Senator Mastriano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Remembering Operation Desert Storm 33 Years Later
  • New Legislation Proposes Fee Targeting Illegal Immigrants
  • Senate Continues Detailed Review of Shapiro’s Budget
  • Scholarship Grants Available for EMS Professionals
  • Find Lost Life Insurance Policies and Annuity Contracts
  • Supporting Agriculture, PA’s Top Industry
  • Celebrating “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Remembering Operation Desert Storm 33 Years Later

We remember the service and sacrifice of our citizens who faced a massive Iraqi Army 33 years ago this week.

The Iraqi Army had just come out of an eight-year war with Iran. Skilled in modern warfare and equipped with chemical weapons, the Iraqi forces were confident of victory.

It all began on Aug. 2, 1990, when Saddam Hussein ordered his army to invade and occupy Kuwait. President Herbert Walker Bush acted swiftly and ordered American forces into the region.

By January 1991, nearly 700,000 U.S. forces backed by 256,000 allied and coalition forces were in the region. My own higher headquarters, the U.S. VII Corps – then based out of Stuttgart, Germany – ordered 10,000 body bags in preparation for high casualties. My regiment, the 2nd Armored Cavalry, was selected to lead the main attack against Saddam Hussein’s elite guards.

Meanwhile, here in Pennsylvania, a spontaneous and massive prayer movement erupted. Twenty-four churches were praying for my squadron in the Second Army Cavalry Regiment.  Families at home showed support and solidarity by displaying yellow ribbons. It served as a symbol of hope to remind our brave service members of the strong support at home.

On Jan. 16, 1991, after failed peace negotiations, the air campaign began. A brilliant operation of more than 1,000 hours of aerial bombardment weakened the Iraqi forces in the Kuwait theater of operations.

Read the rest of my column about Operation Desert Storm by visiting my website.

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2/7/24 – Senator Mastriano – Desert Storm Event (

New Legislation Proposes Fee Targeting Illegal Immigrants

I announced plans this week with Sen. Chris Gebhard (R-48) to introduce legislation aiming to deter illegal immigration and generate new revenue for property tax and rent relief.

Illegal immigrants hurt Pennsylvania’s economy by sending money out of the United States and back to their country of origin. This fee would ensure some of that money is used to provide property tax relief rather than going to support the economy of a foreign nation.

The bill would impose a 10% fee on international remittances conducted by illegal immigrants who send money oversees through a money transfer licensee or agent.

Revenue generated through the new fee would be used to supplement the state Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, which provides rebates of up to $1,000 to eligible older adults and people with disabilities age 18 and older.

International remittances are money sent electronically out of the Pennsylvania economy and into the economies of international destinations. Illegal immigrants use remittances to send money to relatives and friends in their countries of origin. More than $70 billion is transferred annually from the United States to other nations.

The bill is based on a similar concept enacted in Oklahoma in 2014. That law includes a 1% remittance fee. The most recent tax report shows the fee generated more than $15 million for Oklahoma.

Learn more about our proposal by reading the rest of this article on my website.

Senate Continues Detailed Review of Shapiro’s Budget

Officials struggled to answer questions about Gov. Josh Shapiro’s broad higher education concepts and wide discrepancies in K-12 education funding during the Department of Education hearing with the Senate Appropriations Committee this week. He proposes increasing Basic Education spending by nearly $1.1 billion in his 2024-25 spending plan, but his proposed budget shows no increases in Basic Education funding after this year – raising concerns that the administration cannot pay for the billions of dollars in promised new education spending without raising taxes.

The hearing was one of a series held by the committee to analyze the governor’s proposed $48.3 billion 2024-25 state budget. His plan would boost state spending by more than $3.3 billion above the current year’s budget. It requires thoughtful consideration so tax dollars are spent wisely without eliminating the state’s Rainy Day Fund in five years as projections indicate would happen with Shapiro’s budget.

At the Department of Agriculture budget hearing, discussion included state efforts to combat avian influenza, farming education initiatives and the performance of tax credit programs for PA farmers. Concerns were also raised about Gov. Shapiro’s plan to legalize adult-use marijuana.

At the hearing for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), members discussed how to make the most efficient use of existing resources as both agencies have considerable reserves and the PGC’s budget increased from approximately $130 million in 2019-20 to approximately $350 million in 2024-25.

Thursday’s hearings include the Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Find the hearings schedule, livestreams of budget hearings, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at

Scholarship Grants Available for EMS Professionals

To recruit and retain emergency medical services (EMS) professionals, a tuition assistance program offers up to $5,000 for reimbursement of EMS state certification training for permanent Pennsylvania residents.

Up to $300 is available for emergency medical responders, up to $800 for emergency medical technicians, up to $1,000 for advanced emergency medical technicians and up to $5,000 for paramedics.

Pennsylvania-licensed EMS agencies are eligible to receive up to $1,250 of recruitment and retention expenses per fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). Reimbursement will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. Learn more.

Find Lost Life Insurance Policies and Annuity Contracts

Individuals who believe they are beneficiaries, executors or legal representatives of a family member or friend can locate lost life insurance policies and annuity contracts through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

When a request is received, the NAIC will give participating companies that have policy information access to respond to you as the designated beneficiary or if you are authorized to receive information. It will also allow participating companies to search their records to determine whether they have a life insurance policy or annuity contract in the name of the deceased person.

Access NAIC’s life insurance policy locator.

Supporting Agriculture, PA’s Top Industry

To bolster agriculture – the state’s top industry – $500,000 in grants is available to help Pennsylvania farms pursue growth opportunities. Funding will be used to benefit economic development, job creation and innovation.

The Farm Vitality Planning Grant Program will help fund professional services for those planning for the future of a farm. The program is designed to enhance the long-term vitality of Pennsylvania’s farms through sound business planning, efficient transitions of farm ownership, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production and building a team of financial and technical experts as a resource for the state’s farmers.

The maximum grant amount is $7,500 and is limited to 75% of project costs. Learn more about guidelines and how to apply.

Celebrating “The Star-Spangled Banner”

Sunday, March 3, is National Anthem Day. “The Star-Spangled Banner” shares a message of endurance and perseverance. Francis Scott Key originally wrote his poem during a naval attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. That battle was nearly lost.

It wasn’t until March 3, 1931, that President Herbert Hoover signed a law officially making the “The Star-Spangled Banner” our country’s national anthem.

Rather than commemorating victory, our national anthem highlights our ability to withstand attack. Today, we continue to raise our flag and refuse to be defeated.


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