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Last night we had the opportunity to take questions from those who attended the candidate debate hosted by the Sebring Grange in Southern Tioga County. If you would like to know more about this one hundred and twenty five year old landmark building whose membership organized in 1891 please take time to read the research compiled by Joyce Tice at https://www.joycetice.com/organize/hms05rs.htm.
Here is my recap on last night.
* Responsible citizenship and the education of our young people on the morals and values of our culture are important to us. How do we know what your values are as our state representative candidate.
I can’t tell you how much it means to all of us to hear time and again as we have debated how proud our community is to have the four of us representing the issues and concerns of the 68th District in this election process. Family values, integrity and knowing right from wrong are woven into the very fabric of our characters and we all have the same common denominator: We were raised on a farm,our family and friends were raised on farms, our neighbors and teachers were raised on farms. Everyone who has touched our lives has earned a living from farming or have owned or still own land that was first tilled centuries ago by an immigrant who came here to be free and to have the God Given and Constitutional Right to better their situation in life through hard work and an honest endeavor.
* What is your position on the state budget and the state pension.
Carrie Heath took the lead in the debate on the state pension from her experience as a vested teacher and I followed up with my own knowledge from a subcontractor’s view working in Harrisburg for eight year’s of how the entrenchment of life time bureaucrats serving administration after administration only cements the disparity between what state employees feel entitled too and what the rest of us can afford to pay 80,000 people to provide public services to 12 million Pennsylvanians. State employees are afforded an unequal amount of job security and financial protection compared to the those of us who are self-employed producing the food that feeds this nation. Where is our security, our buffer, our bailout when we are in need. Where is the help for the dairy crisis right now as we speak?
Property tax payees provide, by some reports, upwards of 17% of the revenue to the state (http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/sorry-pennsylvania-voters-your-property-tax-isnt-going-anywhere) but a whopping 75% of the local school district bill. I feel strongly that local and state public service compensation should be no more than than the median income of the constituents paying your salary. Term limits and earn your pay apply. There are other ways to reward public service without locking in a increasing value life time monetary pension. We need a system that is dynamic and rises and falls with the per capita income and economic circumstances under consideration. How we broaden that mind set and change the direction of the spending problem in Harrisburg starts with commitment, a desire and compassion to advocate for change and a vision on how to build that road. I have that vision.
* The lack of reliable communication services here is increasingly a burden. How can you help address the disrepair of our utility infrastructure.
We are all in agreement that our internet capacity and land line phone service infrastructure is deplorable. Demanding competition in the local market and penalties for utility providers who do not respond, upgrade or provide reliable service is being addressed by the legislatures now. Having a legislature who lives in the void between the valleys and mountains we call our home is a strong motivator to communicating loud and clear on this issue – don’t you think? Surcharges and line delivery fees should come with a mandated requirement that services were received.
* What is your position on legislation that would change state law that would legalized big game hunting on Sundays?
So we all more or less said, we are opposed to Sunday hunting for personal reasons, but as a state legislature we recognize that we have to listen to both sides of the discussion. So I took the time to talk about the emotional vs the economics of big game hunting in PA. I’ve hunted since I was a kid; I worked at Davis Sporting Goods all through high school and college selling hunting licenses; and I worked with Game Commission for eight years on many projects and regulations of interest to them and their license holders. Knowledge, experience and wisdom that is what I bring to the table. This question was about recreational enjoyment of public owned lands by absentee landowners vs private property owner rights to enjoy a day off, observe and respect their religious convictions on the seventh day. A gentleman from the floor also pointed out that as a father who works six days a week, he may only have Sunday to hunt with his son. However it is perfectly legal to shoot varmints and vermin on Sundays. So the real issue is big game.
How I see it is this, each vote counts and there are twelve million people in this state to be represented on this issue vs 940,000 licensed hunters(http://www.pgc.pa.gov/HuntTrap/LicensesandPermits/Pages/HuntingLicenseSalesReport.aspx.
Can we compromise? I am sure there are plenty of state owned properties or designated areas within those boundaries that are remote enough that hunters could go there to shoot big game on a Sunday if they were not lucky enough or dedicated enough to obtain one during the regular season hours. Let’s ask first. In fact we could take it a step further and identify one location that has too many deer and designate that as father and child Sunday hunting for those who want to develop that skill on the one day they have off from work.
Let’s ask first.
Would it not help matters if we could relax our hunting and fishing regulations and take advantage of the modernization of our weather technology and the recognition of the tourism dollars and state revenue dollars generated and work with Mother Nature instead of setting our start and end dates in stone?
Wouldn’t it have been great if Fish and Boat could have announced that opening day of the season was going to be 24 hours earlier this year due to the 80 degree forecast for Friday instead of the freezing wind driven blustery Saturday those of us who went out that day endured? What about that One Day Party Permit I asked Jon Arway for a few years ago? Such a great idea that one is still!
