Tweeting the senator
No one had to drive to a townhall meeting held by state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township – no one even saw each other, not really.
From the comfort of their homes, in transit, or anywhere with cell or Internet service, people could participate in Yaw’s first Twitter townhall from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Yaw saw it as a success, noting it added accessibility to the political process.
“This event went well. An interesting experience and one which gives constituents direct access. We definitely will do more,” he tweeted as @SenatorGeneYaw.
The differences between this type of townhall and the now “old fashioned” kind were striking and instantaneous. The flash of cameras was replaced with the sound of one’s typing; the straight-backed, authoritative posture of the speaker gave way to small profile pictures; and of course, long speeches transformed into a maximum of 140 characters per tweet.
The five who participated sent questions to #AskGeneYaw, and the topics varied, including the federal government shutdown.
“Are you concerned about the federal shutdown’s effect on Pennsylvania,” @wisashl tweeted.
Yaw responded, “I am concerned about this shutdown. Negotiate.”
One tweeter wanted to know his position on the Affordable Care Act. “Do you stand with house republicans to #DefundObamacare?” @maryeau01 tweeted.
“Yes. Last session I co-sponsored Senate Bill 10, a resolution to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution prohibiting forced purchase of health insurance,” Yaw tweeted.
Another participant asked about the condition of the state’s roads.
“Thanks for the tweet meet. What can be done about Pennsylvania roads / potholes / washboard? Thanks!” @kathykolb tweeted.
“Encourage the House to pass Senate Bill 1, which is the first major transportation funding bill in over 15 years,” Yaw responded.
Another tweeter, @mswagner, wanted to know why Yaw isn’t co-sponsoring the Freedom of Employment Act, which prohibits employers from conditioning employment on joining a union. Yaw responded he supports the act, that all supporters aren’t always listed as sponsors, and he sent over 50 support letters out that day.
Taxes also came into the discussion. “What are your thoughts about replacing school tax with sales tax or another less burdonsome tax,” @maryeau01 tweeted.
“Replacing local school taxes with state taxes is fine as long as all understand that with state taxes comes state control,” Yaw answered.
The controversial Common Core education standards the State Board of Education approved Sept. 12 came into the conversation. The standards require all state students to pass proficiency tests in science, math, and language arts before graduating.
“What is the best course of action to totally get rid of common core?” @maryeau01 asked.
“Some form of Common Core will probably apply. … The (state) Senate Education Committee has had extensive hearings on the issue,” Yaw tweeted.