Dunbar talks minimum wage, gay marriage at North Huntingdon forum

| Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 3:42 p.m.

Gay marriage, minimum-wage standards and restricted body fragrances were among the topics Norwin High School students brought up during a town-hall meeting with State Rep. George Dunbar.

Dunbar, a Republican, hosted the meeting last month for residents of the 56th district — which includes North Huntingdon, Irwin, North Irwin, Penn Township, Penn Borough and Jeannette. Residents also could watch and participate in the meeting online.

Several students from the Norwin School District attended the meeting.

“We tend to cover the same topics, but when we threw teenagers into the mix, we got different questions,” said Lisa Zaucha, district manager for Dunbar.

One girl, who said she works with the group Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays in Greensburg, asked Dunbar for his thoughts on gay marriage legislation.

“How close do you think Pennsylvania is to legalizing same-sex marriage?” she asked.

Dunbar said he thinks marriage is between a man and woman but that attitudes toward social issues will change. He reflected on his experience growing up when interracial relationships were rejected.

“In Pennsylvania, it's a hard sell,” Dunbar said about gay marriage. “It's a very conservative state, but I think as time goes by, I think attitudes change a great deal on these things. I know it's being talked about in Pennsylvania.”

Another girl asked Dunbar for his thoughts on minimum-wage standards.

“I'm sure most of the high schoolers here are a little curious about this. Where exactly do you stand on raising minimum wage?” she asked.

The minimum wage is $7.25 in Pennsylvania. There is different legislation under consideration that would increase it, Dunbar said. “There are pros and cons to raising minimum wage,” he said. “It would be more money in the younger kids' pockets, but at the same time, that Happy Meal is going to cost a heck of a lot more. Some type of index, I would be willing to look at, but the legislation I've seen has all been blow-up-the-economy-type numbers. It just won't work.”

An online viewer asked Dunbar if the state planned to ban body fragrances, such as Axe, from schools and how state officials had authority to pass such a law.

Dunbar explained the legislation was introduced solely to raise awareness to an issue in a school district near Allentown, where a student reported an allergic reaction to the spray.

“It's not going to be a law. It's not moving forward,” Dunbar said. “When your constituent comes to you, you try to move the process along. This was (State Rep. Marcia Hahn, R-138) Marcia's way of moving things along.”

Other topics included medicinal marijuana, drug abuse, state employees' pensions, gun control and drilling in the area.

To watch the town hall meeting, go to repdunbar.com.

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