Kurt Masser

State Rep. Kurt Masser, R-107, Elysburg, talks to The Daily Item editorial board recently.

Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of stories based on editorial board interviews with candidates in advance of the Nov. 6 election.

SUNBURY — Pennsylvania House Rep. Kurt Masser said Tuesday he supports decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana but that such support isn’t a pathway to the legalization of recreational use.

The House Judiciary Committee voted this month to make possession of fewer than 30 grams of marijuana in most cases a summary offense rather than a more serious misdemeanor charge. Fines would start at $300.

The proposal died with the end of the current legislative session, but its sponsor, Republican Rep. Barry Joswiak of Berks County, vowed to reintroduce it when the next session convenes in January, according to PennLive.com.

“Small amounts of marijuana are tying up our court systems, tying up our jails,” said Masser, R-107, who also voted to legalize medicinal use of marijuana.

Masser seeks his fifth two-year term in the state House. The incumbent faces Democratic challenger Sarah Donnelly in the general election Nov. 6.

Masser said he plans to poll voters in the 107th Legislative District about their desire to legalize marijuana.

“While I may feel one way, I’m there to vote for and voice the concerns of the citizens of the 107th district. I don’t think right now the people of the 107th are ready to vote for the legalization of recreational marijuana,” Masser told the editorial board of The Daily Item.

During his meeting with the editorial board, Masser voiced his support to modify existing statutes of limitation regarding child sex crimes in light of revelations of widespread abuse and coverup within the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania.

Masser voted for House-backed legislation that sought to open a two-year window for victims of old child sex crimes to file lawsuits and also eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution. The bill moved to the Senate where it ultimately stalled.

“The attorneys in the house felt it would pass constitutional muster. Yeah, I voted for it. I’ll stand with the victims on this,” Masser said, adding he felt the matter would be taken on early next session.

A reduction of the size of the Pennsylvania House and Senate is another initiative Masser said he favors, saying “I will continue to vote for it. It’s a good move.” He also supported failed legislation to eliminate school property taxes and fund public education through an increase in personal income and sales taxes.

If re-elected, Masser said he’d look to “fix” the tax sale process that’s allowed cyclical possession of badly blighted properties by absentee owners. Communities, particularly in the coal region, are hampered with buildings that risk collapse with owners who aren't held accountable. It sends a message to neighboring owners that reinvestment isn't worth it, Masser said.

A solution for lacking public transportation in the Valley is needed but won’t come without “significant funding,” Masser said. He’s optimistic legislators in urban centers like Philadelphia and Harrisburg would support transportation efforts in rural areas since they’re familiar with the need in their own communities.

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