inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Rep. Shusterman Wants to Phase Out Gas-Powered Lawnmowers in PA

State Rep. Melissa Shusterman wants the state to switch from gasoline-powered lawnmowers and other gardening equipment for the good of the planet.

Shusterman (D-Paoli) posted this sponsoring memo on the House website: “Gas-powered lawn and garden tools represent about 85 percent of what is known as small off-road engine (SORE) equipment in the United States. Such equipment is often manufactured without the pollution controls placed on gas-powered vehicles and thus burns a dirtier fuel mix. Moreover, operating a gas-powered commercial lawn mower for one hour emits as much pollution as driving a passenger car about 300 miles.

“Recognizing such a substantial contribution to pollution, more than 100 local governments in the United States have enacted at least partial restrictions on using gas-powered lawn equipment. Similar proposals have been made in Pennsylvania’s neighboring states of New Jersey, New York, and Maryland. During a time when outdoor temperatures are reaching life-threatening levels, we must act with urgency to limit sources of significant pollution, such as gas-powered equipment.

“In an effort to join these states at the forefront of climate stewardship, I am introducing a resolution to establish a Zero Emissions Lawn Care Task Force. The task force would develop a plan to phase out gas-powered lawn and garden equipment in Pennsylvania. In doing so, it would consider issues of affordability and accessibility for disadvantaged communities in its recommendations and establish a plan for an incentive program to encourage the switch to battery-powered alternatives,” she said.

Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association President Dave Taylor was shocked that a Pennsylvania state representative would propose this.

The idea “looks like it was plucked straight from Santa Monica, Calif.,” he said. “And if she thinks Pennsylvania is like California, she’ll find it’s very much otherwise.”

Taylor said we should allow the market to decide whether electric devices will be used rather than having  government regulation mandate them.

“This mindset is part of command and control statism,” said Taylor. “It’s extremely arrogant for a politician to decide what kind of equipment people can or cannot use.”

He said many small businesses are involved in mowing lawns and landscaping, and forcing them to buy new equipment could put them out of business.

“And what about privately owned equipment?” he asked. Would the government “send the state police to people’s homes to check on their lawnmowers?”

“It’s extremely short-sighted and presumptuous,” said Taylor. Lithium-ion batteries to run electric lawnmowers are made in China. Here, there is “zero capacity” to manufacture them. Would Shusterman “approve more lithium mining permits or permits for processing facilities?”

“Greens don’t want mining, manufacturing, and processing,” he said. “They don’t even want the transmission lines that would be needed” to charge all these new electric devices.

“I doubt if Rep. Shusterman spoke to any small business owners,” he said.

Nicholas Froio, a co-owner of Froio’s Lawn& Landscape, a landscaping company in Chester County, said they’ve looked at electric mowers and other equipment for the last five years.

“We’re not against it,” said Froio. “We just ordered six new lawnmowers at $11,000 a piece, and the electric ones are $25,000 to $30,000. They’re 2.5 to 3 times the cost. So, not only is cost an issue but then, let’s talk about run time. You’re not going to be able to get a full day of run time out of an electric lawnmower. So now you have to set up your trailer with some sort of solar charging and things like that to be able to charge on the go.”

“So, you’re just seeing the snowball effect, and that’s kind of the rundown for the mowers. But they have their advantages. The blade time speed is going to be tremendously better because it’s all individual. Each blade has its own motor. So, everything has its advantages. And technically, electricity is cheaper than gas.”

As for handheld tools, “We’re still contemplating having an entire crew on electric. So that’s not out of the question,” said Froio. “Yes, they’re slightly more expensive, but nothing too crazy.”

“But ultimately, it comes down to two things. One, you need a lot of batteries, the capacity, and how long they last. And two, when it comes to a leaf blower, electric can’t produce nearly as much CFMs (cubic feet per minute) as a gas blower.”

Froio does not like the idea of the government mandating a switch.

“If the government wants to give me $20,000 to switch over a crew, I’ll take it,” said Froio. “I’ll switch it over, and you’re not going to hear me complain. But it’s like, do you want to incentivize it? I think it’s part of the whole picture that’s not fully painted.”

“We’re not against it but…I don’t want to be forced to do it,” he added.

Jennifer Brown, a spokeswoman for Shusterman, said “global warming,” is the reason Shusterman is sponsoring a resolution for the task force.

“There were several 60-degree days in February and we haven’t had any snow,” said Brown. “It’s pretty clear our planet is warming. And gas-powered law equipment is one of the biggest reasons.” She noted an article from PennEnvironment shows southeastern Pennsylvania as a heavy emitter of carbon dioxide.

Members of the lawncare industry will be invited to participate, along with scientists and other stakeholders, she said.  The thought is to encourage change with rebates, tax credits and discounts on new electric equipment. They will “collaborate and determine what makes the most sense for business owners,” Brown said.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

DelVal Democrat Backs Assisted Suicide Bill

State Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-Chester/Montgomery) is backing a bill to legalize euthanasia in the Keystone State.

