HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania has its first woman Supreme Court Chief Justice, Debra Todd; its first woman speaker of the house, Joanna McClinton; its first woman Pro Temp of the Senate, Kim Ward. And this week, a first-of-its-kind breast cancer bill moved through the senate.
abc27’s Dennis Owens spoke with the bill’s author State Senator Kim Ward (R), who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020.
Ward had breast cancer, but couldn’t have two tests done because doctors initially declined to perform them.
“But I was able to fix that. Because I was able to fix that, because I can call people and I know people to call, but not every woman can do that. Most women can’t do it, and every woman should be able to get the proper testing for breast cancer,” Ward added.
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, which prompted Senate Bill 8, legislation that would require insurance companies to pay for genetic screening and MRIs for high-risk women with no out-of-pocket costs, a first of its kind in the nation.
“It affects mothers, daughters, cousins, sisters, granddaughters. Kiki, I’m a kiki grandma and it’s just so important to women across the commonwealth,” Ward said.
The bill unanimously passed the Senate Appropriations and Banking & Insurance committees.
The two most powerful people in the building are the new Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton and Senate Pro Temp Ward, who calls McClinton a genuinely nice lady who she looks forward to working with.
“This term, with the split government, you’re going to see things down the middle to help people. You’re not going to see a lot of ideological bills passed. It’s just not going to happen,” said Ward.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro is set to deliver his first budget address next week.
Pennsylvania currently has surpluses in the billions. Democrats want to spend it. Republicans don’t.
“We’re still below where we should be on our rainy day fund, and that money is not fun money, right, where we just go out and spend wherever we want. We have to be responsible because things are going to change in the economy,” Ward said.
And Ward fears the changes won’t be good.
“I think it’s coming. I think we’re going to see high unemployment again. I believe it’s coming and I think we need to be ready,” she said.
McClinton called for collegiality in the State House, but Ward says, for the most part, the Senate already has it.
“You don’t see us smacking each other around, you’re not going to see that. But I do see some of that in the house, which is very disheartening because I don’t know how you function in a body if you’re going to act like that,” Ward said.
Ward and the rest of the legislature are not in wait-and-see mode, but wait-and-hear mode as they wait until Tuesday’s budget address to hear what Governor Shapiro’s priorities are.