Bad things are afoot in PA. It's time to get informed and contact our PA senators and representatives. Let's share here, the way national politics cooperation has begun in Writing to Congress.

I find Politifact Pennsylvania useful.

 Let me know if you find a state level resource to assist activism. I haven't located a progressive daily guide to PA politics. I've had to depend on email alerts and looking up bills pending.

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Here's my PA state senator letter today:

I urge you to support SB22, the bill for bipartisan independent redistricting reform led by Senators Boscola and Scavello. It’s urgent to combat gerrymandering as part of an important reform package.

I urge you to oppose the move to prohibit institutions of higher education which are Sanctuary campuses from receiving state funds. Having police invade colleges without warrants to hunt down immigrant students isn’t about safety and security, it’s about White Nationalist-inspired persecution which directly endangers students and makes everyone on campus less safe. Supporting the ascendance of Fascism will drive our state and country into an abyss. 

I urge you to oppose the use of the 287(g) program to make local police officers and sheriff’s deputies de facto immigration agents. Mandating that state and local police perform immigration enforcement translates into the unwarranted illegal targeting of people because of their race, their language, or their skin color. Don’t turn Pennsylvanians against their own police out of moral revulsion. Prosecuting immigrants who smuggle their own children into the country for human trafficking is heartless and un-American. Don’t force Pennsylvania police to participate in such depravity.

Philadelphia is a sanctuary city, and its residents will not look kindly to State Senators who promoted Nazi-like door to door searches for expedited deportation using police whose salaries depend upon their tax payments.

Don’t set up Pennsylvania for tax revolt and mass resistance movements by supporting Trump’s White Nationalist-inspired hate campaign.

My PA House letter today:

I urge you to oppose HB 250. It would drain $55 million out of the budget to fund scholarships for unaccountable private and religious schools, and drain an additional $20 million additional dollars from educational improvement and pre-K organizations. 

HB 250 would reduce funding in the state budget available to public schools and other essential programs by $75 million, providing that amount as tax credits to businesses.

The “Educational Improvement Tax Credit” (EITC) and “Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit” (OSTC) programs already funnel $125 million into private and religious schools with no fiscal or academic performance accountability requirements. These schools are allowed to discriminate against and refuse to enroll students for any reason, including disability, race, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation.

It’s immoral to use my tax payments to promote discrimination.

My PA House letter today:

I urge you to cosign HB 722 before it’s introduced on April 26th.  Pennsylvania needs this joint resolution to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to establish an independent citizen’s commission to redistrict State Senate, State House and Congressional districts. It’s in everyone’s best interest to liberate redistricting from partisan manipulation and personal motivation.

I urge you to oppose the Municipal Sanctuary and Federal Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act, which passed as Senate Bill 10. It is an extreme reaction to a policy that 19 Pennsylvania localities were forced to adopt as a result of our broken national immigration system. Defunding sanctuary cities such as Philadelphia is unjust and attacks the overall welfare of our state. Policy disagreements should not be settled by defunding entire municipalities. Dividing us into rural immigrant-hating regions which depend on state funds versus immigrant-protecting revenue-generating municipalities slits the throat of our commonwealth. Would you cut out your own heart to be mean?

My letter to PA State Senator today:

I urge you to oppose S.B. 383, a bill that would allow school employees to carry loaded guns in elementary, middle and high schools across the state. Arming civilians, in schools or otherwise, does not stop mass shootings. The National Education Association and others have been clear that having more guns on campuses actually increases the chances of a shooting. Republican lawmakers who are truly concerned about gun violence on school campuses should be investing in mental health services, bullying prevention and taking meaningful action on gun control. This bill, on the other hand, pushes the National Rifle Association’s lie and flagrantly disregards the safety of our students.

I urge you to sponsor and support legislation making Pennsylvania voter registration automatic. Thirty-nine states automatically register men who get a driver's license for a military draft. They could just as easily automatically register people to vote. Oregon, California, West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. have made voter registration automatic, and Pennsylvania is 100% capable of easily doing the same. With automatic voter registration, nobody is required to vote, and anyone can opt out of being registered. All that happens is that a government that already knows who we are through motor vehicle and other departments simply allows us to vote. (The DMV in many states requires stricter proof of identity and citizenship than does traditional voter registration; and traditional registration remains available. It would remain a crime for noncitizens to actually vote.) Pennsylvania would save the expense of the existing ridiculous system of “registering” people it already knows.

I urge you to oppose HB 205, which just passed the House. It would remove future employees of the PA School Boards Association from the Public Schools Employees Retirement System. Throwing retirement burdens onto local school districts is not only unfair to struggling communities, it sabotages the quality of teachers we can attract and retain.

