Who are your local legislators in Harrisburg? What are they doing? You've probably heard their names, even if you don't know who they are, but it's likely their daily activities are a bit of a mystery. I thought we might shine some light on the legislation they're working on right now so you can decide if what they're doing is what you voted for when you put them in office.
Our two legislators in Harrisburg
For those of us living in North East Township and Borough, our legislators are Representative Curt Sonney and Senator Dan Laughlin. My focus in this article will be on Curt Sonney because his work recently came to my attention while looking through some bills proposed in the Pennsylvania house which I summarize below and cover in greater detail on Erie County Report. My own opinions of these bills will be clear, but it's important that you read the bills yourself along with the other supporting documents and then form your own opinions of each. Whatever you think of these bills, you should be aware of them and all of the other work our legislators are doing, because it will have a much greater impact on you than the latest fender bender or house fire covered on the local news.
Restrictions on cyber charter schools outside the local district
When parents need an alternative to brick and mortar public schools that may be failing their individual students they often turn to cyber charter schools.
Representative Sonney has introduced House Bill 526 which requires the student to choose the local school's cyber option if they offer one, eliminating any funding for that student who might choose a better cyber school located somewhere outside the local district.
Putting wind turbines on farmland preservation areas
Did you know there is more acreage in North East Township in Agricultural Security Areas and Farmland Preservation Areas than in any other township in Erie County? Farmland Preservation Areas are where a farmer sells his development rights on the land to the state, getting paid by the taxpayers to restrict his activities on that land to agricultural production only. Preserving farmland may be an admirable goal, but seeking an exception like the one proposed here seems highly questionable. Not a lot of people are even aware of this program and it's a little complex, but we explain it in detail on Erie County Report.
Representative Sonney, in House Bill 441, wants to allow farmers to build industrial wind turbines on these lands which are supposed to be restricted to agricultural production, which brings a whole new meaning to the term "wind farm."
Leasing up to 10,000 acres of Lake Erie lake bed for wind turbines
Most of us look at Lake Erie as a beautiful, unique and valuable natural resource for recreation, a habitat for fish and other marine wildlife and a source of drinking water for many municipalities along the shore, including North East.
Curt Sonney has introduced House Bill 685, which would allow for the leasing of up to 10,000 acres of the lake bed off of the Erie County shoreline for the purpose of constructing a utility scale offshore wind installation, which would consist of hundreds of industrial wind turbines. This is the same area for which Erie County is proposing a marine sanctuary.
The summaries above are very brief and the full explanation for each with links to all of the references is available on Erie County Report. There's a good chance you have questions based on what you've read here, so just follow the links to each discussion for all of the details.