LOWER MILFORD – Five-year veteran of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, State Rep. Karen Beyer, discussed her proudest accomplishments during her time in Harrisburg, as well as what she sees as the biggest issues facing the Southern Lehigh area, with the Tribune on Sept. 25.
Beyer unequivocally called the proposed Geryville quarry in Lower Milford the single biggest issue facing not only Lower Milford residents, but all of Southern Lehigh. According to Beyer, blocking that proposed stone quarry, asphalt plant, and concrete plant for the past five years is her proudest accomplishment as a state representative. Holding 26 town hall meetings and opening the lines of communication with local leaders during those five years is also a proud achievement for her, because according to Beyer, nobody had listened to Southern Lehigh residents before that time.
Beyer said that area residents must fight the quarry project, because it will deprive residents of ground water, cause well water failures, and create traffic problems across the whole Southern Lehigh region. She also labeled the continuing sewage failures in rural communities as a major problem. According to Beyer, it took $1.5 million in grants and loans to solve Lower Milford’s sewage problem, and it will require an estimated $3 million to fix Upper Milford’s woes.
Southern Lehigh High School graduate Justin Simmons defeated Beyer in the May 18 Republican primary, labeling Beyer a “Republican-in-name-only” or “RINO.” Simmons criticized Beyer for being one of only two Republican state representatives to support Gov. Ed Rendell’s budget, and for her use of legislative per-diem benefits.
Nonetheless, Beyer remains focused until her term expires in November. Her priorities for the upcoming months include leading a reform to make impersonation of a police officer punishable by three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Currently Philadelphia and Pittsburgh punish offenders with a mere $100 fine, despite the fact that police impersonators often sexually assault women and children. Beyer’s three-bill reform package would close that loophole and bring the two cities in line with the rest of Pennsylvania. Another priority is passing the Marcellus Shale tax. Beyer thinks it will get done, in an effort to combat the hypercontamination and destruction of the environment caused by companies drilling for natural gas from the formation.
Beyer is looking forward to getting reacquainted with her family after leaving Harrisburg. According to Beyer, she is taking a hard look at some job offers, and wants to find the right fit for herself, her family, and find a way to make a public contribution. Beyer said, “I can’t thank the people of this community enough…for all the fond memories.”