Episode 3 - The Outsider


Episode 3 - The Outsider


This week join, Rep. Mike Jones (R – York County) and host Matthew Dowling for Commonalities. The pair discuss the importance of differing views within one political party, what it is like to be a political outsider, private sector unions, criminal justice reform, and more. Listen Tuesday at 11:15AM on WMBS Radio, view the rebroadcast on Facebook, or download the program everywhere you find your favorite podcasts.


Episode Transcript
Starting now. Commonalities where guests find common ground through uncommon conversations, politics, religion, finances, all the topics your grandmother told you not to discuss with friends. And now your host, Matthew Dowling, and today's guests on commonalities. Thank you for joining us once again on commonalities. I'm Matt Dowling, alongside, uh, a former colleague of mine in the Pennsylvania House, a good conservative, as they say, representative Mike Jones. Mike, thank you so much for being with us today. Um, you know, I wanna allow you a moment or two to, um, get your credentials out there, and as you do that, um, I know you were very involved with, uh, with business and, uh, in the supply chain, um, running a corporation, and then you made a transition to politics. So why don't you give us a little bit of your background and, uh, and tell us who represented Mike Jones is. Yeah, well thank you, Matt. I really appreciate you having me. Congratulations on the new show. I'm honored to be one of your first guests here. Um, yeah. So Mike Jones, uh, in York County, uh, kind of my district falls, uh, just south of the city of York down to the Mason Dixon line. So we, uh, district borders Maryland. Um, just finishing up my second term and, uh, and was just elected to a third, uh, two year term, uh, in the state legislature. So, and to your point, um, my prior to that, um, I was really never involved in politics in any significant way. Um, been a lifelong Republican, of course, and voted and and such, but, um, was really busy, uh, running a great company here in York called St. Oranges Company. Um, was president of that firm for about 11 years. Uh, worked there for over 20, um, when I left, that was about 120 person organization. And, uh, one of the things, in addition to being a great company in and of itself, um, we consulted, to your point on, uh, supply chain issues. So we designed distribution and manufacturing facilities and help companies figure out how many of those facilities they should have and where they should be located for many of the nations and really the world's largest corporations. Um, so I was really blessed to travel the country. Uh, did a decent amount of international travel as well, and really gained an appreciation, um, for the greatness of American business and the great, you know, the, uh, the positive impact that it has, not only in our country as far as creating jobs and tax revenue and so forth, but really, uh, around the world and the quality of life, uh, that it, that American corporations and capitalism in general, uh, provide. So I'm a staunch capitalist. Uh, it's kinda like America. Uh, America's not perfect, but there's no close second, and capitalism's not a perfect system, but, uh, it sure beats the heck out of socialism. So, uh, I've been honored now to transition to politics and try to bring a little bit of that business experience and, uh, uh, to the table. You know, and I think we're in a timeframe where people are looking for someone who knows how to run a business. Uh, you know, I I myself, a small business owner, uh, before going into politics, they want people that have signed the front of a paycheck, not just the back of a paycheck. Um, and, you know, I think you and I both agreed, uh, while I was in the legislature and serving with you, that, uh, government needed to live more within its means, and that's something that we have to make our businesses do. Um, but we don't always see government do that. No, you're exactly correct, and unfortunately, that's one reason I've put it against every budget since I've been in the legislature. Um, and you know, it's, you know, as you know, there's a lot to like and dislike in most any budget. But, um, the, the, uh, the recurring thing that I found to dislike, uh, is the amount of spending. And, um, I would love to see us get the Taxpayer Protection Act passed, which would limit spending, uh, other than in emergency situations where we could, uh, uh, with the two-thirds majority, we could override it. But, uh, that, that, uh, if, if passed, it would be a constitutional amendment that says, um, as you know, that spending could not exceed, um, the combination of inflation and population growth. Um, so yeah, I've, I've been disappointed, uh, really on both sides of the aisle. There's just a, it seems to be a never ending appetite to, to spend other people's money. Um, and as a result, you know, our, our state has is growing, literally growing older, smaller, and poorer by the day. And, uh, the only demographic that's growing is the over 85 demographic. Um, we just lost another US con congressional seat, as you know, and with it, we lost another electoral vote. Um, so it's a major problem. We should be an economic powerhouse, uh, and instead, um, you know, with excessive tax and regulation and spending, we're going the wrong direction. Yeah. And so, uh, you know, Mike, as, as you well know, and as, uh, as our listeners have learned within the last week or so, that this show is about, um, talking about opposing views, and, uh, you know, normally we would have a Democrat and a Republican or an independent and a Democrat