Oct. 30—WILKES-BARRE — The 20th Senatorial District is between Republican incumbent Lisa Baker and Democrat challenger Jackie Baker.
The candidates were asked to answer questions on key issues.
Sen. Lisa Baker responded to our questions. However, her opponent, Jackie Baker, did not. To ensure she was represented here, we are including Jackie Baker's views on issues from her website, jackiebakerforpa.org.
Question: What would you do to bring better, family-sustaining jobs to the region? Be specific on what industries you would target and why they would be a good fit for NEPA.
Lisa Baker: Northeastern Pennsylvania has been named the number one region in both job creation and private investment, due largely to the successful growth and redevelopment of abandoned coal lands in the South Valley of Luzerne County.
I will work to continue building on this progress by improving infrastructure and making sure that worker training and skills are in line with the demands of the marketplace.
The proposed Nacero Plant is a tremendous opportunity for the region, with the potential to create skilled, union jobs while offering more affordable and environmentally friendly gasoline for consumers. And it would be done utilizing natural gas from wells in Wyoming and Susquehanna counties, benefiting local landowners and generating even more high-quality employment opportunities.
Question: What is your position on abortion? — and please give details on what you would support of elected. Do you believe abortion should be criminalized? And should it be classified as "murder?"
Lisa Baker: I support Pennsylvania's existing Abortion Control Act. There are controls in place to protect women and babies and ensure appropriate oversight and accountability. Women can make decisions in consultation with their physicians. Public funding is prohibited, except in limited instances.
Throughout my career, I have promoted policies that help women and children. I have worked to secure funding for important programs like the Nurse-Family Partnership that provides care and assistance for first-time mothers, and the
Women with Children Program at Misericordia University that seeks to empower single mothers in poverty and remove roadblocks to higher education, as well as the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange and the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network.
I have also worked to reduce our maternal mortality rate through the creation of Pennsylvania's Maternal Mortality Review Committee.
Question: Would you be willing to talk across the aisle to try to effect meaningful legislation that benefits Pennsylvanians, or would you strictly vote party line?
Lisa Baker: My legislative record and my campaign emphasize my enduring commitment to collaborating with whomever is seeking responsible reform and practical solutions to state and community problems.
My votes are independent judgements, based on the views and interests of the district.
I have worked in a bipartisan manner to enact nearly 75 laws, including those ensuring victims and families have the opportunity to provide in-person testimony at parole hearings, establishing the Veterans' Service Officer program to make sure veterans have access to promised benefits, creating the Veterans Trust Fund to provide emergency assistance to needy veterans and their families, and implementing ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts to allow disabled individuals to save for their futures.
Mail-in voting/drop boxes
Question: Are you for or against mail-in voting and drop-boxes?
Lisa Baker: Our local officials and volunteers who ensure our elections are conducted with integrity and security are to be commended. They are dedicated workers committed to democracy. They deserve clarity and consistency in the oversight of elections.
While my personal preference is to vote in person, many people are enjoying the flexibility offered through absentee and mail-in voting. But there are legitimate concerns.
The Department of State has given conflicting guidance to counties regarding undated mail-in ballots and drop boxes, which are not even included in existing law.
We need uniformity across the state in order for people to have confidence in the process. My bill eliminating private funding of elections also included resources for counties to upgrade security measures.
Question: What can be done to reduce property taxes?
Lisa Baker: I voted for the elimination of property taxes.
Unfortunately, several plans have failed to be approved because of the opposition of Gov. Wolf.
We will soon know if a new administration is more receptive.
Question: Do you or would you accept per diem payments?
Lisa Baker: I have never accepted per diem payments and will continue my practice of filing for actual expenses and making my spending records accessible for constituent review.
On Jackie Baker's campaign website — jackiebakerforpa.org, she lists her platform:
"It's time for our government to pursue common sense economic solutions that will build prosperity for all Pennsylvanians," she states.
Raise wages and improve working conditions.
Provide fair wages, benefits, and worker protections.
Raise the minimum wage.
Establish a paid family and medical leave act.
One fair wage — eliminate the tipped minimum wage.
Restore the 40-hour week.
Strengthen labor unions.
Establish earn paid sick days.
Adequately and equitably fund public education.
Fully fund K-12 Education.
Make Pre-K available for all families.
Make college tuition affordable.
Provide grants for job training/apprenticeship tied to good paying jobs.
Invest in our infrastructure.
Repair & rebuild roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
Build a network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers to facilitate long distance travel.
Help connect every Pennsylvanian to reliable high-speed internet.
Prepare more of our infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, cyber-attacks, and extreme weather events.
Deliver clean drinking water to every Pennsylvanian.
Improve airports across the commonwealth.
Expand our public transit systems.
Safeguard our environment.
Protect our air and water.
Rapidly transition to renewable energy.
Clean up abandoned properties & put them back to good use.
Provide healthcare & pensions for coal workers.
Fix our rigged tax system.
Fix our upside-down tax system.
Pass The Fair Share Tax.
Pass targeted property tax relief.
Reform corporate taxes.
Secure our democracy.
Make voting easier for all Pennsylvanians.
Pass Campaign Finance Reform.
Eliminate all barriers of race and gender to participation in our political lives.
Protect our rights to the necessities of life.
Expand childcare programs in PA & make it affordable.
Make quality, affordable health care available to all.
Restore general assistance and improve TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).
End hunger & food insecurity in PA.
Ensure energy and utility affordability for all.
Combat the opioid crisis.
Ensure that quality, affordable housing is available to all.
Protect LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians from discrimination.
End over incarceration.
Enhance protections for immigrants and welcome all residents into our communities.
Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.