* Talk to us about the Opiod Epidemic here and the overall drug and alcohol crisis that has blown up in our two counties in the past eight years and the impact it has had; and will continue to have.
We all talked about the opiod crisis including a recovering addict in the audience who is the expert on this subject. We need to listen to her and to all those who are dealing with this and not opine from the point of view of an observer. This is a national policy change. Not a state legislative law – but we as a state can say – NO MORE. We can stop passing emotional responses that have no impact; simple resolutions that are just a way to justify going to work; and start exerting our right by active legislation to protect our citizens from harm.
I have farming clients who are raising their grandchildren and going bankrupt while they wait for the coroner to call and say their nightmare is finally gone. They and I have had this conversation many times. We have to talk about it in terms we understand so we can understand, if you understand what I mean…. So we equate this issue of drug injection overdose to being bitten by a rabid animal and being infected with the rabies virus. Life and death is a daily occurrence for those who farm. The emotional side of the coin does not change the facts. Being told your dog has rabies and has to be put down and your children and your family may have been exposed is no different an emotion than this issue. Inoculation,quarantine or euthanization are the only post injection choices we have with rabies. There is no cure for rabies once you are infected. It is that frickin serious. Preventing an outbreak and responding immediately is the only way to stop it. It is the same with foot and mouth disease, the plague, Ebola…I could go on and on…. my point is this: Why then I ask, do we not have the same fear of these new opiods on the streets? Who is behind this effort to exterminate us? Why has our response been so slow?
Bottom line, you cannot grow poppies here legally so you cannot make your own plant derived opiod. The government has made it the responsibility of the health care provider to make sure you do not abuse your opiod prescription. If addiction is inherent in any opiod pain killer than people should not be allowed to administer it to themselves, ever. Go to a registered clinic and be treated in house. It’s that simple.
I am a simple solution common sense person and I say what I am thinking – I don’t regurgitate what someone else told me to say – with age comes wisdom and the fortitude to stand on ones own merit.
The reality is, the illegal drugs on the streets are of a toxicity class unsafe for human consumption and they are man-made chemicals. Lumping them all under one term is not helping matters. These are not plant opiods from Papaver somniferum, regardless of what you are told. Not everyone is overdosing on pain pills, most people would not turn to needles if they could receive financial help for their chronic pain. Much of what we have now is a manufactured toxin designed to destroy. Etc. Etc. Etc. Scientists did this and we the people can say enough is enough, this is too deadly we have to stop.
Or maybe Pennsylvania needs some women, a woman down there to yell ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
The common denominator again among all of us in this race is this: We all have family or friends in this area who are suffering from the addiction pandemic here. The emotional and financial cost of this epidemic in our country is destroying us as a population, as a race of people. The source of this epidemic is not just poor choice. It is not just lack of moral character or low intelligence. The fact is our government allowed potent pharmaceutical manufactured synthetic drugs to be developed, rejected them as unsafe but made no requirement to destroy them. Those chemistries were then sold to the highest bidder. The end product is now pouring in from foreign countries who are in the business of making money from drug addiction. My ending comment, we have to stop creating weapons that serve no other purpose than to poisonous and render useless a Homo sapien.
The right to farm is the cornerstone we need to set to turn PA around. Then watch us build anew. Farmers are the foundation of this Commonwealth. Bring back pride in the one and you will see a return to normalcy.
* What is the one thing you want to accomplish in this position? Your single most reason for running?
My answer to this was unequivocal. I would amend the wording in the Clean Stream Law that erroneously linked and defined manure as raw sewage and I would strip DEP of the requirement to enforce the manure manual. DEP serves a purpose and they do it well. They excel at protecting the environment from industrial pollution. They suck at understanding farming though! They have no mandated requirement to use cow or common sense.
Remove this misguided interpretation of the law in the hands of an environmental agency. The sewage regulations and terminology of this law were never intended to apply to cattle manure and the power vested in DEP to over regulate farmers on this issue has caused undue hardship and financial and emotional stress at a time when the dairy market is collapsing. https://www.pacode.com/secure/data/025/chapter91/chap91toc.html
I am also a strong advocate for creating an AGRICULTURE PRODUCER PROTECTION AGENCY with the mandated responsibility to promote and protect the industry of farming as a market and above all the right to farm sustainable. I started working on this concept in 2012. There is no balance right now in our natural resource agencies and agriculture is a natural resource!
We who farm are over regulated and under paid. We have too many agencies and bureaus doing the same thing and no one is marketing and promoting what PA does best – we grow food. It is time we got serious about food security.
Agriculture production is Pennsylvania’s number one commodity. It is the core natural resource asset of our state as a geographic territory in North America and we have failed to protect it from our own over zealous environmental regulations. It is an imbalance that must be rectified. We can’t eat trees!
Vote for me and I will advocate for the farmer in you. Melissa Bravo, Write-In Candidate
Note: To see the discussion on vocational education see my next post please.