or so forth. Um, but we have kind of an interesting case with you. And, uh, after we get our first break in, I want to talk a little bit more about this. You were kind of an outsider within the party, and, uh, and, and, and I leaned your way, uh, a good bit. I I was in the top 10 most conservative, top 10% of conservative members of the house. I know you, uh, you beat me by a, a couple points there. Um, but you know, you were an outsider within your own party. And, uh, I think that's something that we really want to, uh, to discuss today. Uh, because I think people at home think that, uh, you know, within a, a party that we hold hands and sing kumbaya. And, uh, as you know, and as you've experienced, that's not necessarily what happens. Uh, sometimes the, uh, disagreements within a political party can be just as severe, if not more severe, uh, than they are between, uh, both sides of the aisle. So we do have to get a quick break in, uh, representative Jones. And then, uh, we'll come back and we'll talk a little bit about being an outsider within your own party. You're listening to commonalities where guests find common ground through uncommon conversations. We'll be back after this brief break to recognize our sponsors. Are you enjoying the program? You're listening to support commonalities and help keep us on the air by making a donation of five, 10, or $25, or any amount you feel comfortable sharing [email protected] Again, that is donate.commonalities.online on the worldwide web. Buy our host a cup of coffee or help pay for airtime at donate dot commonalities online. When it comes to buying a home, what you see isn't exactly what you get. That's why home buyers should call Dave Dowling at Grandview Inspections at 7 2 4 2 0 8 4 1 0 8. You'll see colorful flowers, freshly painted walls, granite countertops, gleaming hardwood floors, and other touches. What you can't see is the cracks, ancient plumbing, dangerous wiring, or broken appliances that might be revealed when you hire a home inspector. And when it comes to home inspectors, knowing yours has the qualifications and experience needed, should be your number one concern. Dave Dowling, with Grand View Inspections is an architectural engineer with over 30 years of commercial construction experience and hundreds of inspections under his belt. A home inspection is an opportunity for you to hire an expert to walk through the home and prepare a report outlining the home's major components, what needs immediate attention, and what will require maintenance after you move in your home is one of your biggest investments. So make sure your investment is everything you hoped it to be. Call Dave Dowling at Grandview Inspections at 7 2 4 2 0 8 4 1 0 8. Well, thanks for sticking with us on commonalities here on WBS five 90 am 1 0 1 0.1 FM in any place you download your favorite podcasts. I'm Matt Dowling alongside, uh, my former colleague, uh, representative Mike Jones from your county, uh, serving the South central part of that county there. And before we went to break, Mike, I started to allude to the fact that, uh, you were kind of an outsider within the party. So why don't you explain to the, the viewers and the listeners, uh, what that means. Yeah, so I kind of ran on the premise. You were, we were talking about my business background a little bit before the break, and, um, so I ran on the premise that I was, you know, um, a business guy, um, who was not a career politician and, you know, did not sort of need the job, so to speak. Um, and I guess I, I guess I kind of took that to heart <laugh>. But in any event, um, what happened in my case was it really, Matt ties back to the lockdowns and, um, you know, and you and I, and, and most everyone in our party agreed that the governor, uh, really exploited his, um, I'll call it executive privilege, uh, with the, in his emergency powers and in shutting down businesses. And, um, and we saw schools shut down and so forth. And a couple of months into that, it became apparent to guys like you and myself, um, that there was really, um, you know, these were just bureaucrats making decisions, uh, with really no, uh, medical or strategic, uh, you know, uh, justification. And that started a process, uh, here in York. We did something that I don't believe anybody else did across the state. I spearheaded something called reopen York. And, um, we had a, a legal fund, uh, that we, uh, put pulled together from the business community to defend, uh, business owners against the state if they would come after them. Um, we had ppe, we had best practices, we had marketing and messaging. We even had, uh, psychologist available, uh, to help these folks cuz what was being done to their businesses was criminal. And some folks might be familiar with Round the Clock Diner. That was the most prominent business here in York. Uh, got a lot of national attention, uh, on Fox News and so forth. In any event, I share that because, um, during that process, and, you know, and maybe we did or didn't handle it perfectly, but at least we did something and we pushed back against tyranny. And we ultimately had over 300 businesses. I don't know if you're aware of this or not, Matt, but we had over 300 businesses that defied the governor's orders and stayed open. And not one of them went to jail. Not one of them closed their doors. Not one of them lost a license that he was trying to weaponize against them. And, um, and if they were smart, none of 'em even paid a fine. So the reason I share that is we then went into, um, vaccine mandates, uh, and mass mandates on our students. And we went from, you know, our doctors and nurses in