October 30, 2018
Muth challenges incumbent Rafferty in 44th Senate District race
Republican John Rafferty Jr. is seeking re-election for a fifth term in the Pennsylvania Senate. He is being challenged by Democratic newcomer Katie Muth to represent the 44th Senate District.
On a few issues, the opponents are in relative agreement, including support for victims of sexual assault and the need for property tax relief. One of the disagreements between the two candidates is on the topic of education funding.
Candidates responded to a question about support for the effort to open a window allowing victims of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church to sue with the following:
“I will never walk away from victims. If elected, I will be right there in January, when the Senate picks up this fight again, demanding that we vote on a bill that gives victims the justice they deserve, and not a sham bill that protects the abusers. Victims of sexual assault absolutely deserve the opportunity to hold the abusers and the church accountable for their actions and lack of oversight,” Muth said in response to the question.
Rafferty said he has and will continue to support victims of sexual assault.
“I have and will continue to support opening a window to allow victims to sue their abusers. Our Constitution does not grant any protections to these abusers or the institutions hiding them,” Rafferty said in his response.
In a questionnaire, both Muth and Rafferty expressed a need for property tax relief.
In response to a question about supporting the abolition of the property tax and how it could be accomplished, Muth suggested two approaches including “taxing wealthy corporations and closing the Delaware loophole, in order to make sure that they pay their fair share,” and “to charge a severance tax on the oil and gas industry.”
Rafferty responded, “By driving dollars from increases in state budget revenue, fair funding formula and monies from having enacted a severance tax.”
Both candidates expressed support for the levying of a severance tax on natural gas drillers in Pennsylvania.
In response to a question about support of the Pennsylvania Fair Funding Formula for Education, Rafferty stated that he supports the formula and that he believes it is being funded adequately.
Muth, however, says she supports the formula, but that it is not being funded adequately.
“I propose that we increase basic education funding through a fair funding formula which would equate to $3.7 billion over a number of years (this is critical since the fair funding formula only applies to money added after 2014-2015- last year we only raised this share by $100 million which equates to only 1.7 percent). We also need to provide resources via the fair funding formula faster to those school districts that have been shortchanged by state funding. I also propose that we raise the state’s share of special education funding to 35 percent, so that all of those students in need of those services get the attention that they are entitled to,” she wrote.
Candidates were also asked about the size of the General Assembly and whether they would support making it smaller.
“Yes, I have voted in favor of reducing the size of the legislature previously and would do so again,” read Rafferty’s response.
“If we are going to pay people to be full-time legislators, then they need to do full-time work,” wrote Muth. “The biggest issue is not the size of the Legislature, but their job performance. We need to hold our legislators to a higher standard and they should be held to the same job performance standards that many of us are held to daily. I support legislation, such as House Bill 2469, which would suspend lawmakers’ salaries if they do not pass the state’s general fund budget by their annual June 30 deadline. Budgets not passed on time cost taxpayers money. I also advocate for state campaign finance reform — Pennsylvania has some of the weakest campaign finance laws in the country — so that our representatives are elected by the people, not special interests and lobbyists.”
Muth, 34, of Royersford, earned her bachelor’s degree in athletic training/sports medicine from Pennsylvania State University and her master’s degree in the same from A.T. Still University.
Muth works as an adjunct professor in the Kinesiology department at a local university and as a health care professional.
Rafferty, 65, of Lower Providence, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, his master’s degree from Beaver College and his law degree from Temple University.
Prior to running for the Pennsylvania Senate, Senator Rafferty served as an attorney in private practice focusing on education, real estate, zoning, business and estate law. As Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth from 1988 to 1991, he was assigned to the Criminal Law Division where his primary duty was investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud.
Pennsylvania’s 44th Senatorial District includes parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.
In Chester County, the 44th District includes Caln Township, East Brandywine, East Coventry, East Nantmeal, East Pikeland, East Vincent, Elverson, Honey Brook, North Coventry, Spring City, South Coventry, Upper Uwchlan, Wallace Township, Uwchlan Township, Warwick, West Brandywine, West Caln, West Nantmeal and West Vincent Township.
In Montgomery County, the district includes Collegeville, Limerick, Lower Pottsgrove, Lower Providence, Royersford, Upper Providence, West Norriton and Worcester.
In Berks County, the 44th District includes Amity, Douglass and Union townships. Source
October 18, 2018
On The Issues: Katie Muth Vs John Rafferty, PA Senate District 44
A side by side, in-depth comparison of the experience, policies, and stances of Katie Muth and John Rafferty
With Election Day just weeks away, we’re breaking down candidates and their policy positions in several key races, including the battle for the 44th District in the Pennsylvania State Senate. Democrat Katie Muth, just 34, is taking on long-tenured Republican incumbent, John C. Rafferty Jr.