The legislation is modeled on Oregon’s so-called “Death With Dignity” law, advocates say. It would require patients who use assisted suicide to be terminally ill with less than six months to live. Those who are not terminal or are mentally ill would be prohibited from using it.

“Individuals with terminal illnesses are often in tremendous pain and continue to be until their last breath,” said Shusterman. “These individuals should have the right to choose what is best for them, even if that choice is to end their lives peacefully and on their own terms. We want to provide a medical option for the terminally ill and also ensure safeguards are in place to prevent abuse.”

Oregon’s law permits terminally ill patients to take a lethal dose of medication prescribed by a physician. They must be terminally ill with less than six months to live.

Other sponsors include Philadelphia Reps. Tarik Khan, Christopher Rabb, and Jose Giral along with Mark Rozzi of Berks and Carol Hill-Evans of York.

The proposal faces plenty of pushback, even within Shusterman’s own party.

“Where is the Hippocratic Oath, ‘First, do no harm,’ in the Pennsylvania House?” asks The Rev. William Devlin, Ph.D. a former Philadelphia Democratic committeeman who lives in Upper Moreland.

“These legislators not only have a penchant for the death of those who are elderly, and perhaps the young with a terminally ill disease, but they also have a penchant for death for unborn children. Sadly, their philosophy and penchant for the aroma of death should constitutionally and legislatively be rejected.”

The legislation’s sponsors released a statement calling their approach “compassionate.”

“Our legislation would legalize compassionate aid in dying for terminally ill Pennsylvanians. These individuals, facing unbearable and unrelieved suffering in their final days, would be able to request a prescription that would end their life in a dignified, humane manner that respects the individual’s autonomy and self-determination,” they wrote.

Local pro-life activist and frequent DVJournal contributor Christine Flowers disagreed.

“As someone who watched a beloved father fight for his life, finding value even in the darkest moments of his final, prolonged journey, and as a woman who sees value in life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, I am repelled and horrified by the nihilism of these legislators.

“They are not speaking the language of compassion, but rather the language of expedience,” Flowers added.

Critics also point to reports that Oregon’s law has turned it into America’s first ‘Death Tourism’ destination with people traveling to take advantage of the assisted suicide policy.

“Oregon’s nascent ‘death tourism’ industry, and efforts to create another in Vermont, show how the U.S. is on a slippery slope to following in Canada’s footsteps—where lax rules have allowed people with so little as hearing loss to be euthanized,” writes the Daily Mail.

That country’s first euthanasia laws were similar to those in some states and the proposed Pennsylvania law, which would limit euthanasia to the terminally ill. But the practice soon expanded. Canada now may extend the deadly practice to the mentally ill, the disabled, and even children.

There are also concerns that once assisted suicide is in place, patients near the end of their natural life may face pressure to accept a premature death.

Tom Stevens, executive director of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, said his organization will “vigorously” oppose this legislation.

“We’re very concerned about bills like this,” said Stevens. “Basically, it’s misdirected compassion. As soon as you start to say somebody’s life is so terrible that they would be better off dead, it’s an extremely slippery, slippery slope.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Shusterman, Marvin Running for 157th District House Seat

A suburban state House district race has gotten national attention for sign-stealing, and not the kind that got the Houston Astros in hot water.

Incumbent Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-Paoli) accused supporters of Republican challenger Sarah Marvin of taking signs from people’s lawns and properties in Tredyffrin Township. Marvin accused Shusterman supporters of coming to her parents’ house in Chester County and attempting to intimidate her through them. Both candidates denied involvement in the alleged activities.

Rep. Melissa Shusterman

Shusterman is vying for a third term to serve communities in Delaware and Chester Counties. The former TV executive said she is meeting enthusiastic voters when door-knocking who have expressed concerns over reproductive rights and spending – or lack thereof – in Harrisburg.

“We have money in the coffers, in the billions, [that] has people concerned about where are they in the budget,” she said in an interview. “It gives us an opportunity to speak to people and let them know what we’re working on, what we’re looking to achieve, and what we’ve achieved.”

Marvin, a mother of four who left teaching to open a tutoring company and home-school her children, told the Delaware Valley Journal she is concerned about what children learn in public schools. Specifically, she took exception to the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District paying Pacific Educational Group $12,000 in the spring of 2019 to provide curriculum on Critical Race Theory.

Marvin saw an opportunity to better support the students she tutored, who are so overwhelmed by the presence of societal issues emphasized at school that they are unable to focus on academic studies.

“My primary concern was students were starting to not meet their benchmarks and certain ideologies were being taught in the schools, and some of it contrary to what some of the families that I had spoken to and my own family thought were appropriate for in-school learning in a public setting,” she said. “So I had spoken at school board meetings and I felt my voice wasn’t being heard. COVID came and that really motivated me, even more, to get off the sidelines, so to speak, and into the action.”

While both candidates graduated from Conestoga High School, Shusterman said she believes the General Assembly doesn’t have as much of a role in local education. However, she did mention local students advocating for an anti-vaping curriculum with her in Harrisburg.