particular, who we were hailing as, as frontline, as frontline heroes, as we, you know, as, as we were rightfully so, we're now talking about firing them because they wouldn't get unproven vaccines against their will. Now, you know, vaccines are great if that's what you chose to do, but the notion of firing these people, um, because they refused to take an unproven vaccine, uh, masking of children who were at virtually no risk from the virus. And then, uh, the third big bucket was election reform. Uh, and on the heels of the 2020 election, we had a lot of people that were not only angry, but scared and disenfranchised, uh, you know, as to whether their votes were properly counted on that sort of thing. So in the wake of all of that, I had a couple of senior colleagues here in York, and, um, they just didn't show up to any of those things. They voted the right way. Uh, but for a year and a half, you know, when we're out there on the front lines, um, and people were scared and hurting, and businesses being shut down, people outta work, um, I, I had a 62 year old waitress I'll ever forget. She had literally fell through her front door with a panic attack because she had not gotten a paycheck in eight weeks. And nobody at department of, uh, unemployment was picking up at the Labor department. And so, um, some of my colleagues were just nowhere to be found on the front lines. And, uh, and I had tried to warn them for a year or two what was coming, and they ended up getting, uh, challenged in primaries. Um, and for me, the straw that broke the camel's back, um, little, little tougher issue for you out there in the western part of the state, but was fully funding the University of Pittsburgh, who we found doing barbaric experiments with fetal tissue, taking the skin from four and five month old aborted babies and sewing it onto lab, lab mice. And, uh, my couple of my guys here did nothing. So I took kind of an unprecedented step of endorsing the challengers, both of whom ultimately won in the primaries and will now be, uh, seated in January when they're sworn in, uh, Wendy Fink and Joe De Dorsey. So, needless to say, and I understand that the establishment Republican party did not appreciate that, and it's not something I did lightly. And, um, maybe someday I'll look back and reflect on it differently, but I did what I thought I had to do at the time. And, um, so as a result, I was stripped of three or four, three of my four committees and, uh, put up in the front row, moved my seat on the house floor up to the front, very front row, and, uh, sat me next to the Democrats. Um, but, you know, I'm a grown man. I can take it. There are consequence. But to your point, and I apologize for a long answer here, Matt, but the, uh, um, you made a great point before the break, um, a lot of times the tensions and, and, um, and I think oftentimes productive, I don't know that I'd even call it in. I mean, it is a little bit of infighting, but a lot of it's good healthy debate as well. But there's a lot of debate within the party that people don't see because it's generally not public. We do a 95% of that occurs, rightfully so, behind closed doors and what we know in what we call the caucus room. Um, so you won't see Republicans debating with Republicans very often, you know, in television interviews or even on the House four. But that doesn't mean it doesn't occur <laugh>. And so I think that's something people to your, to your point, again, might be interested to know. Uh, there is plenty of debate within the party, um, but it just tends to be a little more, um, behind the scenes. To your point, uh, you know, 25 years from now, God willing, I'm still, uh, uh, living and around, I will never forget hearing, uh, recessing, the house has been extended for 15 minutes. <laugh>. Um, I, I think I hear that over and over. And for the listeners at home that don't know, you know, when we are in the caucus room, the Democrats are in their caucus room. Um, you know, we may say that that, uh, we're gonna caucus for an hour or an hour and a half, uh, and will return to the floor to vote. But, uh, our debate becomes rather lengthy at times. And, uh, there literally have been all afternoons that have been extended 15 minutes at a time <laugh>, um, so that we can continue that debate before returning to the floor to do the work of the people. And, you know, I I, I think that's actually, you know, it's actually, as you said, healthy, um, because we don't really want, uh, just one view to be recognized all the time. Um, although many of us are, are pretty staunch in what our beliefs are, um, you do have the opportunity to change minds in the caucus room and to, uh, to think of things a little differently. Um, you know, now I know we talked about the pandemic already and about the hurt that it put on people, uh, especially our small business owners, um, from restaurants to, uh, to school teachers, uh, the whole nine yards, everyone was affected. Um, one of the things you've been working on, um, has been economic growth. And, and I believe you started the Economic Growth Caucus because we came out of this pandemic and we were in a lot of trouble. And, uh, and the Commonwealth's gonna have to find ways, uh, to grow the economy as we move forward. So why don't we talk a little bit about that economic growth caucus? Yeah, I appreciate the opportunity. Um, you know, again, coming with a business background and really being outta my element, and to some extent, I still kind of am up in Harrisburg. You know, I tell people I'm never gonna be a great legislator in the traditional sense of getting, uh, you know, a lot of bills passed and