Four Troubling Stories from 2016 – Part II
The four stories that have been zeroed in on in these two blog posts only touch the surface of the troubling path our nation is headed down. We could add — allowing transgenders to serve openly in the military; opening frontline infantry combat to women, costing the lives of both female and male soldiers; allowing refugees into the country without proper vetting; ignoring immigration laws and allowing lawbreakers to go unpunished; the federal government’s overburdening regulations that stifle job growth and kill entire industries; attacks on religious freedom and the right of conscience, the government’s ever growing stranglehold into every aspect of our lives – something our Founding Fathers never intended. In fact, our Founding Fathers would not recognize this nation that they founded and the hundreds of thousands who have fought and died for our freedoms must be rolling over in their graves. I am reminded of a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Food for thought.
3.) On June 22nd SB 1307 was voted out of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee by a vote of 7-4. This bill would add “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” to laws dealing with housing.
During the process of the committee meeting an amendment was introduced by Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) to fold SB 1306 (dealing with employment) into SB 1307 (dealing with housing). This amendment passed by a 6-5 vote.
Also, Senator Mario Scavello (a former sponsor of SB 974) (R-Monroe) introduced a “Religious Exemption Amendment.” It was voted down by a 5-6 vote. Senator Scavello, Senator Joe Scarnati, Senator Michelle Brooks, Senator David Argall, and Senator Camera Bartolotta voted for it. How much are the supporters of these bills against religious liberty? Here’s a quote from Senator Fontana: “It is unnecessary to include an amendment with language that stipulated religious organizations do not have to open their bathrooms and showers to people regardless of biological sex.”
Voting in favor of SB 1307 in committee were Democrat Senators John Blake, Wayne Fontana, Art Haywood and Shirley Kitchen. They were joined by Republican Senators Camera Bartolotta, Tom Killion and Scott Wagner, chair of the committee. Voting against the measure were Republican Senators David Argall, Michele Brooks, Mario Scavello and Joseph Scarnati.
Senator Fontana understands these bills are all about bathrooms and showers. However, the committee chairman, Scott Wagner, still denies these bills have anything to do with bathrooms and is offended that pro-family groups like the AFA of PA refer to them as “bathroom bills.”
Voting SB 1307 out of committee is the furthest homosexual activists have ever been able to advance these discriminatory bills and they are crowing about this accomplishment. Unfortunately it was spearheaded by a Republican, who apparently does not understand the full ramifications if such a bill becomes law. Another troubling aspect is Wagner has announced his run for governor. Would he be any better on the homosexual and transgender issues than Governor Tom Wolf is now and what type of ripple effect would that have on Pennsylvania schools, children, families, if a pro-gay, pro-transgender Republican wins the governorship?
All the pro-gay/pro-transgender bills died at the end of the legislative session, but the activists pushing these bills will more than likely be back next session.
4.) Two bills should have been voted out of the State Senate in November — HB 1948 (the bill to ban dismemberment abortions in PA) and HB 1640 (the bill providing for the display of the National Motto, In God We Trust, and the Bill of Rights in public schools). Senate leadership apparently feared Wolf’s veto pen – especially on HB 1948 – but that should NEVER be a reason not to bring a bill forward. It forces legislators to take a stand on sometimes controversial issues and allows their constituents to know where they stand on those issues.
Here’s a little background on both: On June 21, 2016, the PA House passed H.B.1948 on Final Passage by a 132-65 vote. On July 6, 2016, the PA Senate Judiciary Committee passed H.B.1948 by a vote of 9-6. PA Senate Pro-temp Senator Joe Scarnati and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman could have completed the passage of H.B.1948 prior to the Senate adjourning for the Summer on July 8, but declined to do so. Instead they promised “prompt action” when the Pa. Senate returned in September.
Scarnati and Corman fulfilled part of their promise on September 27, when they passed H.B.1948 on Second Consideration. However, Scarnati and Corman declined to hold a Final Passage vote on H.B.1948. Instead they promised to do so when the Pa. Senate returned to session in October.
However, they again broke their promise during the Senate’s six session days in October. Instead they promised to pass H.B.1948 after the Election. However, they only scheduled one such session day, Wednesday, November 16 and they did place H.B.1948 on the Voting Schedule for Final Passage on that day. However, due to two absences in the Senate and threats of vote switching from some Senators, Republican leaders believed that they then did not have the 26 votes for passage of H.B.1948. Rather than call their bluff, Senate Leadership choose not to bring HB 1948 forward for a final vote and instead voted to adjourn.
On May 2, 2016, HB 1640 passed in the PA House by a vote of 179 to 20! Click here to see how your State Rep voted.
With its passage in the House, it moved to the Senate Education Committee where it passed by a vote of 9 to 1 on June 15, 2016. Click here to see how those committee members voted. Senators Joe Scarnati and Jake Corman again chose not to bring this bill forward for a final floor vote in the Senate.
Those working so hard to get these bills passed were failed miserably by Senate leadership! Why did Scarnati and Corman not bring these bills up for a final vote? It is almost guaranteed that both HB 1948 and HB 1640 would have passed in the Senate, as they both had easily passed each step of the way to that point. Perhaps Senator Joe Scarnati and Senator Jake Corman should be asked that question