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House Bill 153: Reducing the Size of the PA House of Representatives

From Sen. Mike Folmer's Newletter:

House Bill 153 passed both the PA Senate and House in the 2015-16 Legislative Session. As this is a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the PA House of Representatives from 203 Members to 151, it will have to also pass again in the 2017-18 Legislative Session before going to the voters to be approved in a general election.

 Starting an Important Debate
Article I, Section 2 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution affirms: “All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they [the people] have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.”
However, Pennsylvania’s Constitution provides just one practical way for people to alter their government: the amendment process, which requires statewide voter approval after passage by both chambers of the General Assembly in two consecutive Legislative Sessions.
One recurring proposal for change is a constitutional amendment to reduce the size of the General Assembly. Recently, the Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, considered two such bills.
Senator Vogel’s Senate Bill 488 is a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce the Pennsylvania House from 203 Members to 153 and the Pennsylvania Senate from 50 to 45. Representative Knowles’ House Bill 153 is another proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to reduce the Pennsylvania House only: to 151 Members.
While both bills were reported to the full Senate for consideration, the debate was both spirited and insightful:
Arguments in favor of a smaller Legislature note strong public support, possible cost savings, and the ability to better use technology for constituent services. Opponents say a reduction would create districts too large for personal interactions, higher costs due to more offices and staff, and particular challenges for rural areas.
In doing due diligence on these issues, I contacted a number of groups and was pleased the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau shared their concerns: “[A] reduction in [the] number of House and Senate Districts would further diminish the opportunity for those in rural areas to have a meaningful voice in our Commonwealth’s business . . . . Not only would a reduction in legislative districts increase the likelihood of shifting representation away from rural communities, the fewer districts remaining in rural areas will likely be larger in size, making it even more difficult and time-consuming for the elected representative in these districts to adequately serve his or her constituents.”
During our Committee discussion, we learned cost savings of reducing the Senate from 50 to 45 was estimated at $9.5 Million. Also, when comparing the size of State Senates with the populations they serve, Pennsylvania’s 50 Senators in a Commonwealth of 12,702,379 people results in an average per Senate District of 254,048 people – 7th smallest in the nation.
The average size of State Senates in the US is 39, with Minnesota having the largest (67) and Alaska the smallest (20 Senators). Four other states also have 50 Senators like Pennsylvania: Indiana, Iowa, Montana, and North Carolina.
The average State House across the nation has 108 Members, with New Hampshire being the largest (400) and Alaska – again – the smallest (40 House Members).
The average overall size of state legislatures nationwide is 148 Members. New Hampshire is the largest (424 House and Senate Members) and Nebraska (the only unicameral legislature) the smallest (49 Members total).
Because both SB 488 and HB 153 are proposed constitutional amendments impacting the people’s government, I believe the people should decide and I look forward to the debate.

