Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward Statement Shapiro’s RGGI Appeal Demonstrates Lack of Leadership

GREENSBURG – Today, Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) issued the following statement regarding Gov. Josh Shapiro’s decision to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s ruling that the Commonwealth’s entrance into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) without legislative approval violates the Pennsylvania constitution.

“Gov. Shapiro’s move to appeal RGGI to the Supreme Court is a maneuver to avoid having to make a tough decision. The truth is, Gov. Shapiro would rather unnecessarily tax Pennsylvanians and make them feel virtuous about raising their electricity rates and eliminate good paying jobs than face the traditional factions in his own Democratic party. The Commonwealth Court has already ruled this tax unconstitutional. More importantly, an electricity tax has no place in a commonsense energy policy for our Commonwealth.”


Erica Clayton Wright

Shapiro’s RGGI Appeal is a Misguided Approach

HARRISBURG – Today, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41) issued the following statement on Gov. Josh Shapiro’s decision to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s ruling that entrance by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) without legislative approval violates the Pennsylvania Constitution.

“Just three weeks ago the Commonwealth Court ruled the RGGI Electricity Tax violates our state Constitution. This was a tremendous victory for Pennsylvanians. Today, Gov. Josh Shapiro has made the misguided decision to carry the failed mantle of his predecessor and appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

“Gov. Shapiro’s action further places family sustaining jobs at risk and stymies the ability for any meaningful conversations on energy and environmental policy in the Pennsylvania legislature. The governor should be standing with working families who are struggling with inflationary costs and pressures from higher electric bills. Ignoring the needs of Pennsylvanians while simultaneously working to circumvent the constitution is a reckless and irresponsible approach.

“I am hopeful the Supreme Court will dispatch this matter quickly and the governor will accept the only real recommendation of his RGGI Working Group – that any type of cap and trade effort be approved through the legislature. We will not negotiate environmental and energy policy with the anvil of RGGI hanging over the heads of Pennsylvanians. The responsible enactment of energy policies which balance development of our God-given natural resources with environmental needs continues to be our focus.”


MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Eckhart Flessner

Public hearing on school mandate relief

Senate Education Committee

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 | 1 p.m.

Parkland School District Admin. Center
1210 Springhouse Road
Allentown, PA 


            1:00 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.   Opening remarks

                                                Senator Dave Argall, Majority Chair, Education Committee

                                                Senator Lindsey Williams, Minority Chair, Education Committee

                                                Senator Jarrett Coleman, 16th District                                        

            1:10 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.   Panel #1

                                                Dr. Mark Madson, Superintendent, Parkland School District

                                                Andy Christ, Senior Director of Education Policy, Pennsylvania School

                                                Boards Association                                           

            2:15 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.   Panel #2

                                                Dr. Tina Checkan, CEO and Superintendent, Propel Charter Schools

                                                Dr. Michael Herrera, Executive Director, Upper Bucks Technical School

            2:50 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.   Closing Remarks

Mastriano Bill Would Divest PA from Companies Benefitting Chinese Government

HARRISBURG – As the state of California and City of San Francisco this week welcomed communist Chinese President Xi Jinping, here in Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) is sending a different message by introducing a bill to divest all commonwealth holdings in companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“President Xi Jinping has committed crimes against humanity and Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars should not be used to prop up companies that support his repressive regime,” Mastriano said. “Pennsylvania taxpayers through this bill can tell President Xi Jinping to take his communist rhetoric and record of human rights violations with him back to China.”

Jinping arrived Tuesday in San Francisco to take part in a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Leaders from the 21-member APEC group are meeting to promote investment, trade and economic development in nations around the Pacific Ocean.

Mastriano’s bill would require the state treasurer and the commonwealth’s two largest public pension systems – the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) – to gradually divest from holdings in companies controlled by the CCP. 

Jinping and his government are accused of committing wide-ranging atrocities and human rights violations. The regime’s widespread and systematic persecution of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities on religious, cultural and ethnic grounds, combined with other violations based on gender, constitute crimes against humanity. The United Nations in August released a report assessing human rights concerns in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The CCP also has employed force and aggression to methodically erode self-rule in Hong Kong, weaken democracy in Taiwan and abuse basic human rights in Tibet.

