U.S. Navy combat veteran Todd Polinchock is looking to make it two in a row.
The Republican won his first seat in state office in the 2018 election, earning a two-year term representing the 144th Legislative District in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives.
During his first two years, the 1985 graduate of the United States Naval Academy has served on the Veteran Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, the Human Services Committee, the Professional Licensure Committee, and the Children and Youth Committee.
Polinchock’s legislative activity has included introducing HB2093, a bill that aims to prevent local restrictions from negatively affecting small Pennsylvania farms. The legislation was inspired by a dispute between Hilltown-located Tabora Farms and Hilltown, a township in the 144th district. As of press time, HB2093 was on route to the full House for consideration.
“This legislation would reduce the number of local ordinance restrictions being placed on certain farm activities and ensure that our farm families are able to take care of our agriculture and their families as well,” Polinchock says.
The legislator’s focus on the district has also included successes like helping to secure important funding, including a Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) grant to address contamination in the local water supply for the North Wales Water Authority.
Polinchock served 20 years in the Navy, retiring as a full commander. During his service, he flew 75 combat hours over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. Upon leaving the military as a disabled war veteran, he entered the real estate business.
In 2016, he became president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, and has received the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors Excellence Award.
Meanwhile, the father of two has served the community through coaching youth football (Lenape Valley Indians) and wrestling (Central Bucks Raiders) and as chairman of the Warrington Township Veteran Affairs Committee.
For sure, governing during COVID-19 has been a challenge. Polinchock believes societal shutdowns were necessary to “flatten the curve” early in the pandemic, but he thinks Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration subsequently made missteps.
“Once cases had diminished substantially, the risk of this virus was less than the damage caused by the increase in alcohol addiction, substance users’ relapses, domestic abuse, foster care abuse, depression, permanent loss of businesses and jobs, and children’s ability to learn and develop socially,” asserts Polinchock. “What I would have done differently is give the control over to the counties.”
Polinchock supports HB2787, which would give local governments control over determining the playing and audience levels of school sports.
“I proudly returned to Harrisburg to vote to override the governor’s veto of the bill,” Polinchock said. “The governor’s 25-person indoor / 250-person outdoor capacity limits for venues didn’t make sense.”
Given COVID-19’s economic impacts, Polinchock supports allowing for lengthened unemployment compensation as long as there are restrictions on employment. He also believes further state funding is needed to help small businesses survive the difficult times.
“Our small businesses are the tapestry of our community,” he says. “They are suffering so badly right now while big box stores are allowed to thrive. Many have already closed forever. We have an obligation to help as many of them survive as possible.”
Another issue spawned by the pandemic is renters’ inability to pay landlords because of loss of income, leading to more evictions and strained cash flow for property owners. How to fix it? Polinchock thinks a landlord could possibly consider taking reduced payment until the tenant is back at work and then make up the accrued amount over time. Still, “this shouldn’t be the state’s place to meddle in negotiations between landlord and tenant,” he says.
“We must ensure that pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) are held in check and the savings are passed on to the consumer,” he says.
Polinchock does not favor restructuring police agencies, as some have called for amid social unrest in 2020. “Defunding or redistributing police budgets is a terrible idea,” Polinchock maintains.
“Fortunately, our police departments in the 144th have great training programs that include diversity and de-escalation training. This is where we need to add additional funding.”
On the subject of global warming, Polinchock is unequivocal: “Climate change is very real. That is why I was the first Republican to sign onto Rep. Chris Rabb’s (D-Philadelphia) ‘Transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050’ bill back in the spring. By creating this bill, it forces our industries to start at least planning now.”