The 44th District includes portions of Chester, Montgomery, and Berks counties. Nearby municipalities include: Collegeville, Limerick Township, Lower Pottsgrove Township, Lower Providence Township, Royersford, Upper Providence Township, West Norriton Township, and Worcester Township.
In Berks County, the 44th covers Amity Township, Douglass Township, and Union Township, while in Chester County, it includes Caln Township, East Brandywine Township, East Coventry Township, East Nantmeal Township, East Pikeland Township, East Vincent Township, Elverson, Honey Brook, Honey Brook Township, North Coventry Township, Spring City, South Coventry Township, Upper Uwchlan Township, Uwchlan Township, Wallace Township, Warwick Township, West Brandywine Township, West Caln Township, West Nantmeal Township, and West Vincent Township.
AGE AND HOMETOWN
Rafferty: 65, Lower Providence
Muth: 34, Royersford
Rafferty: Rafferty has held his position as state senator in the 44th since 2002. He’s currently the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and eighth longest-serving member of the senate. He previously served on the Methacton School Board, the Lower Providence Township Board of Supervisors, and as the Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania. In 2016 he ran for Attorney General but was defeated by Democrat Josh Shapiro, 51.3 percent to 48.6 percent.
Muth: Muth is an adjunct professor of kinesiology at Eastern University, where she also serves as an athletic trainer. She has previously worked in a similar capacity for Arizona State University and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
ON MARINER EAST 2 AND FRACKING
Rafferty: “Many landowners and communities have experienced the negative aspects associated with poorly-managed pipeline construction, including sinkholes and spoiled wells. These recurring incidents demonstrate a clear need for exploring legislative measures that will improve management, increase safety and advance oversight of pipeline construction and operations. Knowing that more of these major pipelines may be built, and the issues we have with the Sunoco Pipeline, it is crucial that we form a value-adding commission to ensure the residents of this Commonwealth have a right to safe communities and benefit from regulations and laws that enhance their safety and protect the environment.” (source: Rafferty’s website)
Rafferty sponsored Senate Bill 1199 earlier this year to create a “property owner’s bill of rights” not to be infringed in cases of eminent domain, such as Mariner East 2.
“In too many cases, the company (Sunoco) has demonstrated a total disregard for the rights of homeowners. It is critical for lawmakers to do our part to ensure these landowners can use every option at their disposal to have these problems addressed.” (source: Rafferty website)
Muth: “John Raffery gets $90,000 from oil and gas companies. They get a free pass on the Mariner East 2 pipeline and fracking…We all have the right to clean air, pure water and a healthy environment. I have taken the ‘No Fossil Fuel Money’ pledge because I believe that it’s time that our elected officials stand up for the safety and health of their constituents, not the oil and gas industry.” (source: campaign video)
ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Rafferty: Voted “yes” on bill to authorize use of medical marijuana in 2014. (VoteSmart.org)
“I voted yes on medical marijuana, and only medical marijuana and not the other recreational forms of marijuana. I believe marijuana is a gateway drug. And as attorney general, I, months ago, outlined my task force on the heroin problem here in the commonwealth and it certainly will apply to cocaine, crack cocaine and meth. Now, heroin we see over the years all the different uses of that drug. But this would be prong No. 1 — education. I’ve had round table discussions where we start talking about going into high schools and junior high schools, and the teachers say you really have to start in elementary school. You have got to start educating these kids in third and fourth grade about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. So we’re now revamping the program to start an education aspect in elementary school and all the way through. Prosecution-wise, we’ll partner with the DAs — which hasn’t been done in years in Pennsylvania — and have state troopers working very closely with the attorney general’s office to utilize all of our resources to go after these peddlers of poison.” (source: Brown and White)
Muth: “Legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use would provide a much needed revenue boost for the state which struggles to pass a budget on time each year. This would also provide a medical alternative to patients suffering from terminal illness and other conditions that medical marijuana has been proven to help. This would be a highly regulated product treated similar to alcohol here in PA. The laws should not change: stiff penalties for driving under the influence, selling to minors and disorderly conduct.” (Muth campaign)
ON THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC IN PENNSYLVANIA
Rafferty: Proposed a three-pronged approach as a candidate for PA Attorney General in 2016 (RaffertyForAG):
- A Heroin Strike Force comprised of highly training Bureau of Narcotics Investigation agents, drug prosecutors and intelligence analysts who would work together to target mid-to-upper-level drug dealers. The task force would work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to identify out-of-state sources and coordinate efforts to investigate, prosecute and jail heroin traffickers.”
