Representative George Dunbar
  • Representative Joe Emrick
  • Representative Seth Grove
  • Representative Rob Kauffman
  • Representative Tim Krieger
  • Representative David Maloney
  • Representative Scott Perry
  • Representative Kathy Rapp
  • Representative Brad Roae
  • Representative Todd Rock
  • Representative Justin Simmons
  • Representative Will Tallman
  • Representative Dan Moul
  • Representative Matt Gabler

 


 

Philly News

John Baer: Members leaving Council should duck out of voting on tax issue

By John Baer
Philadelphia Daily News

Daily News Political Columnist 06-22-11

A SHORT POLITICAL quiz: What's worse than City Council?

If you said, "Nothing," you're right.

What, you're thinking, not even the Legislature?

Nope, not even.

That's because with Council set to vote this week on higher property taxes and parking fees to pour still more money into questionably run city schools, it could take a lesson from the Legislature.

For the last few sessions, the Legislature has ended lame-duck lawmaking, the practice of permitting defeated or retiring members to vote on important issues.

Because the Legislature never implements a real reform by law or rule, this sensible step was taken voluntarily. Still, it's the right thing to do, and leaders deserve credit for doing it.

As Butler County GOP state Rep. Daryl "The Daryl" Metcalfe once eloquently put it, "Whether it is a federal or state legislature, a lame-duck session is a time of potential malicious mischief against the citizens," and retiring or defeated lawmakers "may be the deciding votes for policies that the people oppose."

Same goes for Council.

Six members are leaving (all, in some way, related to DROP greed) but are voting on issues with potential long-term impact on the city, schools and politics.

Republican Frank Rizzo Jr. lost at the polls. Republican Jack Kelly and Democrats Anna Verna, Frank DiCicco, Donna Reed Miller and Joan Krajewski are retiring.

Their collective take from the Deferred Retirement Option Plan is $2 million, so higher taxes and parking fees won't much hurt them.

Don't let them vote. (Soda-lovers!) Let's see what happens.

Especially since approving more money for schools could be a long-term deal. State law says any money the city adds must continue in future years. So the $53 million facing Council approval Thursday could be ongoing spending as long as the law's in place or unless the city gets a waiver.

Philly Democratic state Rep. Mike McGeehan just won House approval to remove the keep-paying requirement. But Senate passage is needed, and you know how the Legislature feels about "Philadelphia problems."

So should lame-duck Council members vote on a bill to add money to schools that maybe commits the city to extended payments for years to come?

I'm thinking no. Same goes for redrawing Council districts, another vote facing this same unaccountable crowd soon.

And, in a broader sense, since these ducks no longer are subject to voters, doesn't their participation in the process make the process more susceptible than usual to favoritism, deal-making, etc.?

Suppose one or more of their votes became critical. Might one or more extract some legacy project or perk for their years of service?

Conversely, what if one or more is looking for another job? Might one or more use his/her last months in office to push for some favor for whatever entity might represent future employment or income?

They made the decision to leave (in Rizzo's case, constituents made it for him); maybe they should leave now. Maybe when one opts out or is tossed out, one loses the power to affect decisions.

Just a thought. As long as Council maintains a pattern of catering to itself, unions and special interests instead of city residents, it at least should do so with some accountability instead of with a cadre of quackers.

Send email to baerj@phillynews.com.

 


 

Pottstown Logo

Proposals would outlaw teacher strikes in Pa.

Published: Saturday, June 11, 2011; Last Updated: Sat. Jun 11, 2011, 6:09am

The beginning of the long, hot summer also marks the inevitable beginning of long, hot labor disputes between many school districts and unionized teachers. Just as inevitably, some of those impending disputes will result in strikes that disrupt the new school year.

Unlike 37 other states, including strongly pro-union neighbors New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvania still allows teachers to strike.

Two new bills, introduced by Republican Reps. Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County and Todd Rock of Franklin County, would outlaw teachers strikes and establish a system to lead to fair settlements.

The unions oppose the bills, claiming that they would tilt the field in favor of school boards.

"Teachers don't like strikes any more than the rest of the community. Our members would always prefer to be working than on a picket line," said Wythe Keever of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the largest state teachers union.

Regardless of what teachers supposedly prefer, the law provides them with powerful incentives to strike when they don't get what they prefer in negotiations. They are allowed to strike with impunity, assuming no risk and paying no price for hitting the bricks.

State education law requires 180 days of instruction and imposes no financial penalties on unions or teachers who strike. Teachers get paid for a full year regardless of whether they strike, thus making it an easy option.

The bills would outlaw strikes and lockouts and create incentives for compromise rather than intransigence.

Bargaining, by law, would have to start Sept. 30 of the year prior to contract expiration, and written proposals would have to be submitted by Oct. 30. Failure to achieve a settlement by the following Jan. 15 would result in mandated mediation, followed by a public fact-finding report on Feb. 15.

That would be followed by mandatory but non-binding arbitration beginning April 15, when both sides' total proposals would be made public.

The bills should pass. Metcalfe also proposes a constitutional amendment barring strikes, but the key issue is the practical one of achieving fair settlements.

That is just part of what can be done to hold down costs, achieve fair settlements and eliminate strikes. The time has come.

— Associated Press, (Scranton) Times-Tribune


Post Gazete

 

State legislators move to outlaw teacher strikes
Measure includes hefty penalties if unions picket
Wednesday, June 08, 2011

HARRISBURG -- When the Bethel Park teachers union went on strike for six weeks last fall, Denise Dillon decided she had had enough.

 

She pulled her son out of Bethel Park High School in January and enrolled him in a cyber school for the rest of his junior year. She said he will spend his senior year at the cyber school, too, because she is worried that, with the labor contract still unsettled, teachers will strike again in the fall.

 

"I don't want my son in a school that is going on strike," she said.

 

A group of Republican lawmakers is working to ensure families like hers no longer have to worry about teacher strikes throwing a wrench in the school year.

 

Reps. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, and Todd Rock, R-Franklin, have introduced a package of bills that would outlaw teacher strikes and hold contract negotiators publicly accountable for their proposed labor agreements.

Mr. Rock's legislation includes hefty financial penalties for teachers who violate the proposed no-strike law.

 

Striking teachers would lose two days of pay for each day of an illegal strike, and those who incite the strike would be fined $5,000 under the legislation. Meanwhile, their unions would forfeit dues check-off privileges for a year.

 

Mr. Rock's bill also would require union leaders and school officials to "face the music" during town hall meetings every six weeks if there is no agreement in place by June 30 of each year.

 

Mr. Metcalfe's proposal goes a step further by seeking a constitutional amendment outlawing strikes. That measure requires separate votes in two legislative sessions plus a public referendum.


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11159/1152096-454-0.stm#ixzz1OmXI0B4P


Erie Times

 

Voter ID bill doesn't discriminate

By DARYL METCALFE
Contributing writer 

 

The Erie Times-News editorial titled "We don't need expensive voter ID law" presented the same consistently disproved and worn-out liberal arguments that have failed to derail legislative efforts in states, such as Indiana and Georgia, to dramatically improve the security and integrity of the election process (Erie Times-News, May 13).

 

With the 2012 primaries rapidly approaching, now is the time to provide the whole truth regarding my Pennsylvania Voter Identification Protection Act (House Bill 934).

 

Massive or diminutive, every illegally counted vote cancels out the vote of a legitimate voter.

 

Expert nonpartisan testimony presented to the House State Government Committee earlier this spring confirmed that requiring valid photo ID at the polls, as provided for by House Bill 934, can prevent the four most widely documented types of voter fraud: impersonation at the polls, fictitious registrations, double-voting and voting by illegal aliens.

 

These conclusions coincide with the bipartisan findings of the 2005 Commission on Federal Elections headed by President Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State James Baker:

 

"The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter fraud or to confirm the identity of voters. Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important."

 

Numerous academic studies have also proven that requiring voter photo identification has had absolutely no disenfranchising impact on voter turnout for minority, poor or elderly voters. In fact, in Indiana and Georgia, where showing valid photo ID at the polls is now law, voter turnout has dramatically increased to record levels, especially among minorities and Democrats.

 

Clearly, House Bill 934 is essential to guaranteeing the integrity and security of our state's election process, in which all registered voters can be fully confident that their votes cannot be canceled out by the forces of corruption.

 

The Pennsylvania Voter Identification Protection Act is a much-needed and overdue piece of legislation that will restore the integrity in every Pennsylvanians' right to vote.


 

 

PoliticsPA

 

The ACLU vs. Daryl Metcalfe

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

 

A bill requiring Pennsylvania voters to show photo ID is one step closer to becoming law.

 

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s Pennsylvania Voter Identification Protection Act, HB 934, passed the House State Government Committee and will advance to the House floor for consideration. The civil rights advocates at the PA chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) were quick to criticize the measure, saying it would lead to disenfranchisement.

 

“Passage of House Bill 934 is essential to preserving the sacred freedom of voting from the ever-present forces of corruption seeking to override the will of the people,” said Metcalfe (R-Butler).  “Currently in Pennsylvania it is impossible to board a commercial airplane, cash a paycheck, operate a motor vehicle or even purchase season passes to a neighborhood swimming pool or amusement park without displaying a valid photo ID.   Guaranteeing the integrity of our state’s election process in which all registered voters can be fully confident that only eligible voters have the privilege of casting a vote, that every vote counts equally and, most importantly, not be canceled out by fraudulent votes deserves no less than equal protection under the law.”  Read more....


 

Trib Logo

 

Metcalfe's moment

By Brad Bumsted TRIBUNE REVIEW

Sunday, March 27, 2011

 

Legislative committee hearings are often exercises in self-indulgence by lawmakers, who seem more interested in hearing their own voices than what witnesses have to say.

 

It's true in both the Senate and the House. A typical question by a state lawmaker often begins with a three- to five-minute oration, before there's -- maybe -- a question. The question for a witness is almost an afterthought.

The hearings are soapboxes for the members, especially when they know they're being taped or broadcast live by the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

 

"Was there a question in all of that?" you want to say.

 

It is understandable that the committee chairman at the outset may want to outline what the hearing's about and help define the issues. That makes sense.

 

But the droning on that typically takes place is disrespectful to the time of experts who often travel considerable distances to offer their testimony.

 

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, chairman of the House State Government Committee, last week put on a clinic in how a hearing should be run. The issue was voter fraud and the proposed remedy, a voter ID card. Witnesses came from Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and other locales to speak before the committee.

 

Metcalfe said at the outset that legislators who wanted to speak should ask only one question per witness and not offer their opinions in lengthy preludes.

 

When legislators started to do that, he politely reminded them not to, interrupting -- on more than one occasion -- a legislator who was crossing the line.

 

The hearing was completed in the projected time period and a ton of valuable information -- pro and con -- was offered to legislators.

 

Metcalfe said legislators would return at another hearing to analyze the information and would have plenty of time to offer their opinions on a photo ID requirement to vote and the extent to which they think voter fraud is a problem.

 

A second hearing is a luxury, as far as time, and maybe it can't be done for each and every bill.

But it worked perfectly in this case.

 

Metcalfe sometimes is not taken seriously by some in Harrisburg because he is, quite willingly, such a lightning rod on hot-button issues.

