Tom Williams Joins Baker Staff as Communications and Outreach Director

(DALLAS) – State Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) announced today that Tom Williams is serving as communications and outreach director for the 20th Senatorial District, working out of her Dallas office.

“For nearly three decades, Tom has been a trusted and familiar face in northeastern Pennsylvania, sharing news and information throughout our area,” Senator Lisa Baker said. “I am very excited that Tom has joined my team. His wealth of knowledge and strong desire to better our community will undoubtedly be an asset as we work to provide services to constituents.”

Baker explained that Williams is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and worked in the broadcast journalism field for more than 30 years. He spent the majority of his career as an Emmy-nominated television news anchor, reporter, and executive producer for WNEP-TV. In addition to his professional experience, he has been a champion for several worthwhile organizations, volunteering for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Center, and Allied Services.

“Helping others has always been a priority for me, so this new role is a natural fit. I am looking forward to serving people at the state level, trying to solve their problems, answer their questions, and connect them with available resources and assistance,” Mr. Williams said. “I have known and worked with Senator Baker for over 25 years and have tremendous respect for her role in working to make our region a better place to live, work, and raise our families.”

Senator Lisa Baker offers full-time constituent assistance at her Dallas office location at 22 Dallas Shopping Center, or by calling (570) 675-3931. Service is also available at her Hawley office, located at 2512 Route 6, Hawley, on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, unless noted otherwise.  Visit www.senatorlisabaker.com to learn more about the ways Senator Baker can serve you.

Legislation Honoring Police Officer John Wilding Becomes Law

Nanticoke, July 26, 2022 Legislation introduced by Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon), Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Wyoming/Susquehanna/Wayne/Pike) and Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) in honor of a fallen Scranton police officer John Wilding was officially enacted into law in the Commonwealth on Sunday, July 17, 2022.

Today, officials gathered at the Scranton Police Headquarters in front of the department’s Fallen Officers’ Memorial to celebrate Senate Bill 814 – the Officer John Wilding Law. The bill would strengthen the crimes code by adding penalties for fleeing an officer by foot to evade arrest. Seven years ago, Scranton Police Officer John Wilding lost his life in pursuit of suspects, who fled the crime scene to evade arrest.

After gaining final passage in the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives on July 7, 2022, Senate Bill 814 formally became Act 95 of 2022 on July 17, 2022.

“Today’s event is about honoring the life of Scranton Police Officer John Wilding with legislation that truly makes a difference and better protects the men and women who protect and serve our communities as first responders. Our law enforcement officers have a right to have their lives protected by the law,” said State Senator Yudichak. “The purpose of this legislation is to help ensure that no other member of our law enforcement family has to endure what Officer Wilding’s family has gone through over the past seven years.”

“Now that Senate Bill 814 has become law, I am pleased that the lawmakers who helped to push this bill across the finish line will be joining the Wilding family to recognize the life and legacy of Officer John Wilding,” said State Senator Flynn. “I’m hopeful that this law will bring a sense of justice to Officer Wilding’s family, and I’m happy it will give Pennsylvania’s law enforcement more of the resources and protection they need to effectively perform their duties.”

“Whenever a criminal act contributes to the death of a law enforcement officer, we must make certain that state law contains sufficient penalty for such an offense,” said State Senator Baker. “The loss of Officer John Wilding was an unfortunate tragedy that shook the community. We honor his service and sacrifice through legislation that will offer greater protection to law enforcement going forward.”

Officer Wilding died on July 12, 2015 as a result of injuries he sustained in the line of duty.

Existing statute currently prohibits fleeing from an officer in a vehicle and struggling with an officer attempting to place an individual under lawful arrest, however the statute is silent with respect to fleeing an officer on foot and placing the officers or innocent bystanders at risk of injury. Senate Bill 814 will create a new offense of “Evading Arrest or Detention by Foot.” It’s modeled after a similar statute in the state of Texas.

“It is remarkable to see the legacy of Officer John Wilding enshrined in a crime bill. SB 814 makes it a crime to take flight from the police on foot and imposes sanctions for causing injury or death to law enforcement or others during their flight,” said Thomas Carroll, Scranton Police Chief. “We are excited to host the key Senate leadership at a special event today to commemorate SB 814 becoming law. We are grateful for their support and dedication to courageous law enforcement officers who engage criminals in high-risk foot pursuits every day.”

Officer Wilding was a 2004 graduate of Mid Valley Secondary Center in Throop and attended Pennsylvania State University. He was a 2012 graduate of the Act 120 Municipal Police Officers Training Program at Lackawanna College before joining the Scranton Police Department in April 2014.

