PSCFO Election Preview 2016

PA SENATE

There are 50 Senate seats of which 25 are up in this election.  Of these, 13 incumbents had no opponent.  There are three open seats because of retirements: Pat Vance (R-Cumberland) and John Wozniak (D- Cambria) and one, Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), the Republican nominee in the 16th congressional district, the one being vacated by Rep. Joe Pitts.  Incumbents are bolded.

District            Counties                     Who                            Party               Occupation

5                      Phila.                           Ross Feinberg              R                      no info available

5                                                          John Sabatina D                                 PA Representative

9                      Delaware                     Tom Killion                 R                      insurance producer

9                                                          Marty Molloy               D                     nonprofit group

13                    Lancaster                     Scott Martin                 R                      county commissioner

13                                                        Greg Paulson               D         legislative aide to Dem. Rep.

15                    Dauphin, Perry             John DiSanto                R                      developer

15                                                        Rob Teplitz                  D                     attorney

17        Delaware, Montgomery             Brian Gondeck             R                      attorney

17                                                        Daylin Leach               D                     attorney

19                    Chester                        Jack London                 R                      insurance producer

19                                                        Andy Dinniman           D                     legislator

25        Jefferson, Clearfield, etc.          Joe Scarnati                R                      local official

25                                                        Jerri Buchanan             D                     information unavailable

31        Cumberland, York                    Mike Regan                  R                      legislator

31                                                        John Bosha                  D                     pharmacist

35        Bedford, Cambria                     Wayne Langerholc       R          assistant district attorney

35                                                        Ed Cernic                     D                     county controller

37        Washington, Allegheny Guy Reschenthaler                 R                      district judge

37                                                        Ed Eichenlaub              D         environmental health specialist

41        Indiana, Butler, Armstrong        Don White                   R                      insurance producer

41                                                        Tony DeLoreto             D                     restaurant owner

49                    Erie                              Daniel Laughlin             R                      home builder

49                                                        Sean Wiley                   D         health system foundation          

The only working farmer running is Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Chair Elder Vogel (R-Beaver).  A Senate candidate with a farming background is Lancaster County Democrat Greg Poulson running for the open seat vacated by Senator Lloyd Smucker who gave up his Senate seat to run for Congress.  Poulson says that his father was an organic farmer.  As a Representative, Senator Sabatina served as Minority Chair of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.

Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee members running for re-election are Majority Chair Elder Vogel, Minority Chair Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill), Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) – He is Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee –, Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Andy Dinniman (D-Chester), and Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin/Perry).

 PA HOUSE

There are 203 House seats and all are up for election each two years.  98 seats are uncontested.  Those on the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee who are unopposed include:  Majority Chair Martin Causer (R-McKean), Minority Chair Mike Carroll (D-Luzerne), are unopposed.  The only Representative with a working farm operation is Rep. Mark Keller (R-Perry) who is also unopposed.  Incumbents are bolded.  Contested races include:

District                        Counties         Who                            Party               Stated Occupation

199                  Cumberland                 Stephen Bloom             R                      attorney

199                                                      Jill Sunday Bartoli        D                     info not available

164                  Delaware                     Inderjit Bains               R                      auto repair shop owner

164                                                      Margo Davidson         D                     non profit

102                  Lebanon                       Russ Diamond             R                      business owner

102                                                      Jake Long                    D                     volunteer advocate

194                  Phila./Montgomery       Bill Pounds                  R                      non-profit

194                                                      Pam DeLissio              D                     legislator

137                  Northampton                Joe Emrick                  R                      teacher

137                                                      David Mattei                D                     insurance agent

89                    Franklin                       Rob Kauffman            R                      legislator

89                                                        Christine Tolbert          D                     retired teacher

114                  Lackawanna                 Cheryl Scandale-Murnin  R                   adjunct faculty

114                                                      Sid Michaels Kavulich  D                    communications spec.

13                    Chester/Lancaster         John Lawrence           R                      legislator

13                                                        Nancy Dean                 D                     info not available

40        Washington/Allegheny             John Maher                R                      accountant

40                                                        Andrew Zahalsky         D                     oncologist

51                    Fayette Somerset          Tim Mahoney             D                     legislator

51                                                        Matthew Dowling         R                      non-profit

133                  Lehigh                         Daniel McNeill             D                     retired

133                                                      David Molony              R                      acupuncturist

109                  Columbia                     Dave Millard               R                      legislator

109                                                      Eddie Sanders III          D                     landscaper

91                    Adams                         Dan Moul                    R                      legislator

91                                                        Denise Weldon-Siviy    D                     professional writer

99                    Lancaster                     David Zimmerman      R                      legislator

99                                                        Duane Groff                 D                     info not available

NOTE: Rep. Maher formerly chaired the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.