up on the wall. I think, um, hopefully I do a little bit of that. Um, and yeah, and there's a skill set, um, that some people have. You know, I'm, I'm not gonna be the world's greatest, uh, debater on the floor. You know, we've got some brilliant guys up there, as you know, like Paul Shemel and Tim Bonner, a lot of 'em with legal backgrounds that are just really, uh, remarkable what I would call traditional kind of lawmakers. Um, but my role was to kind of bring the business community into grassroots to bear and make sure their voices are heard and that they can impact policy. And to that end, uh, when I first got to Harrisburg, I met a, uh, a gentleman named Mike Toba, who was now retired. Um, and, uh, obviously you and I served with him, Matt, from up in the school Kill County. Um, and Mike was a business guy. And I said, you know, how many do we have many folks up here with business backgrounds? And it, it wasn't a very big number, <laugh>, you get a lot of political science majors, a lot of attorneys, and so forth, and, and there's a role for everybody, don't get me wrong. But, uh, so what we did is you're, you're correct. I, so I ended up co-founding about almost four years ago now, um, the economic growth, uh, caucus. And, um, and then I've chaired that ever since. So there's about 25 members, uh, you, you said early on in, in the, in your monologue there, that we want people that have signed the front of a paycheck, not just the back of a paycheck. And you and I have both done that. Um, so these are folks that either owned or led a business or held a a senior management position in a, in a corporation. And we really focus on four areas. Um, probably the least controversial is workforce. Um, we're sending way too many kids to college, about 45% of whom will have no degree at all in six years. And then there's another chunk, of course, that will have, uh, degrees they never use. So a lot of these kids will have nothing but wasted time and debt, uh, to show for the experience. Um, in the meantime, um, and I don't know the statistics in, in your neck of the woods mat, but in York County, 20% of our jobs are manufacturing. That's double the state average. So we are in desperate need of machinists and electricians and carpenters, <laugh> and plumbers and so forth. Uh, in the meantime, we're, we're, we're wasting taxpayer dollars to send a lot of students to college that would be better off in trade or vocational schools. Uh, and oh, by the way, we're sending them there in many cases to be indoctrinated in socialism, which is the enemy of America and capitalism, in my opinion. Um, we look at, uh, energy policy, uh, which you're more astute on than I am being from, uh, you're out in, uh, in the western part of the state. We should be an energy powerhouse, and we're continuing to shoot ourselves in the foot, uh, with, like most recently, the, uh, wolf trying to get us into the, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Um, we look at, uh, tax policy, we finally got a slight reduction in the corporate net income tax. Uh, but we're way too high on corporate net income tax companies are not even very few companies even consider, uh, in, in major investments here in Pennsylvania. Um, and again, we should be an economic powerhouse from a supply chain perspective, uh, perfectly positioned geographically. Uh, we might have a lot of potholes, but we have on the bottom line is we have great infrastructure in the sense that we have a lot of roads. Uh, we are central to a lot of the US population, um, close to ports and so forth. Uh, and then lastly is regulatory, which is even really worse, uh, for our business climate than taxes because we are so difficult to do business with. The Department of Environmental Protection is out of control. Uh, permits that take three or four months in in many states will take a year and a half or two years here in Pennsylvania. So we've been championing legislation. I think we could have done a lot more for small business, um, on the heels of the pandemic. Um, there was probably no greater time, uh, when people were more sympathetic to the calls of small business. We did get a couple things done. I don't wanna put your listeners to sleep, but we got, uh, accelerated depreciation for capital investment. We got something called like Kind Exchange. Some things that I say aren't real sexy, but would go a long way in helping our businesses. We're championing something called deemed to proof permitting, uh, which would accelerate the permitting process. Uh, trying to keep d e p out of these real small projects, uh, say, Hey, look, you shouldn't be involved in anything that's, uh, less than five acres. It's currently one acre. Um, so there's some little things that aren't gonna be headline grabbers, but would go a long way in helping our businesses, and of course, continuing to, to chip away at, uh, at the crazy tax burden we have here. Now, you know, Mike, people may look at us, uh, and, you know, I try to be, um, objective here on this program now that I, uh, have retired from the house, but, you know, there's, there's no hiding the fact that I was a conservative Republican member while I was there, and, uh, continue to espouse those beliefs, uh, in my personal life, et cetera. So I think sometimes people would paint people like you and I with, uh, with a broad brush and say, you know, this is what a conservative Republican looks like. Okay, what are the guys that get the awards at cpac? And things like that. Um, but that being said, I I, I think there are some things that may shock some individuals. And, you know, you talked a little bit about, um, kids