How the House’s Democratic women owned the debate over Down syndrome abortion ban | Wednesday Morning Coffee
(*This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Rep. Sara Innamorato’s last name. It has also been updated to correctly reflect the fact that Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, was telling the story of her sister’s decision to bring a challenging pregnancy to term, not her own. The Capital-Star regrets the error.)
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
We’ll get this out of the way up front: We’re relatively certain that men spoke during Tuesday’s state House debate over a bill banning abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
But what they had to say was of absolutely no consequence — even after the bill cleared the House on a 117-76 vote (For the sake of the completists among you, the bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate appeared far from assured Tuesday in the face of a guaranteed veto from Gov. Tom Wolf).
In every way that mattered, the debate over a bill that went to the fundamental principles of personal freedom, choice, and bodily autonomy belonged exclusively to the women in the 203-member chamber, who, while they make up just a quarter of its total membership, spoke with a clarity of intent that was striking in its intelligence and sheer humanity.
And it belonged particularly to the chamber’s Democratic women.
That’s no more true than in the case of Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, who found herself facing calls for her resignation just a week or so back for some ill-chosen remarks about pipeline workers.
On Tuesday, Otten, speaking with quiet directness, relayed the searing, and deeply personal, choice *that her sister made to bring a baby son, who was born without an arm and with a serious heart problem, to term.
“I have watched my baby gasp for breath. I have watched as his heart arrested and they performed CPR on him in front of me,” Otten said —taking on the voice of her sister — of the long, sleepless nights spent at the child’s bedside. And as she spoke, every heart in the room, particularly among those who were parents, silently broke.
“I’m a tireless advocate and the mother of a child with special needs,” she said. “Every choice I’ve made has been that — a choice.”
And that was the point that Democratic women made again and again — that the Legislature had no role to play in what is, in the final analysis, a decision involving a woman, her doctor, her partner (if applicable), and whatever deity to whom she happens to bend a knee (or not).
Otten’s deeply personal story found echoes in remarks from Democratic Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, of Philadelphia, and *Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, and Melissa Shusterman, of Chester County.
“You cannot imagine all the intimate, nuanced decisions a woman must go through to come to a decision about an abortion,” Innamorato said, crystalizing the debate in an instant. “You’re voting against liberty and the ability of a woman to make the decision that’s best for herself, her family and her future.”
Speaking after Innamorato, Shusterman added that, by approving the bill, the majority-male, majority-white, majority-Republican chamber was sending a clear signal that “women cannot be trusted to make decisions,” about their own bodies, and that 203-members of the General Assembly somehow knew what was best for “6.5 million women in Pennsylvania.”
And after she was thoroughly and gratuitously dissed during floor debate last week, it seemed like House Speaker Mike Turzai, a co-sponsor of the ban bill with York County Rep. Kate Klunk, went out of his way to make sure that Rep. Liz Hanbidge, D-Montgomery, got her turn at the microphone.
Smart move, that.
There were even some touching stories from such Republicans as Rep. Sue Helm, R-Dauphin, a ‘yes’ vote on the ban, who spoke with a kind of grandmotherly affection about a young family member with Down syndrome. Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne, also a “yes” vote on the ban, and who went on her own deeply personal journey last year, spoke with affection about being an adopted mother.
The stories and arguments from the House’s women lawmakers piled up and up, until they rendered the rhetorical contortions of the chamber’s male members effectively irrelevant.
Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, offered some impassioned arguments. And then he kind of blew it by banging on about an entirely advisory opinion from the Legislative Reference Bureau. House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, joined the fray as well by trying to rebut Frankel on the LRB opinion.
But after Otten, Innamorato and Shusterman, Hanbidge, and other Democratic women members, it all just felt like noise. It just reinforced the complete absurdity of the notion that an overwhelmingly male legislative body has even half a clue about what’s best for women or their bodies.
And it underlined the fact, brought up so eloquently by the chamber’s Democratic women, that the ban bill wasn’t about ensuring disability rights or protecting kids with Down syndrome, as Republicans argued on the floor Tuesday.
It’s just about finding some ridiculous pretext to legislate abortion out of existence because the courts — at least for now and however precariously — aren’t cooperating.
So, yeah, women might make up a quarter of the House’s membership on paper. On Tuesday, they were the majority. Source
May 3, 2019
State lawmaker apologizes for ‘Nazi’ remark over pipeline fight
(Harrisburg) — A state lawmaker protesting a natural gas liquids pipeline project in her neighborhood apologized Thursday for saying “Nazis were just doing their jobs too” and drawing a comparison to pipeline workers.
