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Lawmaker to Seek Re-Election

October 25, 2001

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) _ A state legislator says she will run for a second term next year, despite claiming in a $7.5 million lawsuit that she needs help reading and conversing after being injured in a traffic accident.

In papers filed last week in conjunction with a lawsuit, Rep. Jane Baker, 56, described injuries she sustained after she was struck by a SUV driven by Judith Fulmer after the two shared dinner and drinks at a restaurant in April 2000.

She said she suffered brain injuries, a broken arm and other injuries and now ``needs help with reading and understanding material and carrying on conversations, especially on a professional level.″

Those injuries make Baker, a Republican, ``virtually unemployable″ outside the Legislature, where she receives much-needed help from extra staff, her attorney, Shanin Specter, said Wednesday.

Majority Leader John Perzel, also a Republican, authorized an extra full-time staff member to help Baker with legislative duties.

A longtime political adversary of Baker, Democratic Rep. T.J. Rooney, said he was unaware of the seriousness of her injuries until the lawsuit was filed.

``What’s troubling here is when her counsel makes the charge that if she’s not elected again, she’s virtually unemployable,″ Rooney said. ``To say she’s otherwise unemployable, unless she’s in the General Assembly, is a sad commentary and it reinforces some crass notions.″

Baker’s chief of staff, Michelle Griffin, said Baker had no comment on the lawsuit. ``I can tell you that she definitely intends to run again when her current terms expires next November,″ Griffin said.

Fulmer pleaded guilty in November to hit and run, leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence of alcohol. She was sentenced to 92 days of house arrest, five years’ probation and 1,000 hours of community service and ordered to pay more than $10,000 in fines.

Fulmer’s attorney did not return a telephone call seeking comment Wednesday.

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