Much of the fentanyl that has killed Pennsylvanians in the ongoing opioid epidemic was manufactured in China.

“Chinese government policies are directly leading to the death of Pennsylvania residents,” Mastriano said. “This is a moral issue and it’s time for us as a commonwealth to take a stand.”

Mastriano currently is circulating the bill concept with his Senate colleagues and seeking co-sponsors.

Constituents of the 33rd District can learn more about Mastriano by visiting his website at or following him on Facebook at

Media contact: Josh Herman

Senate Approves Funding, Additional Transparency for State-Related Universities

HARRISBURG – The Senate voted overwhelmingly to support funding and additional transparency measures for Pennsylvania’s state-related universities today, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39), Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-13).

Under House Bill 1461, general support for Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh and Temple University would remain at the previous year’s levels. Lincoln University and Penn College of Technology would receive increases of $3,235,000.

According to existing law, funding in the bill is directed to provide tuition discounts for in-state students, and universities are required to meet strict financial reporting requirements as a condition of receiving the money.

In addition, the Senate approved House Bill 1556, which would require greater transparency from state-related universities. The bill would ensure the institutions provide additional information in their annual Right-to-Know Law filing, including information related to contracts, financial statements, faculty, compensation, enrollment, courses and meeting minutes.

The Presidents and Chancellor of the state-related universities have voiced their support for both bills.

“Many of us disagree with some of the actions at the state-related universities, said Ward. “However, this funding benefits students and families directly by reducing in-state tuition and we need to assist them.”

“This is a consensus product, and I am pleased the governor has committed in writing to sign both pieces of legislation we have advanced. The investment we are making will support students and prepare our workforce for tomorrow, while at the same time will bring greater transparency to our state-related universities,” Pittman said. “Be assured our work to implement greater transparency does not end here. We will continue to push for more clarity when providing appropriations for next year as well.”

“As an obligation to taxpayers whose money we are investing, our primary goal in funding higher education should be to give an opportunity for students to further their education, job skills, and credentialing to graduate and move on to family-sustaining careers and financial success, preferably in Pennsylvania, and meet workforce needs in our Commonwealth. We must continue to move closer to a performance-based model that meets that goal, while also finding ways we can be more attractive to potential students from other states to make Pennsylvania their home. That is the best way we can reverse the troubling economic and demographic trends we’ve seen in recent years and encourage more graduates to get jobs here, start families here, and build their lives here,” Martin said.


CONTACT: Erica Clayton Wright (Sen. Ward) 
Kate Flessner (Sen. Pittman) 
Jason Thompson (Sen. Martin) 

Robinson, Kane, Haywood Announce Legislation Addressing Lead in School Water

HARRISBURG – Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) was joined by Sens. John Kane (D-9) and Art Haywood (D-4), along with industry professionals to announce legislation that would require testing and mitigation for lead in Pennsylvania schools’ drinking water.

Senate Bill 986, sponsored by Robinson, Kane and Haywood, would establish the Safe School Drinking Water Fund to ensure all school drinking water outlets are equipped with certified point of use filters by Jan. 1, 2026. The legislation would also remove all drinking water fountains and install bottle-filling stations with certified point of use lead filters.

“Every day, many children and staff unknowingly drink dangerous amounts of lead in their schools’ water. The potential negative effects of lead are far greater for children than adults since it can cause physical, mental and emotional concerns for growing bodies” Robinson said. “Our children deserve to drink safe and healthy water while attending school.”

In 2018, Pennsylvania enacted legislation to encourage schools to test for lead and report to the Department of Education if the findings were considered dangerous. Since it wasn’t mandated, many schools did not test their water, resulting in the Department of Education being unable to collect accurate data.

“Lead contamination is not just about pipes; it’s about our children’s futures,” Kane said. “Our schools deserve nothing less than an all-out effort to replace every old drinking fountain with lead-filtering stations. With our children’s health at stake, it’s imperative that we take every necessary step to ensure a healthy, lead-free environment for our children’s growth.”