I urge you to oppose HB 524, the Military Access to Student Recruiting Information Act, if it comes to the Senate. This bill would require school entities to provide armed forces recruiters with access to lists of secondary school students.

I urge you to support HB 641 (property tax freeze for qualifying seniors) if it comes to the Senate. The bill allows municipalities (including school districts) to establish optional senior property tax freeze programs for residents ages 62 or older with an income of less than $60,000 annually and who have lived in Pennsylvania for more than five years. It’s important that low-income Pennsylvania seniors not lose their homes because they can’t pay increased property taxes.

I strongly urge you to oppose HB 1213 (prohibition on assessment appeals) if it comes to the Senate. The bill restricts when property assessments may be done, and was amended to include new definitions for “fee simple,” “market value,” and “real estate.” These definitions would redefine property valuation, requiring commercial properties to be valued as though they are vacant, slashing their assessments and tax liability at the expense of school districts.

I urge you to oppose SB 561 (approval of regulations), which would prevent many regulations that protect Pennsylvania citizens from being enacted. The legislature can already review regulations, and veto them with a concurrent resolution passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. If SB 561 is enacted, however, no “economically significant” regulation that is not “emergency-certified” can even take effect unless approved by the General Assembly and the Governor. This would make it far too easy for businesses’ short-term profit to override the health and safety of Pennsylvanians.

My letter to PA House today:

I urge you to sponsor and support legislation making Pennsylvania voter registration automatic. Thirty-nine states automatically register men who get a driver's license for a military draft. They could just as easily automatically register people to vote. Oregon, California, West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. have made voter registration automatic, and Pennsylvania is 100% capable of easily doing the same. With automatic voter registration, nobody is required to vote, and anyone can opt out of being registered. All that happens is that a government that already knows who we are through motor vehicle and other departments simply allows us to vote. (The DMV in many states requires stricter proof of identity and citizenship than does traditional voter registration; and traditional registration remains available. It would remain a crime for noncitizens to actually vote.) Pennsylvania would save the expense of the existing ridiculous system of “registering” people it already knows.

I urge you to oppose Military Recruiter Access: HB 524, which requires school entities to provide armed forces recruiters with access to lists of secondary school students.

I urge you to support HB 641 (property tax freeze for qualifying seniors). The bill allows municipalities (including school districts) to establish optional senior property tax freeze programs for residents ages 62 or older with an income of less than $60,000 annually and who have lived in Pennsylvania for more than five years. It’s important that low-income Pennsylvania seniors not lose their homes because they can’t pay increased property taxes.

I strongly urge you to oppose HB 1213 (prohibition on assessment appeals). The bill restricts when property assessments may be done, and was amended to include new definitions for “fee simple,” “market value,” and “real estate.” These definitions would redefine property valuation, requiring commercial properties to be valued as though they are vacant, slashing their assessments and tax liability at the expense of school districts.

Letter to my PA Senator:

I urge you to oppose SB 624, which would create an exemption to the PA Clean Streams Law so that longwall mining companies can profit. Coal mining giant Consol has been illegally destroying streams in Southwestern Pennsylvania with its longwall mining practices for years. On the eve of a major court decision on the Center for Coalfield Justice’s appeal of its mining permits, the company is lobbying to change the law to make it legal for them to destroy streams as long as they promise to try to restore them. We can’t let this happen.

This bill would make it legal for longwall mines to predict and cause subsidence that results in total flow loss in streams, killing all aquatic life and eliminating recreational uses.  The “restoration” process is not always successful, and is itself a highly destructive construction project that eliminates stream uses and habitat. Consol could use alternative coal mining practices that prevent subsidence under streams and create more jobs, but chooses not to because they’d be less profitable. Not even state parks are safe from the company’s greed, as it is pushing for permission to destroy streams within Ryerson Station State Park.

My letter today to my PA Senator:

I urge you to vote NO on House Bill 27, the Police Secrecy bill, which would ban public officials from naming police officers who seriously injure or kill someone. This public gag order would last 30 days, and the language of the bill could extend the prohibition indefinitely. A public official who violates the ban could be charged with a crime. We entrust police officers with a great deal of power. In return, they owe us openness in how they operate. They are servants of the public. This bill risks heightening tensions between police and the communities they serve.

The PA House has already passed two pieces of legislation that would weaken public education in PA, HB 250, which funnels $55 additional taxpayer dollars into scholarships for middle-class families that send their children to private/religious schools, and HB 97, the charter school lobby wish list. I urge you to oppose them in the Senate.

Alert! GOP trying to take away our rights to speech and assembly!