After condemnation grew during the week, Democratic Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, of Chester County, said on Twitter that her language had been insensitive.
“I sincerely apologize for my choice of words and to all who were hurt by my post,” Otten wrote.
Otten had maintained that she hadn’t compared Nazis to pipeline workers, and accused oil-and-gas industry media consultants of stirring up outrage.
Criticism had come from the state’s top Democratic lawmakers, the Anti-Defamation League’s Philadelphia-area chapter and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The state Republican Party called on Otten to resign.
Jim Snell, the business manager of Steamfitters Local 420, which represents the workers, wrote on Facebook that his union’s members are military veterans, Little League coaches, church volunteers, Boy and Girl Scout leaders and volunteer firefighters.
“I suggest that you look up what a Nazi really is,” he wrote. “You clearly missed that topic in history class, otherwise, you would never have said what you did.”
Otten’s initial Saturday comment on Twitter was in response to complaints by a pro-pipeline organization that pipeline opponents had parked their cars to block worksite entrances and were preventing pipeline workers from doing their jobs.
In a Wednesday statement , Otten had said that she never called the workers “Nazis” and that her fight wasn’t with the workers.
She told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she didn’t mean to minimize the horror of the Holocaust, but was comparing the moral choices of the pipeline workers to anyone who says “it’s just my job” to justify a bad act.
Separately, she told the Daily Local News that she did not mean to villainize the workers.
Otten’s protest involves the 350-mile Mariner East pipeline, which is owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer LP, a multibillion-dollar firm that owns sprawling interests in oil and gas pipelines and storage and processing facilities.
This pipeline, she said, carries highly volatile liquids 50 feet from her family’s home.
The company’s projects have drawn more than $13 million in fines in Pennsylvania — primarily for polluting waterways from spills of drilling fluid and construction methods not approved by state regulators — and several temporary shutdown orders by state agencies.
Sinkholes on the lawns of homes in Chester County along the pipeline have sparked alarm from residents and prompted county and state prosecutors to investigate. Source
Rep. Danielle Friel Otten
May 1, 2019
In November, Chester County made a choice to send new leadership to the PA House of Representatives. Yesterday, that choice paid off, as House Bill 1055, a bill that would have been very bad for Pennsylvania, failed by just *two* votes.
If it had passed, this bill would have created government waste, threatened the few critical protections we have against projects like Mariner East, and taken regulatory decision making out of the hands of representatives elected by the voters, by establishing a new government agency at a taxpayer-funded cost of $783,000 per year.
April 19, 2019
Lawmakers, PennEnvironment announce ‘Zero Waste PA’ package to address single-use plastics, litter and a ‘throwaway’ society
HARRISBURG– House lawmakers joined PennEnvironment recently to announce a package of bills aimed at addressing single-use plastics, pervasive issues of litter and the various environmental harms caused by a “throwaway” society.
Legislation in the “Zero Waste PA” package works to address issues created by a disposable society including single-use plastics such as straws, plastic bags and Styrofoam takeout food containers, electronic waste, funding Pennsylvania’s recycling programs and more.
“We can no longer ignore the growing waste problem that is threatening our environment. My colleagues and I have introduced a package of bills that, together, address this problem from a number of angles,” said Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery. “By encouraging the use of more naturally biodegradable materials, addressing issues with the way we recycle, and finding ways to support environmentally friendly practices, we can help preserve our planet for future generations.”
“Every day, unwitting Pennsylvanians are barraged with products that we’re expected to purchase and use, and then throw away. Only, there is no ‘away,’” said PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur. “Instead, it ends up in landfills where it can cause water pollution, in incinerators that cause air pollution, or blowing around in our neighborhoods in the form of litter. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our environment, neighborhoods, rivers and oceans for centuries to come.”
