Pa. Senate elects Ward as president pro tempore, announces 2023-24 leadership

The Senate will vote on Jan. 3 to appoint a president pro tempore for the new two-year legislative session

By: - November 15, 2022 3:12 pm
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Sen. Kim Ward will serve as the next interim Senate president pro tempore, making her the first woman appointed to the third-highest post in the state’s government.

Ward, R-Westmoreland, was unanimously elected Tuesday by the GOP-controlled upper chamber. She replaces retiring Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, leaving her current post as majority leader on Dec. 1 to serve in the interim role until Jan. 2.

The Senate will vote on Jan. 3 to appoint a president pro tempore for the new two-year legislative session.

In a statement, Ward said she is eager to work together to “chart a path forward” and advocate “for all Pennsylvanians and their families by putting the principles and respect for this institution and our commonwealth above all.”

The Senate president pro tempore is second in the gubernatorial line of succession, following the lieutenant governor. The post also holds responsibility for appointing committee chairpersons and members of the Senate’s 22 standing committees. The individual also serves as an ex-officio member of all committees and presides over the chamber when the lieutenant governor is unavailable.

Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, was elected as the next Senate majority leader, who oversees the legislative agenda and develops policies and strategies for the Republican Caucus.

“I am flattered to have the support of my colleagues and am committed to advancing a positive, pro-growth agenda for the citizens of this entire commonwealth,” Pittman said in a statement.

Senate Republicans also announced their leadership team for the 2023-24 legislative session:

  • Sen. Ryan Aument, R-Lancaster, was elected majority whip.
  • Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, will chair the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, will serve as majority caucus chair.
  • Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington, was elected Senate majority caucus secretary.

Speaking on the Senate floor after the vote, Ward celebrated efforts to support Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 pandemic, make investments in education, and establish an election grant program for counties.

She also applauded voters’ approval of a Republican-authored constitutional amendment during the May 2021 primary election that curtailed Gov. Tom Wolf and future governors of some emergency response powers.

“Together, we have done big things for Pennsylvania, and they should be acknowledged in the bipartisan manner in which they were achieved,” Ward said. “It is proof we can be diverse and unified at the same time and a kind of reminder of the work we must continue to do on behalf of our commonwealth [and] its citizens.”

The Senate Democrats also elected their new leadership team for the 2023-24 legislative session, with Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, retaining his post.

Other leadership members include:

  • Sen. Christine Tartaglione, D-Philadelphia, will serve as caucus whip.
  • Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, will serve as the Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • Sen. Tim Kearney, D-Delaware, will serve as vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, will serve as caucus chair.
  • Sen. Maria Collett, D-Montgomery, will serve as caucus secretary.
  • Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, will serve as administrator.

“I am excited about the work before us, and I am honored to be leading the Democratic caucus as we continue to deliver for Pennsylvania’s families,” Costa said. “Let’s get it done.”

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Marley Parish
Marley Parish

A Pennsylvania native, Marley Parish covers the Senate for the Capital-Star. She previously reported on government, education and community issues for the Centre Daily Times and has a background in writing, editing and design. A graduate of Allegheny College, Marley served as editor of the campus newspaper, where she also covered everything from student government to college sports.

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