John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Resolutions Category

Governor Wolf Responds to Newtown Township's Gun Safety Resolution

On June 13, 2018, the Newtown Board of Supervisors passed a non-binding “gun safety” resolution. The resolution (here) states that as many as 116,225 people are shot each year in America, and that 35,141 people die from gun violence in “murders, assaults, suicides, suicide attempts, unintentional shootings or by police interventions.”

The resolution called for gun safety laws that would – among other things - “[Ensure] that background checks are required on all gun sales, including online and at gun shows. In Pennsylvania, preserve the provisions of the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), which provides instant access to background records.”

In a July 17, 2018, letter to former Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf acknowledged receipt of the resolution and said:

"Thank you for your letter and resolution regarding gun control legislation. While improving background check laws to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms is needed, gun violence is not a singular issue. I have travelled throughout the commonwealth, listening and learning from Pennsylvanians about what they are going through and what we can do to address the safety needs of our communities. This Spring, I created the School Safety Task Force in order to address safety concerns in our educational institutions across the commonwealth that were highlighted by the tragedy in Parkland, Florida. I have also called on our leaders in the United States Congress to take steps towards banning military-style weapons and dangerous accessories like bump stocks. These are common sense laws and regulations that need to be put in place in order to ensure the safety of our children, schools, and families. All of us must take steps - community leaders, elected officials, public safety professionals - to continue to work to reduce violence. Please be assured that I will keep your suggestions in mind when reviewing legislation on this matter."

"I am always impressed and humbled by the dedication shown by local leaders like you. Your input will greatly help as I work to improve education, create jobs, and make government work better. Together, I believe we can build a stronger Pennsylvania."

Also, thank you local Council Rock students for you comments in support of the resolution (see video below).

Posted on 20 Jul 2018, 13:12 - Category: Resolutions

Yardley Boro to Consider “Gun Safety” Resolution

According to a personal communication from Yardley Borough Council member Dave Bria, “On Tuesday, June 5, the Yardley Borough council will consider a gun safety resolution. I want to invite all of you to attend the meeting in support of this resolution. The vote isn't a sure thing… We must be sure our voices are louder and clearer than the opposition in order to sway these votes.”

The resolution quotes statistics from the Brady Campaign, which says “116,255 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention” in America every year.

Hoping to change that statistic favorably, the resolution states “the Borough believes additional gun safety laws are needed to protect the safety and health of our residents and urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the United States Congress to enact laws to reduce gun violence, including:

  1. Preventing known and suspected terrorists, those convicted of violent hate crimes and those with a history of domestic abuse from legally buying guns;

  2. Ensuring that background checks are required on all gun sales, including online and at gun shows. In Pennsylvania, preserve the provisions of the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) which provides instant access to background records;

  3. Funding research into the effects of gun violence and gun safety technology;

  4. Requiring trigger locks on all firearms in homes where children are present;

  5. Requiring lost or stolen firearms be reported to law enforcement within 72-hours of the discovery of loss or theft;

  6. Banning access to bump-stocks;

  7. Banning access to assault-style rifles;

  8. Reducing the number of permissible cartridges in a clip or magazine.

Bria hopes that other Yardley Borough Council members will “go along with the sentiment in the room” and vote to approve the resolution, which was based on the resolution Solebury Township passed in 2016. Will Newtown be next to consider a similar resolution?

UPDATE - June 11, 2018: Yardley’s gun safety resolution received “yes” votes from four council members, with two members abstaining and one member absent from the meeting. New Hope and Solebury both passed similar gun resolutions in 2016, while Lower Makefield and Middletown discussed but did not pass resolutions in previous years. An identical resolution will be considered by the Newtown Board of Supervisors on June 13, 2018 (find the agenda here).

Posted on 31 May 2018, 01:49 - Category: Resolutions

Supervisors Pass PA Congressional Redistricting Resolution

At the May 9, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) public meeting, an anti-gerrymandering, PA Congressional Redistricting Resolution proposed by Fair Districts PA was passed by a 4 to 1 vote. Supervisor Kyle Davis cast the one "No" vote (see below for the entire Resolution).

One issue that was discussed extensively was the creation of a "truly independent citizens redistricting commission devoid of political motivation or partisanship." Mr. Davis was "not clear" on how this commission would be set up. In comments before the BOS, Mare Kremser, who works for Fair Districts PA, explained how members of the commission would chosen (see video below).

After hearing the comments, Mr. Davis said "I do agree that there's an issue. I think the system as it exists might be tweaked. I don't want to see it go from a legislative process to a commission of political appointees."

Chairman Phil Calabro stated that "This is not a commission of perfection...redistricting is a seesaw. It's always changing depending on who's in power. We just want to see better transparency."

Copies of the Resolution will be sent to various government officials (see list at the end of the Resolution).