that need training for the, the workforce that we have available. Um, and about, uh, the trades. You know, I, I'm a big supporter of, uh, um, excuse me, of private sector unions. Um, public sector unions are, are a different situation. But, you know, I think if, if my sons wanted to go become an electrician and become an apprentice and go through that, uh, system rather than going to a traditional college, I wouldn't be worried or or offended by that. And, uh, and I wanted to get kind of your take. Uh, what, what are your opinions on, uh, the training that unions offer? Yeah, I think the, uh, you know, there's a huge, there's sort of like three buckets, right? And you, you touched on two of them. So you've got the public sector unions, which is basically the teachers unions and the state employees. Um, and I'll tell you right up front, I think the teachers unions, not teachers, the teachers unions are the greatest source of evil in our state. <laugh> for a lot of reasons. That's, that's how passionate I am about that. Um, then you have your, and we'll circle back to that, uh, and they're absolutely killing us, um, with, um, I think on curriculum. They're way outside their lane. They got, they've got, they've gotten so much money and have had so much power go to their head that they've, they've become what they set out to fault, you know, to fight years ago, you would say, you know, well, unions were there to, for, to fight these corrupt, greedy, big businesses. Well, the teacher's union has become exactly that. Um, and, uh, I think the, um, and, and the burden that it's putting on taxpayers with the pension system and so on and so forth, then you've got what, I guess, you know, what I would call your traditional, uh, you know, like a shop union. So I, for example, was I grew up in a UAW household. My dad was a UAW member, a Caterpillar machine operator here in York when they still had manufacturing here. Uh, and then you got the trade unions. And as you know, as you kind of go across that spectrum, the general membership, um, has trended more and more Republicans. So we, we've, I would venture to guess, you may know better than I do, Matt, but I would, I would venture probably well over half the trade union members in the state probably tend to tend to vote Republican. Um, and even a lot of your traditional, uh, like uaw, teamster types, my dad was, was just that he was a, uh, a democrat that became a Republican thanks to Ronald Reagan, and really voted on guns and abortion more so than he did on, uh, traditional union issues. But the, I think the trade union model is fantastic. If you look at what they do, uh, the worker training, uh, the emphasis on safety, um, they're fighting, you know, they, for, for member benefits and so forth, and quality of life, they self-fund a lot of that thing, those things. And so I think it's a, a great model. I think we as Republicans have tried to continue, you know, as Reagan said, it's a, it's a big tent, uh, and we've continued to try to strengthen our relationship, particularly with the trades. Um, the main frustration, uh, that we've, that I, that I at least have had, um, is they continue to go to bat for the public sector unions, <laugh>. And we see the police and the firefighters doing the same thing. And to some extent, I get it, but to the other extent, it's hard for us to work with them if they won't work with us a little bit and find some common ground. So, as you know, we have a lot of bills, um, that focus just on public sector issues. Uh, but the trades and others will invariably come to bat for them, and they carry a lot of, a lot of weight. So I wish we could find a little bit of middle ground there, uh, a little easier said than done. Um, but yeah, we have to do everything we can to champion, uh, workforce development, um, like we've talked about, you know, um, everything from, uh, pipe fitters to welders and electricians and plumbers and carpenters, and, um, we need to do a better job as a party, um, emphasizing those, those, uh, skills and, and doing what we can to collaborate in particular, uh, with the trades. And, uh, it's obviously critically important out west, uh, where energy is such a big, uh, a big sector for you guys. And, um, so I, I think we've made progress. Um, I, I wish they could be a little more collaborative, um, and not, uh, defending what I think are really some common sense reforms on the public sector side. Uh, but we'll keep plugging away on that. You know, and, and you already touched a little bit on the dep and regulation that's there. You know, some of these regulations are shutting down the quote unquote shovel ready projects that are, uh, are out there and, and are supposed to exist, um, because permitting, uh, is, is just so difficult. I know I see that in the gas and oil industry here, uh, in, in the foothills of Appalachia here in Fayette County and in Somerset County. Um, you know, their projects are being held up and, uh, and so sometimes we have to fight for those, those trade jobs. No, and that's, if you don't mind just a second on that, that's really a killer. Um, arguably even a bigger issue than, than some of our unfriendly tax policies. Cause having consulted, you know, I talked at the onset there that I, I did a lot of consulting for large and very large companies. Um, they drag their feet like everybody else. And, you know, if they, if if they can go to Ohio or Maryland or, um, West Virginia or whatnot, um, and, and get a pro, you know, and get a project up and running in three or four months, they're, they're not gonna mess around with Pennsylvania taking a year and a half. And, uh, DEP is