Sen. Laughlin Introduces Minimum Wage Legislation

HARRISBURG – Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-49) has introduced legislation seeking to increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour by 2026, beginning with $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2024, and permanently index it to inflation thereafter.

Said Laughlin: “I have heard from my constituents and have listened to both sides of the political aisle. Pennsylvania has not seen the minimum wage increase since it was hiked at the federal level in 2009. On average, a worker who earns minimum wage will only earn $15,000 per year. Due to the rising costs, workers are unable to pay for basic necessities and forced to rely on public assistance. It is time we address the issue and I believe this bill is the most responsible way to approach it.”

Senate Bill 743 also includes language to set the tipped wage in Pennsylvania to 40% of the minimum wage as previously established in Pennsylvania Code Title 34, Chapter 231.34. Until 1996, increases in the tipped wage corresponded with increases in the minimum wage. Since that time, Pennsylvania’s tipped wage has remained $2.83 per hour.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, thirty states have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Fifteen states have or will have their minimum wage increase tied to the Consumer Price Index or other similar measures to provide automatic increases with inflation. The federal tipped minimum wage has been $2.13 per hour since 1991. Currently, twenty-eight states have a higher tipped minimum wage rate above Pennsylvania’s current $2.83 per hour.

For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Laughlin’s website at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @senatorlaughlin.


Contact:          David Kozak            717-787-8927

Primary runoff elections produce better candidates – and PA needs that

Sens. Ryan Aument (R-36) & Frank Farry (R-6)

Do you know how many times a candidate from either party has won a statewide election in Pennsylvania for Governor or U.S. Senator without first winning the support of most of their party’s voters in the primary election?

Almost never. Since 1976, it’s only happened three times; and each time, the opponent from the other party also failed to earn at least 50% of the vote in the primary.

In other words, you are very unlikely to win an election for major statewide office in Pennsylvania unless you are able to get at least 50% of the vote from your party in the primary. This is true for both parties.

If candidates are truly interested in winning in November, then they must first win widespread support from their party – otherwise, history shows us they lose. 

We will soon introduce a bill to create a primary runoff election system in Pennsylvania. It would require candidates to win at least 50% of their party’s support in the primary election before they can be declared the winner and advance to compete in the November general election.

Here’s how it works – if no candidate can earn at least 50% of the vote in the primary election, then a second or “runoff” election would be held between the top two vote getters. The candidate with the most votes in the runoff election wins and goes on to compete in the general election.

In a time when voter satisfaction is so low due in large part to a lack of enthusiasm for candidates, shouldn’t we want to create a system where majority support is required?

Under the current system, a candidate can win with only a small fraction of the vote. For example, 69% of Republican voters chose someone other than the winner of the primary election for U.S. Senate in 2022. Yet, that candidate won that race and then went on to lose against John Fetterman in the general election. 

Under a primary runoff election system, successful candidates must earn the support of a majority of their party’s voters. To do this, they must attract support from a broader base within their party. This results in stronger general election candidates with popular support, which is better for Pennsylvania.

Additionally, runoffs empower voters by adding another opportunity to have their voices heard. Though it’s been said that this is an attack on grassroots efforts, we think it is the opposite. Primary runoff elections do not give an advantage to incumbents or those with more money. They only give an advantage to candidates who have the support of a majority of their party’s voters – as it should.

Yet, we’ve been contacted by a small handful of vocal grassroots advocates who vehemently oppose this proposal and want us to immediately retract it without debate. They want to silence any discussion of candidate quality because they believe that candidates who are rejected by most voters still deserve to win. We disagree. Just because you got the most votes doesn’t mean you got the majority of votes.

And if you can’t win at least 50% of the vote, then maybe you aren’t the best candidate to represent your party in the general election and ultimately serve the people in office.  

If you’re a prospective grassroots candidate who’s confident in your ability to represent your district well and win the support of most voters within your party, then primary runoff elections won’t negatively affect you. Good candidates will still win.

In fact, this proposal will make it easier for good candidates to win and serve – and that’s the point.

