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Spotlight on Senator John Eichelberger

Republican State Senator John Eichelberger took some time out of his busy schedule to visit The Daily Herald office this week to discuss how things have been going over the past year.
In the district, Eichelberger remains busy.
Last year, he participated in 250 different functions in the 30th District, such as meetings, parades, speaking events, veterans services and more, including events in the Tyrone area.
“I think it’s important for people to have access to someone in public office,” Eichelberger said, “and it gives me an opportunity to get to know everybody’s issues and problems.”
Over the last year, he also hosted a senior expo, emergency services workshop, a booth at the Jaffa Sports Show, local economic meetings, town hall meetings and so on. He’ll have a booth at the upcoming Farm/City Day in Tyrone as well.
“Our largest town hall meeting was here in Tyrone,” he added.
Another big part of last year was getting his offices up and running. Eichelberger has four new offices in the 30th District that are “visible and accessible” – located in Hollidaysburg, Smithfield Township, McConnellsburg and Bedford.
“We’re fully prepared to do all the work that traditionally the state representatives have done,” explained Eichelberger, noting that his office staff can do full-service constituent work, which hasn’t been done that way in the past.
In Harrisburg, Eichelberger also remains active.
He is currently on seven committees, which is more than anybody else in the senate.
“I haven’t missed a vote on anything so far,” added Eichelberger. “I’ve made every committee vote, and I’ve made every vote on the floor of the senate. I have a 100-percent voting record.”
Eichelberger has also written several pieces of legislation, “a lot of them dealing with good government reforms like the bonus-ban bill.”
The “bonus gate” investigation is something he got started by going to the attorney general and asking him to investigate the legislature about any illegal activity that happened with the bonuses in the past. He said this investigation will go into next year.
He was chosen to debate the Democrats on the marriage protection amendment on PCN earlier this year, and Eichelberger has also written a child predators bill and the conscientious objective act.
Eichelberger said his main goals are to focus on “good government reform”, “socially conservative issues” and “fiscal and business issues”.
Also, Eichelberger was a co-sponsor of the open government bill that was passed this year, which he said opened up a lot of records to the public.
He added that, “There’s a lot of things we did that are good for transparency and open government.”
As for the Tyrone area, he acknowledged that continuing issues include wind turbines, natural gas drilling and high gasoline and utility prices.
He said he was asked to sponsor a bill to put some basic criteria into state law for siting wind turbines.
“Right now, it all falls on the local government,” said Eichelberger, adding that it seems like in this case, the local municipalities, environmental groups and wind mill companies would like some sort of basic criteria put into place by the state.
On the issue of possible natural gas leases, he said, “That is a very important issue for people because these leases are complex and the price varies greatly.”
He moved on by saying, “A couple of things that are coming up that are a big concern to everybody – one is the rate caps on electricity, and the other one is sewage rates from the Chesapeake Bay, and those are two issues that the state’s dealing with.”
Eichelberger said he believes the electricity rate caps will come off and that people’s electricity rates will go up 30 to 60 percent in 2010.
Also in 2010, the Chesapeake Bay federal requirements will be in place, and people’s sewage rates could go up quite a bit, depending on the sewage plant.
“That is a very big issue. In fact, arguably, it’s the most important issue in the 30th district,” Eichelberger said about the Chesapeake Bay mandates.
In the future, Eichelberger will be working on a lobbyist reform piece, a piece on competitive bidding and legislation for municipal pensions.
For the latest information on Senator Eichelberger, visit his website at www.senatoreichelberger.com.