In this update:
Senate advances regulatory reform to provide greater oversight, more transparency
In too many cases, legislators defer their responsibility to agencies, commissions and departments, and forget that we have a responsibility to ensure legislative intent is honored in the regulatory process. So many times, we see that the regulations that get promulgated do not match the legislative intent, and then it is too late to reverse course.
This week, the Senate passed legislation I supported to give lawmakers more opportunities to review proposed regulations before they go into effect. This will provide another check and balance in state government to ensure that excessive regulations are not added that inevitably burden taxpayers.
In current practice, state agencies could submit proposed regulations at a time when the General Assembly is in recess, preventing lawmakers from undertaking a comprehensive review and scheduling hearings to air concerns about how those regulations could affect Pennsylvania families and businesses.
Former U.S. Women’s National Team member Heather Mitts lobbies for Victoria’s Law
It was great to see Pennsylvania native, U.S. Olympian and U.S. Women’s National Team defender Heather Mitts in the Capitol this week to advocate for Victoria’s Law.
Victoria’s Law would end unscrupulous puppy mills in Pennsylvania and I am proud to cosponsor this much-needed legislation. You can read more about this legislation here.
Below, I am pictured with Heather and Senator Bob Mensch (R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery).
Statewide scholarship competition for students in grade 6-12
The Senate of Pennsylvania is partnering with Rutter’s to offer a statewide video competition open for students in grade 6-12. The winners of the competition, which entails submitting a video about the importance of agriculture to Pennsylvania’s economy and future, will receive a scholarship up to $2,500.
Protecting health care professionals in the workplace
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved legislation I sponsored that will better protect the hard working men and women in our healthcare sector in Pennsylvania.
Senate Bill 842 will allow the last name of health care professionals to be omitted from employee identification badges in order to prevent stalking and assaults, both in and out of the workplace.
Learn more about this important legislation here.
Public hearing on lobbying disclosure
The House Government Oversight Committee conducted its first public hearing on Monday morning. The committee, chaired by Representative Seth Grove (R-York), reviewed testimony and asked questions over its investigation into the state’s lobbying disclosure law, Act 2 of 2018.
As the acting chair of the Senate State Government Committee, I felt it was important to attend this hearing on important ethics reforms I hear about from local residents.
You can watch the public hearing in its entirety below.
Evaluating a possible Article V convention of states to make changes to our government
The Senate State Government Committee, of which I am serving as acting chair, held a joint public hearing with the House State Government Committee on a concurrent resolution calling for a Convention of States.
I am the sponsor of this legislation in the Senate.
This resolution is also known as a Convention for Proposing Amendments, under Article V of the United States Constitution. The purpose of this convention will be to propose amendments to the United States Constitution, limited to consideration of the following possible topics: imposition of fiscal restraints on the Federal Government, limitations on its power and jurisdiction, and limitations of the terms of office for Congress and federal officials. Any amendment proposals adopted at this convention would then be sent to the states for ratification as set forth in Article V. Three-quarters of all state legislatures (38) must ratify any amendment for it to become law.
You can read more about this effort here.
You can watch the hearing in its entirety below. Learn more about the hearing here.
Meeting with Monte and Kathryn Jones of York Township
Prior to the Senate convening on Tuesday, I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss several key state-related issues with Monte and Kathryn Jones of York Township. They were in Harrisburg on a tour of the state Capitol and met with me afterwards. Our office can help arrange a tour of the Capitol if you or your family are interested in seeing the most beautiful state Capitol in the country (I am a bit biased).
Contact our office to set up a tour here. If you have family visiting from out-of-town over the upcoming holidays, feel free to set up a tour with our office!
We had a great discussion on school property tax elimination, the state lottery, recreational and medical marijuana and other issues. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me!
Senate approves repurposing Lieutenant Governor’s Residence to benefit veterans
One of my first actions as the acting chair of the Senate State Government Committee was to call up Senate Bill 750, legislation that would repurpose the use of Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor’s residence.
Below is a picture from that committee meeting where we advanced this good-government reform.
Currently, the state (and taxpayers) maintain a three-story, 2,400-square-foot property that includes an in-ground swimming pool and five-car garage as the traditional residence of the Lieutenant Governor while he or she is in office.
Our current Lt. Governor, John Fetterman, does not reside at the property and instead rents a property in Harrisburg.