Shusterman lists her major wins as bipartisan-supported bills to help food banks secure merchandise from grocery stores that were past sell-by dates but still considered edible, and extending support for those with intellectual disabilities and autism up to age 21. She is looking forward to continuing the childcare tax credit she passed with Rep. Tina Davis (D-Bucks).

Sarah Marvin

“What we’re finding out at all levels of economic background, is our constituents are suffering because it’s hard to find daycare and childcare, not just find it but afford it,” she said.


Marvin said the biggest issue voters she met discussed was the economy, from rising gas prices to supply and staffing shortages at takeout restaurants. Both candidates have suggested solutions to inflation. While Shusterman hopes to pass statewide refund checks that have stalled in the legislature, Marvin wants to see lower taxes for individuals and businesses.

As a small business owner, Marvin emphasized her disagreement with the controversial business shutdowns issued at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

“Shutting us down was crippling,” she said. “We need to look at some of the [state] regulations which are very old and outdated, that no longer apply, and however create barriers for new business owners and existing business owners that are looking to expand and grow their businesses.”

She supports replacing antiquated regulations with new ones, without adding to the total number on the books.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

DelVal Lawmakers Weigh In on 2022-23 State Budget

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf introduced his final state budget plan in February.

He proposed $45.7 billion to increase general fund spending by $4.5 billion—a nearly 11 percent hike. Wolf made the argument that the state should increase spending on education by $1.55 billion, especially in poorer school districts.

His plan includes increasing the minimum wage, workforce development, veterans’ services and suicide prevention, and funding for environmental programs.

Wolf, a Democrat, recently asked the legislature to give Pennsylvanians $2,000 per household.

“The cost of everything from gas to groceries is a little higher right now than it was just a few weeks ago and for Pennsylvanians living paycheck to paycheck even a small increase in expenses can mean painful decisions like paying for food or rent,” said Wolf. “I see that pain in communities across Pennsylvania and I want to talk about solutions. I want to put $2,000 checks into the hands of Pennsylvanians and families that need it.”

However, Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), the nonpartisan financial watchdog, warned Pennsylvania could face as much as a $1.8 billion deficit by June 2024.  And now the U.S. economy may be on the brink of a recession.

The deadline to adopt the budget is midnight June 30. But the issue of whether or how much of the $6 billion surplus and $1.7 billion pandemic relief funds to spend is a sticking point. Negotiations between Wolf and the Republican-led legislature are continuing.

“During the last three weeks of June we hope to finalize the 2022-2023 budget,” said Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery). “While the governor seems intent to spend the state into debt, I and my Senate Republican caucus are determined to be fiscally responsible and we will fund our next budget without creating future debt, and thus avoid the future tax increases the governor’s proposal definitely create.

“In a time of hyperinflation and a pending recession, it would be irresponsible to create future economic chaos with a spendthrift budget.”

Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Media) agrees with the governor that more needs to be spent on public education.

“We must make another record-setting investment in public education, as we have in each of the last several years,” said Quinn. “There are learning deficits due to the COVID-related school closures that must be addressed if our kids are going to be prepared for success. With families challenged by runaway inflation, increased energy costs, and skyrocketing gas prices, we must craft a budget that does not further burden hardworking taxpayers.

“Finally, I’d like to see Growing Greener III be considered. Sponsored by Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-Northumberland/Snyder) and myself. The legislation would invest federal stimulus funds in projects to restore and protect our waterways, preserve open space, and upgrade drinking and wastewater facilities. That targeted investment promotes job growth and activity in tourism and agriculture, our top two industries which are vital to Pennsylvania’s economic well-being.”

Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomeryville) said, “I’m focused on helping restore communities devastated by last year’s tornado, continuing our record-setting investments in our schools and protecting families from the long-term impact of the out-of-control price increases we’re experiencing every day.”

“As always, my top priorities for this budget season are families, education, and economic development,” Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-Paoli). “Our state is currently sitting on an $8.5 billion dollar surplus. It’s time to start investing that money in hard-working Pennsylvanians, and Gov. Wolf has proposed a budget that will do just that. It includes a Child and Dependent Care tax credit, to reduce the financial burden of childcare on working families and would enable parents to rejoin the workforce without worrying about how to pay for expensive care.

“Additionally, the proposed budget includes increased investment in education, which will provide much-needed property tax relief for homeowners, as well as continuing to ensure our graduates are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. Both priorities will holistically improve our state’s economic climate which will spur more business investment and create better-paying jobs,” said Shusterman.

But Rep. Tracy Pennycuick  (R-Gilbertsville) urges caution on spending and recommends adding to the state’s savings account. Pennycuick is running for the Senate to replace Mensch, who is retiring.

“For the 2022-23 state budget, I would like to see priorities placed on additional funding for education and school security. I think we also need to dedicate more dollars to address our mental health crisis. Given the economic climate, it is vitally important we continue to put additional dollars in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help offset any future economic downturns, as well as support our business community to bring down the cost of doing business and address inflation,” said Pennycuick.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or