By: Brent Sailhamer, ABC Keystone Director of Government Affairs
With a stronger majority in both the House and Senate, Republicans have finally selected their committee chairs for the 2017-2018 legislative session, filling vacant positions in critical committees that deal with ABC issues.
In the Senate, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Susquehanna), who chaired the Labor & Industry Committee from 2013 to 2016, has been selected to chair the Health & Human Services Committee. Replacing her will be Sen. Kim Ward, who represents the 39th Senate district, encompassing Westmoreland County. Sen. Ward has a long professional history as a political operative and also served in state administration under former Gov. Mark Schweiker. A consistent conservative, Sen. Ward supported Sen. Jake Corman during his 2014 leadership battle with then-Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi. She has also been supportive of cost-cutting policy and free enterprise legislation.
In the House, Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin) will replace retired Rep. Mauree Gingrich as the chair of the Labor & Industry Committee. Kauffman previously served as a Greene Township supervisor in Franklin County until he replaced retiring Democrat Jeff Coy in 2004. Since then, Kauffman has been a conservative leader in the House on both fiscal and social issues, chairing the House Prayer Caucus and consistently voting for lower taxes and decreased regulation. Kauffman also has been supportive of ABC issues in the past and was a strong proponent of the apprenticeship reform bill during last session.