Another day, another assault on liberty

The gun grabber faction of Congress has embarked on yet another assault on liberty and the 2nd Amendment, filing a bill called the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2015” (H.R. 4269) in the House. It was initiated by Rep. David Cicilline (Communist-R.I.) with some 126 listed co-conspirators, all communists listed as Democrats.
The bill does not even hide the fact that it is a direct assault on the 2nd Amendment. The first line of the bill reads, “To regulate assault weapons, to ensure the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and other purposes (emphasis added).” The “other purposes” are to begin an overt assault on lawful gun owners as a first step to remove from them their right to possess any and all weapons for self-defense and sporting purposes.
The bill lists more than 160 rifles, shotguns and pistols that are banned under the bill. The common denominator in them is that the guns look scary to some people, are semi-automatic, may have features that make them easier to handle and have the ability to accept what the cabal has decided are “large capacity magazines,” which equates to anything more than 10. The banned weapons are less powerful than many weapons listed specifically in the bill as not banned.
The term “assault weapon” is a nebulous and meaningless term in reality. It’s a code word applied to a class of weapons that simply look and function a certain way. They are not used to “assault” people any more than other weapons, and are in fact used to commit murder less often than less expensive weapons and even hands and feet, knives and blunt objects.
According to the FBI, rifles of all types were used to commit only 285 murders in 2013 (down from 351 in 2009), and so-called “assault weapons” are just a small subset of rifles generally.
The previous assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, had no effect on crime. From the 1997 study on the assault weapons ban by the National Institute of Justice:
Using a variety of national and local data sources, we found no statistical evidence of post-ban decreases in either the number of victims per gun homicide incident, the number of gunshot wounds per victim, or the proportion of gunshot victims with multiple wounds. Nor did we find assault weapons to be overrepresented in a sample of mass murders involving guns.
In 2004, the NIJ revisited the gun ban. It concluded:
Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban. [i]
Under normal circumstances one could assume that a Republican-controlled House and Senate would relegate a gun ban bill of any type to file 13, where it belongs –especially one as overreaching as this.
But given Speaker Paul Ryan’s (Fascist-Wis.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (Fascist-Ky.) penchant for supporting President Barack Obama’s liberty-stealing, big-government, progressive legislation, nothing can be ruled out until the bill is dead, dead, dead. Meanwhile, the undocumented usurper currently despoiling the People’s House has promised to embark on another gun grab of his own, attempting to write new 2nd Amendment-infringing legislation with his executive pen in what would be yet another unconstitutional power grab.
But if the confiscators are somehow able to get a new weapons ban passed, a revolution is likely to ensue. And it would not be bloodless. Rest assured that being a confiscator would be an especially dangerous and short-lived occupation.
Americans are buying weapons and ammunition in record numbers (Obama will go down as the greatest weapons salesman of all time — both to Americans and Islamists). And polls show 54 percent of Americans oppose a ban, especially while the regime is arming ISIS terrorists and inviting them into America through the front door it has propped open.
And here are a few numbers for you to chew on. There were 8,454 people killed with firearms in 2013 (the last year for which figures are available). Assuming one murderer per murder committed, this legislation is designed to apply to 0.0026 percent of the population (or 8,454 people out of a country of 321.7 million). Breaking that down even further, assuming one murderer for each murder committed with a rifle, and that only rifles falling under the proposed gun ban were used in those murders, the legislation is designed to apply to only 0.00008 percent of the population. Or in other words, more than 321,738,000 Americans did not commit murder with a weapon on the ban list, had no intention of doing so and never will.
The regime’s intent is total disarmament of the citizens. A disarmed citizenry is a dependent one. A dependent citizenry is a frightened one. A frightened citizenry is easier to control.

[i] “Control: Exposing the Truth About Guns,” by Glenn Beck, page 44.
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States with Governors Opposing Syrian Refugees

States with Governors Opposing Syrian Refugees

In the aftermath of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, governors across the United States are attempting to shut their doors on Syrian refugees looking to find a safe haven in the country.

As of Monday evening, more than two dozen governors announced opposition to policies that would permit Syrian refugees to enter their states amid concerns they could have ties to terrorists.

