— On Friday an open house was held at Congressman Tom Marino's Hamlin Constituent Service Center, located in the old Hamlin Elementary School at 543 Easton Turnpike.
The public had the opportunity to ask him questions about issues that were important to them.
Many people showed up to the open house to talk with Marino. Since several people had similar concerns, he spoke to the group at once. After, any concerns that weren't addressed were done on a one-on-one basis.
To start, Marino thanked everyone for coming out.
"I'm glad to be here," he said.
He added that the 10th Congressional District is now made up of "15 counties." He said that between him and Glenn 'GT' Thompson of the 5th Congressional District, they represent "half the state."
One of the first questions raised was that of fair taxing.
"The entire tax structure as we know it has to change," said Marino. "We have the highest corporate tax in the world and the most convoluted system in the world. The republicans believe we can do some good with tax code restructuring. We need to get rid of the loopholes. There's no silver bullet remedy to this but we need to start somewhere. I'm very open-minded to the fair, flat and social taxes."
He added that he wants to hear from everyone and "get all the information" and then seeing "what can be done" for the constituents.
The issue of illegal immigration was also brought up.
"We need to enforce the laws we have," he said. "I don't believe in total amnesty."
Marino said there are about "12 million" illegal immigrants, but added that there "are probably more."
"We need to address security on our borders," Marino stated. "We need to increase the amount of security people and we also need to utilize the state of the art equipment. We need to break it down and see if any have criminal activity. If they have children who were born here, my heart aches, but the parents needs to be responsible. I'm not saying split the families and we can give them different options. We can't open the flood gates. It will be chaos."
He added that we need to "re-work" the "entire immigration process" and that it's "too convoluted."
"It's very easy to run background checks to see if they are illegal," Marino said. "We need to take advantage of the talent from other countries who want to stay, but it has to be done the right way."
One of the bigger issues discussed was that of prisons.
"We need to increase the number of officers in prisons," Marino said. "There are seven federal prisons in our district. We have the largest federal prison complex in the country. One officer for every 130 inmates isn't good. You have no idea what it's like. He or she can't watch all those inmates at once. Mace would have helped in the previous situations that occurred. It's smart and it's common sense. Can you imagine how you would feel as a family member, wondering if your relative would come home that day? These inmates are there for life and have nothing to lose. "
Page 2 of 2 - He added that we need to "lock the inmates up and throw away the key."
"I know we have rights, but they are drastically diminished once you're in prison by your own actions," Marino said.
He said that the prisons should have been addressed "a long time ago."
"I'm not happy with where we're at," Marino stated. "Only certain officers will be allowed to have pepper spray when it should be everyone who is responsible for the inmates. It's one of the most dangerous jobs on Earth. We have a long way to go."
He added that even officers don't want guns in case it were to get wrestled away but pepper spray can at least "slow down" someone who is "coming at them."
When asked about governmental regulations, Marino said there are "too many" in the country, especially in the "federal government."
"We need good sanitation and sewage facilities and we need to take precautions, but this has gone beyond what the founders of this country wanted," Marino said. "There is too much government interference into personal lives. We need the government to protect the quality of life but they are too intrusive. We need to pay attention to the needs of farmers and not a group of bureaucrats who have probably never even been on a farm. There is no one remedy to any situation, but the government needs to be efficient and effective to help improve the quality of life without intruding on personal lives."
On the subject of gun control, Marino is a "strong supporter" of the 2nd Amendment.
"I believe in background checks," he said. "We aren't paying attention to mental health issues. We need mental hospitals built and we need to red flag those people so we can help them out and so we can protect the public."
The Hamlin office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at 543 Easton Turnpike, Suite 101. The phone number is (570) 689-6024 and the fax number is (570)