Senator Mastriano E-Newsletter

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In this Update:

  • Vietnam Veterans Day Service
  • Mastriano Introduces Bill to Divest PA from Chinese Communist Party; Treasurer Garrity Announces Support for Divestment Plan
  • Senate Approves Mastriano Bill to Increase Number of Firefighters in PA
  • Senate Committee Approves Mastriano Bill to Help Veterans’ Families Access Burial Benefits
  • Bill Requiring Prosecutors to Notify ICE of Illegal Migrants Passes Senate
  • Senate Approves Bill Prioritizing Community Safety
  • Beware of E-ZPass Scam
  • Increasing Student Safety, Eliminating Vehicle Owner Fee
  • April is National Financial Literacy Month

Vietnam Veterans Day Service

Mastriano Introduces Bill to Divest PA from Chinese Communist Party; Treasurer Garrity Announces Support for Divestment Plan

In an effort to combat the influx of fentanyl into Pennsylvania communities and take a stand against moral transgressions, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) today introduced a bill to divest all commonwealth holdings in companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Pennsylvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity also announced support for the plan to divest all holdings in Chinese companies.

“Due to serious concerns about geopolitical risk involving China, as well as the country’s record of serious human rights abuses, I directed my investment team to divest all of Treasury’s holdings in China in the first half of 2022,” Garrity said. “I believe it would be smart to do the same across all Commonwealth funds, and I applaud Senator Mastriano for introducing this legislation.”

“The CCP has used force and aggression to commit genocide against Uyghur Muslims, methodically erode self-rule in Hong Kong, weaken democracy in Taiwan, and abuse basic human rights in Tibet. Here in Pennsylvania, much of the fentanyl that has killed tens of thousands of our citizens is manufactured in China. The CCP knows this and has refused to take measures to stop its production and export. It is far past time to take a moral stand and separate our state funds from companies controlled by the CCP.”

Senate Bill 1141 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. 

“We want our two public pension systems – SERS and PSERS – to enhance their earnings, but not by investing in companies that benefit a regime that routinely commits human rights violations,” Mastriano said.

Chinese President Xi 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 2023 released a report assessing human rights concerns in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

According to the DEA, much of the fentanyl that has killed Pennsylvanians in the ongoing opioid epidemic was manufactured in China.

This bill has been introduced and sent to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

Senate Approves Mastriano Bill to Increase Number of Firefighters in PA

The state Senate Monday approved my bill, SB1101, aimed at increasing the number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania by reforming the certification process.

“The bill would make it easier for firefighters to earn their certification while maintaining the high standards and requirements of the certification process,” said Mastriano, who serves as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. “We can increase the number of volunteer firefighters by reforming the certification process without jeopardizing quality or safety.”

Pennsylvania in the 1970s had as many as 300,000 volunteer firefighters. There currently are fewer than 38,000 volunteer firefighters in the commonwealth.

Current firefighter applicants must complete four training modules totaling 188 hours. They then must pass a cumulative test covering all four modules.

Senate Bill 1101 would reform the certification process by enabling applicants to be tested following each of the four modules.

“If we want the same highly trained and qualified volunteer firefighters and we want more of them in our communities, my bill is a way to accomplish that,” Mastriano said. “If Pennsylvania is going to reverse the trend of declining numbers of volunteer firefighters, we need to reform the certification process. Many communities need more volunteer firefighters and this is a step to make that possible.”

My bill now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

To view my floor remarks, please click here. 4/8/24 Firefighter One on Vimeo

Senate Committee Approves Mastriano Bill to Help Veterans’ Families Access Burial Benefits

The state Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Tuesday at a meeting approved three measures, including one bill to alert the family members of deceased veterans about federal burial benefits.

“Our veterans took care of us and our country while they were alive, so we want to take care of their families when they pass away,” Mastriano said.

The committee approved my bill, Senate Bill 1139, which would require funeral directors, funeral parlors or cemetery companies to notify the director of the county veterans assistance office when a veteran living in the county dies. They also would have to provide the deceased veteran’s family with contact information for the county director The goal is to ensure veterans’ family members become aware of federal Department of Veterans Affairs burial benefits.

“Our veterans earned their burial benefits by serving our nation,” Mastriano said. “Burial benefits are one of the final ways our nation can show appreciation to our veterans. Fostering communication between surviving family members, funeral directors and county directors of veterans affairs offices will ensure the family gains access to the veteran’s records and the veteran receives a proper farewell.”

The committee also approved Senate Bill 973, which is modeled after the federal Korean American Vietnam Allies Long Overdue Relief (VALOR) Act. The bill would create the Pennsylvania Korean VALOR Act and grant the same rights, benefits and privileges of United States military veterans to any Pennsylvania resident who is both a Vietnam War veteran of the Korean armed forces and a naturalized citizen of the United States.