The measures that would be addressed in the package include:
• Prohibiting food establishments from using polystyrene containers to distribute prepared foods. (Rep. Tim Briggs)
• Dissuading litterers and illegal dumpers by increasing the fines and penalties for those caught illegally throwing away their garbage. (Rep. Donna Bullock)
• Prohibiting establishments from offering plastic straws except upon the customer’s request. (Rep. Mary Jo Daley)
• Increasing the disposal fee for municipal waste landfills from $4 per ton to $8 per ton to help support important conservation and environmental protection programs. (Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler)
• Increasing the recycling fee that landfill operators pay from $2 per ton to $5 per ton on waste received at their landfills, the first increase in 30 years. (Rep. Mary Isaacson)
• Authorizing counties that have recycling programs to collect a recycling and waste management fee of up to $4 per ton, to be used to create and maintain new or existing recycling programs, programs to clean up illegal dumping sites or litter, and/or programs for alternative energy. (Rep. Patty Kim)
• Significantly diverting organic waste from our landfills and incinerators and spurring a market for organic waste composting (Rep. Danielle Friel Otten)
• Establishing a statewide cigarette filter upcycling initiative, where a 20-cent, partially reimbursed deposit on each pack of cigarettes sold in Pennsylvania would be used for collection centers and safe reuse. (Rep. Chris Rabb)
• Ensuring that producers of plastic packaging take responsibility for the decisions they make by requiring that they cannot sell or distribute plastic packaging in Pennsylvania unless they are part of a recycling program to take it back. (Rep. Melissa Shusterman)
• Providing for a fee of two cents on each non-reusable plastic bag used by purchasers of consumer goods at retail establishments grossing over $1 million annually to support recycling. (Rep. Brian Sims and Rep. Jared Solomon)
• Creating a 5-cent beverage bottle and can deposit program in Pennsylvania. (Rep. Wendy Ullman)
• Encouraging the use of reusable water bottles by requiring that newly constructed state buildings, as well as existing state buildings undergoing renovations to water and pipe infrastructure, install water bottle filling stations. (Rep. Perry Warren)
• Addressing Pennsylvania’s failing electronic waste recycling law by taking from best practices implemented in other states to make Pennsylvania’s law effective. (Rep. Mike Zabel)
In the coming months, the lawmakers will be building co-sponsorship support for these measures and holding local events in their districts related to the package. Source
Rep. Danielle Friel Otten
April 10, 2019
I’m proud to be part of #ZeroWastePA, which works to make Pennsylvania cleaner, more sustainable, and safer for our children. My legislation within this package of bills focuses on diverting our food waste from our general trash to a composting system. Today in Harrisburg, I explained how this move would ultimately improve our environment and save taxpayers money.
Click on Photo to View Video
March 12, 2019
Chesco, Delco lawmakers urge Wolf to halt Mariner pipeline operations
WEST CHESTER — Pennsylvania lawmakers representing 11 House and three Senatorial districts across Chester and Delaware counties have signed a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf asking him to impose a moratorium on the transmission of natural gas liquids products through the Mariner East pipeline system until the mandated protocols are in place for local responders to properly manage a pipeline emergency.
Chester County Emergency Services and local school districts along the pipeline, including Downingtown Area School District, Rose Tree Media School District and West Chester Area School District have requested Energy Transfer Partners’ subsidiary SPLP to provide its Emergency Response Plan for the Mariner East project, which the responders and school districts need to complete their comprehensive All Hazards Emergency Response Plans and fulfill their statutory requirements under Title 35 of state law.
The letter urges Wolf to preserve the health, welfare and safety of constituents who live, work and raise their families in the high-consequence areas of Chester and Delaware counties within the impact radius of Mariner East. The pipeline also runs through Berks County.
“We have pipelines currently transporting highly volatile products through our communities, and our local first responders are not able to adequately plan their emergency response or mitigate our risk because the operator has failed to cooperate with repeated requests for their Emergency Response Plan,” said state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester County. “Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco are risking a catastrophe, which is a criminal offense.
“I am grateful to my colleagues for their collaboration on this request. The bipartisan support for this moratorium underscores how important it is to take every possible step to ensure the safety of our communities and our first responders.”
The letter was signed by the following state representatives Rep. Steve Barrar, R-60 of Concord; Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156 of West Chester; Friel Otten, D-155 of West Whiteland; Rep. Kristine Howard, D-167; Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26; Rep. John Lawrence, R-13; Rep. Chris Quinn, R-168 of Middletown; Christina Sappey, D-158; Rep. Melissa Shusterman, D-157; Rep. Dan Williams, D-74; and Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161, as well as state Sens. Andy Dinniman, D-19; Katie Muth, D-44; and Tim Kearney, D-26 of Swarthmore.
Mariner East spokesmen did not return a call for comment as yet.
