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Well that's nice to hear:

Gov. Tom Corbett has changed his position on medical marijuana policy and now supports the legalization of a marijuana extract to treat severe seizures in children, his office said Thursday.

Corbett's office confirmed to The Associated Press that the Republican governor was meeting with several parents to tell them in person about his decision. The governor remains opposed to other forms of medical marijuana, however, a spokesman said.

Corbett had been under pressure on the issue from two state senators and parents who believe the oil extract, called cannabidiol, can save the lives of their seizure-wracked children. All four Democrats running to challenge Corbett in the fall support the legalization of medical marijuana, and some parents were preparing a sit-in at Corbett's offices if he did not agree to meet with them.

A spokesman for Corbett, Jay Pagni, said a plan developed by the governor in an effort to try to ease the suffering of the children, but strictly control access, will need approval from the Legislature.

Under that plan, cannabidiol, or CBD, would be dispensed at research-based hospitals by medical professionals with experience treating children who have severe seizure disorders or Dravet syndrome, a form of epilepsy. - U.S. News, 5/1/14

Of course this was the right decision but lets be honest, Corbett didn't parents of sick children surrounding his office making him look like an even bigger dick for the press:

The governor held private meetings with two families affected by the issue. The families are not being named.

A Governor's spokesperson says the decision was not influenced by State Senator Daylin Leach's threat of a sit-in by week's end. The spokesperson said Corbett has "been meeting for several months about this. This is about the children, this is not about politics."

Leach told News 8 that he thinks his sit-in threat "broke the dam," but is just glad Corbett changed his mind.

The Senate bill that supports limited uses of medical marijuana must still be approved by state lawmakers. Corbett met recently with State Senator Folmer, the primary sponsor of the "Compassionate Use of Marijuana Act." - WGAL 8 News, 5/1/14

Plus this is Corbett's latest attempt to prove to voters that he's not a right wing extremist:

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett addresses group of business leaders at Union League on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. ( ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ).
Political analyst and pollster G. Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College said Corbett was likely driven to act by two forces: compelling stories about sick children, and politics.

"It's impossible to listen to the gripping emotional testimony and not be moved," said Madonna, who this year released a poll that found more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters supported legalization of medical marijuana. "Politically, it's the right thing to do."

The governor's decision is among several in the last eight months that reflect a move to the center.

In September, Corbett announced he would support taking federal Medicaid money to help low-income Pennsylvanians get health insurance through a not-yet-approved, state-specific plan to use federal money to pay private insurers.

In December, he said he would support legislation banning discrimination against gay people in employment and housing. - Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/1/14

Here's even more proof that this was Corbett's latest attempt for good press:

Corbett said today that he wants to help families who believe the oil extract called cannabidiol can save their children's lives. Some parents, however, say Corbett's position is so narrow that it won't help everyone who needs it.

Corbett had been under pressure from state senators and parents of seizure-wracked children. All four Democrats running to challenge Corbett in the fall support the legalization of medical marijuana.

In a statement today, state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery/Delaware, commended Corbett for beginning to "move away from his previously unyielding position on cannabis-based medicine for sick children.

"It is, of course, important to make sure that the law is not only clear, but also inclusive enough to ensure the widest possible access to medicine for all sick people," Leach stated. "I am hopeful that the governor's specific proposal, which I hope is forthcoming, is a reasonable one."

Among those critical of Corbett limiting his support to cannabidiol is Dana Ulrich, whose 6-year-old daughter suffers from severe seizures.

Also raising concerns is a Bethlehem mother who testified in January before a legislative committee in support of medical marijuana. Deena Kenney believes her 17-year-old son, Christopher, would benefit from cannabis extracts available that contain THC but that the product Corbett's talking about might not help him.

"I'm not saying it wouldn't" help him, Kenney this afternoon told The Express-Times. "It might. And I will try it if I'm able to get into one of (the state's) programs."

Her son suffers from a rare genetic disorder called tuberous sclerosis, a condition that hardens part of the brain. He began suffering seizures at 6 weeks old. The family has tried 17 different medications and Christopher has always taken at least three prescriptions at a time. - Express-Times, 5/1/14

Facing a very rough re-election bid, Corbett needs all the good press he can get, especially because of this:

Pennsylvania’s tax collections during the all-important month of April were badly lagging projections Tuesday, and House and Senate Appropriations Committee officials said the only question was how much deeper the state government’s shortfall will plunge.

The poor performance is a sobering development for Gov. Tom Corbett and lawmakers as they try to craft a budget during an election year. Based on estimates by House and Senate Appropriations Committee officials, the shortfall is expected to be big enough to knock Corbett’s $29.4 billion budget proposal out of balance by $1 billion or more.

