Mastriano: Pennsylvania Department of Education Encourages Gender Theory Indoctrination in Public Schools

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Education has been quietly pushing guidelines promoting gender theory concepts in K-12 public schools, continuing a disturbing pattern of dishonesty and intrusion from the governor’s administration, said Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33).

“Once again, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration skirts the legislative process to implement a far-left agenda behind the backs of the 13 million Pennsylvanians,” Mastriano said. “These guidelines encourage school districts to proselytize radical ideas about gender identity to children in all grades, all under the guise of school safety.”

The department’s recommendations include gender diverse definitions that teachers and administrators should know, including preferred personal pronouns such as “ne, ve, ze and xe.” Other inclusive terms feature subjective and reimagined definitions of words long considered inextricably linked, such as biological sex and gender, Mastriano said.

“The department touts the left’s twisted vernacular as objective fact, while the governor’s Democratic allies demonize parents as too bigoted to teach their own children about these sensitive topics,” Mastriano said. “We can teach kids to be tolerant, accepting and kind to others – no matter what – without indoctrinating an entire generation.”

That’s why Mastriano said he stands behind several Senate-led bills to prioritize and empower parental involvement in our public education system, alert families about explicit material available in school libraries and limit formal conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation to middle and high school curriculum only.

He also introduced historic legislation earlier this year to establish a Parental Bill of Rights, which would give families statutory rights to direct the upbringing of their children free from bureaucratic overreach.

“Our schools need to focus on closing the learning gaps that worsened as a result of the governor’s ill-advised pandemic school closures, not forcing elementary-age children to engage in inappropriate conversations about gender identity,” Mastriano said. “It is up to parents, not the state, to engage with their children on these complex social issues and I will never stop fighting for their right to do so.”

CONTACT: Doug Zubeck

Mastriano: Pennsylvania Budget Delivers Supplemental Property Tax and Rent Rebate Recovery

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania seniors and individuals living with disabilities will receive a supplemental property tax or rent rebate this year as part of the 2022-23 General Fund Budget, Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) said.

“As record-breaking inflation continues on an upward trajectory with no end in sight, it’s vital we support residents who live on fixed incomes and are most vulnerable to the unsustainable pressure of skyrocketing costs,” Mastriano said. “I’m grateful that my proposal to enhance the annual rebates seniors and adults with disabilities receive was prioritized in this year’s spending plan and I hope it can provide some relief to these communities as we navigate this growing economic crisis.”

The state will use $140 million from the American Rescue Plan Act stimulus to pay households supplemental rebates worth 70% of the amount received in 2021. On average, eligible participants receive a $475 rebate each year, with more than $7.3 billion awarded to senior citizens and disabled adults since 1971.

Mastriano introduced the rebate enhancement in Senate Bill 1297 earlier this year. Some 2.2 million people over the age of 65 live in Pennsylvania and 8% of them live below the poverty line, according to state data.

“We cannot allow residents to fall deeper into poverty as a result of disastrous federal economic policy that’s beyond their control,” Mastriano said. “This immediate relief will reach hundreds of thousands of seniors and individuals with disabilities at a time when they need it most. Meanwhile, I will continue fighting for responsible fiscal policies that will ease the extraordinary inflationary pressures we all face.”

CONTACT: Josh Herman


Op-Ed: We can Secure Our Schools without Trading away Constitutional Rights

To no one’s surprise, the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas is being exploited to pressure Americans into accepting a false choice: their rights or their safety. Don’t be fooled.

It’s much easier to confront inanimate objects than human flaws. That is why many lawmakers are quick to demonize guns, even though doing so doesn’t solve the problem. The investigation into this crime is ongoing, but we already know that standard life-saving protocols were not followed.

As elected leaders, we can’t allow the focus to shift from the evil actions of individuals to inanimate objects. In Pennsylvania, lawmakers have worked together to provide schools with critical tools to identify potential threats and safeguard classrooms.

The General Assembly established the School Safety and Security Grant Program, which enabled schools to hire police officers, resource officers and counselors. It empowered schools to implement safety plans and violence prevention initiatives and purchase equipment to boost student safety.

In 2019, the General Assembly created The Safe2Say Program, an anonymous school threat reporting system, to help prepare schools and law enforcement for potential violent incidents. This system has generated more than 86,700 tips since its inception, not only for school safety concerns, but also for student safety issues like bullying and self-harm.

