HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - After maintaining control of the Pennsylvania State Senate, Republicans proceeded this afternoon with announcing Senate leadership positions for the 2023-2024 legislative session. Republicans maintained control of the 50-seat State Senate with a 28-22 majority following last week’s election.  

Tuesday afternoon’s announcements highlighted key positions like interim Senate President, Majority Leader, Majority Whip, Appropriations Committee Chair, and more. 

State Senator Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) was unanimously elected to serve as interim Senate President Pro Tempore from Dec. 1 until Jan. 2. After that duration, Ward will serve as President Pro Tempore for the new two-year legislative session, pending a likely affirmative vote from her Senate colleagues. The position is the third-highest post in Pennsylvania government and Ward makes history as the first woman elected to serve that role. She previously served as Senate Majority Leader and was also the first female Majority Leader in either chamber of the General Assembly.  

With Ward’s move, Sen. Joe Pittman (R-Armstrong/Butler/Indiana/Westmoreland) will now serve as the new Majority Leader. Additional leaders announced today include Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) who will serve as Senate Majority Whip, Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) will serve as the Appropriations Committee Chair, Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) will serve as Caucus Chair, and Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Beaver/Washington/Greene) will serve as Caucus Secretary. 

The new Senate Republican leadership team addressed different priorities for next session like voter ID, and improving the economy. Sen. Ward also discussed working in a bipartisan manner with Democratic Governor-elect, Josh Shapiro. She says the Senate has proven its ability to address the needs of Pennsylvanians in a bipartisan manner under the current administration, and believes the upper chamber will continue to do so under the next governor. 

“I think we have done that. We have a record of doing that. For the past couple of years, we've got some really, really big things done. We got record education funding, we have a decreased corporate net income tax. Those are big moves for Pennsylvania,” said Ward. “We have made great moves during COVID, we have changed some things and done the best we can, and we've done it in a bipartisan manner. And we need to all acknowledge that, and we need to continue to work in that manner,” she added.  

State Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) weighed in and is also confident with his party’s leadership team for next year. 

“I think we have a really solid leadership team right now. We're going to try and run the state of Pennsylvania in a in a bipartisan fashion and try and move bills that are impactful to our constituents,” said Laughlin. “The cost of gas, cost of groceries, cost of education, and what we can do to help Pennsylvania, the people that live here, and also try to make it attractive to businesses,” Laughlin added as he listed additional priorities. 

This afternoon’s announcement by Senate Republicans comes at a time where the balance of power in the lower chamber is still undetermined. Two yet-to-be-called races in southeastern Pennsylvania will determine whether Republicans keep their House majority or if Democrats will take control for the first time in over a decade.