SB 1029: Criminalizing Law Abiding Citizens!

Is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania the Rule of Law in this state or not?

Our Commonwealth Constitution begins with a Declaration of Rights and Section 21 is the Declaration of our right to bear arms.  It says

The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State SHALL NOT BE QUESTIONED.

Our legislators take an oath of office to uphold the Commonwealth Constitution and the simple wording of Article 1, Section 21 is pretty clear.  This, however is not stopping Senators Art Haywood and Vincent Hughes from ignoring it with their legislation, SB 1029.

Under this legislation, before you could purchase a firearm for your protection you would have to complete required mandatory training prior to even applying.  This will include a Firearm Eligibility Card that requires $50 upfront and $30 to renew.  Then there’s administrative fees, Sheriff’s Fee, and other assorted fees.So you can’t just go to a gun store, purchase a gun, and then take training — it has to be done before you even are allowed access to the firearm.

Isn’t this questioning a citizen of this commonwealth’s right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State?  If so, aren’t the legislators in violation of their oath of office?  Perhaps, more importantly, why aren’t other legislators or their own constituents holding these two legislators accountable for attempting to by-pass the Commonwealth Constitution in violation of their oath of office.

In order for such a law to take place, a Constitutional Amendment would be required and I’m fairly certain that these Senators know what the chances of such an attempt would be.  It would be defeated by the people in this commonwealth but apparently the words penned in Philadelphia that became part of our Declaration Of Independence dealing with consent of the governed is also something these two legislators do not want to adhere to.

The inability of law enforcement to enforce exiting laws (many of which already violate our Constitution)  is not reason enough to attempt to criminalize current law-abiding gun owners;  nor is it a reason to to create new bureaucracies filled with data-mining in the background checks associated with this bill.

SB 1029 was introduced October 9, 2015 without any fanfare and then fast-tracked into the judiciary committee.  As I read SB 1029, it appears that it seeks to limit the ability to gain access to training, obtaining a firearm or a permit to carry.

If these Senators wish to question our ability to own firearms then do what is supposed to be necessary…..amend the constitution and get the consent of the people to do so.

If we are (and I do believe we are) endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights and, as our Declaration of Independence states; “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” then a government that violates the consent of the governed is an unjust government and I think we all know what the Declaration and our Commonwealth Constitution has to say about that.  For those that do not:

Declaration of Independence:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Commonwealth Constitution:

Article 1-Political Powers; Section 2: 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 have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.

It is legislators who seek to by-pass the Constitutions in order to exert more controls over us that made these clauses necessary.

Property Tax, Spot Reassessments, Indentured Servants and other forms of government hypocrisy.

I was recently in discussion with a friend who is trying to get a bill moving in the PA Legislature that addresses problems with spot assessments.  Opposing lobbyists for the bill claim that his spot assessment bill targets landlords because their rent is controlled by the market and wouldn’t be able to increase rents as a result of school districts appeal to have an apartment complex assessed at a higher rate.   Oddly enough, these same lobbyists also oppose SB 76 by claiming that  tenants rent are directly influenced by increasing millage rates and that tenants pay property taxes through their rental agreements.

In looking closer at some of the opposition to the spot assessment bill, one of the lobbyists fighting against this legislation had actually be involved in the creation of a similar spot assessment bill  that had previously been introduced.  In fact, he helped create the bill.  Now, working as a lobbyist for a different agency, he stands on the other side.  Apparently its not the principle, just the agency paying him.

All of this smells of hypocrisy.  The paycheck trumps principle where you can claim that increasing property taxes has no impact on tenants while at the same time claiming it does…it just depends on which bill they are talking about.

While legislators like to claim that there is no undue influence from lobbyists, you have to be a special kind of stupid to accept that if you watch hearings of the PA General Assembly.  Hearings on bills are loaded with testimony from lobbyists but it is rare indeed that actual citizens actually get to have their voices heard.  The average citizen, who doesn’t hold opinions because of the agency paying them, is just collateral damage in a system that seems to work harder and harder in controlling the people rather than recognizing the individual and inherent rights of the individual in this commonwealth.

The PA Legislators are about to go on yet another recess and another year has passed with no movement on SB 76, the Property Tax Elimination Bill.  While I know that many legislators are working behind the scenes to move this legislation, I also know that there is a perception in the public that this bill is simply a carrot being dangled out there to help them through election cycles where they can make the campaign promise of support while not actually advancing the issue once elected or re-elected.  As someone who stands in front of a room of supporters of SB 76, I have to tell you that its getting harder and harder to convince people that the perception is not reality.  Actually, I’m finding it harder and harder to believe.

