Thumbs up: U.S. Rep. Todd Platts will end his 12 years in Congress this month, leaving behind what he calls his greatest achievement -- and a perfect example for other lawmakers to follow.
The York County Republican was in the Oval Office last week to see President Barack Obama sign his signature whistleblower protection bill -- a piece of legislation Platts had worked on since he arrived in the Capitol.
Officially called the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, the law was named the Platts-Van Hollen Whistleblower Protection Act of 2011 in the House to honor the bipartisan men who had long pushed for it, Platts and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen.
The Senate version of the bill was introduced in April and approved earlier this month, becoming the first whistleblower legislation to find traction in the Senate and White House during Platts' tenure.
The measure provides protections for federal employees who disclose illegal actions, mismanagement, and dangers to the public health and safety. It restores "congressional intent" of earlier whistleblower protection legislation by plugging loopholes that resulted from Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decisions.
Platts, who did not seek re-election this year, first introduced such legislation in 2004. He continued -- unsuccessfully -- to push versions of it over the next few years.
It wasn't until he reached across the aisle that it gained traction, albeit slowly.
"It's the result of eight years of bipartisan collaboration," Platts said. "It's an example of how long it takes, the need for bipartisanship, and the fact that you don't get all of what you want. I got 80 percent of what I wanted after all was said and done."
Such cooperation and determination has been lacking in Congress in recent years -- and they're traits that unfortunately will be in shorter supply next year.
Thumbs up -- and down: A few months back the York County Commissioners announced an initiative to show local veterans a small nod of thanks for their service -- Hometown Heroes, a program that will provide veterans with photo IDs they can show at merchants for discounts.
Unfortunately, only four businesses agreed to participate -- and the program starts today.
York County Recorder of Deeds Randi Reisinger, whose office is administering the program, said she thinks businesses are supportive of veterans but might not have heard of Hometown Heroes.
"I'm looking for a lot more," she said. "I'm hoping it spreads by word-of-mouth. I don't have an advertising budget."
The county is asking for a minimum 10 percent discount, and a business may opt out at any time, Reisinger said. Veterans will be given a list of participating businesses, which will also be listed on the county's website.
Businesses interested in participating in the program should call 771-9295. More information and a list of the four participating businesses is available at http://yorkcountypa.gov/property-taxes/recorder-of-deeds.html.