An Opportunity to Bring Back Common Sense

Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41)

Last November, the voters sent a divided government to Harrisburg. The governor is a Democrat. The House of Representatives has swung between having the same number of Democrat and Republican members, and the Democrats having a one-seat majority. In the Senate, our Republican majority is strong with 28 members.

In addition to our goals of protecting jobs, empowering families and defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens, over the last several years, the Senate Republican Caucus has fought for fiscal responsibility and limiting government overreach. We continue to see the benefits of this leadership, as just this month Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed Pennsylvania’s current Bond Rating and revised our commonwealth’s financial outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘positive.’ This year as part of the state budget, we again stood for fiscal restraint and prevented billions of dollars in new spending proposed by Gov. Josh Shapiro and other Harrisburg Democrats.

Our convictions and priorities will not waver, but we also recognize our duty to demonstrate divided government is not dysfunctional government. The reality of the current political climate in Harrisburg is that it is difficult to come to consensus on many policy measures. However, our different perspectives are not a valid reason to avoid coming to the table and addressing the most basic and pressing issues facing Pennsylvanians.

For any piece of legislation to become law, it must garner at least 26 votes in the Senate, 102 votes in the House and the approval of the governor. A divided government means we must find ways to come together. Effective leadership and legislating means working to understand the perspectives of both sides. By tackling the pressing issues we see coming on the horizon, and then removing those issues from the table, we can move forward step-by-step.

While we continue to wait for the House to return to session and act on necessary implementation language for the 2023-24 state budget, the Senate has taken additional steps to continue moving Pennsylvania forward. On Sept. 20, we unanimously passed school safety legislation to increase and streamline ways to further protect our students. House Bill 27 makes the school safety grant process more efficient and effective, creates an executive committee to identify emerging school safety threats, provides technical assistance to establish school and county safety collaboration, releases $100 million in K-12 school mental health funding and provides additional flexibility for those school districts experiencing shortages of substitute teachers.

Despite our differences, there is no reason Pennsylvanians should be kept waiting on legislation to protect our most precious resources, our children. With unanimous – yes, unanimous – passage by the Senate, and Gov. Shapiro’s agreement to sign the measure into law, my hope is the House will follow suit and demonstrate they can also fulfill this responsibility.

It is time we demonstrate what can be done in divided government instead of what cannot. The Senate continues to act and demonstrate we can move forward with the most basic parameters which make our government function. It is past time for the House to come back to session and work with us to solve real problems for the people of Pennsylvania – starting with keeping our students safe.   

Joe Pittman serves as Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania Senate and represents the 41st Senatorial District in Armstrong, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland counties.

Martin Calls for Study Evaluating Successes and Future Needs of School Safety Grant Program

HARRISBURG – Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) today called on his colleagues to support a study to evaluate the successes, outcomes and potential legislative actions that may be needed for the state’s largest school safety grant program.

Since its creation in 2018, Pennsylvania’s School Safety and Security Grant Program has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to help schools keep students safe.

The program provides grants for a wide variety of programs, including hiring School Police Officers and School Resource Officers, purchasing safety equipment like metal detectors, implementing violence prevention programs and other measures to safeguard schools.

Martin called for the non-partisan Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and provide recommendations regarding future potential legislative actions.

“Pennsylvania has taken the issue of school safety very seriously and provided significant resources to help our schools keep kids safe over the past several years,” Martin said. “The next step in this process is evaluating what we’ve done, how school districts have used these grants, and how we can make the program even more effective and efficient for taxpayers.”

Martin was one of the lead authors of the bipartisan law that created the program in 2018. The legislation also established the Safe2Say Something Program and formed the School Safety and Security Committee at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

The announcement comes on the heels of the Senate passing a significant school safety bill on Wednesday that would streamline and improve programs to keep students safe.

The legislation would consolidate school safety programs under PCCD and would create a new panel to review school safety issues and emerging trends to identify potential threats. The bill also would help improve coordination among schools, law enforcement and other stakeholders to ensure best practices for emergency response.

“We have spent the past five years creating these programs and fighting to make sure they receive the funding necessary to make our schools safer,” Martin said. “Now we have an opportunity to look back at how the program has benefitted schools, and how we can strengthen this key program going forward.”


CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Basic Education Funding Commission Hearing

Basic Education Funding Commission

Thursday, September 28, 2023 | 10 a.m.

South Western S.D.
225 Bowman Road
Hanover, PA

Baker’s Bill Simplifying Grantor Trust Process for PA Taxpayers Passes Senate

HARRISBURG – Legislation to simplify and streamline the irrevocable grantor trust process was passed by the Senate, according to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20).