On Tuesday evening, Corbett, a Republican who took a 2010 campaign pledge not to raise taxes, met with top Republican lawmakers in his Capitol offices to discuss the matter. Afterward, he declined to tell reporters how he might address the budget gap.

“It’s all part of the budget process,” Corbett said. “Do we have some preliminary ideas? Yeah, but I’m not going to talk about it now.”

Corbett’s spending plan for the 2014-15 fiscal year that starts July 1 is an increase of almost 3.7 percent, or more than $1 billion, over the current year’s approved budget. The spending increase largely would go toward underwriting a new grant program for public schools, shortening waiting lists for social services and making rising payments for public employee pensions and health care.

To balance, the plan counts on a robust increase in tax collections, along with about $1 billion in one-time sources of cash or savings, such as delaying some pension and health care payments. - AP, 4/29/14

This might explain why:

The state's 2-year-old impact fee on drilling of Marcellus Shale natural gas wells will generate $224.5 million this spring, according to Gov. Tom Corbett's administration.

That money, which will be distributed to local governments and some state agencies, is 12 percent higher than previous estimates. It is also the highest amount of money generated since Corbett and the Republican-controlled Legislature instituted the impact fee as part of Act 13 instead of a more traditional severance tax.

"Through Act 13, we are protecting public health and safety, safeguarding our environment, and making sure our world-class energy industry grows in a responsible way," Corbett said in a statement.

The impact fee versus a severance tax has become one of the top issues in the 2014 election, with Democratic gubernatorial candidates and some Republican lawmakers saying a severance tax could raise more money for education. But Corbett has said the impact fee is good for business and local governments.

The impact fee is a 15-year fee companies pay whenever they break ground on a well, regardless of whether that well is producing gas. It is based on a sliding scale that allows drillers to pay more in the first years and less at the back end — but does not take into account how much gas is extracted. The gas is extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Severance taxes are based on well production and gas prices. A 5 percent severance tax on the extracted gas in 2013 would have raised almost twice as much as the $224.5 million impact fee. - The Morning Call, 4/4/14

Of course Corbett willl never support a drilling tax so here's his solution:

Gov. Tom Corbett is looking to cut $1.2 billion from his proposed $29.4 billion election-year budget to make up for a growing revenue shortfall, according to sources.

He and Republican leaders of the Legislature met Tuesday to go over details of his new plan at the governor's mansion, sources said. Corbett and top members of his staff told lawmakers the administration could cut $800 million and asked the Legislature to come up with another $400 million in reductions, the sources said.

But no one in the Republican administration and GOP-controlled House and Senate is saying where those cuts could come from, as state agencies and public schools continue to reel from steep cuts made in 2011-12.

And no one is saying if influential officials will propose taxes on natural gas drillers or smokeless tobacco to cover the shortfall, as rank-and-file lawmakers and Democratic candidates for governor are advocating.

Corbett, the entire House and half the Senate are up for re-election this year. - The Morning Call, 4/30/14

And Corbett is already getting bad press for his steep cuts to education:

Only hours before a Democratic gubernatorial candidates' forum Wednesday on education, a left-leaning Harrisburg think tank released a report outlining the harm done by the state's failure to sufficiently fund public schools.

"We want to contribute to that debate," Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said during a news conference at City Hall.

The report said cuts to state funding for schools made after Gov. Corbett took office three years ago have hurt all districts but have disproportionately harmed those with large numbers of low-income students.

Before the state's school funding formula was scrapped in 2011, districts with large numbers of low-income students received additional money from the state.

"The scale of the funding cuts here in Philadelphia and other low-income districts across the state is simply unprecedented," Ward said. "Since 2011, Philadelphia has had almost a $294 million reduction in state funding. This is important because a little bit less than 12 percent of students in the commonwealth experienced 35 percent of cuts that were implemented."

Philadelphia had the largest cut of all the districts in the state. The center calculated that it lost $1,351 per student. Chester Upland lost $1,194 per student, and some wealthy suburban districts lost from $36 to $59. - Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/1/14

Whoever wins the Democratic nominee, and right now it's looking like Tom Wolf (D. PA), will have my complete support.  But if there's is one person who deserves praise for at least getting Corbett to cave under pressure, it's Daily Kos endorsed congressional candidate, State Senator Daylin Leach (D. PA-13).  Corbett can B.S. all he wants about the sit-in not changing his mind but really it's Leach's on going fight to make this a reality.  We need more men like Leach in Congress.  Please do consider donating and getting involved with his campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Fri May 02, 2014 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pittsburgh Area Kossacks, Philly Kos, DKos Pennsylvania, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and DKos Cannabis Law and Drug War Reform.

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