“This effort was started because of loss, a terrible personal loss for me. Because of the death of my son, John, I realized that current Pennsylvania law fell short on protecting our protectors. It was then that I went from worrying about one cop to worrying about so many more,” said Mary Wilding, Officer John Wilding’s mother. “The Officer John Wilding Law rectifies that gap in the current law. I owe a debt of gratitude to so many – Don Williams from Voices of Joe, Senators Yudichak, Aument, Baker and Flynn as well as Representative Welby, among so many others for championing this bill. It was truly a cooperative effort. I hope this law acts as both a deterrent for criminals and justice for injured or killed police officers. This isn’t just about what happened to my son, this is for every police officer and police animal in Pennsylvania.”

During the 2019-2020 legislative session, the previous version of the legislation unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. After receiving feedback from advocates and officers around the state, language was included to further provide for the protection of police animals in the event an individual is evading arrest.

The State House of Representative the amended and passed Senate Bill 814. The bill was amended to include restitution in a case in which a defendant is convicted of a violation under subsection (a); the defendant will then need to make restitution to the agency or individual owning the police animal for veterinary bills, for replacement costs of the animal if it is disabled or killed and for the salary of the animal’s handler for the period of time the handler’s services are lost to the agency.

The Pennsylvania State Senate then followed up by passing the bill on its final passage and in concurrence of the amendment from the House of Representatives.

Legislation Honoring Scranton Police Officer John Wilding to be celebrated at Scranton Police Department Headquarters

Who: State Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon), State Senator Lisa Baker (R Luzerne/Wyoming/Susquehanna/Wayne/Pike), State Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe), Scranton Police Chief Thomas Carroll, Don Williams (President, Voices of JOE) and Mary Wilding (mother of Officer John Wilding).

What: A press conference will be held at the Fallen Officers’ Memorial to celebrate Senate Bill 814 – The Officer John Wilding Law – being officially enacted into law. The bill would strengthen the crimes code by adding penalties for fleeing an officer by foot to evade arrest. Seven years ago, Scranton Police Officer John Wilding lost his life in pursuit of suspects, who fled the crime scene to evade arrest.

Where: 100 S. Washington Avenue, Scranton, PA. 18503 

When: Tuesday, July 26 at 2:30 p.m.

Contact:

Brad Hurley (bhurley@pasen.gov)

Election Integrity Legislation Signed into Law

(HARRISBURG) – Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) and Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) issued the following statement following Governor Wolf’s signing of election integrity legislation, Senate Bill 982.

“We are pleased Governor Wolf has signed Senate Bill 982 into law.

“Pennsylvania needs to see action on actual reforms – necessary, justified, practical – that will improve an election system that has been severely tried and tested in recent years.

“The election amendments we have pushed forward are substantial structural improvements.  Some came to light as a result of concerns expressed over improvisations undertaken to conduct a high turnout election during pandemic times.  Others respond to long-time requests from county election officials, who have been hampered by restrictions in election law that are proving unworkable with changes in voting practices and the expectations for timely determination of outcomes.

“For us, reform begins with prohibiting private groups from funding election administration.  Voting is among our basic rights, and the responsibility for properly running and funding elections is vested in government.  No matter who on the outside is contributing, no matter their expressed motivations, millions of dollars coming in from national figures or organizations naturally raises suspicions of hidden agendas. 

“This new law creates the Election Integrity Grant Program to provide the resources to upgrade election security measures to help counties adopt new security and personnel requirements quickly.  The program comes with accountability measures to ensure our elections process is above reproach.”

Senator Lisa Baker Comments on Completion of the 2022-2023 State Budget

(HARRISBURG) – The Pennsylvania Senate has passed Senate Bill 1100, a $45.2 billion General Fund Budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23, that meets the current needs of Pennsylvanians, without creating multi-billion-dollar budget deficits in the future.  The budget also includes federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and spends $500 million less than Gov. Tom Wolf’s original budget request. 

The budget was signed into law on July 8, according to Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), who voted in support of SB 1100 and emphasized the substantial investments that will be seen locally as a result of the spending plan.

“No budget process is ever identical or disagreement free.  The new state budget involved balancing a broader set of needs and concerns than ordinary.  To begin, there was more revenue available than anticipated, due to federal pandemic relief funds and better than projected state revenue collections.  But this is not money that can be counted on in succeeding years, so to spend it all would be fiscally reckless.

“At the same time, spending pressure and requests were heavier than usual.  This is Governor Wolf’s final budget, so he was eager to engage in legacy spending.  The overall spending level is higher than I would prefer, but that is where extensive negotiation brought us.  A prolonged budget stalemate when there is no need to raise taxes or engage in spending cuts is unjustifiable.

