Saturday, August 29, 2015

In a pig's eye

The phrase, which expresses disbelief, seems apt for what goes on in Harrisburg.

In a pig's eye

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Constitutents of state Senate Majority Leader Joe Scarnati run two feral swine hunting preserves in Tioga County, family businesses in operation for decades, he says, he crafted a bill to protect the boars under the Department of Agriculture; and the bill sailed through the Senate.
Constitutents of state Senate Majority Leader Joe Scarnati run two feral swine hunting preserves in Tioga County, family businesses in operation for decades, he says, he crafted a bill to protect the boars under the Department of Agriculture; and the bill sailed through the Senate.

The old English phrase "in a pig's eye," which, according to those who follow such things, is used here in the colonies as an expression of emphatic disbelief, seems appropriate these days for all the doings in Harrisburg.

It came to mind during remarks Monday by Senate President Joe Scarnati at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon.

The GOP leader, who represents a vast eight-county district in the far regions of the state's northern tier, was talking about media fixation on efforts to privatize booze in the context of all the other issues facing the Legislature.

Scarnati, like many rural lawmakers, is no fan of straight privatization largely on grounds that outlying areas would be under-served in a private system. So he noted that the liquor bill that passed the House "does not have a lot of support" in the Senate.

Then he said state revenues are currently not enough to sustain Gov. Corbett's proposed budget, which is due by June 30. Then he said there have been no meetings "of substance" on the budget, which is also tied to huge issues such as pension reform, transportation funding and expansion of Medicare.

Which got him to pigs, specifically feral swine, which look like this and can weigh, literally, half a-ton.

If you missed it, and I imagine you might have, the feral swine issue, not unlike the federal issue of keeping airports open, flew through the Senate last month. See, the state wanted to ban feral swine, a/k/a wild boars, because of their innate distructiveness. Here's the story.

But because constitutents of Scarnati run two feral swine hunting preserves in Tioga County, family businesses in operation for decades, he says, he crafted a bill to protect the boars under the Department of Agriculture; and the bill sailed through the Senate, as the Inky's Amy Worden wrote, like "a greased pig."

Simple enough, no? Constituent problem resolved.

Except, like everything else in the capitol, it's jammed up in process, currently sitting in a House committee.

To which swine-saver Scarnati says, "We can’t even get that bill moving...we start talking about pensions and transportation and liquor and the budget, just give me a feral swine bill, that’s all I want...then I think that sets the tone, sets the bar for the rest of them.”

Meanwhile, I'm thinking, yeah, when pigs fly.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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