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A Voice of Conscience and Truth,
Dr. Martin Luther King Inspired Our Nation

Martin Luther KingEach and every day we can make choices that result in positive change -- in our personal lives, on the job or in our community.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led by example and influenced an entire generation of Americans to make the right choices.

The leading voice of the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, Dr. King spoke truth to power with awe-inspiring passion and he united diverse interests while mapping the way forward for the common good and fulfillment of the promise of America.

While Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was a clarion call for social justice, on May 17, 1957 his words were no less urgent and no less important.  On that day In front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., Dr. King’s “Give Us the Ballot” speech called for equal voting rights for all Americans.

Thanks to Dr. King and to so many others who joined his cause and who were inspired by his words, all Americans are afforded the opportunity to vote and to run for office.  If you are contemplating running for an elective office, be mindful of upcoming dates and deadlines as the first day to circulate and file nominating petitions for the 2012 elections is January 24th.

On Monday, as we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, take time to remember the man, his life and his achievements and always remember the lesson of his example -- we all have the power to make choices for positive change – power to ignite transformational change that can lift the quality of life for all of our citizens.

Gov. Corbett's Budget Freeze Reflects His Priorities

Sen. BlakeWhile our economy continues to be sluggish in rebounding from recession, Governor Tom Corbett has decided that cutting financial support and freezing access to essential state programs and services will remedy Pennsylvania’s below-estimate tax revenues.  

With the biggest months for tax revenue collections yet to come, Governor Corbett directed his Budget Office to freeze nearly $160 million in state spending last week – inflicting additional pain on families already struggling to cope with the deep cuts contained in the 2011-12 state budget.

The Governor has directed most state agencies to reduce their overall 2011-12 spending by 3 percent, although some individual appropriations will be reduced by up to 10 percent.  Indeed, upon review of those line items experiencing the deepest cuts, there is little question that those cuts impose greater hardship on the poor, the sick, veterans and on workers administering important economic development programs throughout the state.

The Governor , already presiding over $500 million in un-appropriated funds within the current 2011-12 budget cycle, advanced additional budget cuts during the traditionally-lower revenue collection months, rather than waiting to see what the traditionally-higher revenue collection months hold for Pennsylvania.  Revenue collections in the Spring have always served to inform the true status of the state budget going in to final budget negotiations in the General Assembly.  This brings into serious question both the timing and the necessity of these additional cuts within the current fiscal year.

I understand the need to tighten our belts in times of economic hardship but we cannot balance a state budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens while billion dollar corporations with sophisticated accounting and legal departments work to evade taxes or other similar corporations continue to profit from the extraction of our abundant natural resources without providing some relief to the working class taxpayers of this state.

Ban on Texting While Driving Takes Effect in March

Texting BanStarting in March, drivers of all ages will prohibited from using their phone or any similar device for the purposes of reading, writing or sending a text message while driving a motor vehicle. 

Under the new ban, texting while driving will be considered a primary offense punishable by a fine of $50 per infraction. As a primary offense, a police officer can pull over any driver suspected of texting while driving.

The law also prohibits drivers from reading and responding to emails and messages from other applications such as Facebook and Twitter. However, if you are reading or selecting a contact or entering a phone number for the purpose of making a phone call, the texting ban will not apply.

While some may oppose this new law, it is important to remember that public safety is a primary concern and must be foremost in the policies we advance in the Legislature.  Abundant and credible research evidences that texting while driving is not only dangerous, but it is sometimes deadly.

Pennsylvania’s new texting law, Senate Bill 314, was signed into law by Governor Corbett on November 9 as Act 98 of 2011.

Don't Forget to Apply for LIHEAP Assistance

LIHEAPWe have been fortunate to keep our shovels and snow-blowers in our garages and basements for the past few months and most of our heavy winter clothes have remained in our closets this winter, but bone-chilling weather will surely visit Northeast Pennsylvania before Spring. When temperatures begin to drop, everyone, no matter their financial situation, should be afforded the means to keep their home and their family safe and warm.

If you have yet to apply for Pennsylvania's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), please wait no longer.  The state is currently accepting applications for LIHEAP’s helpful cash grants and crisis grants. Cash grants are sent directly to the applicant’s utility company and crisis grants help people who are in danger of immediately being without heat.

For more information on LIHEAP and the income guidelines, click here.

Applications can be printed online and turned into a local county assistance office. Eligible families are also encouraged to apply online through Pennsylvania’s COMPASS website.
If you have any questions or require assistance in filling out your LIHEAP application, do not hesitate to contact one of my district offices.

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For updates on this and other legislative initiatives, stay in touch with me on the Internet through my website or on Facebook. Facebook

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