“There are serious program needs carrying over from pandemic restrictions, which need to be addressed.  So, all the money cannot be set aside in anticipation of tougher times ahead, because the tough times for families and communities are here now.

“There is new money in this budget for items that constituents tell me are top concerns.  This includes increased money for classroom instruction, special education, and school security, improved access to mental health services in schools and across communities, and expanded affordable housing options.

“Additional funds are put toward community law enforcement and crime prevention.  This includes support for local law enforcement, anti-violence strategies, and approaches to curb gun violence.  These are intended to get at the root of what is needed to bolster community security and safety, rather than risky moves such as taking funding away from police.

“The pandemic proved that we must provide more state money for the individuals in professions that families rely on for support. Notable examples are nurses and childcare workers.  This helps with worker retention and attraction.  As employers make decisions as to options for individuals to work remotely on a full or part-time basis, the support systems of child or elder care are adjusting accordingly.  Families need access to affordable and quality care options. 

“As a graduate of Shippensburg University, I recognize the opportunities our public universities offer for students and the positive impact the schools have on the regions they serve.  Having undergone programmatic overhauls and two mergers, the state universities qualified for extra funding above the usual to bolster enrollment and better prepare students for success in the workplace.

“Many times, areas such as water quality, conservation, and recreation typically fall lower on the priority list for funding than education, health care, and transportation.  This year was the time to pay more attention to these programs, as the pandemic compelled more people to spend more time in woods and on waters, and to thus become more committed to improving facilities and ensuring our natural resources are properly protected.”

More details regarding the 2022-2023 State Budget are available at: https://www.pasenategop.com/state-budget/.

Pennsylvania State Senate Votes on Legislation Honoring Scranton Police Officer John Wilding

Harrisburg, July 6, 2022 Legislation introduced by Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon), Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Wyoming/Susquehanna/Wayne/Pike) and Senator Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Monroe) in honor of a fallen Scranton police officer John Wilding received bipartisan support today, passing the Senate by a vote of 35-15 on final passage and concurrence of an amendment from the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 814 would strengthen the crimes code by adding penalties for fleeing an officer by foot to evade arrest.

Almost seven years ago, Scranton Police Officer John Wilding lost his life in pursuit of suspects, who fled the crime scene to evade arrest.

“The men and women who protect and serve our communities as first responders, like Officer John Wilding, have a right to have their lives protected by the law,” said State Senator Yudichak. “When individuals intentionally and recklessly flee from police officers attempting to lawfully place them under arrest, they put at great risk the lives of police officers and innocent citizens.”

“I am very pleased that the Senate passed Wilding’s Law and voted to help keep Pennsylvania’s law enforcement safe. These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day for us, and we need to do everything we can to deter criminals from putting them in further danger,” said State Senator Flynn. “I hope this brings a sense of justice and a measure of peace to the Wilding family, and hopefully this will prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future.”

“We have an obligation to provide every safeguard possible to the dedicated men and women facing unforeseen risks as they work to fight crime and keep our families and neighborhoods safe,” said State Senator Lisa Baker. “This legislation helps to better protect law enforcement officers in the future, while also honoring the impactful life of Officer Wilding and his commitment to serving and protecting others.”

Officer Wilding died on July 12, 2015 as a result of injuries he sustained in the line of duty.

Existing statute currently prohibits fleeing from an officer in a vehicle and struggling with an officer attempting to place an individual under lawful arrest, however the statute is silent with respect to fleeing an officer on foot and placing the officers or innocent bystanders at risk of injury. Senate Bill 814 will create a new offense of “Evading Arrest or Detention by Foot.” It’s modeled after a similar statute in the state of Texas.

Officer Wilding was a 2004 graduate of Mid Valley Secondary Center in Throop and attended Pennsylvania State University. He was a 2012 graduate of the Act 120 Municipal Police Officers Training Program at Lackawanna College before joining the Scranton Police Department in April 2014.

“The 7th anniversary of my son’s line of duty death is right around the corner. I can think of no better way to honor and remember him than the passage of the Officer John Wilding bill – Senate Bill 814,” said Officer Wilding’s mother, Mary Wilding. “This bill provides greater justice for police officers and K-9’s seriously injured or killed in the line of duty due to injuries that occur during a foot pursuit. My son is still so very missed and loved. Let the passage of this bill show that some good can come out of our terrible loss. This is for John and all those he considered his brothers and sisters in blue. He was so proud to stand among them. Let him back them one last time.”