There are more than 3,000 naturalized Korean American citizens who served in the Vietnam War as part of the Korean armed forces. Hundreds of these veterans, who fought alongside U.S. military forces, reside in Pennsylvania.

“The president signed into law the Korean American VALOR Act in 2023,” Mastriano said. “This federal law – and the state equivalent we are advancing – offers long-overdue benefits to allies who fought alongside American veterans.”

The third measure approved by the committee – Senate Resolution 263 – was introduced by Mastriano and would signal the Senate’s support and encouragement for the Pennsylvania National Guard to enter a partner agreement with Sweden through the U.S. State Partnership Program.

“The National Guard Bureau is looking for a state national guard to partner with Sweden through the U.S. State Partnership Program, and I believe the Pennsylvania National Guard should pursue this opportunity,” Mastriano said. “Pennsylvania National Guard has enjoyed a successful relationship with Lithuania for more than three decades. The partnership with Sweden could strengthen our Pennsylvania National Guard by enabling members to train in unique environments and scenarios while fostering mutual growth and security.”

To view my remarks on SB263, please click here. 4/10/24 – Remarks on Senate Resolution 263 on Vimeo

All three bills now head to the full Senate for consideration.

Bill Requiring Prosecutors to Notify ICE of Illegal Migrants Passes Senate

The Senate approved legislation that would require prosecutors across the state to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whenever illegal migrants are charged with violating state law. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Currently in Pennsylvania, violations of state law by illegal migrants are not required to be reported to ICE, but Senate Bill 1127 would ensure illegal migrants who violate our laws are held accountable. The change will better safeguard our communities and protect Pennsylvania’s law-abiding citizens.

Earlier this year, two NYPD officers were assaulted in broad daylight by illegal migrants. Several of the offenders had been previously arrested but not reported to ICE and were released back on the streets. The shocking crime prompted New York City Mayor Eric Adams to call for ICE to be informed when illegal migrants have been charged with violations of state law.  

Senate Approves Bill Prioritizing Community Safety

The Senate passed legislation this week to strengthen the bail determination process for dangerous individuals: repeat violent offenders, drug dealers trafficking fentanyl and those who assault law enforcement officers or evade arrest on foot.

Senate Bill 1120 would only allow cash bail to be used and ban release on own recognizance or unsecured bail from being issued to those who pose a threat to public safety while they await trial. The bill is part of the Senate Republican effort to improve community safety across Pennsylvania as an average of 14 Pennsylvanians die every day from a drug overdose. It now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and approximately 50 times more potent than heroin. Two milligrams of fentanyl – the amount that fits on the tip of a pencil – is enough to kill an average person.

Beware of E-ZPass Scam

A new phishing scam is targeting E-ZPass account holders requesting information to settle outstanding toll amounts. The texts claim to be from “Pa Turnpike Toll Services” and center around urgent requests with your account that would result in a late fee if the balance does not get settled. Similar scams have been reported by toll agencies across the country in the past several days.

Customers who receive an unsolicited text, email or similar message suggesting it is from E-ZPass or another toll agency should not click the link. E-ZPass account holders can use approved safe methods to check their accounts such as the PA Turnpike E-ZPass website or the PA Toll Pay app available from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

Those who receive a fraudulent text can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at The site is dedicated to sharing information on internet crimes across law enforcement agencies.

Increasing Student Safety, Eliminating Vehicle Owner Fee

As a result of action taken by Senate Republicans, students will be safer on their journey to and from school. Because of legislation now in effect, school districts may install and operate automated camera systems on school buses to capture violations committed by motorists.

Violations identified by the camera system will be reviewed by police under agreement with the school district. After that review, the school district may issue a violation and a $300 fine to the vehicle owner. These violations are civil penalties only and no points will be assessed to driver’s licenses.

Vehicle owners may request a hearing before a PennDOT hearing office, at no cost to the vehicle owner, if they feel they are innocent. Before the passage of the legislation, the vehicle owner was responsible for paying applicable civil filing fees.

April is National Financial Literacy Month

In April, we recognize National Financial Literacy Month, a time to celebrate work being done to improve the knowledge that helps people achieve their money-focused goals.

Senate Republicans recognized that young adults face financial decisions that can come with long-term consequences and passed legislation to arm high school students with money management skills. The new law requires completion of a half-credit personal finance course to graduate high school.

The course will give high school students the understanding they need about topics like credit and credit scores; savings and investments; college, home and auto loans; and planning for postsecondary education and retirement.


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