Pensions and Pension Reform
Upon winning my first election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2016, I declined the “Cadillac Pension Plan” reserved for state legislators. Why? Because I couldn’t take it in good conscience, knowing that the state had already accrued over $70 Billion in unfunded pension debts – debts that were causing our school property taxes to rise.
Instead, I helped pass legislation to reform our state pension systems and bring them closer in line with what the private sector offers. Moving closer to a 401(K) style plan, the pensions being offered to new state employees are a little more modest, while allowing the state to make promises it can actually keep. This historic pension reform package also allowed current pensioners to keep their pensions, and it didn’t renege on any of the promises made to current teachers and state employees.
In time, this reform should help to alleviate the burdens placed on our school districts, and it allows us to begin the long process of paying down the debts we’ve accrued over many years.
Gerrymandering and Redistricting Reform
For over two centuries, politicians of both major parties have been unfairly drawing district boundary lines that dilute the voices of voters. In some cases, these politicians even draw their own district boundary lines. Although this has been a common practice for a long time, it’s wrong.
That’s why I introduced House Bill 722, a constitutional amendment to create a citizen commission of nonpoliticians tasked with redrawing district boundary lines after each decennial census. As several other states are now beginning to do, this measure would take politicians and lobbyists out of the room when district lines are being drawn for Congress, the PA State House, and the PA State Senate. It would reduce the influence of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, while keeping incumbent legislators from choosing their voters based on party registration and voter data. People should choose their representatives – not the other way around.
HB 722 gained more co-sponsors than any other bill introduced this session. As the prime Republican sponsor for this bill, I was proud to reach across the aisle and work with legislators from both parties to advance this legislative proposal. Although this bill has yet to pass the state legislature, I will continue to press for free and fair elections through redistricting reform. It’s never too late to do the right thing.
I am very proud to have passed state budgets that made historic, record-high investments in education. As a product of our local public schools myself, I support fully funding Pennsylvania’s public schools. As a child, I attended West Bradford Elementary School, East Bradford Elementary School, Peirce Middle School and B. Reed Henderson High School. The school districts covered by the 158th District – West Chester Area School District, Downingtown Area School District, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, Kennett Consolidated School District, and Avon Grove School District – consistently rank among the top in Pennsylvania and the nation. I will support efforts to fully fund our local schools and school districts while simultaneously promoting accountability. We must end the practice of using tenure as the sole determinant in employment decisions in our public schools and make sure the most qualified and effective teachers are the ones working with our children. We must end the practice of using pass/fail tests like the Keystone Examinations as a graduation requirement. Finally, we must protect the rights of parents to send their children to the schools of their choice because one size does not fit all. Parents should be able to choose the best school for their child’s needs. I will continue to support charter schools, magnet schools and EITCs (Educational Improvement Tax Credits) to enhance learning opportunities.
As a former board member for the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, I entered my first term in Harrisburg determined to help protect victims of intimate partner violence. That’s why I co-sponsored House Bill 2060, which forces domestic abusers to relinquish their firearms within 24 hours of being issued a PFA (Protection from Abuse Order). Previously, those abusers had up to 60 days to turn over their guns, and they were often just handed over to a family member living nearby. Thankfully, we passed this legislation, and Governor Tom Wolf signed it into law.
Law abiding citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but domestic abusers are not law abiding citizens. That’s why I modernized our state laws and help protect those who live in the shadows. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate based on a person’s age, race, sex, zip code, sexual orientation, or financial status. It has taken the lives of countless individuals right here in Chester County. That’s why I will always fight to protect our neighbors from intimate partner violence.
AGRICULTURE & The penn vet new bolton center
Only two months after being sworn into office, I learned that Governor Tom Wolf (D) and several of my Republican colleagues were proposing to cut the annual state funding for the Penn Vet New Bolton Center from the 2017-18 budget. In exchange for some state funding, the research scientists at Pennsylvania’s only veterinary school conduct infectious disease research that protects our horses, cattle, swine, and poultry – the very items found in our grocery stores and school cafeterias. Given that the New Bolton Center is located in the district I represent, it was my job to get this funding back in the budget. After writing hundreds of handwritten notes to my colleagues, making dozens of phone calls, convening several meetings, and taking tours of the New Bolton Center, I prevailed. On October 25th, 2017, it passed overwhelmingly (171 Yeas – 14 Nays) with far more votes than had been anticipated.
Sometimes you have to spend money to save exponentially more money in the long term. I understand this, and that is why I am dedicated to preserving the state funding for one of my district’s most valuable assets. With a background in homeland security, I know that some enemies of the state would try to infect our food supply if they could. Thankfully, the talented research scientists at the Penn Vet New Bolton Center stay ten steps ahead of bio-terrorists. That’s why we must ensure that our district’s most valuable assets are protected – namely, our families, our livestock, and the food we eat.
More Jobs & A Stronger Economy
Where businesses thrive, property taxes dive. Small business owners are the risk takers and job creators of our community. I will work hard to get Harrisburg’s bureaucrats off the backs of our small business owners, so they can keep hiring our talented workers in Chester County and continue to grow our economy. I will support legal reforms that bring fairness, balance, and common sense to the justice system and reduce lawsuit abuse against our businesses while protecting the right of legitimate plaintiffs to seek justice. Let’s pass comprehensive tort reform that ends “venue shopping” and limits trial attorneys’ ability to frivolously try a case in Philadelphia when an accident occurred in Chester County, and vice versa. Let’s get the state government out of the liquor business through privatization and modernize our liquor system to give consumers better prices and more choices. I’m honored to have received the endorsements of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry (CCCBI), and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
I am very proud to have invested millions in transportation infrastructure. It is widely known that Pennsylvania has some of the most structurally deficient roads and bridges in the nation. Having reliable infrastructure is good for public safety, commerce, and countless public services. I will continue to be a tireless advocate for receiving our fair share of transportation funding as our Representative in the General Assembly. Not only is heavy traffic and congestion a nuisance, but it directly affects our quality of life. Let’s invest more into public infrastructure and help businesses grow and create more jobs.
Open Space Preservation
I’ve been proud to champion the cause of open space preservation in the halls of Harrisburg. In June of 2018, I helped pass House Bill 1037, which I also co-sponsored. HB 1037 helps to protect preserved land by preventing eminent domain from being used to condemn it. The bill passed overwhelmingly, and Governor Wolf signed it into law.
I also proudly co-sponsored the Growing Greener III program, an environmental stewardship fund aimed at preserving our farmlands, wetlands and forestlands in Pennsylvania. I want my children to enjoy the same trails and woods that I enjoyed as a child growing up in East Bradford and West Bradford Townships. I want every Pennsylvanian to enjoy the pristine outdoors that Chester County and the rest of our Commonwealth have to offer.
Preserved open space offers a glimpse into an open time capsule. It affords us the opportunity to experience the outdoors like previous generations have for hundreds of years. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. That’s why I value open space and preserving our heritage through open space protections.