 

He is probably the most conservative member of the relatively conservative House GOP Caucus.

 

There is a built-in bias among some in the media and the Capitol establishment that anyone as conservative as Metcalfe must be a wing nut.

 

Metcalfe is no more conservative than former State Government Committee chair Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia -- who once admitted she was a member of ACORN -- is liberal.

 

Josephs presided as the ranking Democrat on the State Government Committee last week

.

Some of the testimony concerned alleged voter fraud by ACORN, which supposedly has been dismantled. According to Judicial Watch, a Washington-based nonprofit, reports of ACORN's demise have been greatly exaggerated, in that groups by different names work in the same locations with former ACORN personnel.

 

Other committee chairmen in the House and Senate should take note of how Metcalfe ran this hearing.

Neither Metcalfe nor Josephs should be written off because of their ideology.

 

They are polar opposites who balance the State Government Committee -- with many of the members somewhere in the middle -- quite well.


 

USA Today Logo

 

Immigration report: No rush across border to give birth

By Alan Gomez, USA TODAY

 

Republican lawmakers in Congress and in more than a dozen state legislatures are trying to alter the interpretation of the 14th Amendment so that the children of illegal immigrants born in the USA are no longer granted citizenship.

 

When announcing a plan for state legislation, a group led by Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe claimed "hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are crossing U.S. borders to give birth and exploit their child" to obtain citizenship.

 

Critics of those legislative efforts are pointing to a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center that found a vast majority of illegal immigrants who had children in the USA in 2010 had entered the country several years earlier.

 

The report found that 350,000 babies were born in the U.S. between March 2009 and March 2010 to at least one illegal immigrant parent. Of those parents, 91% arrived before 2008.

 

It's real concrete data that I think destroys this notion that immigrant women are crossing the border illegally and having babies," said Angela Kelley of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

 

Metcalfe, who founded State Legislators for Legal Immigration, said that despite the report's findings, birthright citizenship remains a huge lure for foreigners as they consider sneaking into the country.

 

He said many immigrants come to the United States for jobs and public benefits. But he said he has spoken with people along the Southwest border who tell him about pregnant women making the dangerous crossing to give birth in the United States.

 

"Whether its thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands that are born here, it's still a major incentive," he said. "I think it's beyond being deniable."

 

Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, which supports a process for some illegal immigrants to become citizens, said the notion of having a child to obtain citizenship is a myth.

 

He said a baby born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents must wait until they're 21 to sponsor their parents for citizenship, and the parents would then have to return to their home country for 10 years before qualifying. He said it's highly unlikely that parents would rush a pregnant woman to the United States on the hope that they could become citizens three decades down the road.

 

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who is sponsoring a federal bill to revise the 14th Amendment, said that even if the number of people crossing over to immediately have a child is small, it's still a problem.

 

"Do the open-borders people think that's all right? It isn't a big enough deal that we should fix it?" he said. "It's wrong to reward people for bad behavior."


 

Trib Logo

Arizona bill challenges automatic citizenship

By Associated Press
Friday, January 28, 2011

PHOENIX -- Arizona lawmakers are again diving into the national debate over illegal immigration by proposing a bill that contests automatic U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.

 

The proposal Thursday follows one of the nation's toughest local laws targeting illegal immigration being enacted last year in the state.

 

Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, who filed the latest proposal, said the goal isn't to get every state in the nation to enact such a law, but rather to bring the dispute to the courts in hopes of reducing the costs associated with granting automatic citizenship.

 

"The result of that is they immediately acquire the right to full benefits, everything from welfare to cheese, which increases the costs to the states," Kavanagh said. "And beyond that, it's irresponsible and foolish to bestow citizenship based upon one's GPS location at birth."

 

This is the second time this year that lawmakers in a state have targeted the Constitution's 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

 

A similar proposal was filed last week in the Indiana General Assembly by Republican Rep. Eric Koch. Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who is leading the effort to get the measure considered across the country, said he hopes that lawmakers in 10 to 15 states will file similar proposals this year.

 

Supporters of the proposal argue that the wording of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to people born in the country who are "subject to the jurisdiction" of this country, doesn't apply to the children of illegal immigrants because such families don't owe sole allegiance to the United States.  Read more...



Legislators set sights on 'anchor babies'

By Mariano Castillo, Shannon Travis and Mary Snow, CNN
Jan. 6, 2010

CNN Report

 

To view video, click here


 

January 6, 2011 at 3:00 PM EDT

Judy Woodruff: Battles Brew Over the 14th Amendment

While members of Congress took turns reading the Constitution out loud on the House floor Thursday -- a move initiated by the new Republican majority -- there's a serious battle just getting underway over one section of the document that has provided the legal underpinnings of our country for over 200 years. That part is the 14th Amendment, which among other things, guarantees citizenship to anyone born or naturalized on U.S. soil.

A coalition of state legislators has unveiled a plan to change the way the amendment is applied, so that babies born to undocumented aliens receive a different type of birth certificate than children born to parents who are already citizens. Driven by opposition to the growing presence of illegal immigrants in the United States - a number estimated at around 11 million - the group, calling itself State Legislators for Legal Immigration, unveiled a plan to challenge the way the 14th Amendment is being interpreted.

 

Its founder, Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that in his view, under the amendment, "the primary requirements for U.S. citizenship are dependent on total allegiance to America, not mere physical geography." Seizing on language in the amendment that states,"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof," Metcalfe and the others assert that undocumented immigrants are outside the jurisdiction of U.S. laws.

 

The Pew Hispanic Center recently estimated that there are 4 million U.S.-born, citizen children of illegal immigrants currently in the country.

 

Metcalfe and his allies want Congress to pass a law "clarifying" the 14th Amendment so that it can no longer be "misapplied," in their view. They also advocate states taking action of their own to change birth certificates, according to the legal residence of a baby's parents......  Read more...

 


 

NYTIMES LOgo

 

Political Battle on Illegal Immigration Shifts to States

Published: December 31, 2010

 

Legislative leaders in at least half a dozen states say they will propose bills similar to a controversial law to fight illegal immigration that was adopted by Arizona last spring, even though a federal court has suspended central provisions of that statute.

 

The efforts, led by Republicans, are part of a wave of state measures coming this year aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

 

Legislators have also announced measures to limit access to public colleges and other benefits for illegal immigrants and to punish employers who hire them.

 

Next week, at least five states plan to begin an unusual coordinated effort to cancel automatic United States citizenship for children born in this country to illegal immigrant parents.

 

Opponents say that effort would be unconstitutional, arguing that the power to grant citizenship resides with the federal government, not with the states. Still, the chances of passing many of these measures appear better than at any time since 2006, when many states, frustrated with inaction in Washington, began proposing initiatives to curb illegal immigration.

 

Republicans gained more than 690 seats in state legislatures nationwide in the November midterms, winning their strongest representation at the state level in more than 80 years.

 

Few people expect movement on immigration issues when Congress reconvenes next week in a divided Washington. Republicans, who will control the House of Representatives, do not support an overhaul of immigration laws that President Obama has promised to continue to push. State lawmakers say it has fallen to them to act.

 

“The federal government’s failure to enforce our border has functionally turned every state into a border state,” said Randy Terrill, a Republican representative in Oklahoma who has led the drive for anti-illegal immigration laws there. “This is federalism in action,” he said. “The states are stepping in and filling the void left by the federal government.”

 

But the proposals have already drawn opposition from some business groups. And they are forcing strategic soul-searching within the Republican Party nationwide, with a rising populist base on one side demanding tough immigration measures, and, on the other side, traditional Republican supporters in business and a fast-growing Latino electorate strongly opposing those measures.

 

In Utah, a state dominated by Republicans, leaders from business, law enforcement, several churches and the Latino community sought to bridge the divide by joining together in November in a compact urging moderation on immigration issues.

 

Some of the more contentious measures may not go into effect immediately, including Arizona-style bills and those intended to eliminate birthright citizenship for American-born children of illegal immigrants. Latino and immigrant advocate legal organizations are gearing up for a host of court challenges.

 

Among the states expected to introduce bills similar to Arizona’s are Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

 

The Arizona law authorized the state and local police to ask about the immigration status of anyone they detained for other reasons, if they had a “reasonable suspicion” that the person was an illegal immigrant.

Acting on a lawsuit filed by the Obama administration, a federal judge stayed central provisions of the law. In November, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard arguments on an appeal of that stay by Arizona.

 

“States will push ahead regardless of the Ninth Circuit,” said Kris Kobach, a law professor and politician from Kansas who helped many states devise immigration laws — including Arizona’s. “A lot of people recognize that the district judge’s decision is very much open to dispute.”

 

In Oklahoma, where Republicans won big majorities in both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s office, Mr. Terrill said he would introduce a bill he called “Arizona plus.” In addition to the terms of Arizona’s law, it would allow for the seizure of vehicles and property used to transport or harbor illegal immigrants.

 

In Georgia, an all-Republican commission of legislators plans to propose measures to enhance enforcement of tough laws already on the books. Georgia will also consider a bill to bar illegal immigrant students from all public universities.

 

The newly elected governor, Nathan Deal, a Republican, is expected to sign those bills. But the Georgia Farm Bureau, which represents the state’s powerful growers, voted to oppose any measures that would affect immigrant farm workers, most of whom do not have legal status.

 

In Kansas, Republicans won big majorities in both legislative houses and Sam Brownback, who just retired as a United States senator, was elected governor. Mr. Kobach, the law professor, was elected secretary of state after a campaign in which he vowed to pass a law requiring proof of citizenship for voters.

 

But the Kansas Chamber of Commerce has voiced its opposition, and Mr. Brownback has said he will focus on reducing unemployment.

 

The newest initiative is a joint effort among lawmakers from states including Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri and Pennsylvania to pass laws based on a single model that would deny American citizenship to children born in those states to illegal immigrants. The legislators were to announce the campaign in Washington on Wednesday.

 

A leader of that effort is Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican state representative from Pennsylvania. At a recent news conference, Mr. Metcalfe said his goal was to eliminate “an anchor baby status, in which an illegal alien invader comes into our country and has a child on our soil that is granted citizenship automatically.

 

The campaign is certain to run into legal obstacles. Courts have interpreted the 14th Amendment as guaranteeing birthright citizenship. Even among those who seek its repeal, debate has hinged on whether that would require a constitutional amendment, an act of Congress or a decision by the Supreme Court.

 

Some Republicans argue that the party is risking losing its appeal to Latino voters, the fastest-growing minority voter bloc.

 

“The Republican Party is divided between those who see that Hispanics are an essential constituency going forward, and those who don’t see that,” said Tamar Jacoby, a Republican who is the president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a business coalition that supports legalization for illegal immigrants.

 

Latino and immigrant advocate groups are resigned to being on the defensive for the next two years. “These laws are creating resentment within the Latino community that is going to last for decades,” said Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino de Utah in Salt Lake City, an immigrant advocacy group.

 


 

  Trib Logo

State House OKs save-now, pay-later pension bill

By Brad Bumsted
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
TTuesday, November 16, 2010

 

HARRISBURG -- House approval of a union-backed pension bill yesterday represented a "slap in the face of the taxpayers," one lawmaker said.

