Each week throughout the political campaign season, the Sun-Gazette will be asking candidates running for state and federal offices a single issue-oriented question.
Candidates for state offices will consider one question; those for federal offices will take a separate question.
The candidates are:
5th Congress - Glenn "GT" Thompson, incumbent, Republican, and Charles Dumas, Democrat.
10th Congress - Thomas Marino, incumbent, Republican, and Phil Scollo, Democrat
23rd state Senate - E. Eugene Yaw, incumbent, Republican, and Luana Cleveland, Democrat.
83rd state House - Rick Mirabito, incumbent, Democrat, and Harry Rogers, Republican.
84th state House - Garth Everett, incumbent, Republican.
Question for state candidates: Do you agree with a judge's decision to strike down the state's proposed voter identification law for this election?
"He (judge) said it wouldn't apply for this election. I agree there wasn't enough time for people to go through the rigamarole. We (my husband and I) actually were on the front lines for helping people get proper identification. It was a very lengthy and frustrating process. Traveling around the 23rd state Senate District, I found places where it was more complicated than in Lycoming County. Voter identification also puts a burden on voter services. I think given the appropriate amount of time, it might work. Keep in mind, there weren't cases of voter fraud which proponents of voter ID used to push for it.
"I am not going to argue with the judge. He knows more than me. I would have liked to have seen voter ID go through. I am encouraged by his opinion that if there are certain accommodations made, there is nothing wrong with voter ID. I haven't heard the full opinion. I go back to the same thing others have said. You need ID for credit cards and other activities. I kind of think it is not too much of an imposition to have proper ID. Maybe with a little bit more notice and time they will make it easier for them to obtain."
"If it was proven that there was not enough time for these individuals to get proper ID, let's give them more time. I have no problem with the judges's decision. The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with the law the way it is, but let's eventually make everyone have identification. I didn't want to see anyone disenfranchised. Everyone who needs to vote should vote. On the other hand, to do so many other things, you need an ID. Voting is one of the most important things we do. Let's make sure everyone can get identification. We can certainly go through one more election cycle without requiring ID."
"Judge Simpson of the Commonwealth Court did not completely strike down the state's proposed voter identification law. I agree with the judge that asking for a photo ID itself is not a problem. Rather, the problem that has occurred is the rush to do it in time for the November election. Thus, I am not opposed to a requirement that voters produce a photo ID if it is implemented in such a way that people do not lose their right to vote.
"An important point for us to remember about this legal situation is that the rule of law is critical in our system. We have checks and balances to ensure that neither branch of government oversteps its authority and, in doing so, hurts the people. In this case, the court has acted as a check against a decision made by certain legislators which, in the court's opinion, will cause people to lose their ability to vote.
"In this regard, we should note that the earlier majority opinion by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was made by four judges, three of whom are Republicans and one is a Democrat. Similarly, it is my understanding that Judge Simpson is a Republican. Thus, while the Legislature is often dominated by partisan politics, it is important to the public that the courts act in a non-partisan manner and examine legislation with an unbiased eye. Judge Simpson's observation about the offending conduct appears to accomplish that goal."
"I had a lot of people talk to me about that. Most feel the requirements seem reasonable. I think it was difficult for the judge to determine. Whether it would adversely impact any voters in Pennsylvania is hard to say. He (judge) said he would have a hard time determining that. No ruling has been made that it's unconstitutional. The question is: Are we ready yet? I think we are ready. I am glad that it remains open. I don't see this as a big issue, as if it's burdensome for many people."
Do you feel Medicare should be reformed? And if so, what should be done?
"I think Medicare is fine just as it is. My opponent has voted to turn it into a voucher system. That will increase the cost for senior citizens' out-of-pocket expenses by $6,000 a year. My wife Karen had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The insurance company denied her coverage for chemotherapy. We ultimately won that battle. I can't imagine why Tom Marino would vote to leave seniors in the hands of insurance companies. That's what would happen if you left buying insurance on the open market. Votes to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act would decrease the solvency of Medicare by eight years."
"There are only a few paths to take; do nothing and wait for Medicare to go bankrupt in 2024, cut benefits and ration care as President Obama did with the $716 billion Medicare cut he used to pay for Obamacare, or reform the program and preserve it for future generations. By introducing competition and giving seniors the option to choose a private insurance plan or traditional Medicare, we can drive down the cost and ensure that future generations have access to an effective and affordable Medicare program once they turn 65. Introducing competition, together with cracking down on fraud and Medicare payroll tax delinquents, will ensure that Medicare is solvent for generations to come without cutting benefits or rationing the care individuals deserve in older age."
"I favor saving Medicare. The trustees in charge of the Medicare Fund say it will be insolvent five years sooner than earlier estimations. That would be 2025. With the President taking hundreds of millions out of the Medicare fund, that will move that bankruptcy date even closer. So I want to save Medicare. That is the right thing to do. For those 55 and older, there will be no change. If you're younger than 55, I'd like to see something similar to what is done with Medicare Part D. That gives a lot of choices. It allows for individuals to take money from that which they contributed to Medicare and pick a plan that best fits them. One of those options will be the traditional Medicare program. So if someone wants to have government manage their health care plan, they can do that. Medicare Part D came under budget. It's a cost savings. It's what some people refer to as the voucher plan. You would determine your plan. You would have choices and options."
"I think there is a need to reform Medicare as long as we keep in mind that the benefits for folks have to stay in place. More than likely, what will happen in the long run will be some sort of increased revenue, and it should not come from Social Security or taking from other benefit packages. For the long term, it means increasing the safety net by tapping other sources, such as the top income earners. I am in favor of down the road investigating one-payer plans."