I understand that much of the problems we have with school taxes have little to do with the actual school boards since they are mandated to do certain things by the state which results in need for more revenue that they extract fro the community through property taxes.  That being said, how many school board members actually consider community impact or even have the economic qualifications to understand the heavy impact of the ever increasing school property taxes.  For that matter, how many of them actually comprehend the complexities of the fluctuating housing market or fair market values of property that they can make determinations that call for spot assessments on property because they don’t think they are getting enough money from that property.  Spot assessments aren’t free, they come at a cost to the community and to the individuals especially if these reassessments require appeals through the established process.

I’ve heard the excuses that if we had more current county-wide assessments, the spot reassessments wouldn’t be a problem, but the facts simply don’t back up that claim.  The flawed nature of property assessments leads to countless appeals and it doesn’t stop the spot assessments.  They still happen as school districts target individual property to generate more revenue.

While this is happening in Pennsylvania, the problems with meeting the property tax obligations are not isolated here.  In New Jersey a piece of legislation is moving that would allow seniors to “volunteer” to do work for the government in exchange for the possibility of a $1,000 reduction in their property taxes.

While this plan is spun to make it look like they are helping seniors, governments spends, taxpayers pay and those who can’t keep up  would be essentially forced into indentured servanthood to the government if they want to keep their homes.  Here in Pennsylvania we know that about 10,000 people a year find themselves behind on the property taxes facing possible property seizures.  Actually that number is much higher and its increasing all the time.  Will there be enough government jobs to accommodate all these people or will the government be picking the winners and losers.

Furthermore, isn’t there something ethically wrong in forcing people out of their own retirement to pay for taxes that provide for the early retirement of those in the public sector.

Let’s also understand something; it is the cost of government that is supposed to be the driving factor behind increasing property taxes.   If they can’t reduce property taxes then they don’t have thousands of dollars to provide tax relief to “volunteers”.  No, that money will be realized by raising the property taxes to pay for this “government program” essentially forcing more people to need the program which will force the taxes to continue to increase.  This is what irresponsible government calls a solution.  I call it further down the road to serfdom.

A Delusional Governor

Yesterday the General Assembly in Pennsylvania sent a very clear message to the Governor that his tax and spend wealth redistribution policies are not going to fly in Pennsylvania.  After more than 3 months of a budget impasse that rests firmly on the Governor’s shoulders; after 3 months of a campaign where the Governor continually tried to sell his budget to the people of the Commonwealth; after attempting to lure support for his budget by suggesting money be targeted to local districts through their representatives; the General Assembly still stood firm rejecting his budget proposal by a vote of 127 to 73.

Attempts were made by the Democrats to make a show of solidarity in standing with the Governor on his budget but they couldn’t even find that support in their own rank and file with 9 Democrats voting against his proposal.

The Governor and the Democrat Whip claimed they had the support to pass the budget.  They made that message clear to the press, but the truth was that they didn’t.  In fact, before the vote modifications were made to try and bring more votes on board and it all failed.

Following the vote, the Governor once again took his campaign to the press and demonstrated an almost delusional approach to leadership.  You can’t just say things and make it so because facts are stubborn things.

Central to this budget debate has been the theme of Property Tax reform.  Frankly, I don’t ever recall a budget debate where Property Tax reform has taken such a major role in the debate.  The push for Property Tax Elimination has forced politicians to finally recognize the problems related to property tax…enough that it has been shaping the talks of this debate making it central to the debate.  That comes as the results of the grassroot support for this initiative which has relentlessly pursued that objective.  Some legislators, including Mahoney and Saccone, openly discussed the fact that Elimination of the School Property Tax would be the only way they would support any increase in taxes.  That’s a long way from three years ado when such an effort was seen in the house and followed by efforts to silence the supporters to kill the proposal.

Those attempts to kill the Elimination bill have failed and the grassroots push to see this through has changed the face of the budget discussions this time around.  While the Governor may claim his own influence, he has failed, as have many in the legislative rank and file, to understand the influence of a focused and mobilized grassroots effort.  The failure of seeing this grassroots influence also exist in the traditional lobbying efforts who seem to fail to realize the discontent of the people in the abuse they are levying on the people through property.