 

The bill, approved by a 165-31 vote, goes to Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who urged its passage.

 

....The bill was approved while Democrats still control the chamber, and lawmakers defeated in the Nov. 2 election voted. Republicans will take control of the House in January.

 

"A favorable vote for this in a lame-duck session is a real slap in face of the taxpayers of Pennsylvania," said Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, an opponent who said the bill's enactment would thwart more substantive reform. "The unions are advocating for this, thinking this will keep their defined-benefit plan in place."

 

Read more...

 


 

Fighting 'Abuse' of the 14th Amendment

Pennsylvania lawmaker joins call for re-examination of birthright clause in Constitution -/p>

On the Record with Greta Van Susteren - aired 10-20-10

   

Greta Van Susteren

   

View the video by clicking here....

  


Fox News Logo

Lawmakers in 14 States Craft Bill to Deny Citizenship to 'Anchor Babies'

Published October 19, 2010| Associated Press

PHOENIX -- Lawmakers in at least 14 states announced Tuesday they are working on legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants, although they weren't specific about how they plan to do it.

Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce said he and the lawmakers have a working draft of their model legislation and have consulted constitutional scholars to change the 14th Amendment and deny automatic citizenship.

"This is a battle of epic proportions," Pearce said Tuesday during a news conference at the Arizona Capitol. "We've allowed the hijacking of the 14th Amendment."

 

Pearce declined to say how the legislation will differ from similar measures that have been introduced in each two-year congressional session since 2005. None of them made it out of committee.

 

He and another Arizona lawmaker did argue that wording in the amendment that guarantees citizenship to people born in the U.S. who are "subject to the jurisdiction" of this country does not apply to the children of illegal immigrants because such families don't owe sole allegiance to the U.S.

 

....Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the founder of a national group of legislators critical of illegal immigration, said the 14th Amendment "greatly incentives foreign invaders to violate our border and our laws." He had a news conference Tuesday in Harrisburg, Pa., on the multistate endeavor.

 

The effort could run afoul of the language in the 14th Amendment and lead to a court battle over the constitutionality of the law. But Metcalfe said providing birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants is an "ongoing distortion and twisting" of the amendment.

 

Metcalfe's office said lawmakers in at least 12 other states besides Arizona and Pennsylvania said they were making their own announcements about working on the citizenship legislation. Those other states: Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.  Read more.....


WPXI

 

Policy Changes; Pittsburgh Police Can't Question Immigration Status

Updated: 6:35 pm EDT July 27, 2010

 

A new law in Arizona gives police broad sweeping powers to question a person’s immigration status, but it's a question Pittsburgh police are not allowed to ask.

 

Channel 11 News reporter Rick Earle talked to several Pittsburgh police officers, who expressed concern about the new regulation. The officers didn't want to go on camera, but they said they believe the new policy will limit their ability to do their job.

And they have the support of state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who's introduced legislation similar to Arizona's.

“The policies that are being put in place to discourage local law enforcement from doing their job, from enforcing the law, enforcing federal law, that already exists,” said Metcalfe. “Illegal aliens are here illegally. That's why they're called illegal aliens.”

Metcalfe also said what's even more disturbing about the new Pittsburgh policy is the time limit officers have to hold illegal immigrants. If federal authorities don't pick them up in four hours, police must release them.

“They have a known criminal in their hands, somebody who's broken federal law, invaded our company and now they are going to release them to possibly do additional crimes against their fellow citizens,” said Metcalfe. “That's not right.”

Metcalfe said he believes there are 140,000 illegal immigrants in Pennsylvania, costing taxpayers more than $700 million every year. He also contends that the federal government has failed to enforce immigration law. But others argue that local police don't have the resources and expertise to do it. And the American Civil Liberties Union said it will ultimately hamper police.

View video...

 

PA Independent

Is Republican Leadership Herding Cats?

Most Republicans don't follow leaders' budget vote

JULY 1, 2010 | by JIM PANYARD

 

A funny thing happened in the House Republican caucus on the way to the passage of the state's $28 billion General Fund budget Wednesday. All the Republican leadership voted for the bill, while 80 percent of the rank-and-file members did not.

 

The controversial measure, relying on more than $1 billion in unsecured funding, passed by a vote of 117-84. One hundred one of 104 Democrats voted for the measure, along with 16 Republicans, including all seven members of the House Republican leadership. Leaders are elected by the members of the caucus.

 

Eighty-two rank-and-file Republicans voted against the measure.

 

...Less delicate in his remarks was state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), who said, "I think the leadership sat down in their behind closed doors meetings and they said they didn't like the negative PR from the late budget last year. They decided they needed to minimize the public relations impact from not getting the budget passed on time.

 

"I think many of us were blindsided when (appropriations chair Bill) Adolph stood on the floor and announced his support of the budget last night.  We weren't aware of the agreement they had made with the Democrat leadership to support the budget," Mr. Metcalfe said.

 

In the caucus meeting before the final vote, Mr. Metcalfe said leadership, "...took us up to caucus and our leadership explained the decision to support the budget.  They said it gave them a seat at the table for the negotiations.

 

"I think the voters have to hold every rank-and-file member accountable for election of a leader who goes against the majority opinion of the caucus," Mr. Metcalfe said.

 

"I think ultimately we have to see some or all or these leaders challenged.  Ideally it would be nice to replace all the leaders who make such irresponsible decisions," Mr. Metcalfe added. Read more....


 

Forbes Logo

Associated Press

Dems pull Pa. House vote on natural gas tax

By MARK SCOLFORO , 06.16.10, 08:12 AM EDT

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Democrats abruptly yanked a bill to tax natural gas extraction and tobacco products from the Pennsylvania House floor Tuesday after a spirited debate that exposed internal divisions over what would constitute an integral piece of the state budget puzzle.

 

The setback for House Democratic leaders concerned their proposal to raise $142 million from Marcellus shale natural gas drilling and use 80 percent of it for the state's general fund.

 

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, said voters want to see taxes cut, not increased.

 

"Any increase in the tax burden hurts every taxpayer, because it increases the appetite of the monster in Harrisburg that keeps devouring tax dollars," Metcalfe said.    Read more....

 


 

Butler Eagle Logo

 

Metcalfe finishes 3rd in Republican lt. governor race

By Jim Smith
Eagle Staff Writer

Published: May 19, 2010

 

For state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Cranberry Township, Tuesday's primary outcome in the race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor was kind of like kissing his sister.


He didn't win. But, as he saw it, he didn't exactly lose either.


"You always run to win. That didn't happen," Metcalfe said. "But we ran a strong race and we had a good showing.
"I think my candidacy showed that a lot of people across the state share my message of reducing taxes, cutting spending and protecting constitutional freedoms."


Metcalfe, a six-term lawmaker in the House of Representatives' 12th District who is known for his bare-knuckles-in-your-face conservatism, finished third among nine candidates vying for the GOP nod for the state's No. 2 post.


Not bad, he figured, for someone who only entered the race two months ago, and ran with a bare-bones campaign budget.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to unofficial results, Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley emerged as the nominee.


The endorsed candidate of the Republican State Committee, Cawley got 209,241 votes, or 26 percent of the votes.


Chet Beiler of Lancaster County, a businessman and a former GOP nominee for auditor general, came in second with 163,750 votes, 21 percent.


Metcalfe was next with 101,335 votes, 13 percent.


Steve Johnson of York County, a businessman, was fourth with 83,613 votes, or 11 percent.


The fifth through ninth place finishers and their share of the vote were:
* State Rep. John Kennedy of Cumberland County, 9 percent.
* Jean Pepper of Erie, a financial adviser and a former GOP nominee for state treasurer, 8 percent.
* Stephen Urban, a Luzerne County commissioner, 4 percent.
* Russ Diamond of Lebanon County, a political activist and entrepreneur, 4 percent.
* Billy McCue of Washington County, a church business manager, 4 percent.


Much of Metcalfe's support came from staunch social and fiscal conservatives, said Terry Madonna, a political analyst and pollster at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.


"His votes came from people that knew him as a critic of Harrisburg," Madonna said. "Metcalfe's vote total proves it's good to be viewed as anti-establishment this election year."


Art Rauschenberger, chairman of the Butler County Republican Committee, credited the Tea Party movement for Metcalfe's showing.


"They helped put up a lot of his signs and they worked hard for him," Rauschenberger said. "At Tea Party gatherings, they were saying, 'He's the one.'"


But Metcalfe conceded he did not have a monopoly of the Tea Party vote. Some of that vote was splintered among other candidates, such as Beiler, Kennedy and Diamond.


It appeared geography also played a role in the race.


While it was not surprising that Metcalfe won Butler County, the margin of victory was eye popping. He received 14,079 votes, or nearly 70 percent of all ballots.


His closest challenger in Butler was Cawley, who got 2,300 votes.


Meanwhile, Metcalfe showed his strength in Western Pennsylvania at large. He was the top vote-getter in counties surrounding Butler, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Clarion, Lawrence, Mercer and Venango.


In all but one of those, Allegheny, he got more votes than Cawley and Beiler combined.


While much less known in the central and eastern portions of Pennsylvania, Metcalfe nevertheless did relatively well in some traditionally conservative counties, including Bedford, Franklin, Fulton and Potter. Metcalfe ran simultaneous campaigns for lieutenant governor and for re-election for his House seat. He was unopposed for the latter and in November faces Democrat Zack Byrnes.


But now, Metcalfe is happy to put campaigning aside and get back to work.


"The budget debate is next," he said. "It's time to stop the excessive spending and cut taxes. That's one campaign promise that needs to be kept."

 

 

Tuesday's election set stage for hard-fought fall campaigns

Published: May 20, 2010

 

….From the Butler County vantage point, the coming election would be even more interesting had state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe been successful in his bid for the Republican lieutenant governor nomination.


Metcalfe finished third in the field of nine candidates for the GOP nod. He has nothing to be ashamed of in that result.


After the contest was decided, he made a good assessment of the contest, saying, "I think my candidacy showed that a lot of people across the state share my message of reducing taxes, cutting spending and protecting constitutional freedoms."


The 12th District legislator, who will be on the November ballot in an attempt to win re-election to his House seat, showed, by way of his vote numbers, that, in his six terms in Harrisburg his work has been noticed in Western Pennsylvania. He was the top vote-getter Tuesday not only in this county, but also in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Clarion, Lawrence, Mercer and Venango counties....
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Daryl Metcalfe interview on FOX's "Strategy Room" on Tuesday, May 11, discussing the illegal alien invasion.

 

 

Daryl Metcalfe on FOX's "Neil Cavuto" on Monday, May 10, discussing the illegal alien invasion.

 

 

Daryl Metcalfe on FOX's "Fox and Friends" on Saturday, May 8, discussing the illegal alien invasion.

 

 

 

Daryl Metcalfe announces legislation to address the illegal alien invasion.

 

 

 

Recognized by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as the Pennsylvania General Assembly’sNo. 1 Conservative” and a multiple-time, highest-ranking lawmaker on the Pennsylvania Liberty Index, Metcalfe’s uncompromising record of protecting taxpayers and family values, includes:

  

►   Signing the Americans for Tax Reform pledge and never voting for a tax increase during more than 11 years in office.