An irrevocable grantor trust cannot be modified, amended or terminated without the permission of the grantor’s beneficiaries. These trusts are often established by someone as a means of reducing taxes and protecting property. In many cases the grantor, who establishes the trust, wants to pay the income taxes so the trust’s beneficiaries are not negatively impacted. Senate Bill 815 would remove the barrier, simplifying the irrevocable grantor trust process.

“Unfortunately, the current law in Pennsylvania is an incentive for some people to set up their trust in another state. There is no good reason to sustain a system that makes Pennsylvania less competitive,” Baker said. “By simplifying the rules to mirror the successful practices of other states, it will avoid confusion for tax filers and align our commonwealth with the rest of the nation.”

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Jennifer Wilson

Senate Committee Advances Mastriano Bill to Improve Oversight of State Veterans Homes

HARRISBURG – The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee today voted to approve legislation introduced by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) that would improve oversight of the six state-operated veterans homes in Pennsylvania.

“Our veterans served our country in its time of need and we need to make sure these veterans homes are properly serving them,” said Mastriano, who chairs the committee and is a U.S. Army combat veteran. “My bill would provide enhanced oversight and accountability in an effort to improve service at Pennsylvania’s state-run veterans homes.”

Mastriano’s Senate Bill 933 would establish a Statewide Veterans Home Advisory Board within the Office of Deputy Adjutant General for Veterans’ Affairs.

The board would serve as an advisory body to develop and improve services, care and treatment for residents in Pennsylvania veterans homes.

The committee also approved Senate Bill 792, which would establish an urban search and rescue task force in western Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania currently has only one search and rescue task force, which is located in Philadelphia. Western Pennsylvanians sometimes must wait hours for equipment and personnel to travel from the southeast corner of the state to the scene of an emergency.

“The western half of Pennsylvania deserves its own search and rescue task force to provide quick response in emergency situations,” Mastriano said.  “In an emergency, minutes can mean the difference between life and death. This bill would enhance the commonwealth’s ability to respond to emergencies. The western Pennsylvania search and rescue task force would supplement the one that already exists in Philadelphia.”

Both bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.

Video from the meeting is available here.

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 Committee Approves Mastriano Bill to Improve Curriculum Transparency in Schools

HARRISBURG – The state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday approved a bill introduced by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) that would require schools in Pennsylvania to post online the curriculum and textbooks used in classrooms to teach students.

“Openness and transparency are something we should promote in all facets of our government entities and that includes our taxpayer-funded local schools,” Mastriano said. “By having easy access to an online link that is regularly updated, time-strapped parents will be better informed to make future educational decisions for their child.”

Mastriano’s Senate Bill 340 would require school districts, intermediate units, career and technical schools, charter schools and cyber charter schools to post online an internet link or the title of every textbook used to teach students in kindergarten through the 12th grade. The school entity also would have to post a course syllabus or written summary of every class offered to students and the state academic standards for each course.

Schools would have 30 business days to update the information any time the material is changed.

Mastriano’s bill would take effect during the 2024-25 school year.

“There are things being taught in some classrooms across our nation that have parents and taxpayers concerned and upset,” Mastriano said. “I want to make sure the public has access to this information so people can raise questions and receive answers. Pennsylvanians deserve to know this fundamental information about their taxpayer-supported education system.”

Mastriano’s bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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

Robinson’s Bill Creating Western PA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force Approved by Committee

Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37) with first responders from western Pennsylvania.

HARRISBURG – Legislation to create a western Pennsylvania urban search and rescue task force was approved by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee today, according to Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-37), who sponsored the bipartisan bill with Sen. Jay Costa (D-43).

“The Fern Hollow Bridge collapse showcased our region’s need for a more efficient emergency response,” Robinson said. “Residents in western Pennsylvania should not have to rely on a search and rescue task force that is six hours away. When it comes to emergencies, time is valuable.”

Senate Bill 792 would establish a Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue task force, based in Allegheny County, to assume primary coverage in the western part of the state. Under the legislation, no coverage or resources will be utilized from eastern Pennsylvania, but instead requires the creation of a second major task force.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.


Allison Dutrey

Senate Votes to Streamline and Increase School Safety Measures

HARRISBURG – The Senate has unanimously passed House Bill 27 to implement several key provisions to consolidate and streamline Pennsylvania’s school safety programs and ensure greater coordination in keeping children safe, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39), Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41), Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-13) and Senate Education Committee Chair David Argall (R-29).