The Governor, attempting to exert his influence through media manipulation of meme’s plastered all over facebook and other social media outlets would list how his budget would help families, even listing the number of families that would see property tax elimination or relief.  Those numbers, unverified and in the 100’s of thousands seem like large numbers but in reality 2 and 3 hundred thousand pales in comparison to a total population of 12.7 million people.  Still, much like the claims made in the promised Casino relief, the numbers simply didn’t back up Governor Wolf’s claims.  We were just simply supposed to believe him because he said so.  Of course when you have a governor who makes the claim that the GOP was underestimating his influence over the people, it demonstrates an arrogance that boarders on the delusional where this Governor is seeing declining favorability.

The Governor’s proposal claimed to help the working family, restore job growth and secure education funding…all noble efforts but once again, his policy would have resulted in the exact opposite.

The majority of the working families would not see any property tax relief but would pay a higher PIT tax to provide it for the few who would.  The additional severance tax, after already applying an impact fee would have crushed the Shale Industry.  The Shale industry is already taxed and while it may be among the lowest in the nation, under Wolf’s proposal it would have become the highest in levied taxes on the Shale industry according to a report from Forbes earlier this year.  In that report Forbes states “This, in the end, is more likely to shift the tax burden on Pennsylvania landowners, as they have the least flexibility to remarket their land to another suitor. In other words, they are the providers of the most inelastic input to production, and, as such, the tax will be effectively negotiated into lower lease payments.”

So while the Governor is proposing these new taxes claiming to help property owners, his tax would actually harm those most directly affected by the Shale Industry.  Once the actual number crunching began it was found that his total expected revenue from the severance tax would only generate about 1/.3 of the revenue he claimed.  That, however, never stopped him from trying to continue to sell this to the people of the Commonwealth using his self-proclaimed “influence.”

Nothing in the Governor’s proposal would have helped the families he claimed he would be helping and his mentality of simply saying it was so worked for some but not for the majority.   The party loyal may continue to defend him but that’s to their own peril since others in the party have seen this sham for what it really is.

The rise of the Tea Party demonstrated a discontent within the GOP at their own elected officials in betraying the core principles and values of the party.  That discontent is shaping the political landscape even though many of the GOP elitists continue to refuse to recognize that influence while attempting to ignore, belittle or demonize those efforts by the grassroots within the Tea Party.   The impact on Senate Leader Dominic Pileggi in Pennsylvania or John Boehner at the national level demonstrates that, while we still have a long way to go, a difference is being realized.

If that same discontent in raised among the rank and file of democrats through the delusional push of Governors like Governor Wolf in failing to recognize how they are hurting the people they claim to want to help, we may actually start to see real reform and a better understanding that this two party system is more obsessed with advancing agendas detrimental to the people than their campaign rhetoric would seem to imply.

If nothing else, the fight for school property tax elimination demonstrates that this is not a party line issue.  There are supporters on both sides of the aisle and while both Tea Party despising Republicans along with Democrats have tried to pigeon-hole this bill as a Tea Party bill….it is in fact a people bill.  It has the combined support of Republicans and Democrats in the voting rank and file as well as support from legislators on both sides of the aisle.

The attempts at garnering solidarity behind the governor’s proposal, which would have seriously damaged the School Property Tax Elimination fight. has called in to question the actual support by some on the Democrat side of the aisle.

Unfortunately the end result of this is that non-profits, social services and funding for education continue to suffer as a result of this budget impasse.  The Republicans had offered a budget proposal that would have kept these funding doors open while passing a budget that would not have increased taxes at the state level.  It is the Governor and the 73 Democrats who took yet one more stand of solidarity that keep that door closed.  No matter how he tries to spin it, the Governor and the leadership and lobbyists behind him bear that responsibility.  They may have done so at their own political peril!

To the Republicans and the 9 Democrats who took a stand to defend the people of this Commonwealth I extend a heartfelt thank you.  To those who took the extra step in defending School property Tax Elimination, I wholeheartedly applaud you!

Common Core: A Symptom of a Much Larger Issue

Most of us have seen some of the ridiculous Common Core math problems posted on the internet and have heard some of the horror stories associated with its implementation.   All of these things should be of concern to parents and educators alike.  Doing what we can to stop Common Core should remain a goal but we need to understand something.  Common Core is a symptom of a much larger issue and until we change the root of this problem the disease will only resurface later and, if history is any indication, when it resurfaces, it will do so is a much larger and more comprehensive manner.

One of the things many people have expressed concerns over is the rampant use of using our children for data-mining.  This is nothing new, our government has been data-mining information from its citizens for decades and yes, it is an invasion of our privacy.  It’s also a clue into the root core of the problem.

