HARRISBURG—For state Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), a new term in office and a new legislative session bring the opportunity and responsibility of a new committee chairmanship – the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This is an important and consequential committee, with broad jurisdiction and a high number of bills referred to it. As with every committee, a strong commitment to change and an ability to drive reform through the legislative process are the keys to successful leadership. I am very much looking forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to continue the committee’s record for being productive and effective,” Baker said.
“The quality of justice, the fairness of state laws and policies, and fundamental access to the justice system are issues of intense public interest and spirited legislative debate. We can look at the changes in sentencing approved in recent years to see how thinking is changing about the equality and cost of justice,” she noted.
“My work with other state and community leaders on juvenile justice reform gave me insight into the challenges we face across the justice system and the extensive effort needed to bring about constructive change. I was also part of the effort to ensure victims were given the opportunity to testify in person before the state Parole Board, prior to its deciding whether to release an offender from prison,” Baker explained. “Both are good examples of how a broad coalition of groups and officials can overcome obstacles and opposition and improve our system.”
The Judiciary Committee also holds public hearings on the qualifications of the governor’s nominees to fill vacancies on state and county courts.
Baker said the committee’s work will benefit from the stellar service of the previous chairman, recently retired Senator Stewart Greenleaf, who headed the committee for more than thirty years, established a record for being a prolific writer of legislation, and had dozens of bills turned into law.
This is Senator Baker’s fourth committee chairmanship. She previously chaired Health and Human Services, Labor and Industry, and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness.
All five of the newly or re-elected female members of the Pennsylvania Senate’s Republican caucus took a moment for a photo with Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati during swearing in ceremonies on Jan. 1. From left are Sens. Michele Brooks, 50th District; Camera Bartolotta, 46th District; Judy Ward, 30th District; Scarnati, 25th District; Kristin Phillips-Hill, 28th District; and Lisa Baker, 20th District. The sixth female member of the caucus is Sen. Kim Ward, 39th District, who is not up for re-election until next year.
Andrew M. Seder