Also in 2019, the General Assembly established Threat Assessment Teams to ensure students who could potentially pose a safety risk receive necessary evaluations and treatment, and it established training requirements for school security personnel.

The General Assembly then established regional Risk and Vulnerability Teams to conduct school safety and security assessments at no cost to schools. They created Community Safety Grants for local municipalities, colleges and community groups to boost safety and reduce the risk of violence in their communities.

What can the General Assembly do now? I have called for a $20 million funding increase in this year’s budget that may be used for armed resource officers, metal detectors, door fortifications, emergency response training, security cameras, door-locking technology, and increasingly innovative solutions that will provide more security than taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.

We can also join 29 other states that have added an extra layer of security in the classrooms by allowing school staff to carry firearms. I’m introducing Senate Bill 1288, which will allow Pennsylvania school employees to be armed while on school property.

An employee carrying a firearm on school property will be required to possess a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit, complete a rigorous firearms course and be certified as proficient with the firearm the employee intends to carry on school grounds.

To be certified, training must include courses on protection of students, interactions with first responders, tactics for denying classroom entry to intruders, safe handling and storage of weapons and proficiency with defensive weapons under duress.

Additionally, those certified to carry in school would provide their name and photograph to the local municipal police department and the Pennsylvania State Police. This will allow law enforcement to know who is certified to carry should they need to enter the building in an active shooter situation.

Senate Bill 1288 would not be a mandate but would give school staff the ability to be a last line of defense if they choose.

Sadly, there are some who think they shouldn’t have that choice. Rich Askey, the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has gone on every network to call this proposal “dangerous and absurd.” He believes that, even if a school employee has been trained, permitted, and certified, they should not have the ability to defend students in a worse-case life and death scenario.

Mr. Askey is dead wrong. Mass murderers are often attracted to “soft targets” where they know victims are not armed. According to the Crime Prevention Resource Center, there has not been a single mass shooting in a school where staff were permitted to carry a firearm. According to the Crime Research Center, there has never been an incident of lost or stolen firearms where school employees are permitted to carry. Overwhelmingly, those with concealed carry permits have proven themselves trustworthy for decades.

All of these school safety best practices are tangible, rational steps we can take to protect our students and protect our constitutional rights at the same time.

It’s also important to note that criminality, violence, violence with guns, and antisocial behavior are pathologies commonly linked to young men from fatherless homes. Confiscating guns does not address this demonstrably significant factor. We need to start a difficult conversation about this cultural disaster.

Citizens across the nation and in Pennsylvania have long been pressured to trade their liberty for security. One cannot exist without the other. We can do better at protecting our kids in schools without infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Pennsylvanians.

Senate Committee Approves Mastriano Bill to Save Lives and Reduce Roadside Vehicle Accidents

Harrisburg – The Senate Transportation Committee unanimously voted today to approve legislation by Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) that will reduce vehicle collisions with tow trucks on the side of roads and highways.

SB 1123 will allow tow truck operators to use rear-facing blue lights while stationary and responding to a disabled vehicle. Under current statute, only flashing or revolving yellow lights are permitted for tow trucks.

The inspiration for this bill came from a tow truck operator in the 33rd District who discovered that operators in several other states had the option for blue lights and the rate of roadside accidents was lower in those states.

Studies by the Texas Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan have demonstrated that drivers routinely ignore the sight of yellow or orange lights when encountered on the road. Blue lights elicit a different response from drivers and are far more visible in hazardous weather conditions. They also give distracted drivers more time to see and react before a potential accident. 

“I believe this legislation has the potential to cut down on roadside accidents and save lives in Pennsylvania,” said Mastriano. We’ve lost too many Pennsylvanians to roadside collisions. Allowing tow truck operators to utilize blue lights can have a profound effect on driver alertness. I’m proud to say SB 1123 has the full support of the PA Towing Association.”

SB 1123 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Contact: Josh Herman

Mastriano Announces Legislation to Impose Tougher Penalties on Fentanyl Dealers

Harrisburg – Senator Doug Mastriano (PA-33) announced plans to introduce “Tyler’s Law” to target drug dealers who peddle fentanyl resulting in a fatal overdose. 

