– State Representative Aaron Kaufer announced today that he will be hanging up his orange tie and will not seek reelection to the state House. Kaufer has served the residents of the 120th District since taking office in 2015.
“I am truly grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve our community over the past 10 years,” Kaufer said. “I’m proud of the work I’ve been able to get done and the relationships I have built with community members and elected officials throughout our area to achieve tangible and meaningful results for our community. When I started this journey, I knocked on over 18,000 doors throughout two different elections cycles and spoke with thousands of people across our community. Those are the people I fought for, day in and day out, and I think the results speak for themselves.”
While serving in the state House, Kaufer prioritized improving the quality of life of the families he served and constituent services, including advocacy for veterans and small businesses, as well as the first ever district office-based disability advocacy program in the state. He collaborated with local elected officials to bring hundreds of millions of state tax dollars back to the region to help important community projects, including paving hundreds of miles of state and local roads, the construction and rehabilitation of countless municipal and public works buildings, community parks, trails, and recreation projects, and was a staunch supporter of beautification efforts led by the Street Art Society of NEPA.
Among the efforts Kaufer highlighted as the most important of his tenure were: the removal of the Swoyersville Culm Bank; the formation of the Wyoming Area Regional Police Department and the transfer of the former Wyoming State Police Barracks to serve as the department’s headquarters; regionalization efforts through the West Side Council of Governments; generational investments in regional sewer infrastructure; the rehabilitation efforts in Keiper, Center Street, Kirby and Riverbend Parks; and the reopening of the former First Hospital as Wyoming Valley Behavioral Hospital.
In the Legislature, Kaufer fought to protect the working families and seniors of the Wyoming Valley by voting against broad-based tax increases, fighting to lower property taxes and utility rates, sponsoring legislation that would ban lawmakers from receiving gifts from lobbyists, and refusing costly per diems.
“As State Representative, I always strived to provide reform-focused leadership that would restore the public’s trust in state government,” Kaufer said. “Although I was not always successful, I refused to back down because my top priority was always the families I served. Being named the ‘most frugal legislator’ was an honor I will always cherish since it truly demonstrated the respect I have for the hard-working taxpayers I represent here at home.”
During his time in office, Kaufer held many important leadership roles. He founded and currently serves as the chairman of the powerful Northeast Republican Delegation (NERDs) and serves as the chairman of the Government Oversight Committee. He founded and co-chaired the Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Caucus. He also served as the chairman of the Tax Reform and Modernization Subcommittee and the Economic Recovery Task Force.
Kaufer had dozens of bills and resolutions signed into law. One of his first major legislative achievements was the passage of bipartisan welfare reform legislation, signed into law by then Governor Tom Wolf, which saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by preventing people from collecting welfare benefits in multiple states. His material study resolution ensured the materials used on our roads and bridges were appropriate for the region’s harsh winters. He also sponsored and passed legislation to perform a safety study ensuring appropriate staffing to make state corrections officers safer across the Commonwealth.
Kaufer has been at the forefront in addressing issues related to behavioral health and the opioid epidemic and was recognized nationally for his advocacy. He sponsored several bills on the topic which were signed into law, including one to alleviate the shortage of detoxification beds, ensuring those patients looking for help receive it immediately. Likewise, his mental health parity law ensured those dealing with these critical issues will have access to programs which they are already paying for in their health insurance policy and get the help they need.
During the height of the pandemic, his policies allowed for business owners to collect unemployment, and most recently, his legislation expanded the Property Tax and Rent Rebate program, which puts more money back in the pockets of seniors across our area.
“Aaron was a leader for northeast Pennsylvania and our caucus on jobs and innovation that will serve us well into the future,” said Republican Leader Bryan Cutler. “More importantly he was a great friend and ally in the House whose insights will be missed.”
Kaufer’s reputation as a problem solver and coalition builder is well known in Harrisburg. One of the many legacies he can be proud of is the way he worked in a bipartisan manner to bring different groups together to serve the public interest. A stalwart defender of injured people and crime victims, he brought together trial lawyers and law enforcement to allow crime victims’ access to relevant criminal investigative information in civil proceedings to ensure justice is served. Most notably, Kaufer worked across party lines to change state tax policy for the benefit of families in northeast Pennsylvania, bringing together the building trades and the natural gas industry to spark economic growth and create local jobs.
“Aaron’s focus on the working men and women of Pennsylvania, and particularly in our region, is beyond reproach,” said Tony Seiwell, International Representative for LiUNA. “His bipartisan advocacy has advanced prevailing wage for the first time in two decades and his advocacy for the passage of the bipartisan energy tax credit will bring thousands of jobs to Northeastern Pennsylvania, ensuring working men and women in our region will be paid more.”
“In politics, it’s rewarding to work with a legislator who is singularly focused on results and not on who gets the credit,” said George Stark, Director of External Affairs for Coterra Energy. “That’s who Aaron Kaufer is. His number one priority is delivering results for the people he serves in Luzerne County and for all Pennsylvanians.”
Kaufer’s leadership was well respected on both sides of the aisle, and he even emerged as the consensus pick to lead the institution as Speaker of the House prior to Mark Rozzi’s election, since Kaufer would have been able to secure votes from both sides of the aisle.
“Aaron has always understood the significance of what it means to govern,” said Democrat Leader Matt Bradford. “He was always willing to come to the table to make difficult decisions but was always very clear about where he stood and would never compromise his principles. His voice as a commonsense consensus builder will be missed in Harrisburg.”
“I ran for office to put people over politics and to lead by example,” Kaufer said. “I have fought to honor that pledge by holding the line on taxes, bringing meaningful reforms to Pennsylvania’s Legislature, and returning the focus of state government back to serving the residents of our great Commonwealth. Throughout my tenure, I have worked hard to be part of the solution and improve the lives of my constituents.
“I want to thank my staff, Ryan Pipan, Lea-Ann Hardwick, and Nick Fazio, as well as my former staff members, Lisa DeAngelo, Ted Ritsick, and Richard Adams,” Kaufer said. “They are truly the unsung heroes and have helped countless people in our community, and I could not have done my job without them. I also need to thank my family, especially my wife Annie and daughter Raya, for their support and for allowing me to serve, despite all the travel, long hours, and late nights.”
Kaufer will serve the remainder of his term, which expires November 30, 2024. He said he and his staff will continue to provide his constituents with the same level of service they have been able to rely on.
“My focus over the next year will remain on providing the best representation possible until my final day. I will continue to work hard advocating for my constituents and the communities I serve,” Kaufer said. “At this point of my life, I need to step away to focus on what’s most important in my life: my family. However, public service is my calling, so I’m not saying this is it for me forever, but this is all for now.”
Representative Aaron Kaufer
120th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Melissa Fox
RepKaufer.com / Facebook.com/RepKaufer