The company is building and operating the controversial Mariner East project, transporting volatile liquid gases across the full width of Pennsylvania, from the Marcellus Shale region to a facility in Marcus Hook.
Residents have opposed the project for years, saying the pipeline never should have been routed through densely populated neighborhoods, in close proximity to schools and senior centers.
Mariner East 1, which is a decades old smaller pipe that has been retrofitted to carry the new materials, has been shut down for weeks since a sinkhole formed in a Chester County neighborhood for the second time.
Mariner East 2 came online the last week of December, albeit not in the form Energy Transfer originally proposed. Mariner East 2 was proposed as a 20-inch pipe, but because of constant delays and other problems, Energy Transfer plugged in a hybrid version of several smaller pipes to fill in the gaps. Completion of the full Mariner East 2 pipeline now likely will not take place until 2020.
Mariner East 2x remains under construction.
In February the state Department of Environmental Protection halted all permits for the Mariner East 2 project, saying Energy Transfer had failed to take proper actions after an accident that caused an explosion in western Pennsylvania.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan last month announced he was launching a criminal investigation into the construction of Mariner East 2, noting his belief that state officials had not adequately protected citizens rights and safety. He now is impaneling an investigative grand jury to hear testimony from witnesses and review documents.
March 6, 2019
Local lawmakers announce formation of pipeline safety caucus
WEST CHESTER—State Senator Andy Dinniman, State Representative Danielle Friel Otten, fellow lawmakers, community groups, residents, and families from across Pennsylvania will hold a Rally for Pipeline Safety and Environmental Protection on Tuesday, March 19 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Main Capitol Rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.
At the rally, residents will lobby for the passage of a package of comprehensive pipeline safety bills introduced by Dinniman and others in the wake of various environmental violations, public safety concerns, geologic problems, threats to private property and water rights, and other wide-ranging quality-of-life issues brought on by Sunoco/ETP’s controversial Mariner East project.
“Mariner East may have brought area residents together and opened our eyes to the lack of strong pipeline public safety and environmental protection regulations in Pennsylvania, but this is a statewide issue and one that demands real, immediate and lasting reform,” Dinniman, who serves on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee said.
“Residents are coming to Harrisburg by the busload on March 19 to demand immediate relief and real action from the legislature so that no one in Pennsylvania will have to have their home and their safety held hostage by a pipeline project again.
The rally is being coordinated by volunteers from nearly 50 organizations across the Commonwealth. Local residents interested in transportation should contact Jerry McMullen at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat on a bus scheduled to leave the Exton Square Mall early that morning.
In addition, Dinniman will announce the formation of a bipartisan, bicameral Pipeline Safety Caucus that he is forming in conjunction with Friel Otten, a fellow Chester County legislator. Following the rally, members of the caucus will hold a news conference expressing their commitment to the passage of pipeline public safety legislation.
“Energy Transfer Partners’ Mariner East project has triggered sinkholes, exploded a Pennsylvania family’s home, and destroyed personal water sources. We are negligent if we fail to act,” Friel Otten said. “The time has come for public safety, private property rights, and environmental protection to guide economic development in Pennsylvania. I am grateful for the support of our colleagues as we take the fight to protect our communities to the next level.”
Dinniman, who has long voiced safety and environmental concerns related to the Mariner East project, said the movement he helped launch several years ago has now grown into a full-fledged, statewide grassroots initiative. With rising support from both parties within the legislature and that of a number of new representatives, like Friel Otten, who were elected on the pipeline issue, he said Pennsylvania is moving closer to legislation that will provide a regulatory safeguard for our residents.
He pointed to mounting pressure on the PUC to take action on Mariner East, including a number of school districts, municipalities and counties filing as intervenors in a public safety complaint on Mariner East. And most recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection barred all future ETP pipeline permits, and the governor publicly expressed support for four of Dinniman’s pipeline safety bills.
“Change can take time. And now is the time,” Dinniman said. “We’ve worked hard and we’re gaining the numbers we need to make this happen. However, highly volatile natural gas liquids continue to flow in our area through a hodge-podge of antiquated pipelines, and Sunoco still has the power of eminent domain.”
