Representative Paul Schemel talks PaSSHE, legislator’s benefits and the radar bill

October 16 – State Representative Paul Schemel joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen on First News Friday morning where the group looked at issues affecting Pennsylvanians.

Paul weighs in on PaSSHE

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is going through a major restructuring. Edinboro, Clarion and California University will all be joined together into one college.

As part of that restructuring PaSSHE is also asking for an additional $72 million from the state in next year’s budget. That would bring them up to almost half a billion dollars from the state government.

It’s commensurate with what is given to Penn State, Pitt and the others.

Schemel said, “If we’re going to spend on higher education, I’d be all for funneling it to our state schools, you know, the ones that we own. We will see. On first blush I think why would we give them more money? They’ve been sort of wasting money for a long time, but one of our complaints in the state legislature is they’ve been just terribly mismanaged. I do think they are taking substantial steps toward wise management. Brady Roy is the state representative who is on that board. I spoke with him briefly last night. I look forward to having a longer conversation with him about this proposal and some of the changes they’re making seeing are they really making positive steps forward?”

Jansen said, “I think the whole board voted for it so I’ll be interested to see what the reaction is to that and if you’re going to ask for more money, you better be demonstrating that you’re taking seriously.”

“He says they can put up,” Schemel said. “He says they can put up and that’s why they’re asking. So we will see. I look forward to having that conversation.”

How can a part time legislature in PA get benefits even when they’re out of office?

One issue that has been a pretty big thorn in a lot of sides of Pennsylvanians is the fact that some members of the General Assembly receive benefits even after they leave office.

Schemel has tried to address that.

Schemel said, “I’ve introduced the same legislation from before which makes us a part time legislature which takes away some of the benefits the legislators are entitled to receive after they leave office. Those are not popular. They don’t get a lot of support. Here’s an interesting thing that has happened. With COVID we went virtual or had a virtual option during the COVID crisis, if you will, so the legislators can attend virtually. I’ve always attended in person. I think that’s important to be in person. But now we’re getting a number of legislators who are saying well we want this to be made permanent. This is great. I can take care of my kids and so forth. You know that might be great for them. Thinking that you can be a state legislator and just phone it in. Literally. I think it’s not great for your constituents, but talking to my wife, Lucy, who’s much smarter than me, she said you know Paul, this is a great opportunity to really dig into a part time legislature because if people can do this virtually, and they think it’s great and they think they can do their job, then they should all be co-sponsors of your bill because they’re basically saying this is a part time job and we don’t need to be here full time. So I’m going to make a push on that and pushback and see if we can’t capture some of that support.”

A General Assembly member that’s in for eight or ten years, will get health care for his or her life even after they leave office – and it’s at the expense of the taxpayers.

Ryan pointed out, “Anybody listening to this radio station will be the first to say my benefits don’t go with me from each individual employers, why on God’s green earth would I even think about paying you guys and your health care for the rest of your lives. Not to mention there’s long term care on top of that. It is ridiculous and I thank you for at least trying to put up that fight.”

The radar bill looks like it’s going nowhere

With Pennsylvania being the only state to not allow local police to use radar for speeding, a lot of people are wondering why it continues to be held up.

Schemel said, “I have been supportive of local police. We’re the only state I think that doesn’t allow local police to use a radar so they have to use a stopwatch which we somehow think is better. I’ve been supportive of local police having a tool like radar and honestly because as a citizen, if I’m going to be pulled over for speeding, I want some real scientific verification that I was speeding, not a guy with a stopwatch. That’s always been opposed. It’s been opposed by the state police before, but it’s opposed honestly by a number of Republicans who just believe that now all local police are going to be making money off of running traffic all the time, which local police say the last thing they want to do is run traffic all the time.”

“There’s stuff in the legislation to stop that, even,” Jansen pointed out.

Schemel said, “I’m fully supportive of that. It’s disappointing to me that that always gets kiboshed. And it gets kiboshed by Republicans, candidly. And Democrats. I think it’s because they all speed too much. I don’t know.”

Ryan asked, “And is this this Hennessey guy?”

Schemel explained, “Tim Hennessey is the chairman of the Transportation Committee.”

“Where it’s sitting right now,” Jansen said.

“Yeah,” Schemel said.

“One guy,” Ryan said.

“Or pressure on him by others,” Jansen suggested.

Schemel said, “There’s a lot of representatives, Republicans and Democrats, behind Tim Hennessey that don’t want to see that legislation come up for a vote. For those of you who don’t know radar, it’s old technology. There’s new technology coming on board and we’re still back in the dark ages.”

Ryan said, “I’m still shocked at the way they scream down South Main Street with some of these hot rods and I’m routinely surprised that there hasn’t been something worse there. And for Hennessey not to move this forward.”

Hennessey is out of Chester County, Pa., and needs to hear from YOU about putting radar in the hands of local law enforcement.