Legislator spotlight: State Sen. Lisa Baker
What are your top three legislative priorities in 2022? As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, my top legislative priorities are advancing the reforms recommended by the Juvenile Justice Task Force, pushing comprehensive changes to Pennsylvania’s probation system, enacting comprehensive reform of guardianship laws and prioritizing passage of a constitutional amendment opening a window for adult victims of child sex abuse.
What is your biggest motivator as a legislator? My biggest motivators are cutting red tape, making government more accountable and eliminating unnecessary barriers to deliver positive results for individuals, organizations and communities. My staff and I work very hard to help to solve problems, answer questions, and respond to concerns about state issues and legislation and connect people with available services, resources and assistance.
Where do you shop locally for food? My husband Gary and I shop at various local supermarkets, including Weis Markets, Gerrity’s, Mountain Fresh, Wegmans and Price Chopper.
What is your favorite vacation destination? We enjoy vacationing in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina, taking in the scenery, riding bikes and fishing along the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Sea Shore.
What are the biggest challenges for grocers in your district? Like many employers, local grocery stores have experienced challenges with recruiting and retaining workers as well as the lack of availability of products due to supply chain issues. The pandemic has also shifted the way consumers shop, and the growing demand for curbside pickup and other online features has placed an added burden on the industry.
What are your biggest challenges and successes as a legislator? Because of my responsibilities as chair of a key committee, and as someone who spends a lot of time negotiating complex legislative solutions, time is always a challenge. The 20th District encompasses all or parts of five counties, representing 116 communities and 22 school districts, so there are unique challenges in the physical distance that must be covered. I often have conflicting requests to attend events, but one of my fundamental commitments as a legislator is to be visible and accessible in all parts of the district.
I am proud of my record of service in the Senate and have worked collaboratively to enact 73 laws, including 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. I have also advocated on behalf of residents and local officials to secure the funding necessary for job creation, transportation improvements, and important community-identified projects, such as the newly announced Vosburg Neck State Park in Wyoming County.
What is your favorite food or meal to cook? Gary and I love to cook and entertain friends and family in our home. One of the most requested dishes that we make is Maine lobster macaroni and cheese, which features five varieties of cheeses. However, my favorite meal to cook is Thanksgiving. I always look forward to enjoying my father’s homemade stuffing recipe with our turkey and all the trimmings.
What do you like to do for fun? When I’m not restoring and repurposing antique furniture, I enjoy walking with our English Setter, Finley, spending time with our grandchildren, Bryce and Blair, and relaxing on the deck with a good book.
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Liz Kemmery, director of communications