►   Spearheading the successful repeal of the unconstitutional 2005 state government pay raise.

►   Working to reduce the waste, inefficiency and cost of welfare.

►   Preserving Second Amendment liberty and organizing Pennsylvania’s Annual Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally.

►   Standing up for state’s rights and founding a national coalition of state legislators dedicated to ending America’s illegal alien invasion.

►   Fighting to stop state tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider.

►   Defending marriage between one man and one woman.

►   Restoring parental control over a child’s education.

►   Outlawing teacher strikes and compulsory unionism.

 


 

Courier Times

 

Lt. gov. candidate says he'd hold governor accountable

Bucks County Courier Times

 

Last week, state House Rep. Daryl Metcalfe introduced House Bill 2479, described as an Arizona-style immigration law that would give police new, wide-reaching power to enforce immigration laws.

 

GOP lieutenant governor candidate Daryl Metcalfe is running on a simple platform: the governor should do what the Butler County state lawmaker believes Pennsylvania residents want - or else.

 

And, what Metcalfe, 47, believes Pennsylvanians want is the person running the state to protect their pocketbooks and personal freedoms.

 

If the next governor doesn't, Metcalfe promises he'll "publicly expose" him and, if necessary, launch a challenge in the next primary.

 

"It's very sad we expect politicians to lie. I will be there to hold him accountable," Metcalfe told about 50 people at a campaign stop at the American Legion Post in Yardley Tuesday. "We get our liberties from God, not the government."

 

Metcalf, who calls himself "the" leading conservative state House lawmaker, has served in the state legislature since 1998. He is an opponent of labor unions and teacher strikes, who is against gay marriage and abortion.

 

Last week the Cranberry Township resident introduced House Bill 2479, described as an Arizona-style immigration law that would give state and local police new, wide-reaching power to enforce immigration laws.

 

The bill would provide state and local law enforcement with full authority to arrest illegal aliens for any public offense which would warrant removal from the United States, as well require law enforcement officers to attempt to verify the immigration status of suspected illegal aliens.

 

A whopping nine Republicans are competing in Tuesday's primary for the job as the state's second in command, a position that pays $146,926 this year with full state benefits, including state police protection, but requires few job duties, unless the governor cannot lead.

 

Bucks County Commissioner James Cawley is the endorsed GOP candidate for lieutenant governor.

In his stump speech, Metcalfe talked about the corruption in Harrisburg, much of it he blamed on union power, saying he has spent his tenure fighting labor unions, particularly the teacher unions. He portrayed himself as a political outsider reviled by the old-boy network.

 

On other political issues, Metcalfe told the crowd:

 

Teacher strikes/unions

 

Pennsylvania "needs to be the 38th" state to outlaw teacher strikes, calling teachers unions an "archaic system." He talked about the money that unions lavish on legislators to buy influence. He warned of the major tax increases that will be necessary to cover unfunded pension liabilities the legislature adopted in 2001 for the Public School Employee Retirement System and the State Employee Retirement System, which covers state employees including lawmakers.

 

Illegal immigration

 

"We have an invasion occurring," he said, adding that illegal aliens are committing crimes because the nation hasn't secured the border. He says laws that cut off benefits and access to employment will lead to "self deportation."

 

Gun laws

 

Again, described himself as "the" strongest advocate of the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution in the state legislature. "It is the foundation for all other rights," he said.

 

Term limits

 

He opposes them. "We have term limits, if people would vote," he said.

Metcalfe is also running a simultaneous re-election campaign to keep his state House seat.

May 12, 2010 03:03 AM

 


 

Washington Times

Other states taking cue from Arizona law

Legislators call feds 'AWOL' on 'invaders'


May 10, 2010

By

A controversial law passed in Arizona giving state and local police the right to arrest anyone reasonably suspected of being an illegal immigrant is catching on nationwide, with lawmakers and others in several states considering similar legislation.

 

Concerned about the federal government's failure to secure the nation's borders, legislators and political candidates from Georgia to Colorado have introduced bills to beef up local immigration enforcement, have promised to do so or said they would support such legislation if offered.

 

"With the federal government currently AWOL in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to protect American lives, property and jobs against the clear and present dangers of illegal-alien invaders, state lawmakers … are left with no choice but to take individual action to address this critical economic and national security epidemic," said Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe.

 

Mr. Metcalfe, a Republican who introduced legislation last week modeled on the Arizona law, said his bill would give "every illegal alien residing in Pennsylvania two options: Leave immediately or go to jail."

His bill would, among other things, give state and local law enforcement officials full authority to apprehend Pennsylvania's estimated 140,000 illegal immigrants and require law enforcement officers to attempt to verify the immigration status of suspected illegal immigrants. It also would make it a criminal offense for illegal immigrants to fail to register as foreigners or to have proof that they did.

 

South Carolina state Rep. Eric Bedingfield, a Republican, has sponsored a bill in that state allowing the verification of a person's immigration status and providing for the "warrantless arrest of persons suspected of being present in the United States unlawfully."

 

Mr. Bedingfield's bill also would target illegal immigrants who fail to complete or carry legal registration documents and would criminalize "hiring and picking up workers at different locations while impeding traffic."

He said his constituents are concerned about illegal immigration and that he had received numerous communications from constituents asking when South Carolina would take the additional step as lawmakers did in Arizona. The bill, he said, has 20 to 30 co-sponsors and is pending in the House, but it might be difficult to get it to the Senate floor before the end of the session June 1.

 

In Oklahoma, state Rep. Randy Terrill said he and some other lawmakers still hope to pass a bill similar to Arizona's new law this session and "go beyond it." Mr. Terrill, a longtime advocate for tougher immigration laws, said his group also would like the legislation to include tougher penalties for illegal immigrants caught with firearms.

 

Mr. Terrill, a Republican, said Oklahoma used to have the toughest laws against illegal immigrants but that Arizona is now No. 1.

 


TRIB LOGO

The Metcalfe proposal: The time has come

Friday, May 7, 2010

 

Pennsylvania shares the problems that the federal government's failure to enforce immigration laws creates for states that border Mexico. Thus, it's fitting that Pennsylvania share Arizona's solution for those problems.

 

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, deserves praise for introducing a reasonable, practical bill -- modeled on Arizona's new anti-illegal-aliens measure -- that deserves to become law. It would give state and local police authority to detain anyone who can't prove legal residency when stopped for another, "primary" offense, such as a traffic violation.

 

Despite that provision, politically motivated opponents are squawking about "racial profiling!" -- and Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell is threatening a veto. But state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Carrick, stood with Rep. Metcalfe as he announced the bill, so this isn't simply a party-line issue.

 

State taxpayers of all political persuasions no doubt would like to stop spending what the Federation for American Immigration Reform pegs at $728 million annually to educate, incarcerate and provide medical care for an estimated 144,000 illegals.

 

Arizona's law has immense public support. Hopefully, so will Metcalfe's bill, helping to convince Harrisburg to do what's right for Americans in Pennsylvania.


 

TRIB LOGO

 

Leave or go to jail, Metcalfe tells illegals

By Brad Bumsted
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Last updated: 6:20 am

HARRISBURG -- Take the handcuffs off police and put them on illegal aliens in Pennsylvania, who cost taxpayers $728 million a year for education, health care and incarceration, advocates for tougher laws said Tuesday.

 

Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Cranberry says it's time to give illegal aliens living in Pennsylvania two choices: Leave or go to jail. He patterned a bill introduced yesterday after a controversial Arizona law enacted last month by that state's governor, Jan Brewer.

 

But Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, said if Metcalfe's proposal is "a mirror image of Arizona's, I'd veto it." Rendell leaves office in January, and the bill would start anew in Pennsylvania's year-round Legislature.

Rendell didn't elaborate, but critics of the Arizona bill claim it encourages "racial profiling," which Metcalfe denies.

 

Since 2005, the number of bills filed and laws enacted by state governments on immigration problems has increased, said Ann Morse, an official who handles immigration issues for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Law enforcement issues are among the top three topics addressed, she said.

 

In 2009, 48 states enacted 222 laws and 131 resolutions on immigration issues. In the first quarter of 2010, they introduced 1,180 bills and resolutions.

 

Since the Arizona bill became law, South Carolina introduced a similar measure, according to NCSL. Thirty states' legislative sessions are over. Some states are watching results of four lawsuits filed over Arizona's law, Morse said.

 

Each Pennsylvania household pays about $150 a year for education, incarceration and health care costs of illegal aliens, according to a study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR. That tab totals $728 million annually in Pennsylvania to cover costs of an estimated 144,000 illegal aliens, the study says.

 

Dan Stein, president of the nonprofit that claims 250,000 supporters nationwide, attended the news conference where Metcalfe announced his bill. Stein said it is the federal government's role to enforce immigration laws, but it doesn't do so. States are acting because "year after year, the federal government has failed in its mission: to enforce these laws."

 

The Metcalfe bill aims to provide state and local law enforcement officers the authority to round up illegal aliens -- those who can't offer proof of legal residency -- when stopped for a primary offense, such as a traffic violation.

 

Under the bill, it would be a crime for an illegal alien to apply for work. Someone who smuggles or transports illegal aliens also would be committing a crime.

 

The goal is "attrition through enforcement," Metcalfe said.  Read more.......


 

Pro-gun stars shine at Capitol rally

By John Baer
Philadelphia Daily News

Daily News Political Columnist

Posted on Wed, Apr. 28, 2010

 

 

REPUBLICAN state Rep. (and lieutenant governor candidate) Daryl Metcalfe from faraway Butler County yesterday offered up a little reminder of the diversity driving Pennsylvania politics.

 

Metcalfe, arguably the state's most pro-gun lawmaker, hosted his fifth Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally at the Capitol with several hundred gun fans and, as advertised, its "biggest-ever lock-and-loaded lineup."

 

Speakers included NRA executive vice president Wayne La-Pierre, Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt and former Texas lawmaker and national right-to-carry advocate Suzanna Hupp.

 

The annual gig is a direct response "to that gun-grabbing liberal Ed Rendell coming up from Philadelphia," Metcalfe said.

 

The rally's far from subtle. It once featured a suggestion that gun-control supporter Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., be hanged from the "tree of liberty."

 

Cruz, Rendell and others push for controls such as restricting gun sales to one a month per buyer. There was no lynching suggestion yesterday, but plenty of evidence of Pennsylvania's love affair with firearms.

 

Metcalfe called for "celebrating" Ed's last year in office and drew cheers and loud applause with:

"We have defeated that man every step of the way."

 

Attendees said it's important to visually remind the Legislature of same.

 

"It's a good cause," said Harry Gromo, 69, a retired Beaver County steelworker holding a sign: "Gun control means using both hands."  He said he came because "every day there's something new" threatening gun rights.

 

The current targets are Philly and other municipalities enacting local gun laws.

 

A bill sponsored by Metcalfe requires locals to foot court costs, attorney fees and "actual damages" in successful challenges to local gun controls.

 

The control-advocacy group CeaseFirePa says 37 municipalities have resolutions or ordinances requiring reporting lost or stolen guns.