The residence is located at Ft. Indiantown Gap, where our state’s National Guard is located, just north of Harrisburg. It has been the home for the Lt. Governor since the 1970s. Under Senate Bill 750, the state would enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to support programming for veterans and survivors’ families.
Read more about this reform here.
A word on the feedback I have received on recreational marijuana
Thank you to those of you who have contacted me about your position on recreational marijuana. I have had several back-and-forth emails and conversations with several residents of the 28th District on this issue. Many individuals appreciated the survey. Others are questioned its validity. I understand – I choose to be transparent with the feedback my office receives, without personally identifying anyone or their position with the public so you can feel confident in expressing your position to me on any issue.
After speaking with the York Dispatch recently on the issue, I decided to further clarify the importance of feedback from local residents and how much I appreciate that dialogue. I submitted the following letter to the editor for them to publish. I hope you will take a few minutes to read it to know how much I value your feedback on any issue before your state government.
Below is what I sent to the York Dispatch:
I recently spoke with the York Dispatch about feedback I received and then publicly shared on the legalization of recreational marijuana after the Governor and Lieutenant Governor indicated their support of this initiative.
Given the divisive nature of this topic and the passion on both sides of the issue, I feel it is important to be as transparent as possible about how the results were compiled.
Of the 679 survey respondents from the 28th Senatorial District, 238 (35 percent) supported the legalization of recreational marijuana, 421 (62 percent) opposed and 20 (3 percent) undecided. I also had 496 constituents who wrote to me, emailed me, filled out a web contact form, stopped by our offices or sent me a fax indicating support or opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana.
If you or any of our neighbors did not weigh in on this (or any state-related issue), please feel free to let me know.
Although these results are based on self-selecting respondents, the results mirror a recent Susquehanna Polling and Research poll on the issue, which found that only 37 percent of Pennsylvania voters statewide favor the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
The survey I conducted was not scientific nor did I solicit the services of a polling firm that would cost taxpayer resources. I reached out through various social media platforms as well as advertised it in my weekly email update that goes out to thousands of local residents. In fact, most political polls only rely on landline feedback. While scientific, it limits who can respond. Office visits, emails, phone calls and faxes are all ways you can inform me of your position.
If you oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana, you are likely thrilled with the results. If you support the legalization of recreational marijuana, you are likely disappointed.
In fact, when I pushed out the web-based survey on my Facebook page, it was shared over 75 times from groups like “ExHemplary Life” out of western Pennsylvania, “Pittsburgh Norml,” the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and other entities with strong followings on both sides of the issue. While I appreciate the enthusiasm, I want to hear from our neighbors in the 28th District, which is why knowing where you reside is important.
Instead, individuals from Philadelphia and other parts of the state were upset with the results. I encouraged them to contact their local legislators to conduct their own local survey. I even had someone from Pittsburgh tell me to follow the marching orders of Governor Wolf.
At the end of the day, the only marching orders I will follow are those of individuals who reside in the 28th Senatorial District. We are a diverse district with a lot of our own unique viewpoints, many of which I try to embody as the senator for more than a quarter million residents.
I take great pride in listening to your positions, sharing my thoughts and most importantly, gaining your perspective on why you support or oppose an issue.
These surveys are another way I try to engage you on important issues affecting your state government. While some are upset about the results, please know my finger is not on a scale; I want to be transparent. It would be easier to not conduct any surveys and keep responses internally for my vote, should the issue come before the Senate.
But these surveys are extremely beneficial. Earlier this year, I conducted a similar survey on whether or not Sunday hunting should be allowed in Pennsylvania. The results I received were nearly split, which led me to support a compromise that reflected your feedback – a limited number of days Sunday hunting would be allowed in Pennsylvania. That bill passed the Senate with my support. I explained my vote to everyone who contacted me and the response I received was very positive from both sides of the issue.
Our office door is always open. In fact, next month, I look forward to hosting Senate office hours throughout the county for our office to better reach you and our neighbors.
A responsive government is critical. I will always value everyone’s opinion. And while you may agree or disagree with the results or my vote on a specific bill, I hope we can continue our conversation on issues important to you.
Soon, I will be requesting feedback on where you stand on the various school property tax elimination and reform plans before the General Assembly – a key issue for many local residents.
If you want to let me know where you stand on any issue – not just on recreational marijuana or school property taxes – you can always contact me online at www.SenatorKristin.com, email me at SenatorKristin@pasen.gov, or visit our local office at 6872 Susquehanna Trail South in Springfield Township.
Celebrating grand opening of CommunityAid in York