“Immediate action is imperative, as even minimal levels of lead pose a grave threat to the health and development of our young minds. We cannot ignore the well-documented adverse effects, including damage to the brain and nervous system, physical growth delays, learning and behavior problems, and speech and hearing impairment,” Haywood said. “Our objective is crystal clear: to deliver clean, safe water to every student in the Commonwealth, no matter the school district boundaries.”

The bill will be considered by the Senate Education Committee.

Watch the full news conference here.

Allison Dutrey (Robinson)

Matt Franchak (Kane)

Erin K. Serre (Haywood)

Argall Bill to Punish Looters Wins Bipartisan Senate Approval

HARRISBURG – In the aftermath of widespread looting in Philadelphia and many other cities, the Senate approved Sen. Dave Argall’s legislation to prevent these crimes by a bipartisan vote of 46-4 today.

“We must stop this dramatic increase in retail theft – the sooner, the better,” said Argall.

According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, organized retail theft has resulted in the loss of almost 700,000 jobs nationwide due to over $125 billion in economic losses.

Senate Bill 596 would create a first-degree felony offense, which can result in up to 20 years in prison, for thieves who steal $20,000 worth of goods and intend to resell them.

The bill would also create the Office of Deputy Attorney General for Organized Retail Crime Theft to pursue the leaders of these criminal rings.

It now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration.


CONTACT: Jim Brugger, 717-787-2637

Senate Approves Martin Resolution Evaluating Success of School Safety Programs

HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a resolution today to initiate a comprehensive study of Pennsylvania’s approach to school safety to build on recent successes to keep kids safer in the classroom, according to the resolution’s sponsor, Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster).

Senate Resolution 178 calls for the non-partisan Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) to conduct a study and provide recommendations regarding future potential legislative actions to further strengthen school safety and security programs and services created under Act 44 of 2018, of which Martin was one of the lead authors.

The law created Pennsylvania’s School Safety and Security Grant Program, formed the Safe2Say Something anonymous school threat reporting system, and created the School Safety and Security Committee under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

“The Senate has led the way in making sure our schools have the resources they need to keep kids safe,” Martin said. “Now that these programs have been in place for five years, it is critical to take a look back at what we have accomplished and consider ways to make these programs even more efficient and effective in the years ahead.”

Martin’s resolution would direct LBFC to work with PCCD to gather input from a wide variety of stakeholders, including the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the American Institute of Architects, and the state’s major agencies representing schools to review and analyze the successes of Act 44 of 2018.

The study would not only evaluate programs in Pennsylvania, but also include a review of safety and security best practices in other states.

LBFC would be required to present a report of findings and recommendations to the legislature no later than November 30, 2024.

Martin added that the resolution was developed and improved with the input of Republican and Democrat members over the past several months.

“Creating this resolution was a collaborative, bipartisan process, and I appreciate the input from members on both sides of the aisle to ensure the information we gather from this study ultimately helps make our children safer at school,” Martin said.

The LBFC and its staff have conducted numerous projects covering a wide range of important public policy and state program areas, including among others aging, emergency preparedness, community and economic development, education, environmental protection, game and fisheries, health and welfare, law enforcement, liquor control, local government, rural affairs, transportation, and veteran’s affairs.

CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Senate Advances Key Education, School Safety Budget Priorities

HARRISBURG – The Senate approved budget implementation language today that will drive out critical funding to schools and present a more streamlined approach to school safety, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39), Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-13).

“Today, the Senate passed a bi-partisan education spending package that helps distressed schools, invests in mental health and safety for students, and provides parents with a greater say in their children’s education,” said Ward. “This collaborative effort is a great step in the right direction to address some our most important education funding matters.”

House Bill 301 allocates funding for several critical priorities that were included in the 2023-24 state budget, including:

  • $100 million for K-12 mental health programs for schools.
  • An additional $150 million for education tax credits to provide scholarships to students through the existing Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs.
  • $295 million for Ready-to-Learn Block Grants.
  • More than $261 million for community colleges.
  • More than $76 million in Special Education funding for Intermediate Units.
  • $10 million to create a new Educator Pipeline Support Grant Program to provide grants to student teachers.
  • $46.5 million in reimbursements to school entities that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.
  • More than $70 million in state aid to public libraries.
  • $14.5 million in funding for career and technical schools.
  • $7 million to assist distressed schools.