 

Rallygoers Garin Moore, 50, unemployed, and Connie Miller, 51, a floral designer, both of Tower City, in Schuylkill County, said local laws don't work.  "Only the law-abiding cooperate," said Miller. "Don't fear what a person carries in their hand," Moore said. "Fear what they carry in their heart."

 

There's also a push for a tough Castle Doctrine (as in a man's home is his castle) protecting gun owners from civil liability if they use lethal force in self-defense at home, work, in a vehicle or (for some reason) at state parks.

 

Republican candidates for governor, Attorney General Tom Corbett and Berks County Rep. Sam Rohrer, were introduced and stood with rally speakers, along with dozens of lawmakers from both parties.

 

Few issues are as divisive. While far from exclusively partisan, more Democrats tend to support controls; more Republicans oppose them.

 

Philly's Democratic candidate for governor, state Sen. Tony Williams, for example, is running statewide TV ads calling for local gun laws.

 

In contrast, Metcalfe says that if he's lieutenant governor and the governor does anything resembling retreat from the Second Amendment, Metcalfe will run against him in the next primary.

 

But then, Williams represents Philly, and Metcalfe represents Butler County.

 

For comparison purposes, the tourism section of Butler County's Web site features the fact that three local bridges are closed through Oct. 15 and touts "The Barns of Butler County," a self-guided driving tour of 16 barns "tucked among our rolling hills."

 

Metcalfe, 47, is as conservative as it gets. He opposes routine resolutions honoring Muslims (because they "do not recognize Jesus Christ as God") and domestic-violence awareness (because language related to men suggests "a homosexual agenda").

 

But he has the last ballot position in a field of nine unknown Republicans for lieutenant governor and could - based on name ID among hard-core GOP voters, especially in western Pennsylvania - prevail in the May 18 primary.

 

And that could be interesting.

 

"Once I get elected lieutenant governor," he says, "both parties will move to abolish the office . . . I will not be a silent sidekick."

 

In fact, he'd be a double-barreled booster - for gun rights and the political right.



TRIB LOGO

Gun owners back state bills in Pennsylvania, denounce municipal laws

By
Brad Bumsted
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Harrisburg: Hundreds of gun advocates at an annual rally organized by [State Rep. Daryl] Metcalfe yesterday touted state legislation to expand the use of self-defense beyond homes and to "slap down" municipal gun ordinances.

A former Texas legislator whose parents died in the 1991 shooting in Luby's Cafeteria told Pennsylvania gun enthusiasts Tuesday they can "make a difference" in pushing for laws that make it easier to legally use a firearm to defend one's family.

 

After the shooting in Killeen, Texas, that killed 23 people, Suzanna Gratia Hupp found herself "mad as hell" at the Texas Legislature for making it illegal to carry a handgun. Her gun was "100 yards away," locked in her car, when George Jo Hennard moved through the cafeteria executing people before taking his own life.

 

Hupp ran for the Legislature and pushed for enactment of a 1995 law allowing Texans to carry a handgun with a concealed weapons license, similar to the Pennsylvania law that has licensed about a half-million gun owners.

 

Her story "illustrates when the government restricts the right to bear arms, law-abiding citizens lose and criminals win," said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry.

 

Read more....

.
Butler Eagle

State road funding hits pothole
Failure to toll interstate leaves $470 million deficit




TRIB LOGO

State Rep. Metcalfe speaks to Plum GOP

By Tom Yerace
VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Last updated: 7:01 am

PLUM — Being from the same part of the state would not hurt a Tom Corbett-Daryl Metcalfe ticket in the state's upcoming gubernatorial race, according to Metcalfe.

 

"I don't think geography matters as much to the voters as the candidates themselves," said Metcalfe, a Cranberry Republican who represents the 12th District in the state House.

Metcalfe, a candidate for lieutenant governor, made the observation during an appearance Monday before the Plum Republican Committee.

 

Corbett, a Shaler Township resident who is the state's attorney general, has been endorsed for governor by the state Republican Party. The party endorsed Jim Cawley, a Bucks County commissioner, for lieutenant governor.

 

Metcalfe thinks he would bring "strengths" to the Republican ticket that Corbett doesn't have since Corbett has not served in the Legislature. Metcalfe has served in the House for 12 years.

Metcalfe said he and Corbett have both signed a no-tax pledge.

 

"The party's choice, the young man from the east (Cawley), has already voted for a tax increase which, to me, goes against a fundamental Republican principle," Metcalfe said.

 

If Metcalfe defeats the eight other Republican candidates for the lieutenant governor's nomination and goes on with Corbett to win in November, he promised the new governor would get more than a second-in-command. He will get a watchdog looking over his shoulder.

 

"I would hold the governor accountable," Metcalfe said. He added that if Corbett does not do what he promises, "I will take the next governor to task, publicly."

 

Metcalfe claimed he has done that with governors of both parties, recalling that he challenged former Republican Gov. Tom Ridge for his support of the state financing sports stadiums.

On other matters, Metcalfe said:

 

• The state's financial picture is completely out of kilter. He said right now, revenues are projected to be at least $500 million less than last year but yet Gov. Rendell has pushed through an almost $2 billion increase in the state budget. He said the Legislature is trying to find new revenue sources, such as privatizing the state liquor store system, as well as looking for ways to cut expenditures.

 

• Two areas where he thinks expenditures could be reduced are in welfare benefits and dealing with illegal aliens. He said the state's welfare rolls have increased by more than 600,000 people and the state spends $700 million a year on illegal aliens with things such as medical assistance.

 

Metcalfe said he is studying the possibility of introducing a bill similar to one introduced in Arizona. That bill would allow local police to charge anyone found to be in the country illegal with criminal trespassing.

 

• The only way the looming crisis with public employee pensions can be addressed is with a governor and state Legislature willing to take on the public employee unions.

 

"We have to move to a defined contribution plan," Metcalfe said, adding that is what most private sector employees have.

 

Brian Rasel, a member of the Plum and Allegheny County committees and the Plum Young Republicans, liked what he heard.

 

"I think finally somebody is speaking sensibly," Rasel said. "I didn't disagree with anything he said."

 

As for supporting Metcalfe's candidacy, Rasel said, "Absolutely.




Post Gazette Logo
Charges against Perzel put Metcalfe in spotlight
Saturday, November 21, 2009

John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, was removed from the position of ranking Republican in accordance with House rules preventing lawmakers from top committee posts if they've been charged with a crime.

Taking the place of Mr. Perzel is Rep. Chris Ross, R-Chester.

 

That move opened up a spot on the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, whose Republican leader had been Mr. Ross.

 

Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, was tapped for that spot.

 

The committee considers legislation dealing with the relationships among local, state and federal government bodies.

 

Last session, Intergovernmental Affairs considered legislation dealing with Real ID, a federal act mandating nationwide standards for state driver's licenses and identification cards.

 

Mr. Metcalfe said he plans to use his position on the committee to advance his opposition to gay marriage, socialized medicine and benefits for illegal immigrants.

 

"The work of this committee presents a prime opportunity to uphold and defend the foundational documents of the American way of life and to affirm, protect and advance our God-given -- not government-given -- personal liberties," Mr. Metcalfe said.





Metcalfe stands fast against ads

Veterans, others call for his resignation


CRANBERRY TWP — State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, is on the offense after radio ads calling for his resignation started running in the Pittsburgh market last week.

The ads, which started running Thursday, are a reaction to statements he made that offended a coalition of veterans and national security organizations after he sent an e-mail calling members of the group traitors.
 
The coalition, calling itself Operation Free, says it strives to raise awareness about the link between climate change and national security. The group, based in Washington, D.C., promotes clean energy and warns against consequences of global warming on the nation's security.
 
The group's "Veterans for American Power" bus tour stopped in Philadelphia on Oct. 21, and Operation Free members sent e-mails to every state lawmaker urging them to attend. That's when Metcalfe replied with an e-mail, sent to other state legislators, calling members of the group "traitors" and "Benedict Arnolds."

"I believe that any veteran lending their name to promote the leftist propaganda of global warming and climate change, in an effort to control more of the wealth created in our economy, all in the name of national security, is a traitor to the oath he or she took to defend the Constitution of our great nation," the e-mail said.
 
In a radio advertisement paid for by Vote Vets, a narrator begins with, "Traitors — that's what Rep. Daryl Metcalfe called decorated Iraq and Afghanistan veterans."

The ad ends with, "Tell Metcalfe to resign because attacking America's patriots is the most unpatriotic thing you can do."

Metcalfe said he has received supportive phone calls from constituents and veterans in the region.

"As I dug into it, Vote Vets was revealed to be a front group for Moveon.org, the George Soros group advocating for leftist attacks on our country for the last several years," Metcalfe said. "They support John Murtha, who accused our Marines of killing people in cold blood. I stand with the vast super majority with veterans in defense of the U.S. Constitution."

Metcalfe said he is being attacked by the group because he has exposed their ulterior motives.

"The sponsors of this ad are attacking me because my comments have exposed that Operation Free's radical leftist agenda has absolutely nothing to do with America's national security, energy independence or protecting our environment, but is a direct attack on our Constitution," said Metcalfe, a U.S. Army veteran whose service record between 1980-84 includes defending the West German border during the height of the Cold War, according to a news release.

Metcalfe said he will not resign and stands by his original comments.


Post Gazette Logo
Ads call for Metcalfe's resignation
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- There's never a dull moment with state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the outspoken conservative from Cranberry.

 

Just a few days after he caused an uproar by calling some Iraq and Afghanistan veterans "traitors" for warning about climate change, radio ads are being run on Pittsburgh stations, urging listeners to call his office and demand that he resign from the Legislature.

 

But the Republican flame-thrower said he won't quit and blamed the harsh radio attacks on groups such as Operation Free, VoteVets.org and liberal billionaire George Soros, all of whom, Mr. Metcalfe claimed, have a "radical leftist" political agenda.

 

Mr. Metcalfe, a military veteran himself, contended that any veteran who lends their name "to promote the leftist propaganda of global warming and climate change, in an effort to control more of the wealth created in our economy ... is a traitor to the oath he or she took to defend the Constitution of our great nation!"

 

The new radio ad, running on KDKA and other stations, opens with a narrator saying sternly, "Traitors -- that's what state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe called decorated Iraq and Afghanistan veterans."

The ad also has Pittsburgh veteran Chuck Tyler saying, "Rep. Metcalfe, a lot of my friends never made it home from Iraq. Dishonoring us dishonors their memory. We deserve better and so does Pennsylvania."

 

Mr. Tyler also says, "I'm not a traitor, sir. I'm just an American doing what's right for my country."

Then the narrator urges listeners to call Mr. Metcalfe, giving his Cranberry office phone, "and tell him to resign. Attacking America's patriots is the most unpatriotic thing you can do."

 

The narrator says the ad is "a message from Operation Free, paid for by Vote Vets Action Fund."

 

Mr. Metcalfe fired back yesterday in his usual feisty manner, claiming he's being assailed "because my comments have exposed that Operation Free's radical leftist agenda has absolutely nothing to do with America's national security (or) energy independence."

 

He said he is a U.S. Army veteran "whose honorable service record between 1980-84 includes defending the West German border during the height of the Cold War."

 

He accused Vote Vets of supporting "a far-left group of state and national politicians, including U.S. Congressman John Murtha."

