Posted by carldavidson on July 24, 2015
Posted by randyshannon on July 21, 2015
Wolf, Pa. GOP to resume meetings as budget stalemate hits three weeks
HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has returned to Harrisburg as Gov. Tom Wolf and top Republican lawmakers were set to resume face-to-face meetings to discuss a three-week-old budget stalemate.
No major votes were expected today.
The Democratic governor and Republicans who control the Legislature are sparring over competing budget proposals. Mr. Wolf is seeking a multibillion-dollar tax increase to deliver a record funding boost to schools and wipe out a long-term deficit that’s damaged Pennsylvania’s creditworthiness.
Republicans passed a zero-tax increase budget with a smaller boost for education, but Mr. Wolf vetoed it, saying it didn’t meet his goals and used gimmickry to balance.
The stalemate has left the state government without full spending authority. That includes payments to schools and nonprofits and county agencies that help administer Pennsylvania’s social-services safety net.
During a regularly scheduled appearance at KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh today, Mr. Wolf said that bad state budgeting is costing taxpayers about $170 million a year.
Mr. Wolf said state government is paying a premium of about 1 percent interest on $17 billion in debt. He linked the extra borrowing cost to five credit downgrades that Pennsylvania has received in the past three years.
“This isn’t just Democrat Tom Wolf talking, this is people outside looking at us and right now we’re paying a premium of about 1 percent on our debt, that’s $17 billion,” Wolf said. “That adds up to about $170 million a year we’re all paying. It’s not going to education. It’s not going to roads and bridges. It’s going to the pockets of people who have bought our bonds because we don’t have a good budget.”
In the meantime, Republicans are complaining about a $750,000 ad campaign by an affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Governors Association that is targeting them in the showdown. The affiliate, America Works USA, has not disclosed the source of the money.
Mr. Wolf and Republicans are sparring over competing budget proposals during the stalemate, which has left the state government without full spending authority. That includes payments to schools and nonprofits and county agencies that help administer Pennsylvania’s social services safety net.
Mr. Wolf is seeking a multibillion-dollar tax increase to deliver a record funding boost to schools and wipe out a long-term deficit that’s damaged Pennsylvania’s creditworthiness. Republicans passed a zero-tax increase budget with a smaller boost for education, but Wolf vetoed it, saying it didn’t meet his goals and used gimmickry to balance.
Mr. Wolf, a first-time officeholder who became governor in January, told KDKA-AM he believes that Republicans are probably doing “some testing of me as a new governor, which I think is designed to see if I’m really serious about standing up for what I believe and what I think the people of Pennsylvania want.”
Posted by carldavidson on July 14, 2015
PDA’s Conor Boylan with Bernie Sanders
Thanks to social media campaigns and behind-the-scenes work from the Progressive Democrats of America, Sanders’ chances at president have become a reality.
By Theo Anderson
In These Times
"Bernie is a no-nonsense guy who says what he believes and has legislation to back up what he believes."
July 13, 2015 – In late April, when he announced that he would enter the presidential race, Bernie Sanders was the relatively unknown junior U.S. Senator from Vermont. Now he’s everywhere.
Though the “Sanders surge” seemed to come from nowhere, it was long in the making. Sanders’ rapid rise in the polls, and his increasing visibility over the past few weeks, are in part the result of behind-the-scenes work by organizations like Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).
PDA was founded in 2004 by progressives at the Democratic National Convention who were disappointed with the party’s presidential nominee, John Kerry, but were unwilling to give up on electoral politics. One evening, at the convention’s conclusion, about 200 people met to chart a path forward.
“PDA was founded that night with an inside-outside strategy—to bring outside energy inside the party,” said Conor Boylan, who began working for PDA in 2009 and has been its co-director since 2014. “It was almost an insurgency: We’ll be members of the party, but we’ll also form our own chapters and hold the party accountable.”
PDA now has about 90,000 people on its email list. Of those, about 35,000 members actively support and participate in its work. It is funded by donations from its membership.