Thus far, states whose governors oppose more Syrian refugees include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, GeorgiaIdahoIllinoisIndiana, IowaKansas, Louisiana, MaineMassachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, NebraskaNew HampshireNew Jersey, New MexicoNorth Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, TennesseeTexas, and Wisconsin.
Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin, who will take office Dec. 8, also said he opposes resettlement efforts.
The movement, which was overwhelmingly spearheaded by Republican governors, came after French prosecutors discovered a Syrian passport on one of the suspected Islamic State suicide bombers in Paris. That finding raised concerns that terrorists are embedding with refugees to enter Europe and other nations.
The series of attacks in Paris on Friday night left more than 130 dead and hundreds others injured. French President François Hollande called the attacks an “act of war” and launched airstrikes against ISIS.
President Barack Obama sharply pushed back against the growing number of states attempting to undermine his policies surrounding Syrian refugees, saying Monday at a press conference in Antalya, Turkey, that it would be “shameful” and “not American” to close America’s doors on Syrian refugees.
“When some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” he said. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
In September, Obama vowed to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States next year.
As of Nov. 3, there were more than 4 million registered Syrian refugees, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.
Those issuing executive orders to block refugees pushed back on the president’s narrative while announcing their decision.
“Michigan is a welcoming state, and we are proud of our rich history of immigration,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. “But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”
In a letter addressed to the president, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity. As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril.”
While their responses send a clear message to the president, John Malcolm, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said the practical implications blocking refugees are limited.
“Governors can certainly order state agencies to stop doing anything to assist federal authorities with their resettlement efforts, but they cannot stop federal authorities from continuing those efforts, nor can they stop immigrants who are lawfully admitted to this country from moving to and settling in those states,” Malcolm said. “They can, however, ask state law enforcement authorities to keep an eye on the refugees who settle in their states, so long as those authorities do so within the bounds of the Constitution.”
“It’s abhorrent for the federal government not to consult with and consider the interests of the states,” added Jim Carafano, a foreign policy expert at The Heritage Foundation. “Particularly the views of governors, as it impacts the welfare and public safety of their citizens.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott addressed those concerns in a letter sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. In that letter, dated Nov. 16, Scott wrote:
[I]t is our understanding that the state does not have the authority to prevent the federal government from funding the relocation of these Syrian refugees to Florida even without state support. Therefore, we are asking the United States Congress to take immediate and aggressive action to prevent President Obama and his administration from using any federal tax dollars to fund the relocation of up to 425 Syrian refugees (the total possible number of refugees pending for state relocation support at this time) to Florida, or anywhere in the United States, without an extensive evaluation of the risk these individuals may post to our national security.
In response, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced legislation on Monday afternoon that would suspend issuance of visas to refugees from countries with a high risk of terrorism until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security meets certain standards. Those standards include fingerprinting and screening all refugees, implement a tracking system “to catch attempted overstays,” and enhancing security measures that are already in place.
“The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door. The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks,” Paul said in a press release.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also called to suspend the refugee program.
“The Syrian refugee program should be suspended until the American people are satisfied that they know exactly who the president is admitting into the country via this program,” Burr said. “There is simply too much at stake, and the security of the American people should be our top priority.”
This article and its accompanying map has been updated to reflect the growing number of governors who do not wish to permit Syrian refugees into their state. 

Will You Let This Be America?

This short history lesson happened in Argentina, and it’s now happening in the U.S. “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” or should say in “America”
Will You Let This Be America?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase mandated levels of ethanol

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase mandated levels of ethanol and other biofuels that must be added to American gasoline. This misguided policy will cost every American—and it should be shelved, or at least scaled back.
Email the EPA: Say NO to Increased Biofuel Mandates!

What’s the problem with diluting gasoline with ethanol and other biofuels?
Engine Damage– E15 (fuel with 15% ethanol) can damage engines. The EPA’s mandate risks harming cars, motorcycles, boats, lawnmowers, and other equipment.
Decreased Fuel Efficiency– Ethanol contains 33 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline, which means fewer miles per gallon and more trips to the gas pump.
Increased Food Costs – Ethanol comes from corn. American families are already paying an estimated $2,000 a year more for food because of ethanol mandates. Let’s not make this problem worse.
Ultimately, Congress should repeal the ill-conceived Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). But for now, it’s critical that Energy Citizens tell the EPA to halt its plan to increase the biofuels mandate.
The Energy Citizens Team

State Legislators for Legal Immigration Files Amicus Brief Against Obama Administration’s Ongoing Push for Backdoor Amnesty

Pennsylvania State Representative and State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI) Founder Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) today (5/11) announced the filing of an amicus brief to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Texas and 20 other states that have sued the federal government to prevent the Obama administration’s implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Residents (DAPA) program — more commonly known as “Executive Amnesty.”

On Feb. 16, the Fifth Circuit Court placed a preliminary injunction on the implementation of the DAPA program to which the Obama administration subsequently appealed. As a result, the SLLI amicus brief was signed by coalition members in 18 states who strongly believe that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ should permanently strike down the implementation of Executive Amnesty due to the adverse impact that increasing populations of illegal aliens would have on state resources and the rule of law.