Argall Receives Award for Transforming Blight into New Housing

HARRISBURG – Sen. Dave Argall (R-29) has received an award for transforming blighted buildings into housing from the Association of Community Development Corporations.

“I could not have received this award without the bipartisan work of governments AND local volunteers to breathe new life into their hometowns,” said Argall. “One of the biggest issues we face is the need to transform more blighted properties into new housing in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties.”

Argall has worked with local partners to turn a blighted building and an empty lot into housing for seniors in Minersville and Frackville. In Shenandoah, a new effort to demolish blighted buildings on North Bower Street, including the shell of a burned-out factory, and build 36 housing units for seniors was awarded a state grant in October.

Argall also worked in Tamaqua and Pottsville to secure a  $1 million grant to restore the upper floors of vacant buildings into housing units and a $3 million grant to transform the upper six floors of the Schuylkill Trust Company building on Center and Market Streets in downtown Pottsville into 60 apartment units. Hazleton is now pursuing a similar project at the blighted former St. Joseph’s hospital.

Argall sponsored Act 152 of 2016, which allowed counties to raise money for demolition programs. 25 counties, including Schuylkill County, have joined the program, raising millions of dollars to tear down hundreds of blighted properties. Carbon County has recently signaled interest in also joining the program.

In 2021, Argall introduced legislation to make this program permanent , now Act 149 of 2022. This year, new legislation authored by Argall to increase county funding for demolition recently won bipartisan approval by the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.


CONTACT: Jim Brugger, 717-787-2637

Laughlin, Williams to Introduce Drug Overdose Treatment Legislation

HARRISBURG – Sens. Dan Laughlin (R-49) and Anthony Williams (D-8) announced they will introduce legislation aimed at helping individuals regain control of their lives following a drug overdose in which a life-sustaining medication was administered.

“While the ability to administer a life-sustaining medication has reduced the death rate, it is not treatment and does little to address the individual’s underlying substance use disorder,” said Laughlin. “Treatment will allow individuals to regain their hopes, dreams, goals and, most importantly, their lives.”

“Left untreated, the disorder will result in additional overdose situations requiring more doses of life-sustaining medication,” Williams said. “That’s no way to live, and we need take a stand and address the underlying mental health issue that is depriving too many people of life and liberty.”

According to Pennsylvania Open Data, 77,714 doses of Naloxone – a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose – were administered from Jan. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2022, by emergency medical services personnel. From Jan. 1, 2018, to Feb. 24, 2023, 49,398 emergency room visits were due to opioid overdose. Even before the pandemic, Pennsylvania’s drug overdose death rate was one of the highest in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and that rate has continued to rank high compared to other states. In 2021 – the most recent year for CDC data – our commonwealth recorded its highest-ever total of overdose deaths, 5,449.

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a treatable mental health condition that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to their inability to control their use of substances like legal or illegal drugs, alcohol or medications.

An individual suffering with SUD is a harm to themselves and others as they lack the ability to make good decisions or manage their own personal affairs and take care of their own basic needs. Unfortunately, too often when this disorder is left untreated, these individuals resort to criminal behavior leading to jail or worse.

We seek to create an involuntary commitment process for those given a life-sustaining drug to counteract a drug overdose who have been transported to a hospital to be evaluated. This process would be similar to the 302 commitment process, provided for by Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Procedures Act, which seeks an involuntary commitment for emergency evaluation and treatment for persons who are a danger to themselves or others due to a mental illness.

Recovery is the key for individuals with SUD to move forward. However, without treatment, there is no recovery.

For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Laughlin’s website at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @senatorlaughlin.

Contact:  David Kozak   717-787-8927

Acting Secretary of Commonwealth Acknowledges Necessity to Restore Public Trust, Signals Openness to Republican Election Reform Measures

HARRISBURG – During Wednesday’s PA Senate State Government Committee confirmation hearing, Al Schmidt, the nominee for Secretary of the Commonwealth, publicly acknowledged some Republican concerns about, and affirmed the need to enhance, election integrity.

“It would be the height of arrogance to assume we cannot improve our Commonwealth’s election system,” said, PA State Government Committee Chairman Sen. Cris Dush (R-25), who presided over today’s confirmation hearing. “Today’s proceedings confirmed that there is strong bipartisan interest in the review, reform and modernization of our elections to ensure that transparency, integrity, security and accountability always prevail.”