NATIONAL RACES AND AGRICULTURE

Hillary Clinton: “Too many rural communities aren’t reaping the rewards of our nation’s economic success—despite their critical role in our economy. Unemployment and poverty rates present a real challenge to these communities while accessible health care and education are too often out of reach”.  https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/rural-communities/

  • Create a national infrastructure bank to improve rural transportation and broadband access and grow the rural economy by expanding access to capital; expand the New Markets Tax Credit to encourage investments to prevent communities from spiraling downward after a major economic shift or plant closing.
  • Increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers in local food markets and regional food systems; create a focused safety net to help family farms get through challenging times.
  • Assisting farms that conserve and improve natural resources; strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard and double loans that help support the bio-based economy.
  • Health: Support for rural telemedicine and Medicaid expansion
  • Democratic Platform also includes support for Regional Conservation Partnership Program, support for commodity price support safety net.

Donald Trump:  There is no specific agriculture/rural issues tab on the campaign website but he has taken public positions on issues that impacting the agricultural economy.  https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions

  • Trade: Opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership which many ag associations support as opening trade opportunities; renegotiate NAFTA
  • Opposes Waters of the United States (WOTUS)
  • Pro energy development with natural gas and coal
  • Scaling back “years of disastrous regulations unilaterally imposed by our out of control bureaucracy” and imposing a moratorium on most new regulations
  • Continue ethanol and biofuel blending subsidies
  • Republican Platform also includes supporting a market-oriented commodity price safety net, separating SNAP (food stamps) from the Farm Bill and removing it from the USDA, and support of Crop Insurance

Jill Stein:  Avoid chronic diseases by investing in local, fresh, organic food systems; ensure that consumers have better information about food – country of origin, GMO content, toxic chemical ingredients; ban pesticides that threaten survival of pollinators; moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe; support organic and regenerative agriculture, and sustainable forestry. http://www.jill2016.com/

Gary Johnson:  Neither his website or the Libertarian Party Platform have a stated position on agriculture but the Libertarian Party 2016 Platform addresses property rights:  “Respect for property rights is fundamental to maintaining a free and prosperous society. It follows that the freedom to contract to obtain, retain, profit from, manage, or dispose of one’s property must also be upheld. Libertarians would free property owners from government restrictions on their rights to control and enjoy their property, as long as their choices do not harm or infringe on the rights of others. Eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, governmental limits on profits, governmental production mandates, and governmental controls on prices of goods and services (including wages, rents, and interest) are abridgements of such fundamental rights.”

Avian Influenza Hearing at Ag Progress Days

An August 19 joint hearing of the House and Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees was held at AG Progress Days (Penn State Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center). It focused on state efforts to prepare for a possible outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

In addition to Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and other officials’ briefings as to specific steps Pennsylvania is taking, there were presenters from the industry. PSCFO member Christian Herr (PennAg) said that PA’s efforts were “unprecedented”. PSCFO Immediate Past President Brian Snyder (PASA) stressed that preparation should focus on more than large-scale operations because increased interest in diversified farming requires planning for poultry raised outdoors.

New Quarrantine Order for High Path AI

On August 22, the PA Department of Agriculture issued an order imposing strict standards for cleaning vehicles, containers and materials that transport poultry and related products. This follows a June order requiring a 72-hour testing period for poultry moving to live bird markets and eggs destined for a commercial breaking operation coming from any of the 21 states where high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been detected. Link to the most recent order follows:
http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol45/45-34/1544.html

House Consumer Affairs Committee Hearing on Digesters

The House Consumer Affairs Committee scheduled a September 2 hearing in Harrisburg on House
Bill 1349 (Zimmerman-R-Lancaster), a bill concerning net metering and use of anaerobic
digesters. This is a reaction to the Public Utility Commission’s attempt to limit the amount of
electricity generated via anaerobic digesters. Its’ companion in the Senate is Senate Bill 844
(Vogel-R-Beaver), now in the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee.