 “Voices of JOE, a group that advocates for Justice and Safety of law enforcement officers strongly believes that the punishment handed down by the court in the death of Scranton Patrolman John Wilding did not rise to the level of severity of the crime, nor did it in any way offer justice to the Wilding family,” said Don Williams, President, Voice of JOE. “We are hopeful that after several years of fighting for Senate Bill 814, it will be signed into law. Officer Wilding cannot be replaced, but at least in some measure this bill can see that justice is served for our officers and the Wilding family moving forward.”

During the 2019-2020 legislative session, the previous version of the legislation unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. After receiving feedback from advocates and officers around the state, language was included to further provide for the protection of police animals in the event an individual is evading arrest.

The State House of Representative recently amended and passed Senate Bill 814 with a vote of 127-73. The bill was amended to include restitution in a case in which a defendant is convicted of a violation under subsection (a); the defendant will then need to make restitution to the agency or individual owning the police animal for veterinary bills, for replacement costs of the animal if it is disabled or killed and for the salary of the animal’s handler for the period of time the handler’s services are lost to the agency.

Senate Bill 814 will now go to Governor Wolf’s desk to be signed into law.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Brad Hurley: bhurley@pasen.gov

VFW Service Officer Available to Help Veterans at Senator Baker’s Dallas Office on July 8

(DALLAS) – State Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) invites veterans to schedule an appointment to meet with a VFW Service Officer at her Dallas office location.  Appointments with a Service Officer are available at no charge on the second Friday of every month.  

Senator Baker encourages veterans of all ages and from all service eras to utilize the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars Service Officer Network, to receive free information and assistance for government benefits.  This assistance may include VA healthcare, compensation, pension, education and dependent benefits. Surviving spouses can also use these Service Officers at no charge to learn about their eligibility for VA benefits.

“Thanks to the sacrifices of our veterans and their families, we are able to enjoy everyday freedoms that continue to make our country a unique beacon of hope across the world,” Senator Baker said.  “During challenging economic times, many veterans continue to need our assistance, now more than ever.  I encourage any veteran or spouse with questions regarding benefits, to schedule a time to meet with a Service Officer.”

On Friday, July 8, the VFW Service Officer will be available for scheduled appointments at Senator Baker’s office, 22 Dallas Shopping Center, Memorial Highway, Dallas. All veterans, not just VFW members, can request appointments between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. To schedule an appointment at this location please call (570) 675-3931.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Flessner kflessner@pasen.gov 717-787-7428

VFW Service Officer Available to Help Veterans at Senator Baker’s Hawley Office on July 7

(HAWLEY) – State Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) invites veterans to schedule an appointment to meet with a VFW Service Officer at her Hawley office location.  Appointments with a Service Officer are available at no charge on the first Thursday of every month.  

Senator Baker encourages veterans of all ages and from all service eras to utilize the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars Service Officer Network, to receive free information and assistance for government benefits.  This assistance may include VA healthcare, compensation, pension, education and dependent benefits. Surviving spouses can also use these Service Officers at no charge to learn about their eligibility for VA benefits.

“Thanks to the sacrifices of our veterans and their families, we are able to enjoy everyday freedoms that continue to make our country a unique beacon of hope across the world,” Senator Baker said.  “During challenging economic times, many veterans continue to need our assistance.  This is true now more than ever.  I encourage any veteran or spouse with questions regarding benefits, to schedule a time to meet with a Service Officer.”

On Thursday, July 7, the VFW Service Officer will be available for scheduled appointments at Senator Baker’s office, 2512 Route 6, Hawley. All veterans, not just VFW members, can request appointments between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. To schedule an appointment at this location please call (570) 226-5960. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Flessner kflessner@pasen.gov 717-787-7428

 

Senator Lisa Baker Working to Support Military Families

(HARRISBURG) – Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) is working to close a loophole preventing military spouses from collecting unemployment.  Currently, if an active duty member of the Armed Forces is transferred, and if, as a result, his or her spouse is forced to resign their employment, it is possible, under Pennsylvania law, that the resignation would be considered voluntary and they may not qualify for benefits. 

“Our existing unemployment compensation law is unfair to military spouses who relinquish their job as part of a transfer to a new duty station,” Senator Lisa Baker said.  “Nearly every state provides protection for a spouse caught in this difficult situation.  Regrettably, Pennsylvania is one of the few lacking this sensible protection. Supporting the brave men and women in uniform who serve our country, must also include addressing the challenges that arise for their families.”