Common Core is a top down, Federal attempt to take over the education system of America using a Department created by the Federal Government that many say, myself included, has no Constitutional right to exist.  It creates rules and regulations using monies collected at the federal level to create grant incentives to education funding to bribe its way into our classrooms.   Again, this is nothing new, the federal government has been doing this sort of thing for decades as it has slowly worked to erode the sovereignty of the states.

Here’s a simple question.  If all law making authority at the Federal level is supposed to reside in Congress, how can the U.S. Department of Education create laws through regulations, concerning education?

It’s not even a department within the legislative branch.  The U.S. Department of Education resides in the EXECUTIVE Branch.

While we are asking that question, even within our states….what constitutional authority does a State Department of Education have in creating rules through regulations concerning education?

Here in Pennsylvania we have a General Assembly with a house and a Senate.  Our Constitution clearly states that all lawmaking authority resides in our General Assembly (Article II, Section 1).  Just as it is with the U.S. Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is firmly planted in the EXECUTIVE Branch, not the legislative.

Common Core was pushed in Pennsylvania by the Department of Education.  The Federal bribes wouldn’t be enough for implementation so it required a greater strain on local schools to make use of state money and higher property taxes to implement in their schools.  In fact, Common Core was already being implemented in our classrooms before our legislators even had a clue it was happening.

Hearings on Common Core followed and one of the questions that was raised was the cost of implementing Common Core.  The Secretary of the Department of Education replied that it wouldn’t cost the state a dime and they were right.  Common Core would be paid for through local taxation and through monies already being allotted to school district through a seriously flawed statewide funding system.  The Secretary of the Department of Education knew that although  no money had to be allocated from the state for its implementation it would result in higher taxation at the local level.  They also knew that money allocated from the state to the local schools was going to also have to diverted into the implementation of Common Core.

In short, the Pennsylvania Department of Education was enabling a Federal takeover of our schools and bypassing funding accountability and Constitutional law-making authority to make the school district accountable to the Federal Government.  Our local taxes were going to be used to implement a Federal takeover of our classrooms.  In doing so they are simply bypassing both the Federal and State Constitutions through an abuse of authority that, constitutionally, should never have been granted to these Departments in the first place.

That raises the question of using the local school property taxes to fund these efforts.

Like so many of the problems we have with government interference and intrusion into our lives originates through this myriad of Departments, Agencies and Commissions set up to do exactly what Common Core is doing….bypass the constitutional controls through Administrative regulations using grants and subsidies to bribe cash strapped municipalities, school districts and even the state to create a system that uses local taxation to extend the government reach into our lives.

We can and we should try to stop Common Core but if we think that in doing so the problems will go away, they won’t.  As long as these Departments, Agencies and Commissions continue to exist with the authority to regulate and spend taxpayers money without any control through an election process (since the people holding key positions in this Administrative State are all appointed), we are also removing part of the process that was an essential part of the framework of our government:  the consent of the governed through open and free elections.

You see we have some power in the elections of local government through school boards and municipalities but that control is extremely limited by the regulatory controls coming from an unelected body that has not constitutional authority to exist….and for good reason.

The Administrative State ties the hands of those we elect at these local levels who are often forced through regulatory compliance into doing things that create greater financial burdens at the local level.   We like to think that we have local controls but in reality, we don’t and those local controls are really abused by the Administrative bodies to control those we elect at the local level which in turn, control us.

Common Core affords us the opportunity to see how this overreach of an unconstitutional authority invades our individual liberties and hopefully will continue to open more eyes to the need to start dismantling the power and authority of those Administrative bodies and, if they are to continue to exist, must do so under the authority and controls of those we truly do elect.  The Administrative state should never have the authority to force elected individuals into compliance.  It’s not supposed to be top down power controls but rather a system that respects the election process in understanding the principle of “the consent of the governed.”

The Administrative State is like a shadow government operating behind the scenes with little actual oversight from those we do elect.

Take a moment and look at the apparent impotent ability of Congress to reign in or control these bodies;  The IRS, the FCC, the EPA, the State Department….most Americans don’t even realize the wide network of administrative bodies and how they are violating our freedoms and liberties while controlling our government which translates into control over us.

Over the last 50 years the State and Federal Departments of Education have been jamming programs down our throats in education that have been extremely ineffectual while carrying heavy price-tags….perhaps the most expensive of which is minds of children making them more compliant rather than encouraging them to break free of the mold and soar to new heights through free thinking and creativity.

But then again if you never believed in or actually despise the notion of American exceptionalism, wouldn’t that be your goal…to remove encouragement of exceptionalism to create a society of conformers, using education to brand them into the herd and claim them as property to be exploited by those in power.