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic like morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent.  Fentanyl can be cut, colored, scored, and pressed to be sold as a counterfeit for other drugs. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be a lethal dose.   In some scenarios, individuals purchase what they think are Oxycodone, OxyContin, Percocet, or Xanax pills that are actually laced with fentanyl.

One such example occurred in the 33rd District.  Tyler Shanafelter, 18, overdosed when he purchased what he thought was Percocet.  Instead, those pills were laced with fentanyl. He tragically overdosed and lost his life.

Fentanyl is easier to produce and distribute than heroin, enhancing its appeal to dealers and traffickers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were over 100,000 fentanyl and opioid related deaths in 2021, a 15% increase from 2020. The epidemic only seems to be worsening here in Pennsylvania. 

Under Pennsylvania’s current “drug delivery resulting in death” statute, defendants often cut deals for lenient sentencing and little to no jail time.

Under Tyler’s Law, an individual who sells or engages in a monetary transaction to distribute fentanyl resulting in a death would face a mandatory minimum 25-year sentence upon conviction. This mandatory minimum penalty would not apply to drug users who share drugs with friends or family members or those who seek medical help for individuals who overdose.

“I`m introducing Tyler’s Law to honor the legacy of Tyler Shanafelter, his family, and the other families in Pennsylvania who have lost loved ones to this horrible overdose epidemic. We must send a message to drug dealers that if you kill Pennsylvanians through the sale of fentanyl, you will be spending most of the rest of your life in prison.”

Media Contact: Josh Herman

Senate Committee Passes Mastriano Bill to Fund the Police and Protect Neighborhoods

Harrisburg – The Senate Law and Justice Committee today unanimously passed legislation introduced by Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) and Senator Devlin Robinson (R-37) to establish the “Law Enforcement Recovery Grant.” The grant program will assist agencies facing staff shortages and agencies in communities that have seen an uptick in violent crime and drug trafficking.

Senate Bill 1193 will allow municipal departments, county sheriffs, and the State Police to apply for a grant up to $2.5 million. Law enforcement agencies can use the grant money to fund strategies and incentives to attract new recruits and retain current officers, technology, equipment, and collaborative responses to violent crime and drug trafficking.

The PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) will administer the grant program and agencies must report how the grant money will be used. To ensure transparency, PCCD will be required to issue a report that includes the total number of agencies that applied for the grant program, total number of agencies that received a grant, and a summary of how each agency will use the grant money awarded. 

“Pennsylvania currently has over 1,200 vacant police positions across the state,” said Mastriano. “This means less officers on the streets to prevent violent crimes, less resources for drug interdiction, and less opportunities for relationship building with members of the community. Compounding the issue of recruitment and retention is the rise in violent crime in Pennsylvania. Our commonwealth has had the third highest increase in violent crimes in the entire nation since 2019. To make matters worse, the proliferation of deadly drugs such as fentanyl continues to take lives. SB 1193 will ensure that agencies across the commonwealth have the resources needed to properly serve their communities and save lives.”

The bill will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

Media Contact: Josh Herman

Mastriano Votes to Protect Women’s Sports from Transgender Athletes

Harrisburg – The Senate approved legislation that protects the integrity of women’s sports, Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) announced today.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act states that school athletic teams designated for women should not be open to those of the male sex. The bill defines “sex” as the biological distinction between male and female, based on reproductive biology and genetic make-up.

The bill was introduced earlier this year after concerns grew about preserving the increased athletic opportunities female students have gained over the past half century in this country.

Earlier Tuesday, advocates for women’s sports rallied in the Capitol with lawmakers and others to encourage passage of Senate Bill 1191 and companion legislation, House Bill 972. June 23 will mark the 50th anniversary of enactment of Title IX, which guaranteed girls and women equal access to scholastic sports. 

Mastriano provided remarks on the Senate floor in support of SB 1191. 

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence,” said Mastriano. “While it may be inconvenient to acknowledge, it is a FACT that biological men have a clear unfair advantage over women in athletic competition. The Journal of Medical Ethics recently published a study concluding that transgender athletes born male have an “intolerable,” or overwhelming, advantage over biological women in athletic competition. These biological facts are indisputable and the discrepancies between the two sexes has been very apparent in athletic completion. In our own state, we have a Penn swimmer who went from 467th competing against males to first place when competing against females in the 500-yard freestyle NCAA Championships. SB 1191 will prohibit male students from participating in athletic teams or sports that are designed for women or girls.”