In early 2014, PDA began a petition drive to persuade Sanders to run for the presidency. When Sanders attended its tenth anniversary celebration in May of that year, PDA presented him with the petition. That event marked the beginning a strong push by the organization to encourage him to run for the Democratic nomination.
The effort paid off this spring when Sanders announced his candidacy. “We’ve just caught fire since then,” Boylan said. “So it has grown from this small idea—that we have to get Bernie to run—to him actually announcing. And I’m starting to think now that he could actually win this thing. It’s been amazing the way it’s gone the past 15 or 16 months. And where’s it going to end?”
Along with its sister organization, People Demanding Action (which focuses on advancing a policy agenda rather than electoral politics), PDA’s priorities are healthcare reform, campaign finance reform and environmental and economic justice.
House parties are central to PDA’s work. Its website allows people interested in volunteering for the Sanders campaign to sign up to organize a party or find one that’s scheduled near them. PDA sends organizers a kit with information on the basics of hosting a party and assigning people to different tasks, like handing out flyers and maintaining a social media presence. (Continued)
Posted by carldavidson on July 11, 2015
By Mark Gruenberg
July 10 2015 – WASHINGTON (PAI) – Hundreds of retirees, in D.C. for the legislative-political conference of the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), gave a warm welcome to Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., who is challenging Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. They began with chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” and interrupted his speech with several long – and unprompted-standing ovations.
The enthusiasm of the ARA delegates is important: The union-backed organization has 4.3 million members in every congressional district nationwide. And those retired unionists in turn represent the consistently largest and most-active political constituency in the U.S. – Democratic, Independent or Republican – the elderly.
ARA delegates gave Sanders — a down-the-line supporter of unions, workers and their rights, the elderly, Social Security and Medicare — thunderous applause as he reiterated those stands. After his speech, delegates spent their afternoon lobbying for those causes, too.
Sanders knew what the crowd wanted, which is what he has preached for his 24-year career in Congress and what he gave to the ARA on July 9: An active endorsement of their goals. He and the delegates are led by protecting and expanding Social Security – by scrapping the wage cap on income taxed to provide for benefits and using that money to pay more to beneficiaries. The American people want that, too, Sanders declared.
“Because of the ARA and other groups like it and because of the trade union movement, there was a poll two weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, where 61 percent of the people said ‘lift the caps,’ while 20 percent opposed,” he added, to cheers.
“But the struggle is not only to extend and expand Social Security,” he said. “It’s to have Medicare for all” – he specified it should be a single-payer government-run health plan – “and a national standard of living with dignity, raising the minimum wage to be a living wage, and to have pay equity for woman workers.” (Continued)
Posted by randyshannon on July 3, 2015
AFL-CIO’s Challenge: Tempering Unions’ Embrace of Bernie Sanders
AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka is warning labor leaders to hold off on endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid for the presidency, saying the federation’s bylaws specify that such endorsements are to be left up to the organization on a national level.
Trumka, in a memo sent out this week, reminded groups that they are not allowed to “endorse a presidential candidate” or even work on statements or resolutions that indicate a preference for any candidate, reports Politico. Further, he said that “personal statements” are also forbidden.
“Because in years past, and already this year, a number of questions have been raised,” Trumka said, “I want to remind you all that the AFL-CIO endorsement for president and vice president belongs to the national AFL-CIO.
“State federations, central and area labor councils, and all other subordinate bodies must follow the national AFL-CIO endorsement regarding president and vice president.”
Under the organization’s procedures on endorsement, a political committee makes its recommendation to the executive council in Washington, which then submits it for ratification by leaders of its member unions. A two-thirds majority is required to approve the endorsement.
Trumka said the AFL-CIO had sent out questionnaires to both Democrats and Republicans, with a Friday deadline, and plans to interview candidates during its July executive council meeting.
National union leaders, though, are drawn to the party’s more progressive side, represented by Sanders, an independent running for the Democratic nomination, and groups in South Carolina and Sanders’ home state of Vermont have already passed resolutions that support him. Some union leaders in Iowa are also calling for a resolution to be passed at their convention in August to back Sanders.