really out of control. They out of focus on their core competencies, you know, safe drinking water and things like that. They've got their hands in way too many pies. And I, I don't know how you see it, but it looks to me like they're in the business. Their charter should be to make sure that projects are approved quickly, efficiently, and, you know, and that they're, they're adhering to safety standards. I think they've really gotten to where they're activists and they're in the business of killing, good, killing projects that they don't happen to like, uh, and that's just, uh, it has huge consequences on our economy. Um, and that's one reason that, you know, a lot of young people, uh, are leaving the state. So it's a big deal. Well, Mike, I gotta get another break in here real quick. And when we come back, we're gonna talk about one of those other issues where, uh, you've been able to cross the aisle and, and kind of have conversations with, uh, with people outside of the party. May not be the traditional Republican viewpoint, um, but, uh, we'll get to that as soon as we get our next, uh, sponsor recognition. Your listening to commonalities where guests find common ground through uncommon conversations. We'll be back after this brief break to recognize our sponsors. Is your business using analog strategies in a digital marketing world? If so, then contact Matthew or Rebecca Dowing at Coordinated 360 for a professional consultation where we bring in-depth knowledge and functional expertise with a holistic perspective. 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That's why home buyers should call Dave Dowling at Grandview Inspections at 7 2 4 2 0 8 4 1 0 8. You'll see colorful flowers, freshly painted walls, granite countertops, gleaming hardwood floors, and other touches. What you can't see is the cracks, ancient plumbing, dangerous wiring, or broken appliances that might be revealed when you hire a home inspector. And when it comes to home inspectors, knowing yours has the qualifications and experience needed, should be your number one concern. Dave Dowling with Grand View Inspections is an architectural engineer with over 30 years of commercial construction experience and hundreds of inspections under his belt. A home inspection is an opportunity for you to hire an expert to walk through the home and prepare a report outlining the home's major components. What needs immediate attention, and what will require maintenance after you move in your home is one of your biggest investments. So make sure your investment is everything you hoped it to be. Call Dave Dowling at Grandview Inspections at 7 2 4 2 0 8 4 1 0 8. You're listening to commonalities on W WBS Radio five 90 am 1 0 1 0.1 fm, and any place you download your favorite podcasts, you can also tune in for, uh, the video version on Facebook. Uh, just search for Matthew Dowing, find My Public profile, and, uh, you'll be able to watch Rebroadcasts of, uh, commonalities every Tuesday and Thursday. I'm here with, uh, my former co colleague, representative Mike Jones of South Central York County. And, uh, we've been talking a little bit about, uh, how he's a conservative Republican, but doesn't always fit, uh, that mold or how there are, uh, uh, some differences that you're not just able to paint a politician with a broad brush. Uh, so one of the items that I know you worked on Mike, uh, in the Pennsylvania House over the past couple years has been criminal justice reform. And that's not always a, uh, you know, a cornerstone of, uh, the Republican caucus at the federal level. We're at the state level. Um, but something I know you feel strongly about, uh, and maybe have had the opportunity to reach across the aisle and have conversations with, uh, with our democratic brethren, uh, about criminal justice reform. So why don't you tell us a little bit about, uh, the work you've done in that field? Yeah, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity, Matt. Um, yeah, it was certainly when I, when I first ran for office, uh, I guess almost five years ago now, um, criminal justice reform wasn't even on my radar. I'm a pretty traditional, tough on crime, kind of conservative Republican. And, uh, when I got, uh, very early in my tenure, I think it was, uh, February of 19, I'd only been in office a little over a month, um, I actually accepted an invitation from the Democratic, um, black Caucus to attend an event at a woman's prison. We have two women state penitentiaries in Pennsylvania. One of them is in Mune outside of Williamsport, and it was a, uh, I think it was over the Martin Luther King holiday as part of Black History Month. In any event, there were two Republicans, Cheryl Delozier from Cumberland County, who's also been a, a champion of criminal justice reform, and myself and about eight Democrats. Um, and that ended up setting me on what has now been a nearly four year journey, uh, championing a couple of issues that, as I said, were never even really on my radar screen. And one of those is dignity for incarcerated women. Uh, which for the first time ever we got out of the house committee, I appreciate, uh, our, our colleague Rob Kaufman, the charman of judiciary running a bill that, uh, wasn't, one isn't on his top 10 list, but he was willing to collaborate and get it outta committee, uh, for me. And then we had it pass the entire house floor. Um, so our hope is that in next session, we'll, we'll get it all the way to the governor's desk, but that basically, in a nutshell recognizes that, uh, prisons weren't really created with women in mind. Women obviously, particularly pregnant women, have some unique