Apr. 28, 2017

Representing Pennsylvania at the White House


This week, I attended an executive order signing with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the White House Roosevelt Room. The event highlighted the concept of federalism, returning powers to states and local communities, especially in the area of education.

Trump signed an executive order which called on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to review and reduce or eliminate federal regulations and directives that limit local control of K-12 education. The president stressed that the federal government has overreached in many areas, especially in the areas of education.

The focus of our education system should be on the students and families. We need great public schools, but we also need to support other options including charters, opportunity scholarships and quality vocational technical education

It was my honor to represent Pennsylvania at this important event.

Radio stations from across the Commonwealth have interviewed me about my visit. I spoke to Robert Mangino, reporter at KDKA 1020 NewsRadio in Pittsburgh.

Click here to listen to my thoughts.
Women in Leadership

I joined my colleagues from the House and representatives of women’s business groups in supporting passage of House Resolution 273. It urges all public and private companies and nonprofit institutions doing business in Pennsylvania to set a goal of having at least 30 percent of leadership positions filled by women.

After the resolution, I spoke to the media at the state Capitol in Harrisburg. Click here to listen to my comments.
PA Wants More Choices, Conveniences

It has been made clear time and time again that people want to be treated like adults and believe that is not government’s responsibility to buy and sell wine and liquor.

This week, the House passed four bills that will enhance customer convenience and open the private marketplace to sell wine and spirits in Pennsylvania. The bills include:
  • House Bill 975 would “free the wine” in Pennsylvania, by allowing all grocery stores — not just those with seating capacity — the opportunity to obtain a permit to sell wine. The bill also would permit retailers to buy their wine from private sector wholesalers, brokers and makers of wine, not just from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  It also would eliminate the artificial inflation of costs that dampens competition.

  • House Bill 991 would make available a retail store license to restaurants, distributors or importing distributors. This measure would let other retailers sell wine and liquor through a new class of state-awarded retail licenses designed to boost customer convenience and choices.

  • House Bill 438 would permit businesses with “restaurant” or “hotel” licenses already selling up to four bottles of wine to go to also be permitted to do the same with liquor.

  • House Bill 1075 would set up a process to divest the wholesale system for both wine and spirits.  Similar legislation passed the House in the past two legislative sessions.

Pennsylvania should be out of the business of selling wine and spirits. Our willingness to move Act 39 was a vote of faith that, once everyone saw the benefits of grocery store wine sales and direct shipment firsthand, the governor and others would be ready to finish the journey to privatization. These bills move Pennsylvania further into the 21st century, providing customer convenience, better product selection and competitive pricing

The bills now head to the Senate for review.
Charter and Cyber Charter Reforms Measure Passes House

House Bill 97 would update Pennsylvania’s 20-year old Charter Law and contains major reforms dealing with funding, ethics, accountability, governance and academic quality.

The legislation would create and Academic Performance Matrix, to be developed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, to assess academic quality for Pennsylvania’s charter and cyber charter schools.

In addition, this legislation includes several provisions such streamlined charter school operations and governance, the ability to purchase unused school district buildings, access to testing facilities, the ability to consolidate charter school entities under one board, increased length of charter terms for high performing charters and the ability to participate in dual enrollment programs. These are positive changes that meet the needs of charter school entities.

School districts will be aided by changes in the funding formula for cyber charter schools which will allow school districts to deduct certain costs. Combined, the deductions are estimated to save public school districts $27 million annually for two years, until permanent funding formula changes are enacted. The legislation establishes a Charter School Funding Advisory Commission to examine the issues and report recommendations to the Legislature.

The bill now goes to the Senate.