“As a mother and grandmother, there is nothing more important than ensuring the mental health and safety of our children in our schools. The bipartisan steps taken by the Senate this week will incorporate school safety and mental health funds as a core function of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.”
– Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39)

 “Advancing this school safety legislation today demonstrates what we can do when we work together in a bipartisan manner. By taking these steps, we are protecting our most precious resource – our children. We remain hopeful the House will follow suit and demonstrate they can fulfill this responsibility too.”
– Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41)

“Strengthening and streamlining our approach to school safety builds on the monumental achievements we have made in recent years to keep our kids safe in the classroom. Senate Republicans have fought hard to create the School Safety and Security Grant Program and ensure it is properly funded, and we led the way in creating the Safe2Say Something anonymous threat reporting system that is held up as a national model for other states to follow. This bill takes the next step to ensure all our resources and stakeholders remain on the same page to better protect Pennsylvania’s young people.”
– Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-13)

“When I chaired 10 public roundtables all across Pennsylvania on school safety after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, we heard from students, parents, and educators that we needed to do more to protect our public and nonpublic schools. Since then, we’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars into safer, far more secure schools. Today’s vote further strengthens our state’s response and continues to build on these critical investments.”
– Senate Education Committee Chair David Argall (R-29)

House Bill 27 would consolidate school safety programs and operations under the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), which currently manages the highly successful, bipartisan School Safety and Security Grant Program created by the Senate in 2018.

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.

The legislation would create a new Executive Committee under PCCD to review school safety issues and to identify current and emerging trends. The committee will study data on incidents created through the Safe2Say Something program, review information arising from the county safe schools’ collaborative, help identify and prevent threats of targeted violence in school settings and utilize best practices among school entities to boost student safety.

This bill seeks to provide for assistance in developing a safe schools collaborative with technical assistance provided by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Office of Homeland Security, to ensure schools and counties can develop best practices for emergency response.

The school safety improvements are intended to build on years of efforts by the Senate to ensure Pennsylvania students can all learn in safe environments. In addition, Safe2Say Something, an anonymous school threat reporting system, was implemented in Pennsylvania in 2018 and is now held up as a national model for other states to follow. The system has led to more than 100,000 tips of potential student safety concerns.

House Bill 27 would allow for the implementation of $100 million that was included in the 2023-24 state budget for K-12 mental health programs. Bipartisan funding for those programs has been delayed due to the House of Representatives not returning to session to pass budget implementation language over the summer.

The legislation would provide additional flexibility for school districts that are experiencing shortages of substitute teachers. The bill would extend temporary provisions established during the pandemic that waived certain requirements and allowed for temporary certification of substitute teachers.

The legislation has been sent back to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senator Pittman – Floor Remarks



Erica Clayton Wright (Sen. Ward)
Kate Eckhart Flessner (Sen. Pittman)
Jason Thompson (Sen. Martin)
Jim Brugger (Sen. Argall)

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward on Moving Up the Pennsylvania Primary Date for the 2024 Election

HARRISBURG – Today, Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) issued the following statement on the passage of  Senate Bill 224, which would move up Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary election date to March 19:

“Pennsylvania plays a critical role in deciding our nation’s leaders, yet when it comes to the primary election process, Pennsylvanians have little to no say in who the candidates will be in the general election as our primary election is late in the process. By the time Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to select candidates for the general election, many potentially good candidates have already exited the race due to results in earlier primary states.

“This bill will change that by positioning Pennsylvania to have more influence in selecting candidates earlier for the general election by moving up the 2024 primary election date to March 19. The House of Representatives will need to act quickly on this bill when they return to session in order to allow enough time for the change to be put in place.”

VIDEO: Senator Ward remarks

Erica Clayton Wright;

Bill to Move Up Date of 2024 Pennsylvania Primary Election Wins Bipartisan Senate Approval

HARRISBURG – A bill to move the date of Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary election up by five weeks to March 19 was approved today in the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 45-2, according to Sen. Dave Argall (R-29), the prime sponsor of the bill.

“As the fifth largest state in the country, we should have a stronger role in selecting the candidates for President of the United States,” said Argall. “In most Presidential primary elections, the outcome is largely decided before our voters have a chance to make their voice heard at the polls.”

Under existing law, Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary election would take place on April 23. Under Senate Bill 224, the 2024 primary election would be moved up by five weeks.  

The current primary date also conflicts with Passover, which would effectively disenfranchise many Jewish people due to traditional Jewish law prohibiting writing, driving, or the use of electricity on the holiday.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration.


CONTACT: Jim Brugger, 717-787-2637

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