Hearing Held on Rural Telephone Access

On August 24, the House Consumer Affairs Committee convened a hearing on House Bill 1417 (Major-R-Susquehanna and Hanna-D-Clinton), continuing PA funding for the Universal Service Fund (USF) until December 31, 2021 and requiring provision of basic landline service as a condition for telecommunications companies to receive any USF monies. According to Rep. Major, in 2011, the Federal Communications Commission dramatically altered the USF system away from basic rural telephone service to expansion of broadband. With the Federal shift, the PA Universal Service Fund is the only remaining support mechanism to ensure that rates for basic services in rural areas closely mirror those in non-rural areas.

Politics

Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for Attorney General. He joins Senator John Rafferty (R-Montgomery).

After resigning July 22 as Governor Wolf’s Chief of Staff, Katie McGinty is running for the Democratic nomination for US Senate. If she wins the primary against former US Rep. Joe Sestak, she will face off against incumbent Republican Pat Toomey.

Special election results: There were special House elections held August 4 in Cumberland and Delaware Counties and August 11 in Philadelphia. The net outcome was a gain of one seat for Democrats although Republicans still have a sizable majority.
– Cumberland County (succeeding Republican Glen Grell) Greg Rothman (R)
– Delaware County (succeeding Republican Joe Hackett ) Leanne Krueger-Branekey (D)
– Philadelphia (succeeding Democrat Michelle Brownlee) Donna Bullock (D)
– Philadelphia (succeeding Democrat Ron Waters) Joanne McClinton (D)
– Philadelphia (succeeding Democrat John Sabatina) Ed Neilson (D)

PDA Focuses on Crop Insurance

At AG Progress Days and again August 27, the PA Department of Agriculture is zeroing on the need for insurance agents to fully understand provisions of the Farm Bill which made risk management and Crop Insurance the major safety net for agricultural producers. At AG Progress Days, an Early Riser examined new diversified crops whole-farm protection. The August 27 15th Annual Crop Insurance Conference program heard from Secretary Redding, the Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) plus numbers of experts in farm credit, agricultural economic outlook and specific programs promoted by the PA Center for Dairy Excellence on reducing dairy farmers’ input costs. Details: Jordan Stasyszyn jstasyszyn@pa.gov.

Various Notes

  • PDA asked gardeners to be on the lookout for Boxwood Blight, a fungal disease-causing sudden leaf loss and possible death of these popular evergreen shrubs. It has been found in nine states and in nine PA counties: Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Columbia, Cumberland, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, and Warren. Those affected are asked to take samples to Extension before destroying the potentially impacted plant.
  • PSCFO member Hunger-Free PA announced that the PA Food Safety Coalition will convene October 16, 2015 in Harrisburg. Details: sachristopher@pafoodbanks.org.
  • Native Americans college students majoring in agriculture or related disciplines may be eligible for one of five $1,000 scholarships from First Nations Development Institute. Application deadline is September 30, 2015. Details: Kendall Tallmadge at 303-774-7836 or ktallmadge@firstnations.org

Avian Influenza Fears Prompt Reaction

An August 19 joint meeting of the House and Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committees will take place at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center to have legislators receive an update on state efforts to anticipate and confront the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

On the Administration side, PDA published a General Quarantine Notice “Virus Control for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Poultry and Poultry Products at Competitions, Shows, Fairs, and Exhibitions” in the July 11 PA Bulletin. The Notice builds on previous PDA prohibition of poultry and egg products into PA from states with reported cases of HPAI unless the products are found to be free from contamination.
(Refer to AG ONE 2015.8 at www.pscfo.com for a summary of the Interstate Quarantine Order.)

The new Notice specifies that no poultry products including eggs or any goods or items made up of poultry products such as feathers, shall be exhibited at the 2016 Farm Show or any of the many shows, fairs, or exhibitions governed by the PA Agricultural Fair Act. It also builds on a previous PDA Notice banning live poultry from the shows, etc.

WC Budget Bill Signed

Despite being at budgetary loggerheads with the General Assembly, Governor Wolf did sign nine specific budget bills, one of which directly affects Workers’ Compensation insurance. Senate Bill 813 (Hughes-D- Phila.) or Act 9A of 2015 makes appropriations from the Workers’ Compensation Administration Fund ($71.966 million) to fund continued administration of the Workers’ Compensation Act by the Department of Labor & Industry. Three million dollars went to the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund. SB 813 also allocates $194,000 to fund the Office of Small Business Advocate housed within the Department of Community & Economic Development.

Another bill, Senate Bill 655, would have re-authorized work of the State Workers Insurance Fund (SWIF), the Workers Compensation insurer of last resort. That was vetoed by the Governor because it contained other funding areas that the Governor opposed.

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