On Wednesday, Irene Smith from Mississippi and Sherry T. from Ohio came to my little town of Wernersville PA. I gave them the grand tour of our little burg, which takes of all ten minutes, and they enjoyed an Italian sandwich from CC's (made famous in the Al Walentis book The Secret World of Jon and kate: The Stupidest Story in the History of the Universe and the People Who Covered It, click at image on right to buy) while I lunched on lighter fare and antibiotics to ease my sinus-infection and strep-throat ridden stomach. I presented Irene with a gag gift I made for her, based on her name for the main drag of Wernersville, or to quote Kate Gosselin, Ghettoville. Here is Irene, proudly displaying her nifty gift.
After lunch the three of us drove to Harrisburg for the next day's hearings on House Bill 2515, Rep. Thomas Murt's legislation drafted to address deficiencies in PA's child labor law as it relates to television and film productions in the Commonwealth. At our hotel in Harrisburg we met up with Janet Palazzatto and Paul Petersen of A Minor Consideration, and Dr. Jay Shankman of New York and Marianne of Pittsburg, two more supporters of the new legislation. Later we all headed out to dinner where we met up with others who either support the bill or were scheduled to testify on its behalf the next day.
From the left: Rep Tom Murt, Janet Palazzotto of A Minor Consideration, Sherry T., Werny Gal/Polly kahl, Dr Jay Shankman, Paul Petersen, Alison Arngrim, Irene Smith, Marianne from Pittsburg, and Jon Provost. Paul, as most of you know, played Jeff Stone on The Donna Reed Show, Alison Arngrim played Nellie on Little House on the Prairie and John Provost played Timmy on Lassie. Alison is also involved with a wonderful organization called Protect.
Paul was surprised with a wee slice of cake embellished with a small jukebox (in appreciation of his hit records from when he was a best-selling superstar hottie, not that he's not still a hottie) and we all sang a riotous version of Happy Birthday to him, in unison if not in tune. A Minor Consideration had been meeting with legislators all day and it was nice to see them relaxing before the hearings the next morning. Later, back at the hotel, Irene, Sherry and I had a long soothing swim in the hotel pool before collapsing into our cozy beds.
Two bills addressing the needs of children in entertainment in PA are now up for consideration. Bill 19 was drafted in response to Bill 2515. Between the two of them, they offer several solid solutions to some of the legal lackings in our current child labor laws. Hopefully both sides can come together on this non-partisan issue and unite the strongest elements of both bills to create fair and stringent laws protecting children in entertainment in PA.
Unfortunately, I was too ill to attend the hearings, although I was able to watch the second half on a live feed online from my luxurious hotel bed. I will post a link to the hearings as soon as it is made available again online. I would have loved to have been there physically, to support my friends who have worked so hard on behalf of this important legislation, and I also would have liked to have personally met the Kreiders to thank them for their courage in testifying at the April hearings. Still, I felt very blessed to have been able to enjoy dinner, including both serious conversations and a great deal of laughter, with such a sincere, hard working and dedicated group of child advocates.
Although this entire situation (the family conflicts, the media frenzy, the divorce, etc.) has no doubt been very hard on the Gosselins, I hope some day they will look back and realize that because of their filming in PA, legislators here have been given a valuable opportunity to update our very outdated (and in some cases, nonexistant) child labor laws. Even without their direct testimonies, the Gosselins will always be an important part of PA history of which they can be proud: Improving the future lives of many children in this State by contributing to laws which make it a safe and child-friendly place to not only live, but to work as well.