Senator Lisa Baker asked Secretary Kathy Manderino about initiatives to train and employ people with disabilities and discussed the unemployment rate for the disabled community. She also raised the proposal to transfer the PA One Call oversight and enforcement from the Labor and Industry Department to the Public Utility Commission and the increase in workers’ compensation claims.
Senator Baker asked several questions of Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel including if there were any plans to close any of the three state correctional facilities in the 20th District and whether pay disparities between commissioned officers, mangers and corrections officers were being addressed.
Sen. Lisa Baker urged Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards to address four-digit state roads in rural areas of the state. She also raised concerns over accidents involving pedestrians around Harveys Lake and Lake Wallenpaupack and the increasing number of incidents involving wrong-way drivers on interstates.
Senator Baker questions Acting Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding about ingredient label regulations for food-related fundraisers, funding for Pennsylvania Fairs and other line items in the Agriculture budget.
Senator Baker asked Acting Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards about the state’s Dirt and Gravel Road Program and its success in protecting streams, ensuring that seasonal workers are treated fairly, and how to move transportation and development projects forward while protecting the environment.
Senator Baker questioned Acting Secretary of Revenue Eileen McNulty about the frustration that small business owners have in calculating the sales tax they pay and concerns about drillers passing down the cost of the severance tax to landowners.
Senator Baker raised concerns about the bank shares tax and its impact on community banks during a hearing on the Department of Banking & Securities’ budget.
Senator Baker asked the Acting Director of the Department of Labor and Industry about the staff complement and pension-related costs, the implementation of the Workforce Investment Act, the need to increase vocational rehabilitation funding, savings in workers compensation costs, and the rationale for using an out of state company for labor negotiations.
During the hearing on the proposed budget for the Department of Community and Economic Development, Senator Baker raised concerns about the governor’s proposal to implement combined reporting and how it would affect companies because of a lack of predictability and questioned officials about the Prep Partnership, which is critical to the manufacturing industry.
During questioning on the Department of Human Services’ budget, Senator Baker had concerns about the hiring of a New York-based company to oversee labor relations with direct care workers involved in home and community based services. She cited high costs and the lack of involvement in the Commonwealth.