Posted by carldavidson on May 2, 2015
Kneeling: T. Berry; Standing First Row: Commissioner Tony Amadio; Alex de la Cruz; Tina Shannon; Myra Fabrizio; Janet Hill; Second Row: Commissioner Joe Spanik; Randy Shannon; Steven Kocherzat; Linwood Alford; Mark Benkart; Peter Deutsch; Rev. Ed Heist
By Linwood Alford
Council Director of Civil Rights and Economic Development
I want to thank the Beaver County Commissioners Tony Amadio and Joe Spanik for supporting a resolution "urging the state legislature to approve a raise in the Pennsylvania minimum wage from the pre-sent $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour". The resolution was approved by their two votes, with Com-missioner Dennis Nichols abstaining, at the Commissioners’ meeting of April 23rd.
The Labor Council approved a resolution calling for a raise in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour at its November membership meeting. SEIU Healthcare Pa. staff representative and Labor Council Trustee Kerrianne Theuerl arranged transportation for Council members to attend "Raise the Wage" rallies in Harrisburg in February and Pittsburgh in April.
The minimum wage resolution was placed on the Commissioners’ meeting agenda thanks to the efforts of Mark Benkart, Labor Council Com-munity Services Director and our local Moral Mondays chair-person, and Tina Shannon, president of the 12th C.D. Chapter of Progressive Demo-rats of America (PDA).
Mark and Tina spoke in favor of the resolution at the Com-missioners’ meeting. Also speaking in favor of the resolution were Janet Hill, national vice-president of CLUW, Rev. Ed Heist and your writer.
Minimum wage jobs destroy the morale of those who are unable to support their families even though they are working full time. A raise in the mini-mum wage to $10.10 per hour will build the self-esteem of these workers by assuring them that they can support their families.
Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction that makes people angry against each other be-cause self-preservation will always be the first law of nature. If we can work to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in other countries, why can’t we work to eliminate poverty at home?
I am truly thankful for all those of us who really believe in liberty and justice for all.
Posted by carldavidson on April 30, 2015
Source: Progressive Democrats of America
Dated: Apr. 30, 2015
Contacts: Steve Cobble, PDA Political Director, (571)-274-5144 email@example.com Conor Boylan, PDA Executive Director, (206)-965-0802 firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C.–Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), a grassroots federal PAC, announced the endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders for President. Speaking on behalf of PDA, Political Director Steve Cobble said, “We launched an effort just over a year ago to ask Sen. Bernie Sanders to run for President as a Democrat. We worked with our national ‘Run Bernie Run’ Team to build support for this historic candidacy, gathering more than 20,000 petition signatures, holding town hall meetings and house parties in several states, and designing social media efforts and a website, http://www.pdafund.com/
Cobble added, “We welcome the official announcement of Sen. Sanders’ candidacy today. He has been reaching out to voters across the country on his national listening tour, discussing the issues that matter most to most Americans. He has long shown a deep understanding of the systemic problems we face. We agree with Sen. Sanders when he says, ‘Most people have given up on the political process. They understand the political deck is stacked against them. They think there is no particular reason for them to come out and vote…'” PDA believes we must change this.
Cobble quoted Sen. Sanders as saying, “This country faces more serious problems than at any time since the Great Depression, and there is a horrendous lack of serious political discourse or ideas out there that can address these crises. Somebody has got to represent the working-class and the middle-class of this country.” Cobble concluded, “Bernie Sanders is a progressive, principled, politician. He has an established record of standing up to the big-money interests who have far too much power over the economic and political life of this country. Bernie will take on the big fights–campaign finance reform, global warming, wealth inequality–into the Democratic debates. We support his candidacy because he knows that his job as a candidate is to help bring together a massive grassroots populist / progressive coalition that can win elections and transform politics. That’s been PDA’s mission since our founding in 2004.”