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously advanced Senate Bill 1083, which clarifies that a spouse’s move to follow his or her active duty spouse will not be considered voluntary if the Department of Labor & Industry determines that continued employment would be impractical or unreasonably difficult.  Pennsylvania is one of only four states without a specific military spouse clause. According to data from the Defense Manpower Data Center, there are nearly 2,000 military spouses in Pennsylvania.

“The cost of doing this is not large. But the cost is not the compelling consideration here; it is the principle,” Senator Lisa Baker said.  “We ask a lot of the individuals who serve in our armed forces.  We frequently acknowledge the risks and hazards they must confront.  Yet, we do not acknowledge enough the disruptions in the lives of their families.  By protecting the economic position of their spouse, we come that much closer to fulfilling our substantial obligation to those who serve to protect us.”

Senate Bill 1083 now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Flessner kflessner@pasen.gov 717-787-7428

Confirmation Hearing and Voting Meeting to consider HB 146, HB 940, HB 2039, HB 2271, HB 2464, and HB 2525

Senate Judiciary Committee

Tuesday, June 21, 2022 | 11:00 a.m.

East Wing, Hearing Room 8E-B

Agenda

A confirmation hearing to consider one nomination to the Pennsylvania Parole Board, 13 nominations to the Court of Common Pleas, and a voting meeting to consider House Bill 146, House Bill 940, House Bill 2039, House Bill 2271, House Bill 2464 and House Bill 2525. 

Schedule

Call to Order

Pennsylvania Parole Board Confirmation Hearing

  • 11:00 a.m. – Elizabeth Bolton Penna, Esquire, appointee for the Pennsylvania Parole Board. (Senator Langerholc) 

Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas Confirmation Hearing

  • 11:05 a.m. – Karen Mansfield, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Lancaster County. (Senator Martin) *Appointee Via Zoom
  • 11:10 a.m. – Shawn Long, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Lancaster County. (Senator Aument)
  • 11:15 a.m. – Nicole Forzato Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Chester County. (Senator Kearney)
  • 11:20 a.m. – Jill Koestel, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Berks County.  (Senator Schwank)
  • 11:25 a.m. – IIissa Zimmerman, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Blair County. (Senator J. Ward)
  • 11:30 a.m. – Brian McLaughlin, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County. (Senator Dillon)
  • 11:35 a.m. – William Carlucci, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Lycoming County. (Senator Yaw)
  • 11:40 a.m. – Richard Knecht, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Columbia and Montour Counties. (Senator Gordner)
  • 11:45 a.m. – Kenneth Joel, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County. (Senator Saval)
  • 11:50 a.m. – John Padova, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County. (Senator Saval)
  • 11:55 a.m. – Tamika Washington, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County. (Senator Haywood)
  • 12:00 p.m. – Andrew Szefi, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County. (Senator Robinson)
  • 12:05 p.m. – Louis Mincarelli, Esquire, appointee for the Court of Common Pleas, Chester County. (Senator Muth)

Voting Meeting

House Bill 146 (Bernstine) – Amends Section 6137 of Title 61 to restrict when the Pennsylvania Parole Board can parole an inmate after the expiration of his or her minimum sentence if the inmate was convicted of a violent offense or an obstruction of justice offense while incarcerated.

House Bill 940 (Rigby) – Amends Title 18 by (i) requiring sentence enhancements for burglary and criminal trespass if a domestic animal is harmed or killed, and (ii) making it illegal for a person to either recklessly harm a police animal or to harm a police animal during the commission of a felony.  Finally, requires the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission to establish police officer canine training standards. 

  • Amendment A01892 (Langerholc) – An amendment relating to the care and transportation of police animals.

House Bill 2039 (Pennycuick) – Amends the Crime Victims Act to require that a victim be notified of court proceedings during which a defendant’s bail could be modified and gives the victim the opportunity to offer comment.

House Bill 2271 (Tomlinson) – Amends Title 18 (Crimes Code) to create a sentencing enhancement in sexual extortion cases where the victim attempts or commits suicide.

House Bill 2464 (Delozier) – Amends the Crime Victims Act to grant victims legal standing to assert and enforce rights otherwise afforded to crime victims by law.

House Bill 2525 (Kaufer) – Adds Subchapter F.1 (Crime Victim Right of Access) to Chapter 91 (Criminal History Record Information) of Title 18 (Crimes Code) to create a procedure by which a crime victim or a defendant in a civil action in which a crime victim is a party may obtain criminal history investigative information.

Amendment A04933 (Baker) – An amendment containing technical modifications to the bill, clarifying when dissemination of information regarding certain victims may not occur, and providing an exemption for the dissemination of certain highly confidential information. 

Adjourn