The bill will now advance to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Media Contact: Josh Herman





Senate Approves Mastriano’s Poll Watcher Empowerment Act

Harrisburg – The State Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) that would ensure poll watchers can properly safeguard the integrity of Pennsylvania’s election process.

Senate Bill 573 – the Poll Watcher Empowerment Act – would allow all registered voters of Pennsylvania to be eligible to be a poll watcher in any precinct in the state of Pennsylvania.

The bill also ensures poll watchers can clearly observe the pre-canvassing and counting of all ballots. This includes having clear line of sight to observe the process within six feet or less.

Under the bill, candidates from all political parties could also increase the number of eligible poll watchers at a precinct from two watchers to three watchers.

In addition, Mastriano’s bill would stiffen penalties against any election official who blocks, impedes, or otherwise intimidates a poll watcher while performing his or her official duties on Election Day.

“Transparency is the key to rebuilding trust in our election system, and that starts with ensuring all parties have a fair opportunity to view the vote-counting process,” Mastriano said. “We saw numerous problems in previous elections where poll watchers were denied access to a polling place even with a legal certificate. We also saw issues where poll watchers were so far away from the ballot pre-canvassing process that they were forced to use binoculars. That is simply unacceptable. Improving transparency in the election process is something we should all welcome.”

Mastriano emphasized that his bill would not change any duties, powers or responsibilities of poll watchers and does not permit voter intimidation of any kind.

Senate Bill 573 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Media Contact: Josh Herman

Mastriano to introduce term limits for school board members and increase transparency at meetings

Harrisburg – Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) announced his plans to introduce legislation that will reform school boards across Pennsylvania and improve transparency.

Mastriano’s bill will stipulate that all school board members in Pennsylvania will be limited to no more than three “four-year” terms. Currently, school board members can run for an unlimited number of terms.

“Long-serving school board members have ‘name ID’ and often financial advantages at the local election level, making it difficult for new candidates and parents of children in school to have a chance to win a seat”, said Mastriano. “The implementation of term limits will promote diverse ideas and perspectives that come from new and energetic candidates. Sixteen other states currently have some form of term limits for school board members.”

The legislation will also address transparency standards for school board meetings. Any board subcommittees or executive sessions will need to mirror the same agenda notification requirements as a regular meeting of the board.

Additionally, prior to each regular school board meeting, board members will be required to include an internet link with further information as a part of any meeting agenda that includes discussion or votes on the following items:

  • Budget/Financial
  • Textbooks
  • School Library Books
  • Curriculum/Course Syllabus 

“It’s important that taxpayers and parents can view and submit comments/questions in response to agenda items for all executive sessions, subcommittees, and regular meetings”, said Mastriano. “Transparency is key to ensuring that all parents have a seat at the table and can make their voice heard on issues that impact their children.”

Media Contact: Josh Herman

Mastriano Provides Statement on Wolf’s Bridge Tolling Plan

HARRISBURG – Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) released the following statement after the Commonwealth Court decided to halt PennDOT’s plan to toll nine bridges throughout Pennsylvania:

“I`m very pleased that the court has issued a preliminary injunction to stop Governor Wolf’s major bridge tolling scheme.  PennDOT was planning to move forward with few details about how expensive these tolls were going to be and without approval from the General Assembly. The P3 process needs to be reformed and that’s why I supported legislation last year that would provide a fixed notice requirement, a public comment period, and stronger oversight by the General Assembly.

“With out-of-control inflation, PA families are already struggling to pay bills and feed their families. Now, Wolf wants to compound those struggles by adding a new fee for commuters. This has been a constant theme throughout his entire tenure. To make matters worse, PennDOT is planning to contract with an international conglomerate to oversee the bridge construction and repairs. We should only be supporting American companies for our infrastructure projects.

“I was one of the few Senators to vote ‘no’ on the confirmation of PennDOT Secretary Yasmin Gramian because she would not commit to a statewide freeze on toll hikes. More tolls and fees are not the answer to our PennDOT funding problem. We need to ensure that the money that already goes to the Motor License fund can only be allocated to road and bridge maintenance.”

Media Contact: Josh Herman