RESOLUTION 2018-R-15

A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP, BUCKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, IN SUPPORT OF A CITIZENS COMMISSION FOR LEGISLATIVE AND CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING  

WHEREAS, the citizens of the Township of Newtown and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania deserve a fair, fully transparent, impartial and depoliticized process of the decennial drawing of state legislature and congressional districts of near equal population; and  

WHEREAS, legislative and congressional redistricting has at times resulted in gerrymandered districts that favor one political party over others; and  

WHEREAS, such gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts has worked at times to the detriment of our representative democracy; and  

WHEREAS, the creation of a truly independent citizens redistricting commission devoid of political motivation or partisanship will: ensure a fair, transparent, and accurate legislative and congressional redistricting process that respects political subdivisions; prohibit districts from being drawn to favor or discriminate against a political party or candidate; require the use of impartial and sound methodology when setting district boundaries; require public input; and fully comply with the constitutional requirement that "no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward" be divided "unless absolutely necessary,"; and  

WHEREAS, legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to reform the decennial legislative and congressional redistricting process with the intent of using fairness and sound methodology in a non-partisan fashion is required to ensure these reforms.  

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors does hereby support legislative efforts to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to assign the decennial task of both legislative and congressional redistricting to an independent citizens redistricting commission; and  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon all those elected officials and party leaders in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who represent the citizens of the Township of Newtown (see list below) to publicly announce their support of and commitment to work towards passage of such legislative efforts, and that a copy of this resolution be delivered to each of them.

  • Governor Tom Wolf
  • Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack
  • Attorney General Josh Shapiro
  • Acting Secretary of Commonwealth Robert Torres
  • United States Senator Bob Casey
  • United States Senator Pat Toomey
  • United States Representative Brian Fitzpatrick
  • Pennsylvania Senator Charles McIlhinney
  • Pennsylvania Representative Perry Warren
  • Robert G. Loughery, County Commissioner
  • Charles H. Martin, County Commissioner
  • Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, County Commissioner
  • Jack Hanna, Interim Chairman, Democratic Party of Pennsylvania
  • Val DiGiorgio, Chairman, Republican Party of Pennsylvania

UPDATE (June 18, 2018): Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson received a letter from Governor Tom Wolf in response to this resolution. "Thank you for contacting me regarding Newtown Township's resolutions regarding fair congressional redistricting," said Wolf. "Listening to local elected officials and community leaders is the best way for me to understand the complex and challenging issues you each face every day as you strive to build stronger communities and create opportunities for your constituents...I will certainly keep your resolution in mind as we continue to work to remove outdated and unfair policies that make voting too difficult, make special interests too powerful, and make politicians less accountable."

Posted on 11 May 2018, 01:41 - Category: Resolutions

Newtown Township Supports a Complete & Permanent Ban on Fracking and Related Activities

At a March 28, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors approved Resolution 2018-R-10, which calls upon the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to “enact a complete and permanent ban on natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing and all related activities (including drilling, fracking, wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations) throughout the basin.”

The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. Although the Commission proposes to extend its ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing in hydrocarbon bearing rock formations within the Delaware River Basin, it also proposes rules to address the inter-basin transfer of water and wastewater related to hydraulic fracturing; i.e., it would allow such fracking-related activities.

The resolution includes 10 scientific citations as support of the “significant evidence that shale gas development, and its related operations which include all the phases of the fracking process … has adverse effects on public health, property interests, agriculture and on our air, water, and land.”

Board member Kyle Davis opposed the Resolution saying he doesn’t believe the Board “has done enough vetting of these citations to put our signatures on it. If we could take these citations out, I’m a definite ‘yes’ on this resolution,” Davis said.

Sharon Furlong, spokesperson for the Bucks Environmental Action Group and for Bucks County Sierra Club, in comments before the Board, spoke in support of the resolution and urged that it be passed with all the citations remaining. “They are there in order to allow people to go to the source material themselves and make up their own minds,” said Furlong. She also said, however, that “many of them are not readily accessible for people to understand.” She suggested that many have been properly vetted by the Wall Street Journal and other media (see a video clip of her comments below).

In an online survey that I hosted, 67% of respondents favored the resolution, whereas 10% said do nothing. 15% thought that Newtown should pass an ordinance (law) banning fracking. NOTE: A resolution just states a position or policy - it is not a law. See the chart below for a summary of responses.

Survey Results. N=39. This is not a Newtown township approved survey.

“Lawful and properly regulated Fracking has provided a huge boost to Pennsylvania’s economy and US’s energy independence!,” said one anonymous respondent. “Do it right and we all benefit!”

“People are generally against fracking but it's hard to determine what the ramifications of a change would be,” said Jan Filios, a resident of Newtown and a representative of Bucks Environmental Action.

The Newtown anti-fracking resolution will be submitted as a comment posted online at the DRBC website, here. Citizens are also encouraged to submit their comments: simply state your objections to hydraulic fracking and all related activities. The deadline for comments is 5 p.m. March 30.

Posted on 29 Mar 2018, 10:23 - Category: Resolutions

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