“Of course, my experience overseeing more than two dozen elections in Philadelphia will also inform how I lead the department,” stated Schmidt in his opening comments. “Throughout my career, I have worked in bipartisan and nonpartisan environments to modernize operations and improve efficiencies. I hope to continue that work at the Department of State, all with the goal in mind of better serving Pennsylvanians.”

Dush, a prominent voice for modernizing Pennsylvania’s election code, drew attention to needed solutions he has introduced or supported in the Senate, such as bolstering the security of mail-in ballots and removing Commonwealth voter rolls from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). 

“Today’s confirmation hearing is not about denying or re-litigating the results of any specific election, or the legitimacy of any public official,” emphasized Dush in his opening remarks. “This is about strengthening public confidence in every election, at every level.”

Speaking after the hearing, Chairman Dush concluded, “Restoring trust in our elections should not be a red or a blue issue. I am pleased that Acting Secretary Schmidt acknowledged many of the integrity concerns that I and my fellow Republicans have raised over the years. I look forward to further productive discussions on implementing commonsense reforms to fortify the electoral process, instill confidence in voters, and preserve the integrity of future elections.”


CONTACT:  Ty McCauslin, Communications Director at 717-787-7084 or

Coleman Introduces Public Pension Reform Bill Calling on Future Senators to Lead by Example

HARRISBURG – State senators should lead by example in the effort to reform Pennsylvania’s underfunded pension system for government workers. That’s the sentiment behind a bill introduced today by state Sen. Jarrett Coleman (R-16) that would force future senators to participate in a retirement plan similar to those offered in the private sector.

“My bill would ensure all future state senators lead by example in the effort to reform Pennsylvania’s government pension system,” said Coleman, who earlier this year fulfilled his promise to forego the taxpayer-funded pension available to state lawmakers. “We need state senators to be out front and leading the push for meaningful public pension reform.”

Pennsylvania senators, representative, judges, executive office staff, state agency employees and state government workers are eligible to participate in the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS).

SERS does not have enough money to pay all the benefits promised to retirees. The most recent data show the system is less than 70% funded and has a shortfall of $16.4 billion.

The system currently offers three retirement plan options for senators and other government workers. The first is a traditional pension, or defined-benefit plan. The second is a plan similar to retirement savings options found in the private sector, known as a defined-contribution plan. The third option is a hybrid plan combining defined-benefit and defined-contribution elements.

Coleman’s bill would force senators elected in 2024 and after to enroll in the defined-contribution option.

“My bill would force future state senators to enter a retirement savings plan similar to the ones available to their constituents who work in the private sector,” Coleman said.

Senate Bill 699 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Residents who want to learn more about Coleman can visit his website at, follow him on Facebook at and sign up for email newsletters at

CONTACT: Robert Arena 484-861-4962

Aument, Farry to Introduce Primary Runoff Bill

Proposal aims to ensure consensus in primary elections

HARRISBURG – To ensure that candidates that win their primary election are supported by at least half of primary voters, Sens. Ryan Aument (R-36) and Frank Farry (R-6) announced their intent to introduce a bill creating a primary runoff election system in Pennsylvania.

In recent years, Pennsylvania primary elections have attracted many candidates, meaning a candidate can win with the support of only a small fraction of voters. For example, candidates have won with as little as 31% of the vote.

“This leads to voters feeling dissatisfied and unrepresented in general elections,” the senators said. “The winner of a primary election should emerge as a clear consensus pick of that party, and this legislation is a step towards that goal.”

Under the senators’ proposal, if no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote in a primary election, then a second (or “runoff”) election is held between the top two candidates. The candidates with the most votes in the runoff election would be declared the winner. This proposal would apply only to primary elections.

“When a candidate wins with only thirty or twenty percent of the primary electorate’s vote, it leaves the majority of voters feeling like their vote didn’t count and their voice wasn’t heard,” the senators said. “This is not how a representative democracy should work. We need fair solutions to fix our system and restore a voice to the voters of this Commonwealth.”