He said that’s why he has introduced legislation calling for a two-year moratorium to give the legislature time to develop a stronger regulatory process regarding the safety of pipelines carrying highly volatile liquids, as well as a better approach to the use of corporate eminent domain by companies like Sunoco/ETP. Source
February 8, 2019
Legislators respond to DEP decision to suspend review of Energy Transfer permits
HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Reps. Carolyn Comitta, Danielle Friel Otten, Kristine Howard, Leanne Krueger, Christina Sappey and Melissa Shusterman met with Gov. Tom Wolf and his staff last week to address the growing problems with Energy Transfer’s Mariner East project.
Today, those representatives have issued the following statement regarding news that the Department of Environmental Protection has suspended review of permit applications and other pending approvals for Energy Transfer due to noncompliance:
“We applaud the unwavering efforts of community members who continue to make their voices heard and draw attention to serious hazards and areas of oversight that need improvement.
“The action taken by the Department of Environmental Protection today is a step in the right direction.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to have a seat at the table for our communities and we look forward to continued collaboration with our state agencies and the governor’s staff to put the interests of the people of Pennsylvania first and foremost. There is still a lot of work to be done and we will use every tool available to us to make our community’s voice heard.”
The same six representatives sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission earlier this week, urging action related to a recent sinkhole along the Mariner East 1 pipeline. The letter can be found here. Source
January 29, 2019
Today I stand with my colleagues and CeaseFirePA activists across Pennsylvania as we recommit to continuing the fight for common sense gun safety legislation.
January 29, 2019
Friel-Otten appointed to House committees, including Environmental Resources and Energy Committee
HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – State Rep. Danielle Friel-Otten announced today that she was appointed to serve on several standing House committees, including the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
Friel-Otten was also appointed to the Children and Youth, Aging and Older Adult Services, and Tourism and Recreational Development committees.
“These committee assignments give me the chance to work on issues that matter in our community,” said Friel-Otten, D-Chester. “I’m especially eager to join the Environmental Resources committee, as our community deals with the environmental and safety impacts of pipeline construction through our back yards. I look forward to representing our community’s interests as an active member of these committees.”
The Environmental Resources and Energy Committee works with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to establish regulations on environmental issues, including air and water quality, and has oversight of the Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies.
The Tourism and Recreational Development Committee oversees legislation related to the state’s tourism industry and has jurisdiction over the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The Children and Youth Committee reviews bills that affect Pennsylvania’s youngest residents and bills related the Office of Child Development and Learning and the Office of Children Youth and Families, under the Department of Human Services.
The Aging and Older Adult Services Committee works with the Department of Aging and reviews bills that affect senior citizens in Pennsylvania. Source
January 11, 2019
Rep Danielle Otten visits Exelon
This week, I had the pleasure of joining some of my colleagues on a tour of Exelon’s #limerickgeneratingstation to learn about our nuclear energy fleet in Pennsylvania and the state of Nuclear as we move forward. 30%of Pennsylvania’s energy comes from nuclear energy and it makes up 94% of carbon free energy production in the state.
I had a lot of walk away thoughts, but the greatest of those thoughts was the observation of the care and responsibility for personnel and publicsafety at every step of the tour. From employee name badges with photos of “why I work safe” featuring children and grandchildren to safety focused posters and communications throughout the plant, to standard operating procedures that were somewhat military in discipline and a facility that was so clean you could eat off of the floor. It was evident that there was an extreme understanding that the lives of 300,000 people are in their hands. A much different experience than what I have seen from energy operators in my own backyard.
Did you know that in Pennsylvania you can choose the company that generates your energy? Check out PA Power Switch: https://bit.ly/2RFYnuo
October 19, 2018
Danielle Friel Otten
The Polls Say It’s A Dead Heat
We had a polling call the other day, and based on recent data, the race among likely voters is a dead heat: 49 – 49. Becky Corbin must have gotten the same memo, because she has turned up the heat. They are in the mail and on TV with nasty attack ads, false claims about dark money, and spin on Becky’s lackluster record.
The one place she can’t compete is in the field with the tireless work that’s been done over months and months by our dedicated volunteers, stakeholders in this change, who have made over 60,000 (yes, you read that right SIXTY THOUSAND) attempts to have one-on-one conversations with voters about what’s at stake in this election. With tens of thousands of conversations under our belt, we are leaving NOTHING on the sidelines. We have a robust operation planned for the next 18 days, and we will be talking to and turning out voters until 8 PM on Tuesday, November 6th — we won’t stop one minute sooner. Read more
October 10, 2018
Democratic candidates discuss issues at public forum
WEST GOSHEN — Christina Sappey, a candidate running for state representative for the 158th Legislative District, waited until the very end of the program to emphatically state what all five candidates at a forum had voiced earlier, to a lesser degree.
“Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote,” Sappey, a Democrat running against incumbent Republican Rep. Eric Roe, implored an audience of 150, at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, Monday night.
The forum was organized and run by the Chester County League of Women Voters and the West Chester Chapter of the NAACP.
During the 2½-hour forum, five Democratic candidates, all of whom are women, answered questions posed by the audience and event organizers about topics including, health care, water quality, literacy, business taxes and incarceration.
All the candidates in the county were invited. There will be a similar forum with different speakers at St. Paul’s, on Monday, Oct. 15, at 6:30 p.m.
Democratic state Rep. Carolyn Comitta is running against Republican Nick Deminski in the 156th District, and told the attentive audience to vote for people who share their values.
“Your state representative is your last stop from protecting all the people,” Comitta said. “Elect someone who gets it.
“Your vote is your voice.”
Kristine Howard is a Democrat running in the 167th District against incumbent Republican Rep. Duane Milne.
“We need to elect the right legislators,” she said, “We need to take back our power from some extremists.
“This is a really important election.”
Democrat Danielle Friel Otten is facing off against Republican Rep. Becky Corbin in the 155th District.
“Educate yourself about who is on the ballot, vote, and talk to your neighbors,” Friel Otten said.
Sappey said that it all depends on who the public votes for.
“It’s time for us to start electing people who are going to work together,” Sappey said.
Democrat Chrissy Houlahan is facing off against Republican Greg McCauley to fill the seat vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello in what she said is the “new and improved” 6th Congressional District, referencing a state Supreme Court decision to draw new congressional districts after finding the state’s previous congressional map violated the state constitution due to partisan gerrymandering that favored Republicans over Democrats.
The business owner, MIT graduate, former teacher and veteran, listed health care, decent jobs, a great education and a safe planet as her priorities.
The candidates were asked about “reaching across the aisle.”
Friel Otten suggested that more women should be elected and that politics is not just a Democratic or Republican issue.
“We have the opportunity to look each other in the eye,” she said.
Said Comitta: “It’s all your perspective. It’s about being in this role for the right reason.”
Sappey was a stay-at-home mom and said becoming a state rep is not her dream job.
“You have to enter every conversation knowing that you have to give something up,” she said.
The candidates were asked about incarceration. Howard talked about “super long” prison sentences.
“We had more juvenile lifers than any other state,” Howard said. “We have a very, very harsh justice system in this state and prosecutors hold all the cards.”
The group of candidates talked about supporting small businesses.
Friel Otten said that when manufacturing goes overseas, people on “Main Street” can no longer exist.
“The burden of taxes is on the small business owner,” Friel Otten said. “Close the loopholes (for big businesses) and take the pressure off of small businesses.”
Sappey is a proponent of businesses.
“We need to make it more attractive for businesses to come to Pennsylvania,” Sappey said.
Comitta said that when you buy local, you make an investment in the community.
“For every dollar you spend in a local business, 68 cents goes back into the community,” Comitta said.
Education was also discussed.
“Our municipal government is in a position to choose between the youngest and oldest residents and that is a crime,” Friel Otten said.
Howard favors fair funding for schools.
“We know this is the right thing to do, we have the wrong people,” Howard said.
When asked about the natural gas boom and enacting an extraction tax, Comitta said Pennsylvania is “sitting on a gold mine.
“I’m not against people making a lot of money, but it needs to be done safely and cleanly and (any proposed tax) should be used for kids in schools.”
While Howard said the liquid gases need to be taxed, Friel Otten said that several alternatives should be addressed, such as, creation of siting agencies, oversight of out-of-state companies, and taking any new tax revenue to build renewable energy alternatives.
Sappey reiterated the need to vote for reps supporting the Affordable Care Act.
“Make sure we vote for people who understand how important this issue is — the costs are through the roof,” Sappey said.
St. Paul’s Pastor Wayne E. Croft Sr. welcomed the guests and said he was pleased that the NAACP and League of Women Voters had crafted a platform enabling voters to make informed decisions.
Cassandra Jones, NAACP chair for political action committee, said that the audience was pleased to ask questions, face-to-face.
Pamela Gray, president of the Chester County League of Women Voters appreciated the “very engaged candidates” and the turnout of prospective voters. Source
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