“I am grateful and thankful today the Senate in a bi-partisan way has overwhelmingly passed legislation to support educational opportunities in our commonwealth,” Pittman said. “This bill empowers parents, increases school safety, and helps to improve educational facilities. I am very proud we have come together to move forward and help students. One step at a time we have worked to address tough issues, and one step at a time we will continue our work.”

The bill would also ensure greater collaboration in keeping children safe in the classroom by consolidating school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), which currently manages the highly successful School Safety and Security Grant Program created by Senate Republicans in 2018.

“For many years, Senate Republicans have led efforts to promote safer schools, even when the previous Administration tried to cut their funding. Streamlining and improving our approach to school safety will ensure we can build on the progress we’ve made to safeguard our classrooms,” Martin said. “I am grateful we are able to advance critical funding to help more students learn in the environment that best meets their unique educational needs through the EITC and OSTC programs. For too long, families have endured incredible waiting lists just to participate in these programs because of arbitrary financial caps, even though there are many other donors willing to contribute to this program. This is another big win for Pennsylvania’s students and their families.”

The legislation transfers several functions of the Office of Safe Schools – including the Safe Schools Targeted Grants for school safety equipment and programs and School Police Officers/School Resource Officers – to PCCD. School districts would also be required to share additional information on the number and type of School Police Officers and School Resource Officers, as well as data on powers granted to those entities.

Under the plan, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Office of Homeland Security would provide assistance in developing a safe schools collaborative and providing data on the number requests for assistance from schools.

The bill also removes the requirement for schools to make Social Security payments from their Basic Education appropriation, and provides additional flexibility for schools to fill substitute teaching positions.

House Bill 301 was approved by a 45-5 vote and was sent back to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT: Erica Clayton Wright (Sen. Ward) 
Kate Flessner (Sen. Pittman) 
Jason Thompson (Sen. Martin) 

Pennycuick: New Law Will Make It Easier for Students of Military Families to Enroll in School

HARRISBURG – Legislation championed by Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-24), Rep. Milou Mackenzie (R-131) and Rep. Brian Munroe (D-144) has been signed into law making it easier for students of relocating military families to enroll in school.

“As a veteran and a mother, I understand the challenges military families face in balancing the demands of service and educating their children,” Pennycuick said. “Every year, an estimated 185,000 military students move between schools, and this change will make the move less stressful and more orderly for children and parents.”

Currently, students of military families that are transferring on official military permanent change of station orders are not eligible to register in classes, enroll in specialized academic programs, or submit their children’s names in lotteries for charter or magnet schools until they are physically located within the district boundaries.

The delay can cause students to miss deadlines, requiring them to shift their planned courses of study, which may force them to take summer classes, or even graduate later than expected.

House Bill 1094, now Act 24 of 2023 and sponsored by Representatives Mackenzie and Munroe, will allow such families to establish residency for purposes of enrollment in the school district in which they will be residing by providing the school district with a copy of their military transfer order. This will allow them to access registration and enrollment at the same time it is open to the general population.

Pennycuick sponsored companion legislation, Senate Bill 707, in the Senate.

“I am proud to work with my colleagues in the House to advance this issue and make it easier for military children to stay on the path of academic success and, ultimately, graduation,” Pennycuick added.

“I am incredibly grateful that the Governor signed my bill on advance enrollment for children of military families into law,” Mackenzie said. “I am thankful to have Senator Pennycuick partner with me on this issue in the Senate. We are both deeply committed to our military families and the cause of education.”

“As a Navy veteran myself, supporting our veterans and active-duty military personnel are a priority for me,” Munroe said. “That is why I am so proud that my bi-partisan HB 1094 has passed both the House and Senate without a single dissenting vote. Thank you to Rep. Milou Mackenzie for being my co-prime and to Gov. Shapiro for signing Act 24 into law.”


CONTACT: Matt Szuchyt (717) 787-3110

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