November 7, 2017 General Election put Republicans on notice as Trumps coattails brought Dems into local offices in Chester County. Watch for voting changes because of it.
Dec 22, 2017
Groups put pressure on Wolf to halt Mariner East 2 construction
HARRISBURG >> Six community members and two elected officials met face-to-face with Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday as they ratcheted up the pressure to halt construction of the Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline until a new safety assessment can be performed on the controversial project.
The residents from Delaware and Chester counties asked the governor to use his executive authority under Title 35 to immediately halt pipeline construction and operations, and to assess the risk the project poses to the safety of communities along the route.
“The residents, all members of the bicounty, bipartisan coalition Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, additionally demanded that the commonwealth mitigate that risk to vulnerable populations impacted by the hazardous, highly volatile liquid export pipeline,” reads a coalition release.
State Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, and Carolyn Comitta, D-156 of West Chester, joined the residents.
The governor was presented with letters from a bipartisan group of elected officials. Urging action were U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7 of Chadds Ford, state Sens. Andrew Dinniman, D-19, and John Rafferty, R-44, and state Reps. Becky Corbin, R-155, Duane Milne, R-167, and Comitta.
“During the meeting, residents repeatedly stressed the urgent need to address the threat to densely populated communities, and once again handed Gov. Wolf a petition containing over 6,000 signatures asking him to protect the safety of schools,” reads the release.
J.J. Abbott, Wolf’s press secretary, released the following statement Thursday afternoon: “Gov. Wolf has met with elected officials from this area and wanted to also hear from residents. He appreciated the meeting. As we have said previously, any safety assessment would have to be conducted by the PUC and Gov. Wolf would support such an assessment being done. As the PUC is the relevant authority with safety oversight over this project, if they were to perform this evaluation we would coordinate with them on how to proceed to safely and adequately assess safety concerns with this project.”
The now-under-construction Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline will carry highly volatile liquids and snake 350 miles across from Marcellus Shale deposits in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to the former Sunoco Refinery in Marcus Hook, Delaware County.
Jeff Shields, Sunoco Pipeline communications manager, again repeated the company’s stance that construction is being done to the highest safety standards of the industry.
“We understand there are varying opinions on infrastructure projects such as ours, however, pipelines are the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport the oil and gas products we use every day,” Shields said. “The mainline construction of ME2 is approximately 91 percent complete and our HDDs (Horizontal Directional Drilling) are approximately 62 percent complete. We look forward to completing our project in a timely manner. The safety of all pipelines is built into the strict federal regulations for the construction, operation and maintenance of transmission pipelines. Those include not just the Mariner East 2 system but the many natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines that have operated safely for decades throughout the commonwealth. It is well documented that we exceed those federal safety regulations in many areas, including pipe thickness, depth, weld testing and pipeline inspection.”
The company picked up a legal victory Thursday when the state Public Utility Commission lifted an injunction against that had halted construction in West Goshen Township.
Work had been stalled since July in a dispute between the township and company over the installation and location of a valve station.
Bibianna Dussling is a Middletown resident and co-president of the Middletown Coalition for Community Safety.
“We’ve seen a rapidly growing bipartisan consensus to halt the construction and properly assess the risk of the Mariner East project,” Dussling said. “We hope the governor will take these concerns seriously and take immediate action to protect our safety.”
Caroline Hughes of East Goshen also attended the meeting.
“We expect the governor to take swift action, to use his authority to protect us, as mandated by his oath and his office,” Hughes said as leader of Goshen United for Public Safety. “Citizens are prepared to escalate our voices and demand representative action.
“We’re getting the attention of people in office that have an ability to make a change and we’re taking every opportunity to communicate the urgency of the situation.”
Comitta called on the governor to halt construction.
“I have been talking and meeting with constituents, state agency heads, township officials and Sunoco representatives regarding the Mariner East 2 project since I took office,” Comitta said. “Unfortunately, this project has experienced a record number of incidents and that is completely unacceptable.
“It’s past time to assess the safety risks so that our first responders and residents have the information they need to be safe, and it’s regrettable that this wasn’t done prior to the start of the project.”
Rebecca Britton of the Uwchlan Safety Coalition said Wolf seemed eager to learn about the group’s presentation.
She talked about Wolf’s role, and the need for him to halt construction under Title 35.
“The governor has the ability and primary responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Pennsylvania,,” Britton said.
Melissa DiBernardino said she will pull her kids form SS. Peter and Paul Elementary School if the new pipeline goes through. The planned pipeline runs less than 100 feet from several schools and a senior care center.
“While Gov. Wolf wouldn’t give an answer today, he assures us we’ll get one soon,” she said. ”I hope he sees the urgency in this. Every day he lets this continue, my children are at risk while Mariner 1 runs. Our children (and people of all ages) need a hero right now. Let’s hope he comes through within two weeks.” Source
Dec 12, 2017
Pa. lawmakers send Wolf abortion restrictions he plans to veto
Pennsylvania’s House on Tuesday voted after an impassioned debate to send a bill limiting abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy to Gov. Tom Wolf, who immediately repeated his threat to veto it.
The Republican-controlled House voted 121-70 for the legislation that would alter the existing 24-week limit.
The measure would keep in place exceptions under current law for when a mother’s life is at risk, or if she could suffer a serious, permanent injury without an abortion. It does not allow exceptions for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities.