needs. And, uh, it basically said, I tell people, look as a, uh, I'm a, I'm a, I'm a, I'm a businessman and American and a Christian, and as a businessman, um, the, a lot of this is just bad business. We, we wanna do all we can to end the cycle of crime, uh, end that revolving door. We want people to get out of prison and get into the workforce, not come right back to jail. Um, and so, but to do that, we gotta meet people in the middle a little bit. And, uh, so part of this is, is, um, recognizing that while women are there, there's still our mothers and sisters and daughters, uh, and neighbors, and they need to be treated with dignity. Um, it's also a bit of a pro-life aspect to it to make sure that we minimize trauma on unborn and try to minimize the impact on, uh, minor children that some of these women still have at home. And then very quickly I say, you know, look, as an American, it's the land of opportunity and second chances, none of us want to be judged on our worst day. I certainly don't want to. Um, and lastly, as a Christian, you know, we are all in need of redemption, and I may, you know, not have done anything to land myself in jail, but I'll be the first one to raise my hand and say that, you know, I need forgiveness and redemption. So this is, um, nothing about being soft on crime, it's just trying to treat women with dignity. Uh, in many cases, these women, uh, are where they are because of, and I'm not justifying their behavior, but a lot of them, there's a disproportionately more instances where women have found themself incarcerated because of associating, quite frankly, with a bad man. Uh, one of the other ones I really wanna look at this coming session, it could be one of the, one of the few, um, upsides, uh, to the Democrats having control of the house, um, is I'd like to look at, uh, geriatric parole where we say that, um, certain, uh, criminals, if they, uh, incarcerated individuals when they've reached a certain age and they've served a, a certain number of years, so maybe it's, they've reached the age of 60 and they've served 30 years of a life sentence, uh, that they would at least be eligible, uh, for parole. Uh, a lot of these folks long since aged out of crime, it's costing us a ton of money, and many of them would be good, great mentors back in society. Not only holding down jobs, but trying, uh, to help direct, uh, younger men and women, you know, away from a life of crime. Um, it's a common sense legislation that I'd like to try to see us, um, go forward. There's a lot of exceptions. We're not gonna help people that hurt kids, for example, or anything like that. Um, but there are a lot of people that made bad decisions when they were, you know, teenagers or, uh, or young men or women, uh, that have probably earned at least consideration. Not a pardon, but consideration for parole. So those are two things in particular, I, I made about eight or 10 trips to Philadelphia, um, usually speaking to predominantly black audiences. So, uh, you can, uh, you can imagine they don't expect to see some, uh, white business guy from the suburbs who was twice ranked the most conservative in the state down in Philly, talking about criminal justice reform. So, um, that's one of the great things about your show. You know, there's, uh, it's, it's not as black and white, uh, as people think it is in the political world. There's, there's a lot of room for, uh, negotiation and common ground, and you can build friendships across the aisle. Well, and I think whenever we're talking about criminal justice reform, uh, luckily you're not the only Republican that is on board. You know, what, we're not, uh, we're not saying open up the doors and, and let everyone out. Um, you know, quite frankly, I didn't agree with, uh, with some of the prisoners that were released during the pandemic, um, because of overcrowding in our state, penitentiaries, et cetera. Um, but I do think there's room for criminal justice reform, and even the Americans for Prosperity, which sometimes, uh, some of their members make me look, uh, a little bit as a leftist, uh, you know, in comparison. But the Americans for Prosperity have taken the opinion, and I've talked to them, um, that, uh, you know, it's costing us money to, to keep these people in prison, and they're unable to be productive members of society. So if they're not a harm to themselves or others, um, why not look at getting them, uh, back into the community where they can do some good and, uh, and generate some income of their own and, and maybe lead a, uh, a productive life. Um, not to mention, I think some of these reforms will actually not only help us, uh, with long term, with people that have long sentences, but people with shorter sentences that, uh, where we see recidivism being, uh, higher than maybe it should be. Yeah, you're, you're exactly right. I think, um, again, um, I, I, I was actually just, uh, did a prison visit, um, in Chester County a few months back and met some of these lifers. Um, I think if people, and again, I'm, I'm a tough one crime guy, I I okay with the death penalty when it's warranted and things like that. So, but you meet some of these individuals and you're like, as I said earlier, this, this is just bad business in defies logic. Um, and, and to your point, you make a good point too, um, on some of the shorter sentences. Another area we have to look at is some of these things become almost self-fulfilling prophecies. And what I'm alluding to is the, the fines that we're burdening people with in particular. And a lot of times that's coupled with taking their driver's license. So you're putting people back on the street