Rep. Kinkead discusses the state committees she’s been selected to serve on, and what these selections mean for District 20.
Photo: Office of Rep. Kinkead
Wow, what a busy start to the new year it has been! Last month, I was sworn in for my first term in office at the state Capitol in Harrisburg and since then, I’ve been selected to serve on the House Agriculture, Appropriations, Human Services, and Judiciary Committees.
So what does that mean for District 20? Well, the Agriculture Committee handles all things food-related and, as we have seen record numbers of our neighbors become food insecure in this pandemic, it matters now more than ever. Agriculture encompasses not just large-acre farms in rural areas, but also urban farming initiatives, farmers’ markets, self-stabilization for produce, and introducing future generations to where our food comes from. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I will have a seat at the table to review bills that directly affect one of the state’s top industries. The committee has legislative oversight of the State Department of Agriculture, the Farm Show Bureau, the Milk Marketing Board, the State Conservation Committee, and the Agricultural Land Preservation Board. This industry, like many across the state, has faced numerous challenges during the pandemic, and I will do all I can to ensure it has a strong, vibrant future.
I anticipate being rather busy with the House Appropriations Committee as budget season kicks into high gear. This committee governs our spending priorities, reviews all legislation to evaluate the cost of enactment, and plays a pivotal role in the annual state budget process. It conducts hearings to review and evaluate the governor’s executive budget proposal. The budget proposal itself is usually unveiled in early February of each year, and budget hearings are held in the weeks following the governor’s budget address. In addition to holding jurisdiction over the state budget process, this committee also oversees the offices of State Treasurer, Auditor General, and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority.
The House Human Services Committee governs the social safety net programs on which many of our friends and neighbors have come to rely to make it through these tough times: food and nutritional support, welfare, medical assistance, cash assistance, housing and utility assistance, mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, and many others. Human Services also governs the programs we provide to support people with disabilities. On this committee, I will ensure these programs are provided the support they need and deserve to help every Pennsylvanian.
Finally, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I am tasked with reviewing measures related to the oversight of our law enforcement agencies and our corrections system, as well as evaluating prison staffing and inmate populations and housing conditions. Additionally, the committee reviews all matters that relate to the operation of our judicial system. I have already been working hard to defend our judiciary against a proposed constitutional measure, H.B. 38, which seeks to gerrymander our state appellate courts and allow voters to select only three of the state’s 31 appellate judges in the name of so-called “geographic diversity.” This, however, fails to acknowledge how lawyers and future judges develop – notably where they come from and the experience they’ve gained. Judicial philosophy develops holistically, not just by where a judge lives when they run for office. This amendment would, in effect, limit our ability to have the most qualified candidates in every position, strip the judicial branch of its independence and make it beholden to the whims of the legislative branch. As a result, it would deprive you of your rights as a voter.
I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on these committees because we certainly have a great deal of work ahead of us. I am committed to making real, meaningful differences in the lives of our residents here in District 20 and statewide.
I will continue to keep you posted on my work and be your voice in Harrisburg. As always, if you have a concern or question, please reach out to me by email at RepKinkead@pahouse.net or call me at 412-321-5523. My team and I are here to help you!