 

In his statement, Mr. Metcalfe said he "stands by my original comments" about Operation Free.


Post Gazette Logo

Metcalfe defends harsh talk about vets on climate
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican firebrand from Cranberry known for controversial remarks, yesterday refused to back down on comments in which he suggested a group of veterans were "traitors" for promoting a message about climate change.

 

"As a veteran, I believe that any veteran lending their name, to promote the leftist propaganda of global warming and climate change, in an effort to control more of the wealth created in our economy, through cap and tax type policies, all in the name of national security, is a traitor to the oath he or she took to defend the Constitution of our great nation!" Mr. Metcalfe said in his e-mail response.

 

"Remember Benedict Arnold before giving credibility to a veteran who uses their service as a means to promote a leftist agenda. Drill Baby Drill!!!"

 

Rep. Metcalfe, who served in the U.S. Army from 1980-84, defended the remarks, saying "if the type of policies that an individual promotes undermines the Constitution and the law of the land in our country, then they are not patriots." He said cap-and-trade proposals on carbon emissions interfere with the rights of businesses and states and violate Constitutional principles. "It looks like, from their violent reaction from their statement, they haven't disputed that it's leftist propaganda," he said of the veterans group.


 

Post Gazette Logo

Rendell says he will veto latest budget
Democrats, GOP back compromise but governor says it fails education
Saturday, September 12, 2009
HARRISBURG -- A $27.9 billion "compromise" budget drafted by legislative leaders received a huge jolt yesterday when Gov. Ed Rendell vowed to veto it, claiming it overestimates certain tax revenues and reduces spending for important programs he supports.

House Republicans, who rarely agree with Democrat Rendell, also opposed the $27.9 billion plan.

"There is plenty of economic pain and suffering to go around in this budget, including the job-killing Capital Stock and Franchise Tax and a 25-cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax," complained Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry. He also didn't like the plan's use of the entire $755 million Rainy Day Fund to help erase last year's budget deficit.


 

Post Gazette Logo

House OKs bill for municipal pensions

Saturday, September 12, 2009

HARRISBURG -- The state House voted yesterday to approve legislation creating new procedures to aid underfunded municipal pensions across Pennsylvania but that gives the city of Pittsburgh a two-year window to improve the level of funding in its ailing pension plan.

 

Taxpayer rally targets special-interest groups

Trib Logo

By Lauren Boyer
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

HARRISBURG -- Special-interest groups clamoring for a share of taxpayers' dollars are like pigs at a trough, Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe said Tuesday.

 

"The taxpayers who are providing the feed in this trough have had enough," said Metcalfe of Cranberry, surrounded by dozens of taxpayers gathered for a rally to protest a potential state income-tax increase.

 

Metcalfe, watchdog groups Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, and Heritage Foundation and the pro-business Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association frequently place Gov. Ed Rendell in their sights.  Read more..

 


Threat to "God-Given" Right" Spurs Gun Owners' Rally In Harrisburg

Trib Logo

By Brad Bumsted, STATE CAPITOL REPORTER
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Last updated: 8:43 am

HARRISBURG — About 1,000 gun owners rallied Tuesday to protect what some called a "God-given" right to bear arms as elected leaders reacted to the slayings of three Pittsburgh police officers with calls for gun control.

 

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the rally's organizer, said he intends to introduce a bill that would require cities to pay legal costs for people who file lawsuits challenging ordinances that attempt to pre-empt state gun laws.

 

A state law prohibits local gun restrictions, but some cities have tried anyway. Philadelphia enacted gun ordinances last year that were overturned in state court.

 

Metcalfe said his bill is meant to "rein in lawless acts by elected officials." Cities would have to reimburse actual damages, reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs, he said.

 

At least a dozen House Democrats from Western Pennsylvania joined about 30 Republican lawmakers to show their support.




grassroots cut

Republicans challenge Rendell to cut spending

Trib Logo
By Debra Erdley
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gov. Ed Rendell's proposal to lay off up to 2,000 state workers in response to a projected $2.3 billion budget deficit is a ruse to buy support for new taxes, a Republican lawmaker charged Friday.

Instead, said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the state could shift $1 billion from welfare spending and take nearly $1 billion from discretionary programs that fund lawmakers' pet projects to help erase the shortfall. He cited an audit that detailed waste and fraud in the Department of Public Welfare.

"You can cut 10 percent by taking $1 billion through changes from inefficiencies, fraud and waste," Metcalfe said. "There's some serious waste going on. Cutting 10 percent is not an unreasonable number during an economic downturn." .......


Grass Roots PA

Post Gazette Logo

Rep. Metcalfe to seek House speaker's post

Republican says he'll fight pay raise

Saturday, January 03, 2009

By Tracie Mauriello, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

 

Mr. Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, yesterday announced his candidacy for the job that is all but certain to go to Keith McCall, D-Carbon, who is the unanimous nominee of his party, which holds a five-seat majority.

 Mr. Metcalfe is mounting a challenge.

 "Today, I end this fiscally irresponsible coronation process by declaring my candidacy for speaker," Mr. Metcalfe said.

 He criticized Mr. McCall for supporting increases in welfare spending, a 2003 income-tax increase and the controversial 2005 legislative pay raise.

 "I have never voted for a tax increase and I voted against and led the fight in the state House to repeal the 2005 state government pay raise in its entirety," Mr. Metcalfe said. "For this session, the members' choice [for speaker] will be between candidates with two dramatically different voting records that accurately forecast the actions of future leadership."


Trib logo

Lawmakers say they'll give up pay increase

By Brad Bumsted
STATE
CAPITOL REPORTER
Thursday, December 4, 2008

 ...But Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, called the decision by House Democratic leaders to forgo the raises "a sham." He said they should move legislation to repeal the automatic increase for members of the Legislature.

"True leadership requires sacrifice," Metcalfe said. "Returning a few thousand dollars to the commonwealth, which will still factor into their state pensions, would not be defined as a significant sacrifice by the majority of Pennsylvania taxpayers."



Representative Daryl Metcalfe Interviewed By Radio Host Roger Hedgecock On Illegal Immigration


Hedgecock  September 10, 2008 - State Representative Daryl Metcalfe was 
  interviewed by radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock regarding Metcalfe's
  "State Legislators for Legal Immigration".  As the founder and leader of this
  group to combat illegal immigration, Representative Metcalfe is recognized
  nationally as leader in the illegal immigration fight.

  Roger Hedgecock, a frequent guest host for the nationally syndicated Rush
  Limbaugh Show, featured Representative Metcalfe and other prominent 
  national leaders on this issue.  The podcast of this broadcast can be
  downloaded by clicking here. (Please click the 5:00 PM segment for
  September 10th, 2008.)




WHP LogoRepresentative Metcalfe Guest Hosts on
              WHP 580 Radio


WHP 580 Studio

August 12, 2008 - State Representative Daryl Metcalfe guest-hosted the Bob Durgin Show on WHP-580 AM in Harrisburg.  Addressing radio listeners in the Harrisburg - Philadelphia area,  Representative Metcalfe covered the 3 PM to 6 PM broadcast with good discussions of the pressing issues of the day. Guests included:

Dr. Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation discussed the history of the conservative movement.  Dr. Edwards has published more than 15 books about the leading individuals and institutions of American conservatism, including biographies of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater and a history of The Heritage Foundation.

Mr. Ira Mehlman, National Media Director of of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR).  Mr. Mehlman discussed the illegal immigration problems facing this nation.  Ira joined FAIR in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more.

Mr. Kim Stolfer, Chairman, Firearm Owners Against Crime.  Mr. Stolfer discussed current efforts to deprive Pennsylvania citizens of their 2nd Amendment rights. 




Trib Logo

Last, best turnpike offers solicited

By Brad Bumsted and Jim Ritchie
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

 ……Foreign bidders' involvement concerns Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Cranberry Republican who typically favors privatizing state government functions but opposes a turnpike lease.

 "I don't trust this administration and this governor to have the long-term interests of taxpayers in mind," Metcalfe said. The turnpike "is the foundation of our infrastructure, paid for over decades by taxpayers and drivers of Pennsylvania." He added that he doesn't want to turn it over to "a foreign entity to profit." ……


Post Gazette
Metcalfe introduces Pa. voter ID bill
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

HARRISBURG -- Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Indiana's law requiring voters to present photo identification, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe wants to enact the same kind of law in Pennsylvania.

The Cranberry Republican has introduced House Bill 2519, which would require anyone wishing to vote to show one of several forms of photo ID when arriving at a polling place: a valid driver's license issued by PennDOT; a valid state or federal government employee ID; a valid employee ID card issued by an employer; a valid U.S. passport, student ID or armed forces ID; a voter ID card issued by a county registration commission.

Currently in Pennsylvania, only first-time voters have to present a photo ID. Some critics said a photo ID shouldn't be required because some people, especially retired senior citizens who don't drive, may not have a photo ID and thus would be deprived of the right to vote.

But Mr. Metcalfe said his bill is needed "in order to bar corrupt politicians, special interests and any other integrity-deficient individuals from executing unfair, criminal influence at the ballot box." He said requiring a photo ID would prevent illegal aliens, among others, from voting......


Trib

 

Firearm owners rally in Harrisburg for rights


By Brad Bumsted
Tuesday, April 8, 2008

….When a gun is lost or stolen "the victim should not get punished," said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

 

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, told gun owners to carry a message to the 75 House members who voted for the [Levdansky gun] amendment. It's time to "educate those folks," said Metcalfe, who was backed by about 40 lawmakers of both parties at the rally.

 

"A truly safe and liberty-advancing society is an armed society," Metcalfe said....


 

Trib

Legislators react to Rendell budget

By Tom Yera
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Local Democratic and Republican state legislators may not agree on what's good and bad in Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed budget, but they agree on one thing: when it's approved, the governor may not recognize it.

"[The governor] basically wants to give a bonus to taxpayers who don't pay as much into the personal income, and it's on the backs of the hard working men and women of Pennsylvania who do pay more in," said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry. "If they want to give money back to anyone in the state, they ought to decrease the (personal income tax), which they raised a few years ago, to give money back to all the hard working men and women of Pennsylvania."


Post Gazette 

Rendell, GOP still at odds over energy, health, taxes
 

Thursday, January 10, 2008
By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau 


HARRISBURG
-- Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and Republican legislators clashed yesterday on what legislative priorities should be pursued this spring, which might not bode well for progress. 

House Republicans issued a call for a reduction in the state income tax when the Legislature adopts a new budget in June. Mr. Rendell was non-committal until the projected year-end surplus can be determined. 

Tom Quigley, R-Montgomery, along with Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, is proposing a two-step drop in the PIT: first to 2.93 percent this July, then to 2.8 percent in July 2009. The proposal, House Bill 1092, would require either the use of considerably more of the budget surplus or spending cuts in other areas.