My letter to Pennsylvania State Senator:

I urge you to oppose SB 754 in the strongest possible terms. Forcing protesters arrested at demonstrations to pay for police overtime and other fees related to their exercise of free speech and assembly is casually erasing basic constitutional rights. Anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor while demonstrating is already liable for costs associated with a particular crime they committed. This law would authorize any government entity, the state, the National Guard, a fire department, or a police department, to decide if they want to recover additional costs that are associated with the protest but that are not necessarily related to the specific crime for which the individual was convicted. Perhaps you don’t intend to tempt local sheriff or fire departments to pay for new equipment and lucrative overtime by taking houses away from Pennsylvanians convicted of misdemeanors. Perhaps you assume that predatory confiscation will be selectively enforced upon only those you dislike. This heinous law would go far to remake Pennsylvania as a police state, where free speech belongs only to those most wealthy and favored. SB 754 is an assault on constitutional rights!

This legislation singles out protesters to bear the costs of police and emergency service costs. In the Dakota Access Protest, to protect private oil company property from singing and praying crowds police started with mace and rubber bullets, then later brought out rocket launchers, helicopters, armored vehicles and flew in out-of-state reinforcements.  Costs exceeded 22 million dollars. Do you intend to incentivize Pennsylvania police, with promises of new equipment and unlimited overtime pay, to coordinate with private contractors who demonize peaceful protestors as terrorists? SB 754 will end in overreaction by well-meaning emergency responders, and in constituent injury and death, if it’s passed.

An ACLU investigation has uncovered that thousands of Pennsylvanians are jailed every year because they can’t pay their court fines, costs, and/or restitution, despite court decisions and laws prohibiting jailing poor defendants. I urge you to sponsor a law that provides clear and fair guidelines for judges to assess a person’s income and expenses.

Thanks! I've added my state senator's and representative's numbers to my list of legislators to call. I gave the (Democratic) state senator's staffer an earful about how SB 754 is not only horribly unjust in itself, but a dangerous step towards a tRumpian police state.

The vote on this is coming soon. Letter to PA State Representative.

I urge you to sponsor and support HB 193 (former HB 1874) an act amending Title 25 (Elections of the PA Consolidated Statutes), that would make Pennsylvania voter registration automatic. Thirty-nine states automatically register men who get a driver's license for a military draft. They could just as easily automatically register people to vote. Oregon, California, West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. have made voter registration automatic, and Pennsylvania is 100% capable of easily doing the same. With automatic voter registration, nobody is required to vote, and anyone can opt out of being registered. All that happens is that a government that already knows who we are through motor vehicle and other departments simply allows us to vote. The DMV in many states requires stricter proof of identity and citizenship than does traditional voter registration; and traditional registration remains available. It would remain a crime for noncitizens to actually vote. Pennsylvania would save the expense of the existing ridiculous system of “registering” people it already knows. When Oregon did this, they had great results.

Letter to PA Senator:

I urge you to oppose SB 754, which targets demonstrators and would also be unconstitutional. I pay taxes for police public safety duties. No court should order someone blocking a sidewalk to exercise free speech to pay thousands of dollars for salaries and overtime costs of police. This is a direct attack on my freedom!

I urge you to oppose SB 652, which imposes severe penalties for criminal trespassing and other offenses on “critical infrastructure” facilities. This would change what are currently summary or misdemeanor offenses into second and first-degree felonies. It too is a direct assault on Pennsylvania citizens’ constitutional rights of free speech and assembly. This heinous legislation is intended to criminalize citizens who want to peacefully object to oil pipeline infrastructure being installed in their neighborhood, where spills would pollute their water. It institutionalizes fascist style oppression of people who voted for you in support of fossil fuel industry profit.

As a state senator you have a moral choice. Either you protect democracy, constitutional rights, truth, and a habitable planet, or you support the international oligarchy which uses lies and political donations to promote short term fossil fuel profit  while causing climate chaos. 15,000 scientists recently signed a warning of catastrophic consequences of climate change. The extreme heat would directly impact our state and drive unprecedented waves of climate refugees here. New studies about ice cliff instability and the past speed of Antarctic glacier melting indicate that fossil fuel business as usual can release 11 feet of sea level rise by the end of this century.  NOAA's report in January included an extreme sea-level rise forecast of 10 to 12 feet of sea-level rise by the year 2100 around the U.S., compared to the previous estimate of about 8 feet. Will Denayer at Flassbeck Economics International points out that while 6 feet of sea level rise would destroy several megacities and create 12 million climate refugees, an 11 foot rise would put so many cities and so much land underwater that political institutions would break down.

Protect yourself and your family from climate devastation by opposing SB 754 and SB 652!

Thanks! I wrote my Pennsylvania state senator in opposition, with similar points.

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