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Butler County's great daily newspaper

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Mike Kelly

The

Republican Women of Butler County will host a forum at 6:30 p.m. Monday for GOP candidates for county commissioner in the May primaryAnyone can attend the event at the Homestead, 1280 Prospect Road, Connoquenessing Township.———State Sen.

Mary Jo White, R-21st, was unanimously elected last week to chair the legislative agency that sets guidelines to promote fair and uniform sentencing in Pennsylvania.White was appointed to the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing in 2003 and was elected vice chair in 2007. Commission members elected her chairwoman at their March 3 meeting.“Ensuring a system of fair and uniform sentencing is crucial to maintaining the public's faith in the integrity of the judicial process, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing plays an integral role in that effort,” White said.The 11-member commission consists of four judges, two senators, two House members and three others who are appointed by the governor.Three additional members represent the chairman of the Board of Probation and Parole, the secretary of corrections and the state victim advocate.The commission collects information to monitor and report on conformity to guidelines, advises and consults on policy and practices and undertakes research and evaluation to determine the effectiveness of guidelines.———

U.S. Rep. <B>Mike Kelly</B>, R-3rd, on Wednesday sent a letter to federal Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson asking her to explain a policy change that he said would lead to a longer waiting time for coal mining permits“For reasons unclear.” he said, “the EPA recently extended the period of time that mining companies have to wait before getting a permit to mine for coal. This prolonged permit process has impacted at least 20 companies, affecting the sale and production of coal at a time when access to energy is critical to the economic well-being of Pennsylvania and the nation.”Under the Clean Water Act, he noted, miners are required to get a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit to ensure that industrial pollutants going into water are monitored and reported to maintain the EPA water quality standards.Since 1991, the EPA has authorized the state DEP to approve NPDES permit applications without EPA review or approval.But in September, the EPA partially reversed that precedent by requiring applications already reviewed through the state DEP's permit process to undergo additional scrutiny by EPA.“How can we meet our vast energy needs and grow our economy if we keep creating regulatory barriers that are duplicative in nature and don't allow our private sector industries to provide the products and services that literally fuel our nation?” Kelly asked.———

The state House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Rep. <B>Scott Hutchinson</B>, R-64th, this week approved two measures.The first would promote the planting of bio-energy crops on abandoned mine lands, while the second would protect mining jobs in Pennsylvania.Hutchinson said the first measure seeks “to promote environmentally friendly crops while rejuvenating old mine sites. By planting bio-energy crops on old mine sites, we free up more farm land for traditional crops.”The second measure would reassert the state Department of Environmental Protection's role as the only agency with permitting authority regarding certain mining activities.The resolution, Hutchinson said, is meant to thwart the federal government's overreach into a regulatory area that it had already agreed should be handled by the state.He noted that it would urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop interfering with DEP's permit process regarding the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and abide by their 1991 agreement with then-Gov. Bob Casey.

———U.S. Rep. <B>Jason Altmire</B>, D-4th, recently announced the launch of his new Twitter page, twitter.com/RepJasonAltmire.Altmire said he plans to regularly tweet about what he is doing in Congress and in his district.Additionally, he regularly posts updates on his Facebook and YouTube sites and his official house website, altmire.house.gov/.———The state Senate this week approved legislation sponsored by Sen. <B>Bob Robbins</B>, R-50th, that seeks to help students of military families cope with the frequent and stressful relocations associated with active duty service.Robbins' Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children would authorize Pennsylvania to enter into the Interstate Compact to make education more accessible to children of military families and to make school transfers and transitions more uniform and less stressful.“The compact provides a comprehensive approach to address the major areas of education that are affected,” the senator said, “such as the transferring of education records, course sequencing, graduation requirements and power of custodial parents and guardianships during deployments.”The bill now goes to the state House.Currently, 35 states already have similar legislation.

Hutchinson
Altmire