- Enhanced training for police agencies and better coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors at all levels of government for improved intelligence collection, interdiction and prosecution of cases.
- A heavy emphasis on treatment for individuals addicted to heroin, a public education campaign to increase awareness and education programs in schools to teach young people how deadly heroin can be.
Muth: “While PA has made strides in the monitoring and reporting of opioid prescriptions, we need to do more in partnering with physicians, dentists and medical societies to develop guidelines for all patients with pain. Katie also will fight for adequate funding for accessible, effective treatment centers and guaranteed access regardless of individual circumstances.” (Muth campaign)
ON SCHOOL SAFETY
Rafferty: (During Attorney General campaign): “John Rafferty will employ a School Safety Task Force in the Office of Attorney General who will advise staff on draft plans, coordinate and train local authorities, school administrators, teachers, parents and students on what to do in the case of a natural disaster, violent event or terrorist situation. Having a well-defined plan saves lives. Additionally, the Office of Attorney General will be a leader in helping authorities, administrators, parents, teachers and fellow students in recognizing when a child is showing signs of having a serious issue that could lead to someone harming another person or themselves.” (RaffertyForAG)
Muth: “Katie does not support guns in schools. She believes that a school resource officer that is armed is acceptable, as well as advocating for increased funding for guidance counselors and mental health counseling within the schools. Katie believes that we need more funding for mental health counseling, including within schools, and affordable health care that makes it more accessible. Unfortunately, mental health services are usually one of the first programs cut out of the PA budget and Katie understands that these are public resources that are greatly needed across our state.”
Rafferty: “Finding a way to significantly reduce or eliminate this (school property tax) burden on homeowners remains a top priority for me, but lawmakers have run into difficulties in finding a way to replace this lost revenue and fund our schools. We need to find a solution that eases the burden for homeowners, while at the same time guaranteeing Harrisburg does not shortchange our local schools.” (Rafferty website)
Muth: “Hardworking people and families have been burdened by outrageous property taxes, due to poor leadership in Harrisburg by our current elected officials. This is something that hits very close to home for me, since my grandmother was forced to sell her home in Western PA because she could no longer afford to pay the property tax on her home that she owned for over 40 years. I support initiatives such as rebate programs to decrease the burden of property taxes, especially amongst Seniors, so that they do not have to sell their homes and can retire with dignity and financial security. I will fight to make sure that wealthy corporations and the oil and gas industry pay their fair share and put an end to skyrocketing property taxes.” (Muth website)
THE SECOND AMENDMENT AND GUN CONTROL
Rafferty: Sponsored Senate Bill 36 in 2017, which would prevent firearms from being seized from members of the public who are on public property during a declared emergency. Sponsored Senate Bill 5 in 2017 which states “it is proper for law-abiding people to protect themselves, their families, and others from intruders without the fear of prosecution or civil action for acting in defense of themselves and others.” (BillTrack50)
Muth: “Katie believes that gun violence is a public health crisis, and that we need a data-driven, multi-faceted approach to combat it. We must start with universal background checks across state lines and expanding research on gun violence.” (source: Muth campaign) Other gun safety measures Katie supports include:
- Banning assault weapons and high capacity ammo / magazines (Katie considers an assault weapon to be any selective fire rifle chambered for a cartridge of intermediate power (her dad is an avid hunter in PA, so she is well versed).
- Closing the “boyfriend loophole,” which allows abusive dating partners & stalkers to own guns, and enacting Red Flag laws that help prevent tragedies by allowing friends, family & law enforcement to report warning signs and have guns taken away before a tragedy occurs.
- Raising the minimum age for gun purchases, increasing funding for school mental health/family services and correctional officers to keep students safe
- Fighting against preemption laws (state laws that prohibit local governments from adopting reasonable gun laws). (source: Muth campaign)
ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Rafferty: Rafferty co-sponsored Senate Bill 1140 in 2018, providing a roadmap for Pennsylvania’s transition to renewable energy.
Earned a 20 percent percent grade from the Sierra Club in 2016 and a 38 percent grade from Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania in 2014. He earned as high as an 85 percent from the Sierra Club in 2010. (VoteSmart)
In 2005, he hosted an environmental round table at Ursinus College to bring together environmental activists, citizen groups, trade organizations, and state officials. “The open exchange of ideas between the various individuals representing diverse and sometimes competing interests allowed us to analyze their ideas and concerns and focus on very specific problems and potential solutions surrounding the critical balance between economic development and protecting our environmental resources,” Rafferty said. (Rafferty website)
Muth: “She believes that we need to provide companies and individuals with incentives to put the environment and climate first, starting with a plan to transition from gas and oil to renewable, clean energy. Katie believes that PA must invest in clean energy and provide incentives to businesses to utilize renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.