“Once again, SLLI’s most recently filed amicus brief focuses on the catch-22 scenario that individual states face due to the Obama administration’s relentless attempts to impose blanket amnesty for illegal aliens via executive order,” said Metcalfe. “In U.S. v. Arizona, the U.S Supreme Court ruled
that states have limited authority to protect their citizens from the adverse effects of the influx of illegal aliens. The court reached this conclusion because it assumed that the federal government would enforce immigration laws as stipulated by Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. However, as every state involved in this latest federal lawsuit is fully aware, the federal government remains AWOL in exercising its Constitutional obligation to protect every state in this Union against invasion.”

Filed with the assistance of Judicial Watch, the latest SLLI amicus brief again highlights the importance of dual sovereignty between the states and the federal government, including:
 •Sovereign states are entitled to protect their citizens from the effects of illegal immigration.
 •The federalist structure of government does not function when one party ignores the rule of law.
 •Sovereign states are not powerless when the federal government ignores its own laws.
 •And, states are likely to succeed based on the merits and precedent that the federal government must comply with its own laws.

To view the amicus brief in its entirety or for more information, visit



The Sequel
Additional cast members are needed now.
Eyes On Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition (PTCC), Lebanon-912, Tri-county Campaign for Liberty, Chester/Lancaster Against School Tax Association, Berks County Patriots, and Berks Tea Party, have written a sequel with a revised script and new action plan.
“Eliminate School Taxes”
The reviews are in. CAST 76 (the original) hit the box office and we found out what the audience wants to see.  We are now ready to release the sequel with more action scenes.  We know who the villians are, and we will not stop until they surrender.  The good guys win in the end, so “Lights, Camera, Action”.
 The 2015 Legislature is now in session. Some have never seen a show like ours. We will get their attention. They think they have figured out the ending, but we wrote the script, not them. We don’t plan on a cliffhanger. We will have School Taxes Eliminated.
We will continue to give you the information you need and the legislators who are late to the show.
We need additional CAST supporters to continue the massive state-wide grassroots campaign. Send your letters, email, make your phone calls and personal visits. Choose the activities you feel most comfortable with as a volunteer, but please sign up to help. Every letter, email, phone call or visit makes a difference to eliminate school property tax.
Contact . Please include your name, email address, phone number, and preferred activity (letter writing, emailing, making phone calls or visiting the legislators)

CAST76 - How to do the weekly mailing

Explains the process for doing the weekliy emails.
CAST76 - How to do the weekly mailing

How the Federal Government Controls Public Education

States throughout the country are fighting to repeal the outrageous Common Core standards. But, too often, they are being replaced by nearly identical standards. Learn how and why states are being bullied into accepting educations standards they don't want.
How the Federal Government Controls Public Education

Support PA State Efforts for School Tax Elimination

Brian Keith Fake of Easton is a very active member of the PTCC Facebook page who has done tremendous work for the Property Tax Independence Act during the past year by composing, printing, and arranging for thousands of promotional mailers in support of the legislation.  These mailers sent to the Johnstown area were very instrumental in flipping Senator John Wozniak, an HB/SB 76 opponent, to being a strong proponent for the bill.  Brian has been financing the effort himself and with donations from PTCC Facebook members who have contributed more than $2,200 in the past several months.

Over the past month there have been active discussions with HB/SB 76 sponsors and leadership in both the House and Senate and it appears that the bill will finally be allowed to run in both chambers early in the new legislative session; I’ll have a detailed update on these activities early in the new year.  Because of this, it is more important than ever to get out the HB/SB 76 message across the state.  Brian has ramped up his effort even further in anticipation of a vote on the legislation but he needs financial help to continue the mailers.  He has set up a gofundme Web page to accept donations and you’re invited to visit the page to help.

Please donate as much as you are able and share, share, share this email with your members but please remove all email addresses when forwarding.  Help to end school property taxes in Pennsylvania!

Property Tax Elimination Yard Signs Available

At the request of several members we have ordered a new batch of Property Tax Signs.  These are similar to the previous yard signs without the red Lebanon 9-12 banner across the bottom.  Cost for a sign is $5.00.  We have a limited number of sign stands available and they'll go out on a first come, first served basis.
You can reserve your yard sign(s) by contacting Jim Rodkey via email at or via phone at 717 228-2220.
Let's start the new year by letting everyone know.  Elimination and nothing else.
For Life, For Liberty, For Property