Sen. Baker Explains Her Vote On SB 166

HARRISBURG — Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20th, issued the following comment regarding her vote on Senate Bill 166:

“As we all realize from polls and commentaries, the public perception of government and elected officials has diminished dramatically.  As practices and traditions in place for many years have been found contrary to law and acceptable ethical standards, we have been forced to construct more formidable firewalls between governmental functions and political activities.  The argument that it is impossible to separate the two has been found wanting by prosecutors and by the courts and juries who decide these cases.  It is only through the exercise of good government principles that we can hope to recapture public trust and confidence.

The General Assembly and state government are not the only places where reexamination is warranted and necessary.  This has led to the reform before us, commonly called paycheck protection.  We recognize the arguments made in defense of the current system and the reasons why the leaders of public employee unions have become so attached to it.  Nevertheless, in an environment where taxpayers are demanding change to make government at all levels more ethical and more accountable, the status quo is unacceptable.

This change is important, as a matter of perception and as a matter of function.  It does not subtract from the power of unions to advocate the interests of their members.  It does remove the potential conflict between government activity and political activity.  It does nothing to limit the voices of organized workers.  It does make sure that such political activities are properly separated from the regular jobs taxpayers are financing.

This is very much consistent with the spirit and intent of the reforms and ethics improvements we have placed on ourselves and our staffs, and deserves to become law.”

Contact: Andrew Seder

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