Post Gazette

Why gun control has no shot

Governor's effort to pass new restrictions runs into organized and effective opposition, as usual 

Sunday, November 25, 2007
By Gary Rotstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
 

In his unusual House Judiciary Committee appearance last week, Mr. Rendell unsuccessfully urged approval of bills that would limit handgun purchases to one a month; permit local gun ordinances tougher than state law; and require that lost or stolen guns be reported to police within 24 hours. Such proposals have failed to win support for years, last year losing by 2-to-1 margins on the floor of the full House during a special legislative session on guns and violence 

A l
eading opponent of such measures, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, questioned the governor's timing. He noted that House Democrats had suffered negative publicity recently over the attorney general's investigation of their payment of bonuses to staff members. Because the governor's committee appearance was so unusual, he won news media attention for several days on the gun control issue. 

"Many of us suspect that the governor and Democratic leadership were really looking for an issue to take front page headlines away from the bonus pay investigation," Mr. Metcalfe said. "If the governor were serious about addressing violent crime, there's many things we can do using the laws that are on the books." 

Mr. Metcalfe and activists on the pro-gun side criticize proposals like the ones rejected by the Judiciary Committee as intrusive measures that would miss their target.

Bill Aims to Help States Catch Criminal Aliens
By Kevin Mooney
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
October 25, 2007

(CNSNews.com) - Rape, kidnapping, drug smuggling, assault, burglary, murder and fraud convictions have been imposed on illegal aliens found to be residing throughout Pennsylvania in both rural and urban settings over the past few years, a new report shows.

The state is now experiencing an "invasion" of illegal immigration interconnected with heightened criminal activity and rising costs imposed on taxpayers, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican state representative from the 12th district in Butler County, told Cybercast News Service. In cooperation with other Republican lawmakers, Metcalfe recently issued a report entitled "Invasion PA."

"When you look at the cost to our education system, our health care system and incarceration costs, you are looking at hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on illegal aliens that could otherwise be spent to improve the lives of our citizens and reduce taxes," he said.

"We are seeing a wide range of crimes being committed by people who should not be on our soil," Metcalfe added.

The report was put together to promote pending state legislation that would "shut off the economic faucet that attracts illegals into Pennsylvania" and provide local law enforcement with additional tools, Metcalfe said.

One of the policy changes Metcalfe has called for is greater participation in the 287g program. As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the program allows for state law enforcement officials to be trained in federal immigration law.

Over 3,000 "illegal alien invaders" have been involved in criminal activity, according to the report. But the actual number of incidents is probably much higher, Metcalfe pointed out, since a number of crimes go unreported.

The human trafficking operations now at work in Philadelphia are particularly disconcerting, Metcalfe said. The city has been identified as an emerging gateway for this type of criminal activity by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the report states.

The nexus between illegal immigration and organized crime has caught the attention of some lawmakers on Capitol Hill who now favor increased federal-state cooperation where criminal aliens are concerned.

To this end, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has introduced the Clear Act (HR 3494), which would give local officials the authority to apprehend and detain criminal aliens, so they can be turned over to federal agents in an expedited fashion. Blackburn's bill would also allow for local law enforcement to have access to federal crime-tracking databases.

"We have narrowly drawn the legislation so that it just addresses the criminal aliens and absconders," she said. "We are talking about individuals who are known lawbreakers. The Clear Act would close off existing loopholes so that it becomes more difficult for a criminal alien to remain in the country."

The Clear Act would also help local officials who encounter illegal aliens involved with gang activity and drug trafficking operations, Blackburn explained. "The databases can be a real help because there are repeat offenders who use aliases and this information can be compiled and shared with local officials," she suggested.

But not everyone is keen on the idea of giving state agents greater latitude in the realm of immigration law.

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a Hispanic civil rights group, is ardently opposed to the Clear Act. Once state and local police officers become identified with the enforcement of federal immigration law, their relationship will sour with the Latino community, NCLR has argued on its Web site.

"We have grave concerns that are shared by local law enforcement across the country," Lisa Navarrete, an NCLR spokeswoman said.

"The involvement of state and local officials with immigration law takes away from their primary job, which is to ensure public safety. We believe it [the Clear Act] compromises public safety because the police are being asked to do something they are not trained to do," she said.

The Clear Act has the advantage of "attacking the lowest hanging fruit" in the form of criminal aliens, Steve Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), told Cybercast News Service in an interview.

Although House Democratic leadership is inclined to sidestep the issue for now, some of the more conservative Democratic members have expressed support, Camarota observed. For this reason alone the Clear Act is likely to resurface in the not too distant future, even if it does not get a fair hearing in the current congressional session, he added.

       

A modern-day Paul Revere

Posted: May 24, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

The compromise immigration bill brokered by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl that would grant amnesty to millions of people now living in our country illegally has left most Americans feeling powerless. However, there is one bright light in the blackness presently covering the immigration abyss.

For those of you who think there are no longer any patriots among American office holders, I offer Daryl Metcalfe, a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, as Exhibit 1.

What does a lowly state representative from Butler County have to do with you? He is a modern-day Paul Revere and just may be the last great hope for those of us who want our borders secured and our immigration laws enforced.

Instead of a borrowed horse, Metcalfe and his small but dedicated staff ride the phone lines and the Internet into the night in the effort to warn state representatives in all 50 states of the impending danger and urge them to join the effort to protect the American people against this foreign invasion that is undermining our national security and draining our resources. The legislators who have joined him have pledged to get the job done at the state and local level by cutting off all economic incentives to these invaders. Presently, lawmakers from 25 state legislatures have signed on as pioneer members of State Legislators for Legal Immigration

It's not only a time-consuming task, but there is absolutely no economic incentive for Metcalfe. Imagine that! Metcalfe is an Army veteran who spent two years defending the border between East and West Germany during the Cold War, and he is appalled that the federal government will not defend our borders against invaders armed with little more than the clothes on their backs. To say we cannot defend our borders is disingenuous at the very least.

Through the efforts of Rep. Metcalfe and others, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed a joint concurrent resolution calling on President George W. Bush and the United States Congress to secure our borders and protect American citizens from the dangers of unlawful invasion and illegal immigration. Late last year, it was sent to members of the Pennsylvania delegation in Washington and to the White House. What was the result? It was completely ignored!

Metcalfe and his legislative colleagues then redoubled their efforts. In March, they introduced the National Security Begins at Home package, which contains five new bills designed to shut off employment access and other economic faucets that have been luring illegal aliens to their state.

While the president and members of Congress missed the message voters were trying to send in the 2006 election, state legislators got that message loud and clear. In 2007, 1,169 illegal-immigration reform bills and resolutions have been introduced in the 50 states, more than double the number for all of last year. Fifty-seven of those reform measures already have been enacted.

Metcalfe's counterpart in the Arizona Legislature is Rep. Russell Pearce, a charter member of State Legislators for Legal Immigration. The actions of Sen. Kyl left him perplexed and caused dozens of Republicans in his state to change their party affiliation in disgust.

Ironically, any meaningful reform legislation Pearce could get through his state legislature would be vetoed by Democrat Gov. Janet Napolitano. Therefore, he has worked tirelessly to get a series of reform measures on the ballot, which have been overwhelmingly approved by voters. More are in progress.

Kyl was re-elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 as a staunch conservative and a strong advocate for border security and true immigration reform. During that campaign, Kyl was asked for his definition of amnesty. It was this: "Any bill that allows those who enter this country illegally to remain in the U.S." The bill Kyl just brokered would do just that.

Want to know why Kyl and his comrades have named their new visa for illegals the "Z" visa? "It's as far away from the 'A' word as they can get," Pearce quipped. "I call it 'zamnesty.'"

It's no secret why the president went after Kyl to broker a compromise, but why did Kyl acquiesce? Was he promised a Supreme Court nomination should another vacancy occur? What about the attorney general's post? We will have to wait and see.

Yes, there are many things that can turn the heads of powerful U.S. senators but state representatives are much closer to voters and much more likely to feel your pain. State Legislator for Legal Immigration has identified the problems and offered real solutions. It represents a 21st century Declaration of Independence. Go to statelegislatorsforlegalimmigration.com to see if your state legislators have signed on.


Lawmakers' proposal takes aim at illegal immigrants

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

By Tracie Mauriello, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


HARRISBURG - Take away jobs and public assistance and illegal immigrants will go back where they came from.  That's what four House members are hoping as they introduce a package of bills aimed at protecting Pennsylvania from what they called "an illegal immigrant invasion."

Illegal immigrants sap public resources, disrespect laws, drain tax dollars and engage in violent crime, said the foursome led by state Rep. Darryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry.

Mr. Metcalfe and Reps. Mark Mustio, R-Moon; Tom Creighton, R-Lancaster County and Scott Perry, R-York County, explained their bills during a press conference today.

The bills would:

  • Require employers to verify Social Security numbers of job applicants or risk losing business licenses or permits.

  • Call for an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice authorizing state police to enforce federal immigration and customs laws.

  • Require law enforcement officers to report citizenship status of people they arrest.

  • Revoke professional licenses of nursing home administrators, landscape architects and others who knowingly employ illegal immigrants.

  • Eliminate public benefits for illegal aliens, except in medical emergencies.


Representative Daryl Metcalfe Presents House Resolution Honoring President Reagan to President's son, Michael Reagan

 

Representative Daryl Metcalfe presents Michael Reagan with an official copy of the PA House Resolution declaring February 6, 2007 as Ronald Reagan Day in Pennsylvania.  The presentation was made during the first annual Center for Vision and Values Ronald Reagan Lecture Series at Grove City College.

For five consecutive years, Representative Daryl Metcalfe has passed his resolution honoring America's 40th President, and promoting Ronald Reagan's legacy of liberty and freedom.


GOP rips Rendell's tax plan


Budget proposal raises sales tax, adds levies
February 8, 2007

 

Butler County Republicans have ripped Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed budget that calls for a boost in the state sales tax and adds new levies on tobacco and oil companies.


These GOP legislators vowed to fight the governor's $27.3 billion spending plan.  "The governor has once again proposed increased spending and increased debt that would result in higher taxes," said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th.

 

...Rendell is seeking a new gross-profits tax of more than 6 percent on oil companies' windfall profits. The new revenue would help finance struggling mass transit agencies across Pennsylvania.  "This is an old tactic to drum up support by going after businesses that happen to show a profit," Metcalfe said. "But nobody believes that the tax won't be passed on to the consumer at the gas pump."

 

....Metcalfe said the Republican caucus in the House is unified in its opposition to Rendell's budget.  "The only good thing about the governor's proposal is that it's only a proposal," he said, "and not a budget until the General Assembly says it's a budget."


Republicans find Rendell's budget too taxing

Governor's plan would increase sales, tobacco and business levies

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

,,,,Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, called the plan "the same old story from Gov. Rendell, higher taxes and higher spending." He said the oil company profits tax "is another shell game by the governor. Taxpayers will ultimately bear the costs in higher gasoline prices at the pump."...


Pension Reforms Pushed

 

January 23, 2007

….State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, (stated that) pension limits have to be put on new state workers. He is concerned with the increasing number of workers who have qualified for expanded benefits in the past five years.


"We have piecemeal legislation allowing new groups into this expansion … we can't continue in this direction," he said.  He wants any expansion of benefits to be frozen.
 
He said the pension increase was originally an attempt to even out the difference in pension plans between judges and legislators.  “At the time many of legislators were wanting to catch up with the courts," said Metcalfe.

