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Photo courtesy of www.senatorreschenthaler.com
State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Jefferson Hills)
State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Jefferson Hills) is one of the most junior senators in Pennsylvania. He was first elected in a special election in 2015, defeating Democratic challenger Heather Arnet
, and then won re-election in 2016. However, his short tenure hasn’t stopped him from proposing a wide-ranging set of bills, many of which are unfriendly to the environment, organized labor and immigrants. (His big splash into the state senate is what got him on City Paper
’s Shit List
Now, in the new era of angry constituents demanding town halls from Republican lawmakers, Reschenthaler is catching some heat. On Feb. 27, a group of more than 50 constituents held a protest outside his Bethel Park office, and then went in to attend Reschenthaler’s open house to voice their opposition to the senator’s stances. Reschenthaler’s district encompasses most of southern and western Allegheny County, including Sewickley, Robinson and Mount Lebanon, as well as a small portion of Washington County.
Lynda Park, of Mount Lebanon, helped organize the event and took a day off work to attend. She said those who could not attend wrote letters, and she delivered more than 40 letters expressing criticisms to Reschenthaler's office. Park is a naturalized U.S. citizen from South Korea, and she takes offense to Reschanthaler’s introduction of SB 10, a bill to cut off funding to municipalities who limit communication and cooperation with federal immigration officials. “His policy on SB 10, I take that as an affront to all immigrants,” said Park. “He was not representing the views of all his constituents when supporting that bill.”
Steve Hvozdovich, of Whitehall, was upset with Reschenthaler’s sponsorship of SB 175, which would limit regulations the state could place on methane emissions from fracking sites.
“Senator Reschenthaler’s sponsorship of SB 175 shows he’s more pushing corporate polluters’ interests than his own constituents,” said Hvozdovich in a press release. “As the Trump administration moves to scale back environmental protections, it’s more important than ever that we ensure Pennsylvania has the ability to move forward with protections for our health and environment.”
Other constituents also expressed criticism of Reschenthaler's support of recent bills aimed at limiting organized labor and restricting abortion. Park says many constituents told very personal stories on how SB 3, a bill that Reschenthaler voted for which would ban abortions at 20 weeks into pregnancies, would hurt them.
A video posted by labor-organizing coalition Pittsburgh United shows Reschenthaler addressing some of the upset constituents, saying “democracy doesn’t work when you have one person making decisions and one point of view. We need everyone in this room with all different opinions, so I really appreciate it.”
But when City Paper
reached out to Reschenthaler to ask if some of his positions might change because of input from constituents, his office didn’t respond.
Park said the senator didn’t give any indication he would change his stances, but added that she hopes he does.
“That is my hope,” said Park. “But I don't know if I am confident. My main thing is that we, as his constituents, will be watching him and the legislation he tries to pass.”