saying, you gotta pay back. Now, I'm not talking about restitution. If you did damage that needs to be repaid. Um, but when you've got municipalities in the state piling on with excessive fines, while at the same time dramatically curtailing the individual's ability to make a living, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that they're gonna go back into, into that criminal element if you follow. And, and again, nothing's, there's a lot of nuance <laugh> and a lot of gray area here, but we're gonna have to get a lot smarter, especially when these people are desperately needed in the workforce. Um, and there's some bad actors. We had a very conservative, uh, judge here, um, who since retired Judge Tra Billcock in York, who was kind of a pioneer in the area of drug courts and, uh, veterans courts and so forth. Uh, he himself was a veteran, and he would tell you that I was actually shocked. He said it's probably 80%, uh, at least 75, maybe 80% of the people that come before him, really, that he had to send to jail really should not have been going there. Uh, they had other issues. We see a lot of people with mental health issues in particular that, you know, that we're housing in the jails. And, um, you know, there's 20, 25% that are bad actors that we need to lock up and probably never see the light a day. Um, but there's another big chunk of the population, um, where we've really gotta rethink what we're doing here because it's, it's a, it's a huge cost and in many cases, we're actually, uh, increasing, not decreasing, um, the recidivism to your point. Sure. Hey, Mike, we gotta get, uh, one quick break in and, uh, we'll come back and close out the show. Today. You're listening to commonalities on WBS Radio. Are you enjoying the program? You're listening to support commonalities and help keep us on the air by making a donation of five, 10, or $25, or any amount you feel comfortable sharing [email protected] Again, that is donate.commonalities.online on the worldwide web. Buy our host a cup of coffee or help pay for airtime at donate dot commonalities online. You're listening to commonalities on WBS five 90 am 1 0 1 0.1 fm, and any place you download your favorite podcasts. Uh, and if you know of a friend or family member that enjoys podcasts, we'd ask you to, uh, remind them to give us a [email protected] or, uh, apple Podcast, Spotify and Google Podcasts, every place you download your your favorite radio programs. I'm Matt Dowling. Today my guest is, uh, representative Mike Jones of South Central York County. And Mike, we have just about, uh, two minutes left. Any closing thoughts for us here today? Yeah, well, first of all, again, I want to congratulate you on your show. Um, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you, uh, enjoyed our time together in the legislature. And, um, I really like the format. I think just with limited time and sort of in the spirit, I think of what you're trying to accomplish with your show. Um, I like to say that, you know, we don't get better by just surrounding ourselves with people, um, who tell us what we want to hear. So it's always good, you know, you're going to, I'm sure many of our core beliefs we're gonna have with us, you know, till the day we die. Um, but I have found tremendous benefit in, in, uh, while I can be passionate and opinionated, I don't need to be arrogant about it. And I can be humble and listen to other opinions, whether it's across the aisle or from within my own party. And, you know, always be open to the possibility that, hey, maybe I'm, uh, you know, maybe I'm wrong, or maybe somebody's got a better idea. Um, and lastly, in that regard, one thing I would like to see in Harrisburg, a lot of times compromise is just bipartisan just means easy stuff, or it means watered down. And I think we can do a lot more horse training. And a great example is like small business legislation that it'd be really substantive that a lot of Democrats could either support or at least live with in exchange for something like criminal justice reform that they're passionate about. We might not be as passionate, but it's good policy and we could live with it. And that's something I would love to see going forward, is a little more horse trading on substantive issues. Uh, you know, rather than just water down feel good, bipartisan. Cause it's not that we don't agree, it's that we've lost the art of debate, you know, healthy, friendly debate. So that's kind of my closing thought for you there. And again, congratulations and I appreciate you having me. Well, thank you so, uh, so much for being with us here, Mike. Uh, it is Thanksgiving week and, uh, you know, I find myself very thankful for the time that I had in the legislature, not just to do the work of the people, but, uh, to meet people like yourself and, and to meet people on both sides of the aisle, uh, who are just great human beings, even if we don't agree on every issue. I think many politicians just wanna leave their communities a little bit better than they found them. My guest today was, uh, represented Mike Jones from York County, Mike, so much, uh, thank you so much for being with us, and, uh, have a great thanksgiving. Thank you, Matt. You do the same. Hope you and your family are doing well. This has been commonalities, a show where guests find common ground through uncommon conversations. Copyright 2022 coordinated 360, all public rebroadcast should be done with prior written approval from Matthew Dowling. All requests should be sent to info coordinated three sixty.com. Thank you for listening to commonalities.

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