 
He said judges in the state qualify for 4 percent of their salary per year of service.
"So a judge who works for 25 years would have a 100 percent (of their salary) pension," said Metcalfe.


He said it would have been better to bring the courts pensions down to the legislature levels, but pensions cannot be reduced once promised.

 
Metcalfe said what is needed are sweeping changes to the government's retirement system, and he suggested something more in line with what the private sector provides.


But such reform would be a mammoth undertaking, he said. After all, it would affect state, school, county and municipal workers.

 
"Hopefully, this pending potential for financial disaster will be enough to wake up some of my colleagues (in the Legislature). The message is there: If you don't address these problems there could be a real disaster," said Metcalfe.

 


GOING PRIVATE

Rendell weighs selling the turnpike, but should the state hand over infrastructure?
Monday, December 18, 2006
BY CHARLES THOMPSON
Of The Patriot-News

 

...The leader of privatization efforts nationally is Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who made headlines last summer for completing a $3.8 billion lease deal with a European-Australian partnership for the Indiana Toll Road.

 

Other opponents are concerned that most of the highway lease deals in North America have been led by overseas consortiums, as was the Indiana deal.

 

"I don't think it's wise to let foreign-based firms have operational control over any type of public infrastructure like this," said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler. Metcalfe said he'd be more likely to support a privatization deal if it had American investors.


November 19, 2006

Transit report, tax hike blasted

A state transportation report released last week recommends tax increases to improve the state's deteriorating roads, bridges and mass-transit systems, but it is not popular with officials in Butler County.......
 

"I will be opposing any tax increase," said state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th. "There's plenty of money in the general fund budget. Pennsylvania state government taxes us at an excessive rate already. The key to dealing with infrastructure costs is for our state government to set proper priorities. That's what every family has to do."
 

Metcalfe complained the state spends too much on "museums, parties, grants, pork barrel type projects" plus professional sports stadiums for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
 

"People in Butler County shouldn't have to pay for other peoples' mass transit," he said.
Metcalfe said raising taxes is counter productive.
 

"It will continue to drive young people and jobs out of Pennsylvania," he said. "The only way we're going to restore Pennsylvania's economy is reduce the tax rates."

 

"I think it's very telling this report was released a week after the election," Metcalfe said.




Daryl Metcalfe and Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta Address Immigration Reform Rally

On October 11th, State Representative Daryl Metcalfe and Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta addressed an Immigration Reform Rally at the Greentree Radisson Hotel near Pittsburgh.

State Representative Metcalfe is leading the fight against the illegal Immigration problem and has proposed a viable set of solutions  These include solutions to secure our border and turn off the "economic faucets" so that current illegal aliens  will leave on their own.

This last summer, State Representative Metcalfe spearheaded House Republican Committee meetings on Illegal Immigration. 


Gun License for Domestic Violence Victims 'Dangerous,' Group Says
By Kate Monaghan
CNSNews.com Correspondent
October 06, 2006

(CNSNews.com) - Legislation pending in Pennsylvania seeks to provide victims of domestic violence with a temporary emergency license to carry a firearm "to make sure that they're able to defend themselves," according to State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, sponsor of the bill.

However, a spokeswoman for a state domestic violence coalition called the measure "dangerous, absolutely dangerous."

Metcalfe (R-Butler) told Cybercast News Service that not only would this measure aid domestic violence victims in protecting themselves, but overall, it would decrease violence.

"Giving that person [the victim] the ability to protect themselves is going to ultimately be a great help to preventing violence," he said.

"Under House Bill 2946, any individual who can demonstrate evidence of imminent danger to themselves or a member of their family would be entitled to a temporary emergency license to carry a firearm after passing a computerized background check of criminal history, juvenile delinquency and mental health records," Metcalfe noted.

"The temporary license would be good for 90 days to allow sufficient time to apply for a regular license to carry a firearm and undergo the potential 45-day waiting period under current state law," Metcalfe's office said in a press release.

According to Metcalfe, this legislation would also protect witnesses to crimes.

"[For] the emergency carry permit, I think the majority of people applying for it would be people that would be applying for it because they have sought out protection from abuse or that they potentially may be a witness to a crime in which the criminal is out on bail making threats against that potential witness," said Metcalfe.

"My legislation is based on one very simple concept: Lives are saved when law-abiding citizens are provided with every means necessary to defend themselves against violent criminals," Metcalfe added.

Read more at: 
http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=/Nation/archive/200610/NAT20061006a.html


A judicial rolling

Sunday, October 1, 2006

 

The July 2005 judicial pay raise upheld by the state Supreme Court -- while the justices struck down the pay-jacking for lawmakers and top state officials -- contains a money bomb.

If it explodes, state judges will be showered with another flurry of dollars. They'd get a second raise, tied to a proposed salary bump for federal judges.

Under the pay-jacking law, the salaries of Common Pleas Court judges first increased from $135,293 to $149,132. The second raise would take them to $173,738. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ralph Cappy's salary would skyrocket to $206,000.

Lawmakers are lining up behind state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, to right this wrong.

Mr. Metcalfe would roll back judicial salaries to pre-July 2005 levels each time a seat is filled by a new judge or a judge wins re-election or retention. The high court ruled that once increased, a judge's salary may not be reduced during his term of office.

But Metcalfe's measure should not be necessary. Not only was the pay-jacking unconstitutional, setting the salaries of state officeholders is a duty of the Legislature. It does not have the constitutional authority to strip itself of that obligation by tying pay to federal scales.

Were fealty to the law the standard, the Supreme Court's record would earn it a pay cut.


Firearms owners go on the offensive

By Michael Vitez

Wed, Sep. 27, 2006

Inquirer Staff Writer

The gun owners fired back yesterday.

About 300 of them from around Pennsylvania roamed the Capitol encouraging legislators to oppose any new laws limiting the right to own and bear arms.

They were steadfast: crime is Philadelphia's problem, caused by Philadelphians, and any new laws to restrict the sale of guns won't solve it.

The only solution, they said, is to crack down on criminals, enforce existing laws, and end what one gun supporter called "Philadelphia's catch and release program."

.......Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler) issued a statement opposing some of the main proposals being considered by the House Committee of the Whole, including limiting gun sales to one a month, and a ban on semiautomatic firearms. Metcalfe said guns were not the problem.

"This cultural problem is the breakdown of the family and the subsequent absence of positive parental influences and supervision in children's lives," he said. "... Absent fathers, financial hardship and lack of meaningful parental influence and availability in children's lives are a disastrous formula for social unrest and violence." .........

 


Judge pay irks state lawmakers

By Debra Erdley and Brad Bumsted
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Pennsylvania lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are moving to blunt the impact of a recent state Supreme Court pay raise ruling amid mounting speculation that state judges could claim two big pay raises this year.

 

The Supreme Court on Sept. 14 reinstated 11 to 15 percent raises for about 1,100 judges, saying the legislature had no authority to repeal the increases given sitting judges. The ruling also left open the possibility that state judges could get a second raise, because the legislation called for linking state judges' salaries to those in the federal court system, where a 16.5 percent pay raise is pending.

 

The state pay increase law takes the salary of a Common Pleas court judge from $135,293 to $149,132. If the federal raise is added on top of that, the salary for that judge would go to $173,738 -- a $38,445 jump. The salary of Ralph Cappy, the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, would go to about $206,000.

 

Lawmakers, who buckled to public outcry last November when they repealed their own raises as well as the judges', were irate.


On Monday, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, introduced a bill to reduce judicial pay to July 2005 levels -- the $135,293 level for common pleas judges -- every time a judge begins a new term. Nine Democrats were among Metcalfe's 32 initial cosponsors. Republican and Democratic senators also are supporting the bill.

 

"If this congressional pay raise (for federal judges) goes through and determines compensation of our judges, they will be the highest (paid) in the nation," said Matthew Brouilette, of the Commonwealth Foundation.

 

Cappy initially sought to link state judicial pay to federal scales, arguing that would eliminate politics.

 

Now, the Sept. 14 Supreme Court decision, from which Cappy abstained, has thrust the issue back into the political arena.

 

"Inflating their own wallets at the expense of the Pennsylvania taxpayers and the integrity of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which they have sworn an oath to uphold and defend, is nothing short of tyranny," Metcalfe said............

 


Lawmaker tries new tack to roll back judge raises

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

By Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG -- State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, isn't giving up the fight to cancel pay raises for judges.

Despite a state Supreme Court ruling last week reinstating the raises for 1,045 state judges, Mr. Metcalfe said today he is seeking co-sponsors for a new bill aimed at repealing the judges' raises, although he admits it will take up to 10 years to do it.

He said his bill would return the salary of each member of the judicial branch to the level it was at on July 1, 2005 -- before Act 44, the pay raise, was enacted on July 7, 2005.

Judges would keep their current higher salaries, as permitted by last week's court decision. However, once a judge was re-elected or retained in a 10-year retention election, that judge's salary would revert to where it was on July 1, 2005.

Mr. Metcalfe said the Legislature isn't allowed to reduce a judge's salary in mid-term, but he contended his new bill doesn't do that.

For example, he said, Supreme Court Justice Thomas Saylor faces a retention election in November 2007. If he wins, his salary would revert to what is was on July 1, 2005, prior to the pay-raise bill being approved.

The pay-raise bill covered all three branches of government, legislators, judges and some members of the executive branch. The raises for all three branches were canceled in November 2005. The Supreme Court last week restored raises for only the judges.

It isn't known yet if the Legislature would vote on Mr. Metcalfe's bill before it adjourns Nov. 30.

 




September 15, 2006

State Supreme Court restores judicial raises


Ruling angers some legislators


HARRISBURG — ..... State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th, said the court's decision is unconstitutional. His immediate reaction to the news was "outrage."


"We as legislators are allowed to reduce the salaries of judges if it's a broad-based reduction," Metcalfe said. "This was across-the-board. I voted against the original pay raise and led the repeal effort.


"What the judges have done here is a violation of the constitution."


He said the court's decision was a "clear example of a lack of integrity of the courts where they believe they're above and beyond the reach of the people."



Friday, September 8, 2006

 

   

 

Representative Metcalfe Takes Lead In Fighting Illegal

 Immigration in Comcast Network Debate

 

On September 6, State Representative Metcalfe soundly defeated those advocating on behalf of illegal immigrants on the live call in program "It's Your Call" on Comcast's CN8 network.  The program, with a viewing area that reaches from Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and continuing through Maine, was marked with lively debate and a "live" online viewer poll.

 

Urging that the U.S. secure its borders and turn off the economic faucets that benefit illegal immigrants, Representative Metcalfe presented a plan to solve this huge economic and security threat to our country.  While other debate panelists opposed state and local efforts to curb the flow of illegal immigrants, Representative Metcalfe urged that state and local communities do take steps to address this problem. 

 

The "live" online poll taken during the program overwhelmingly showed that the viewing audience agreed with Representative Metcalfe.

        

State Representative Metcalfe stated that the federal and state government has been AWOL in the fight to enforce our immigration laws.  He also slammed Senator Arlen Specter and Senate candidate Bob Casey for supporting an amnesty program for those already here illegally.

 

State Representative Metcalfe has introduced a series of bills in the PA House to address these issues.

 

 

 



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