Pennsylvania Capitol busy with schoolchildren watching General Assembly in session

April 12, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • State Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York, talks about the Civil War during a press conference Tuesday in the state Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, Pa. Seated behind him is Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.
By Jennifer Fitch, Staff Photographer

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The steps of the Rotunda at the Pennsylvania Capitol were a busy place Tuesday, with groups of Civil War re-enactors, schoolchildren and Bayada Nurses lining them within three hours of each other.

Lawmakers, aides and lobbyists had to weave their way through tour groups all day. Legislative aides said this time of year is particularly busy in the Capitol halls because the General Assembly is in session and schools schedule field trips.

One of the big events of the morning was a news conference marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. There, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett joined legislative leaders in highlighting the state's role in the war, including the Battle of Gettysburg.

State Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York, shared a joint legislative resolution with the crowd, which included women in hoop skirts and teenage boys with drums and bugles. Alloway had just returned from a local government committee meeting.

On the way between sections of the historic building, Alloway passed fellow Franklin County legislator Todd Rock. Rock, state representative for the southern portion of the county, was hurrying down a corridor before the House went into session to debate welfare reform.

House members spoke at length about a package of welfare reform bills, at times asking the House Speaker to restore order when members held side conversations and walked around. A few members were seen holding conversations on their cellphones, and one was spotted napping until groans erupted after a comment from a Luzerne County member.

She said, "This legislation is nothing but a campaign brochure."

State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin/Cumberland, is calling for welfare benefits cards to include photo identification.

Alloway spent his morning in meetings scheduled every 15 minutes. He talked with representatives of Chambersburg's Wilson College, A.B.A.T.E. and the Gettysburg YWCA as well as lobbyists from the beer distributors industry and Humane Society of the United States.

Twelve members of A.B.A.T.E. of Pennsylvania's new Monterey Pass chapter crammed into Alloway's office. The Rouzerville, Pa., area motorcycle operators talked about their fundraising efforts for a Battle of Monterey Pass visitors center and their positions on potential legislation.

Member Don Baldwin mentioned traffic lights with sensors that don't change the red lights for motorcycles.

"It's frustrating, and it causes a dangerous situation," he said.

The group also talked about proposed limits on motorcycle permit renewals and Pennsylvania State Police checkpoints for motorcycles.

Mike Strausbaugh from the Humane Society of the United States said Alloway supported a pigeon bill that was scheduled for a vote this week. That legislation would end live pigeon shooting in the state.

The pair talked about dog-tethering initiatives. Alloway said he wants Pennsylvania to ban tying dogs out overnight without any type of shelter.

"This is a fair bill," he said.

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