Supporters said medical advances mean premature fetuses are now able to survive at an earlier point in the pregnancy than previously possible.
The strong feelings and stark language that characterizes the abortion discussion on the national level were reflected in the House debate.
“As people try to frame this debate in terms of women’s rights, the question that begs to be asked is, what about the rights of those preborn women in the womb being exterminated?” said Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-York.
Opponents argued that parents should be allowed to make their own abortion decisions with medical input and by consulting their sources of spiritual advice.
“We have to be careful in this body that we don’t put an ideology on everybody and say that everybody has to live like this,” said Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny.
Planned Parenthood said the bill would make Pennsylvania’s abortion law among the nation’s most restrictive.
Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, said a House that is “80 percent men and 0 percent physicians” should not be making decisions for women about terminating their pregnancies. She noted that a tiny fraction of abortions currently occur after 20 weeks.
The bill “does not protect women,” said Rep. Mary Jo Daley, D-Montgomery. “It attempts to control them by imposing the views of some legislators on women, and I think that’s wrong — that’s morally wrong.”
The legislation also would outlaw what the bill terms “dismemberment abortion,” a phrase not used by medical professionals. It would effectively ban dilation-and-evacuation, a procedure that is the most common method of second-trimester abortion.
“Dismemberment abortion is completely inhumane, it’s barbaric,” said Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York.
Some opponents noted that the bill had not received public hearings, while supporters said the issues have been discussed in depth for years.
Wolf, a Democrat, called the bill an assault on the doctor-patient relationship and “cruel” because it lacks exceptions for rape or incest.
“These women deserve our support, not to be maligned by politicians in Harrisburg for making medical decisions about their bodies for their families with their doctors,” Wolf said in a written statement.
The bill passed the Senate in February by a 32-18 vote. The margins in both chambers raise doubts about whether supporters will be able to muster sufficient votes to override Wolf’s promised veto. Source House votes here
Nov 6, 2017
Governor Wolf signs legislature to balance Pa. budget
On Monday, Oct. 30, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed off on several pieces of legislature needed to balance Pennsylvania’s proposed $32 billion budget that was approved on July 1 without a plan to pay for it.
The Republican-controlled legislature has proposed legalizing and expanding online and casino gambling as well as borrowing $1.5 billion against the proceeds of the state’s tobacco companies which Wolf signed despite proposing to borrow $1.25 billion and reimbursing those funds through the revenue from the state’s Liquor Control Board.
The tobacco-funded loan plan is subject to approval by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
Two bills are still in limbo, one of which mandates Wolf to withdraw $300 million out of dedicated funds ranging from transportation to environmental cleanup. Wolf indicated that he may veto the other bill, the education code, for a variety of reasons that he has not stated in detail.
The effort to produce a plan to finance Pennsylvania’s budget has been long overdue and has resulted in a credit downgrade. Wolf stated at a monthly press-club luncheon in Harrisburg on Monday, Oct. 30 that he is “sick and tired of special-interest politicians, self-interest, political games trumping the public interest here in Harrisburg,” according to Philly.com.
Tensions have been rising in the commonwealth as a result of this dilemma as shown through the governor’s comments.
Upon reaching out to Democratic State Representative Carolyn Comitta for comment, she stated that, “the lack of fiscal responsibility demonstrated by the House Republican leadership, especially their choice of balancing the budget by borrowing and adding little recurring revenue, has led to a credit downgrading of PA by Standard & Poors. This downgrade raises the interest rate and makes it more expensive for our state to borrow money–adding millions of dollars in costs to PA taxpayers.”
When asked about the specifics of the plan, she said, “This is not the budget I or my constituents wanted. There is little recurring revenue, lots of borrowing and no severance tax. There are some good things included in this budget including funding for valuable pre-K programs and much needed additional funding for services for people with disabilities.”
Republican State Representative Duane Milne explained this situation “reflects the difficult, political and monetary times we are in.” He then went on, “For this year, all things considered, it’s generally about as fair and reasonable of a budget as one can expect. It’s not perfect, but in my 12 years I’ve never found a perfect bill. It funds the areas that need funding without major tax increases and without reckless borrowing.”
The 2018 elections have been looming over Wolf and other state legislators, many of whom are up for re-election in the coming year. Read more
Rep Milne,Rep Hennessey & Rep Rowe were the only members of the CC Delegation not in attendance.
August 31, 2017
Southern Chester County News
Attorney General visits Kennett to wage war on opioid crisis
KENNETT SQUARE >> Determined to curb an opioid epidemic that is now the leading cause of death for all Americans under age 50, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro came to Kennett Square to discuss the crisis with state lawmakers, municipal officials and law enforcement officers.
“I need to know what’s happening on the ground and how my office can assist in the local efforts,” said Shapiro, who has visited eight counties in the past two days. “We need to have a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to deal with the number one public health threat in Pennsylvania – the heroin and opioid epidemic. And these forums provide a great opportunity.”
The discussion, which coincided with International Overdose Awareness Day, took place at Kennett Fire Company’s Red Clay Room, and included almost the entire Chester County legislative delegation, state Rep. Steve Barrar, state Rep. John Lawrence, state Rep. Harry Lewis, state Rep. Becky Corbin, state Rep. Warren Kampf, and state Rep. Carolyn Comitta. Also in attendance were local police chiefs from throughout Chester County and Chester County Commissioners Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell. Read more
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