Currently, ten states require a runoff in primary elections if candidates do not win with a certain required threshold for victory: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Vermont.

The senators plan to have language for the bill introduced in the near future.


CONTACT:         Stephanie Applegate (Sen. Aument)
                                Nicole McGerry (Sen. Farry)

Mastriano and Turnpike Officials Highlight New Law to Protect Tow Truck Drivers Prior to Memorial Day Travel

HARRISBURG – With the busy Memorial Day travel weekend approaching, Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33), Pennsylvania Turnpike officials and tow truck drivers on Monday held an event at the state Capitol to raise awareness about a new state law to protect roadside assistance workers.

Dressed in a yellow safety vest and surrounded by tow trucks with flashing lights, Mastriano highlighted the color of the lights – blue, instead of orange or yellow – which was made possible by the new law.

“Enabling tow truck drivers to use blue lights will protect roadside assistance workers as they help stranded drivers,” Mastriano said. “We want our tow truck drivers to make it home to their families at the end of the day.”

Mastriano introduced the bill that became Act 157 of 2022 and made it legal for tow trucks to install blue flashing lights in place of their old yellow or orange lights.

Mastriano cited studies conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation and University of Michigan showing drivers routinely ignored yellow or orange lights. Blue lights elicited a better response from drivers, are more visible in hazardous conditions and give distracted drivers more time to see and react when approaching a potential accident.

The idea originated when tow truck operator Justyn Arment from Denver, Lancaster County, contacted Mastriano’s office about allowing roadside assistance vehicles to install flashing blue lights. Mastriano introduced Senate Bill 1123 in March 2022. The bill was approved by the General Assembly and signed into law on Nov. 3, 2022.

“This is an example of state government responding to the ideas and needs of the people it was established to serve,” Mastriano said.

Mastriano and Turnpike officials also used Monday’s event to highlight Pennsylvania’s existing Move Over Law, which requires drivers approaching an emergency response area to move to the lane farthest away from the accident. Drivers unable to merge into a lane farther away from the emergency response are required to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.

Mastriano in 2020 introduced legislation that was signed into law creating a new point system for Move Over Law violations and doubled fines for a summary offense.

He announced Monday he is planning to introduce new legislation to have signs placed along Pennsylvania state highways and the Turnpike to remind drivers to slow down and move over. Each sign also would include a tribute in memory of a Pennsylvania resident who tragically lost their life in a roadside accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal car accidents are more likely to happen during Memorial Day weekend than any other holiday weekend. The American Automobile Association estimates 39.3 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles during the Memorial Day weekend.

Mastriano was joined Monday by Todd Leiss, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s traffic incident coordinator.

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

Program to Repair, Build Schools Examined by Senate Education Committee

HARRISBURG – A program to repair outdated and deteriorating schools and build new schools was the focus of a public hearing of the Senate Education Committee chaired by Sen. Dave Argall (R-29) today.

“Too many of our students are forced to get their education in outmoded conditions,” said Argall. “We need to take a hard look at how to upgrade our existing schools that can still be used and build new schools where the current buildings don’t cut it anymore.”

Testimony discussed the Planning and Construction Workbook (PlanCon) program, which outlines the process for school districts to receive funding from the Department of Education for major construction projects. New submissions to the program have been paused since 2016.

Argall asked Jessica Sites of the Department of Education to provide data detailing the dollar amount it would take to fix every school in the state, noting that “everyone seems to agree that we have a serious problem here, but as of yet no one has been able to tell me how big the problem is.”

Argall also discussed new legislation to compel school districts to report to the state how much funding they would need to repair their schools.

The second panel featured testimony by Jeff Mummert, Business Administrator at South Western School District, and Dr. Daniel McGarry, the Superintendent of Upper Darby School District.

The third panel featured companies with experience repairing and modernizing schools. Much of their testimony focused on the poor conditions many students currently experience and how leaps in technology could provide for crucial updates that would improve the day-to-day experience of students.

A full video of the hearing and copies of written testimony can be found on the Senate Education Committee’s website.

CONTACT: Jim Brugger, 717-787-2637

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