February 9, 2019
Killion supports Wolf Administration pipeline actions
WEST CHESTER—State Sen. Tom Killion applauded the actions taken this week on pipeline safety by Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
On Friday, DEP halted its permit review process for pipelines owned by Energy Transfer, parent company of Sunoco Pipeline. DEP said this action resulted from the company’s noncompliance of a DEP order related to an explosion in Beaver County last September.
The order effects 27 Mariner East 2 Pipeline permits needed for work on this project.
“DEP has done the right thing by suspending permit reviews of Energy Transfer pipelines,” said Killion, R-9. “This agency should continue to demand that the pipeline company takes all corrective environmental measures outlined in their original order and that operations not resume until full compliance is strictly followed,” he added.
Killion was most pleased by Wolf’s call for pipeline safety in a statement issued by the governor on Friday.
“Governor Wolf has called for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to take a series of long overdue actions to help ensure the public’s safety near pipelines, and he voiced support for new pipeline legislation in the General Assembly. I thank the Governor for his strong words today,” said Killion.
In January, Killion and Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, announced a legislative package of 12 pipeline safety bills.
“It is incredibly helpful that the governor is urging the legislature to pass pipeline oversight bills. Our bills will help protect families living in pipeline communities across the state. These are commonsense, bipartisan legislative proposals that ensure the public’s safety,” said Killion.
Last year, Killion strongly urged the PUC to uphold an administrative law judge’s decision shutting down the Mariner Pipeline until an array of safety precautions were taken, but the PUC allowed pipeline operations to resume.
Killion said, “With the governor’s statement today, I hope the PUC finally understands that they can and should do more to protect pipeline communities, and that the legislature starts passing pipeline safety bills.” Source
January 30, 2019
Senators tout package to loosen absentee voting, make it easier to hire poll workers, merge precincts
When Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer unveiled a package of election reforms that he and his Senate colleagues were rolling out for the new legislative session, what he emphasized repeatedly was not the fact that the proposals had bipartisan backing, but that they had emerged from conversations with local officials all over the state.
“In my first meeting with the county election officials, I was shocked by their comment that no state officials had worked closely with them about possible changes to the Pennsylvania election laws,” Folmer, R-Lebanon, said at a news conference in Harrisburg. “I promised myself I would not only speak with those who run our elections, but I would also carefully listen to them.”
The resulting package is designed to address a host of complaints and concerns that arose from hearings and discussions held by Folmer’s State Government Committee. Among the proposals are measures designed to make absentee voting easier, decrease the difficulty in finding poll workers, simplify ballots and more.
Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Schwank, is taking the lead on a proposal to loosen the state’s absentee ballot standards. Currently, voters intending to vote absentee must provide a reason, such as work, health or religious considerations, why they can’t vote on Election Day.
“One of the most exciting changes we’re proposing with this legislation is to allow no excuse or universal absentee ballots,” she said at the news conference. “A majority of other states have been able to employ no excuse absentee ballots safely, securely and credibly. And I think Pennsylvania can do it too.”
Schwank’s proposal also would allow a voter to turn in their absentee ballot in person on Election Day if they couldn’t get it postmarked in time.
Another proposal from Sen. Tom Killion, R-Brookhaven, would allow the use of “voting centers,” locations where anyone from a given county can vote regardless of their precinct. Killion’s legislation would also allow curbside voting for individuals with disabilities.
Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Connellsville, is sponsoring a constitutional amendment that will allow state and federal employees to serve as poll workers. Currently, the Pennsylvania Constitution forbids this practice, and local officials say this has made the difficult work of recruiting poll workers even harder.
And the final pieces of the puzzle came from Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster. One of Martin’s proposals would establish a mechanism to win an election via write-in whereby a candidate would need to collect at least 10 signatures. Martin is also behind a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the need for a separate ballot for judicial elections.
Another element mentioned by Folmer was allowing smaller precincts to merge, which Martin said has been a legal headache up to now.
“When I was a county commissioner in Lancaster, we had precincts where you might have what, 20 people who vote in a given election,” he said. “And the precinct next door has 30 people, and the polls are literally right across the street from each other. And you’ve tried to merge them, and then the courts overturn it. So you run into issues like that. So it hasn’t been smooth sailing.”
Folmer said that there would be more hearings before his committee on the proposals before they were advanced to the full Senate, and he promised that he would have conversations with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to make sure that there was support in that chamber, as well.
“We’re trying to get on the ground running,” he said. “So the quest here is to try to get it done as soon as possible, but at the same time, making sure we do it in a very deliberate fashion. ” Source
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