Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 27, 2010


The Reading Eagle online edition published “Vote 2010 — A guide to the general election,” including the excerpt below featuring state Representative candidate Dennis Baylor.  All state candidates were asked:

The state’s financial problems continue to grow.  Taxing the Marcellus shale has been suggested as a way to boost revenues.  Why do you think we should or shouldn’t put the need for tax revenue above the potential harm that drilling could cause to the environment?

No party affiliation

Dennis Baylor, 60, Tilden Township

Background: Engineer who worked for several area firms before retiring.


Response: “I’m afraid the Pennsylvania legislature has rendered that question moot. While they cannot agree on how much to tax gas extraction, they’re ready to give away nearly $70 million to industry-related projects. The proposed projects range from a Carnegie Mellon research center that would evaluate the impact of drilling to several wastewater treatment plants for the drillers’ fracking fluids, an enterprise center for Marcellus industries and railway upgrades to accommodate the industry. These are paid for by the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, not by taxes levied on the industry. If the Republicans win in November, there will be no tax.”

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 26, 2010


The first of seven promises that Dennis Baylor makes to the constituents of the 125th legislative district:

As your state Representative, I’ll work to end Gerrymandering, or unfair redistricting, to ensure an equal and politically competitive voting system.

Mr. Baylor testified before a House State Government Committee in 2008 to argue against redistricting for political party gains to the detriment of constituents.  Click here to read his testimony.

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 25, 2010


Although 700,000 acres of state forest lands have already been leased to private drilling companies, Gov. Rendell will likely call for a moratorium on new drilling in Pennsylvania state forests.  Currently 25 wells operate on that land, but as many as 400 more wells could be constructed in the areas already leased to private drilling companies.

Since Gov. Rendell declared that the gas severance tax deal would not be passed before the end of his last term, reports of gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett’s campaign contributions from gas drilling companies has reached a total of more than $856,000.  Gov. Rendell will sign an executive order to enact the moratorium on new drilling tomorrow.

Read “Rendell to call for gas lease moratorium in state forests,” by Tom Barnes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10/25/10).

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 22, 2010


Yesterday Gov. Rendell announced that General Assembly GOP leaders would not reach a compromise to enact a shale-gas extraction tax before the new legislative session begins next year.  Despite signing a pledge to Pennsylvania citizens to enact a natural gas severance tax, talks that extended through the summer and fall failed to fulfill that promise and Pennsylvania may remain the only underground shale-leaden state without such a tax, or a moratorium on drilling.

Environmentalist organizations had hoped proceeds from a gas extraction tax would protect the ecosystem from damage caused by the volatile gas drilling process.  Critics argue that the tax may have died because of gas drilling company campaign contributions; one report cited that gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett received more than $700,000 in campaign donations from drillers, the highest amount by far given to a Pennsylvania politician.

Read “Gov. Rendell declares shale tax dead,” by Tom Barnes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10/22/10).

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 21, 2010


Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District

Pictured above is Pittsburgh’s 18th Congressional District.  Its strange shape is the result of Gerrymandering, defined by Wikipedia as:

…”a form of boundary delimitation (redistricting) in which electorate districts or constituency boundaries are deliberately modified for electoral purposes, thereby producing a contorted or unusual shape…  Gerrymandering may be used to achieve desired electoral results for a particular party, or may be used to help or hinder a particular group of constituents, such as political, racial, linguistic, religious or class group.”

Professor Chris Briem used the above picture to advocate a new documentary called “Gerrymandering.”

Read “What do you see?” by Tim McNulty of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Early Returns 2.0 (10/19/10).

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 20, 2010


It’s that time of year again.
Thanksgiving — just around the corner.
Robo calls,
Yard signs
And your mailbox stuffed like a roasting turkey.

Many of us have flicked away tears
listening to the poignant stories
of how incumbents have personally assisted
the needy in their districts.

But now we ALL need help.
Above all, we need reform.
We need a downsized and cheaper legislature.
We need property tax reform, pension reform,
spending reform, electric rate stability.