PDA is proud that USA Today and The Nation noted that PDA launched its ‘Run Bernie Run’ campaign last spring, collecting thousands of petition signatures calling on Sanders to run as a Democrat. We will follow up by helping raise money for the Sanders campaign, operate volunteer phone banks, organize house parties, and otherwise support the Sanders for President campaign.
Contacts: Steve Cobble, PDA Political Director, (571)-274-5144 email@example.com Conor Boylan, PDA Executive Director, (206)-965-0802 firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by carldavidson on April 20, 2015
Our County Commissioners agree!
They will be passing a resolution on Thursday evening at their regularly scheduled meeting to support raising the minimum wage.
They have invited us to attend.
THURSDAY 4/23/15 BEAVER COUNTY COURTHOUSE 6:00 PM
Here in Beaver County, we once had a wonderful standard of living. One wage earner made enough to support an entire family. That money flowed through our community, making life better for everyone. We and our neighbors had money for the services that a proliferation of small businesses offered. Our children went to college and happily shopped for their supplies. Hobbies and recreation abounded. Now we have more minimum wage jobs in our County than ever. More of our neighbors are struggling just to pay rent and put food on the table. If their car breaks down, or they get sick and miss work, their family experiences a crisis. On an everyday basis they have trouble buying warm school clothes for their children. More and more of us are winding up in this position.
Posted by carldavidson on April 16, 2015
State records miss half the waste pumped into injection wells
By John Finnerty
CNHI Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG, April 16, 2015 — State environmental officials didn’t account for half the waste pumped into injection disposal wells last year, a comparison with federal data shows.
The state’s injection wells took 330,000 barrels of waste left over after natural gas drilling last year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That’s about six truckloads a day.
The state Department of Environmental Protection only accounted for 167,500 barrels, according to its records.
That means about three truckloads of waste per day are unaccounted for in the state’s tracking system.
The discrepancy “begs the question of whether Pennsylvania should let the industry expand,” said Nadia Steinzor, eastern program coordinator for Earthworks Action, an environmental watchdog.
Pressure is mounting for more disposal wells to serve the burgeoning gas drilling industry.
Steinzor’s group released a report earlier this month that criticized efforts of Pennsylvania and three other states — Ohio, West Virginia and New York — in managing waste generated by the industry.
Injection wells are a conventional way of disposing of liquid waste from fracking, the process in which drillers use pressurized water and chemicals to release underground reservoirs of gas.
Controversy stems from studies that have blamed injection wells for earthquakes. Neighbors of proposed well sites also raise fears about pollution to water supplies and problems related to truck traffic.
Posted by randyshannon on April 15, 2015
As legislation to fast-track congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership gets ready to finally make its debut in Congress this week, a top Democratic member of the House announced he would oppose the bill.
Representative Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, wrote in a letter to Representative Sandy Levin, the ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, that he would oppose fast-track authority, also known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA. The letter was obtained by The Nation and its authenticity was confirmed by an aide to Van Hollen.
Van Hollen opposed a previous iteration of fast-track legislation last year, as did most other top Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But so far, many of those Democrats (including Van Hollen) had not yet announced a position on the new TPA legislation being hammered out by Senators Ron Wyden, Orrin Hatch, and Representative Paul Ryan. (Levin opted out of those talks, and believes Congress should see at least the outline of a trade deal before taking up legislation to fast-track its approval.) Pelosi still remains publicly undecided.
If Van Hollen—a visible member of the Democratic caucus and ranking member of a major committee—ultimately supported the Wyden-Hatch-Ryan bill, it would have been a signal that House Democrats were ready to go along with the Obama administration’s trade agenda. But in his letter, Van Hollen wrote “it is clear that many [of my concerns] will not be included in a revised TPA.”
While the legislation remains behind closed doors for now, Van Hollen said continuing public opposition from Republicans made it clear that the TPA legislation wouldn’t include additional currency, labor, and environmental provisions. Moreover, he wrote that since TPA was being unveiled so close to the conclusion of the overall trade talks, “it is clearly too late for TPA to have any meaningful impact on the shape of TPP negotiations.”