“Katie believes that we should be transitioning away from gas and oil dependence to that of a clean energy state. The operation and completion of current pipelines needs to put public and environmental safety first. There needs to be enhanced oversight and accountability and transparency as to who decides how these projects are developed and maintained.
“Katie has taken the #NoFossilFuelMoney pledge and will fight to protect the health, welfare, and safety of citizens and the environment—not the interests of the oil & gas lobby.” (Muth campaign)
ON VICTIMS OF SEXUAL CRIMES
October 15, 2018
Wolf, Casey stump for Dan Williams in Coatesville
COATESVILLE – With about three weeks left until the midterm elections, Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, both incumbent Democrats seeking re-election this year, spoke at a rally at the New Life in Christ Fellowship church and urged voters to cast ballots for Dan Williams, a Democratic candidate for state representative in the 74th Legislative District, and to support Democratic candidates up and down the ticket.
Wolf said to the gathered crowd of more than 100 people that he was honored to be there to support Williams, and it’s important to elect him to help make change in Harrisburg. Williams, who’s the senior pastor at the church, is running against Republican candidate Amber Little-Turner for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Harry Lewis Jr., who decided not to seek re-election.
Wolf said that Harrisburg was broken when he first took office nearly four years ago, but he accomplished goals including expanding Medicaid, funding public education, balancing the state budget, and fighting the opioid crisis. He said Pennsylvania is now doing a lot better than four years ago, but there is still more work to be done.
He said this year’s elections may be the most important in his lifetime, and he encouraged voters to elect candidates like Williams to help keep Pennsylvania moving forward.
“If we make the right choice, we can do great things together,” he said.
Wolf also voiced support for Democratic candidates Katie Muth, a health care provider and professor challenging Republican state Sen. John Rafferty in the 44th Senatorial District, and Chrissy Houlahan, an educator, businesswoman and Air Force veteran running against Republican tax attorney Greg McCauley for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District seat, which is open as Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello is not seeking re-election.
Wolf, who is seeking his second four-year term as governor, is being challenged by Republican Scott Wagner, a former state senator, as well as Libertarian Ken Krawchuk and Green Party candidate Paul Glover.
Casey said protecting people’s access to health care, especially for those with pre-existing conditions, is one of the defining issues in his race for re-election and this year’s midterm elections in general.
Casey quoted the lyrics “We are called to act with justice,” from the hymn “We are called,” to explain how more people are now getting involved in the political process.
He said the hard right and corporate special interests have gained an unprecedented amount of power in the federal government, and they’re obsessed with giving rich people money and taking away people’s health care, but it’s up to voters and candidates to protect basic principles of justice in this country as justice is currently under assault.
Casey said average people like Williams and Houlahan have been called to run for office in a difficult time, and community members have been called to support them in their efforts to work for justice.
He mentioned a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.: “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice.”
“We have a lot of drum majors for justice in the assemblage here tonight,” Casey said. “We’re gonna work and we’re gonna win.”
Casey, who is seeking his third six-year term in the Senate, is being challenged by Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta as well as Libertarian Dale Kerns Jr. and Green Party candidate Neal Gale.
Williams spoke about his background and said he’s not just a pastor, but also a professor, a parent and a taxpayer. He said it’s important for people of faith to get involved in the political process, and he wants to work to get things done, instead of just complaining from the sidelines.
Williams said it’s important to protect the rights of people who may be forgotten sometimes, such as the poor and senior citizens.
“Often people in power forget that the people who get lost in the debate about the poor are still people,” he said. “Part of what we want to do is move in a direction that doesn’t just lift some, but lifts every single one of us so that we can become contributors to this country, to this community, to this district.”
Williams said the term “working poor” is an oxymoron that should not be present, and there’s something wrong when one person is working three jobs and still struggling to survive.
He said seniors shouldn’t have to worry about being driving out of their homes due to high school property taxes and rising health care costs. He said it’s important to vote for Wolf, Casey, Houlahan and Muth so they can fight for reforms to allow seniors and retirees to live in peace.
Williams said the “war on drugs” has come to be known as the “opioid crisis” as the demographics of drug victims have changed. “We don’t need incarceration, we need treatment,” he said.
State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, said he’s known Williams since the time he was a student in Dinniman’s African-American history class at West Chester University. Dinniman said Williams would question and challenge him, which made him a better professor and they both learned together because of it.
Dinniman said Williams has frequently stood with him on issues affecting the Coatesville community, such as advocating for economic development that benefits everyone and questioning the Coatesville Area School District on parts of its curriculum, as well as urging an end to using the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.
Dinniman said Williams will be a great state representative, and in that role he’ll also serve as a teacher for the community.
The midterm elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6. Source