Finance

NEPA clout: Legislators get committee assignments in Harrisburg – Wilkes-Barre Residents Voice

Luzerne County and Northeast Pennsylvania will have some clout in Harrisburg this legislative session as several legislators have been named to chair committees.

Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20, of Lehman Twp., will once again serve as the majority chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Her colleague, Sen. John Yudichak, I-14, of Swoyersville, will be the majority chair of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee.

State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-121, of Wilkes-Barre, will continue as Democratic chairman of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

State Rep. Michael Carroll, D-118, of Avoca, will remain as Democratic chair of the House Transportation Committee.

State Rep. Karen Boback, R-117, of Harveys Lake, will be majority chair of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-119, of Newport Twp., will have two Democratic chairmanships, the House Labor and Industry Committee and the House Committee on Ethics.

State Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, of Butler Twp., will be majority chair of the House Government Oversight Committee.

State Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-120, of Kingston, will serve as the Chairman of the Economic Recovery Task Force.

The following is a more detailed list of committee assignments and comments from the legislators:

State Sen. John Yudichak,

I-14, Swoyersville

Yudichak is the longest serving member of the Luzerne County delegation, serving in the state House from 1999 to 2010. He’s served in the state Senate since 2011. Yudichak, a longtime Democrat, became an Independent and started caucusing with the Senate GOP in 2019.

Some Harrisburg insiders believe he’s the first independent to chair a committee.

In addition to his committee chairmanship, Yudichak will be vice chair of the Aging and Youth Committee and will serve on the Law and Justice, Rules and Executive Nominations and Urban Affairs committees.

“I am honored to be selected as chair of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee that has oversight over several state authorities that are dedicated to community and economic development throughout Pennsylvania,” Yudichak said. “I look forward to working with the Wolf Administration and DCED Secretary Dennis Davin to take on the enormous responsibility of rebuilding the Pennsylvania economy as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

State Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Twp.Baker, who has served in the state Senate since 2007, said her “bipartisan approach to problem-solving” and “changing laws, policies, and practices that are no longer working” are an asset as the majority chair of the Judiciary Committee.

“The Judiciary Committee is extremely important because of its wide-ranging jurisdiction and the conflicts over the issues brought before it,” Baker said. “In addition to the normally heavy load of legislative proposals, this year brings intensified concerns about justice, fairness, and the protection of fundamental rights.”

Baker will also be vice-chair of the Labor and Industry Committee. In addition, she will serve on the Banking and Insurance, Aging and Youth, Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, and Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees. The senator has also been appointed to the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform.

State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-121, Wilkes-Barre

Pashinski was one of four freshman lawmakers Luzerne County sent to Harrisburg in 2007. He again will serve as the Democratic chair of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, a post he’s held since 2017.

Pashinski also previously served on the Insurance, State Government, Human Services, Aging, Gaming and Commerce committees.

“It’s a tremendous honor and a privilege to be able to continue to represent the 121st legislative district as our community, commonwealth and country fight to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild our economy,” Pashinski said. “I look forward to keeping up the fight for the things our neighbors need, like property tax relief, jobs that pay a living wage, appropriate funding for public education, access to affordable quality healthcare and more.”

State Rep. Karen Boback, R-117, of Harveys LakeBoback, who was sworn in for her eighth term, has been appointed as the first woman to chair the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.

“I am proud to be part of a team of strong legislative leaders who support our Commonwealth,” Boback said. “In the district, I have made veterans and their needs a priority.”

Boback also is on the Tourism and Recreational Development Committee.

State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-118, of Avoca.

Carroll, first elected in 2007, will continue to serve as the Democratic chair of the House Transportation Committee.

“Considering the importance of our region’s transportation network of highways, rail, air and transit, I’m eager to continue my service as Democratic chair of the Transportation Committee,” Carroll said. “Working with friends at PennDOT, I look forward to additional improvements for our region moving forward.”

State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-119, of Newport Twp.

Mullery, sworn into his sixth term, will be the Democratic chair of both the House Labor and Industry Committee and House Committee on Ethics.

“I’m honored the people of the 119th District have trusted me to return to Harrisburg to be their representative,” Mullery said. “This legislative term starts as many of us continue struggling and facing immense challenges, and I will ensure our communities get the support they need, and our voices are heard.”

This will be Mullery’s second stint as chair of the Ethics Committee.

“I am honored to be named the Democratic chair of this committee again and to continue the efforts of transparency and holding all representatives accountable,” Mullery said. “We are living in very polarized and divisive times and it is important that this committee be able to do its part.”

State Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116, of Butler Twp.

Rep. Tarah Toohil, a representative since 2011, was appointed majority chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, becoming the first woman to hold the position.

“It is an honor to be chosen as majority chair of the Government Oversight Committee. The previous bipartisan work of the committee set an important precedent which I hope to continue,” Toohil said. “I look forward to leading the committee and ensuring that Pennsylvanians are afforded the needed oversight they deserve relating to the operation of state agencies and how their tax dollars are spent.”

Toohill is also a member of the Children and Youth, Human Services, and Professional Licensure committees.

State Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-120, of Kingston

Kaufer, in office since 2015, takes over as the chairman of the Economic Recovery Task Force and chairman of the subcommittee on Tax Modernization. He’s also on the Finance, Gaming Oversight, Health, and Transportation committees.

“This session, first and foremost, we must focus on getting vaccines to everyone who wants it. People need to feel safe when they walk out their front doors. At the same time, we must get our economy moving again. As the chair of the House Economic Recovery Task Force, I will be working on various measures to encourage the kind of growth we need to recover from this crisis,” Kaufer said.

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