We need the people we elect to do the job!
Be informed before you vote.
Learn more at

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 19, 2010


Gov. Rendell signed a new law that will penalize construction companies for improperly classifying employees as “independent contractors.”  The Construction Workplace Misclassification Act (Act 72) allows district attorneys and the state attorney general to criminally prosecute and fine those who falsely identify their employees to avoid paying unemployment compensation.

The measure is intended to reduce the 9 percent of Pennsylvania workers who are misclassified as “independent contractors,” whose unemployment compensation costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year.  Unfortunately, only one quarter of those misclassified workers are in the construction industry, and others such as the truck driver Teamsters wish to be covered by the new law.  Today state Representative candidate Dennis Baylor suggested that the law apply to all Pennsylvania workers to stop misuse of the taxpayer-backed state Unemployment Compensation fund.

Read “Laborers like law that defines employees,” by Bill Toland of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10/19/10).

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 18, 2010


State Senator Mike Folmer encouraged government spending reform at a candidates’ forum near Wernersville last week.  Sen. Folmer said that while he favors reducing the legislature to a part-time basis, he supports holding a constitutional convention so that citizens may decide how to reform their government.

State Representative candidate Dennis Baylor has been calling for a constitutional convention for the same reason, although Mr. Baylor would completely eliminate the senate to save the cost to taxpayers.  He said Sen. Folmer’s suggestion of a part-time legislature would be a “reasonable compromise.”

Read “Candidates for national, state offices tout plans,” by Mary Young of the Reading Eagle (10/18/10).

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 15, 2010


The Senate passed HB 2497 yesterday with significant changes and sent it back to the House for re-consideration.  The bill would address the looming school and state employee pension cost increase by reducing pension benefits by 25 percent and raising the vesting period from five to ten years.  But the Senate included a measure to the legislation that would create an Independent Fiscal Office agency, although the addition has been found to violate the “single subject” rule of our state constitution by introducing a second major topic to the bill.  The agency could cost up to $4 million.

If no changes are made, taxpayers will see a $3.5 billion increase in state payments to the State and Public School Employee Retirement Systems, partly because of 2001 legislation to raise pension benefits by 2012.  But the Senate’s version of HB 2497 would require borrowing funds and delay a more permanent resolution to the pension funding problem.  Those who oppose the bill’s temporary solutions argue that it will only make the situation more difficult to deal with in the future.  “It’s a half-hearted attempt at reform,” state candidate Dennis Baylor commented today on the bill.

Read “State Senate OK’s bill overhauling school pensions,” by Tom Barnes of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10/15/10).

Posted by: Amelia Ray | October 14, 2010


The Schuylkill County Chamber of Commerce hosts candidate debates for each general election and deliberately excludes third-party candidates from participation.  The SCCC only invites candidates who have won a primary election and are “vetted.. by the public,” according to SCCC Government Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Buchanan.  If a third-party candidate were to win a primary election, Buchanan said, that candidate would be included in the debate.

“Apparently the Chamber doesn’t know that only Democrats and Republicans are allowed to participate in a primary election,” state Representative candidate Dennis Baylor said today, referring to commonly-known state election code that limits primary elections to majority party candidates.  Independent candidates must gather a significant amount of nominating petition signatures to appear on the ballot, which serves as their proof of being endorsed by the public.

“My campaign as an independent candidate has seen many obstacles, but none so un-American as being barred from debating opponents purely on the basis of my not being affiliated with a major party,” Mr. Baylor said of the SCCC’s unfair debating policy in a statement Monday.

Buchanan said the SCCC received two dozen phone calls urging the organization to include third-party candidates in Wednesday’s debate.  This led the SCCC to fear an “orchestrated” effort to disrupt the event by Mr. Baylor and state Representative candidate Dante Picciano, both third-party candidates who wished to be included in the debate.

“They have very vivid imaginations,” Mr. Baylor commented yesterday about the SCCC’s fears of an “orchestrated” disturbance.  That fear turned out to be unfounded — the debate occurred without disruption.  And without a fair and balanced candidate forum for voters.

Read “Chamber feared ‘orchestrated’ disruption of debate,” by Ben Wolfgang of Pottsville’s Republican Herald (10/14/10).

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