Meet Ryan Bizzarro: Legislator, Advocate, and Fighter for the People
Rep. Ryan Bizzarro is an award-winning legislator, sworn in on Jan. 1, 2013, to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He proudly represents the 3rd Legislative District in Erie County.
A lifelong Erie County resident, Bizzarro developed a strong work ethic at a young age while serving at his grandfather’s restaurant, The Ringside. He also learned early on how to be a fighter, surviving childhood leukemia.
After receiving his master’s degree, Bizzarro embarked on a career of public service, working for Erie County as a victim/witness coordinator and advocate for the Office of the Erie County District Attorney and the Crime Victim Center. His decision to run for the legislature – and his efforts since being elected – are natural outgrowths of his strong determination to serve the people of Erie.
House Democrats appointed Bizzarro to the House Democratic Leadership team for the 2021-22 Legislative Session, helping guide the caucus to its first return to the majority in more than a decade following the 2022 election cycle. After more than a decade in the minority, the House Democratic Caucus held a tenous 102-101 majority in 2023, but it has responded by passing more than 150 bills during its first six months in the majority.
Appointed to House Democratic Policy Committee Chairman, he has traveled across the state with the committee, raising awareness on big-topic issues and emerging concerns - allowing representatives to listen and question experts during hearings and roundtable discussions. He created subcommittees - Progressive Policies for Working People and Labor, Energy and Development - to help examine more issues.
Under Bizzarro's leadership, he conducted the first Bipartisan Policy Committee hearing in recent history. In the wake of the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, state lawmakers heard from residents negatively affected by the derailment and its aftermath. The committee explored ways to improve rail safety in the state, a Policy event that ultimately led to passage of a bipartisan bill in the House to improve rail safety. He also spearheaded a statewide tour by the House Majority Leadership team and House Majority Policy Committee of public schools during the summer of 2023 to demand increased and fair funding in the wake of the passage of the budget.
In 2022, City & State named him to PA's 2022 Pennsylvania Forty Under 40, a list detailing Pennsylvania's difference makers and leaders. He secured more than $300,000 for his local police department and his local fire department to purchase vehicles designed to help save lives of residents, law enforcement and firefighters.
In 2022, he also introduced his Beagle Bills, to help end needless animal testing and cruelty. He helped drive awareness for the legislation by hosting a reunion of some of the 50 beagles an Erie animal shelter, ANNA, helped find homes for following the seizure of nearly 4,000 beagles from a testing facility in Virginia.
Bizzarro is passionate about animal rights and authored Libre’s Law – the state’s landmark animal cruelty legislation that ensures that animal abusers face tougher punishments. In 2017 – the year Libre’s Law was signed into effect – Bizzarro was named National Legislator of the Year by the Humane Society of the United States (2016).
He is a staunch advocate for veterans’ rights and treatment courts, and he authored the original bill that raised awareness and ultimately led to a bill that helped Pennsylvania create veterans' treatment courts in the 50 Pennsylvania counties where they did not exist before passage of the law.
He has also introduced legislation that would:
- protect seniors’ health and well-being;
- expand community paramedicine to improve the health of Pennsylvanians while also relieving burdened emergency rooms;
- provide for more equal representation for people with disabilities at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation;
- make voting easier and more inclusive through same-day voter registration; and
- establish the Pennsylvania First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account, allowing first-time homebuyers to claim a state tax deduction for certain savings.
Before being appointed to the House Democratic Leadership team, he previously served as chief deputy House whip, and vice chairman of the Northwest Delegation. Additional positions previously held include vice chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee; Democratic secretary of the House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee; and as a member of the House Consumer Affairs, Insurance and Judiciary committees as well as the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts.
Alongside his committee assignments, Bizzarro has also been appointed to the Climate Change Advisory Committee, which is tasked to establish and review Pennsylvania’s official action plan to combat climate change. He also sits on the Pennsylvania Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, examining existing technical regulations and policies for the oil and gas industry.
Bizzarro has been recognized for his service by several groups and organizations locally and nationally. Awards include the Erie Reader 40 Under 40 (2013), Edinboro University’s Honored Alumnus of the Year (2014), Humane Society Legislator of the Year (2016), Pennsylvania Snowmobile Association Legislator of the Year (2018), and Best of Erie’s Best Politician in the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 (the category was removed in 2018); and the Pennsylvania Society of Oncology and Hematology's 2020 Legislator of the Year.
As a legislator, Bizzarro has earned respect from Democrats and Republicans alike for his ability to come to the table and work across party lines to get the job done. He is known for his strong leadership, forward-thinking strategies, detailed execution and practice of putting people first before politics. His efforts to promote public-private partnerships and a strong dedication to protecting government budgets from fraud and waste have guided many of Bizzarro’s bills in the Pennsylvania House. In his first term, Bizzarro sponsored legislation, which later became law, that created a successful public-private partnership, allowing third parties to partner with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation to administer driver’s license examinations and services throughout the Commonwealth.
Bizzarro graduated from Edinboro University with degrees in political science and criminal justice, and from Gannon University with a master’s degree in public administration. In addition to his work in criminal justice, he has served as a behavioral health specialist at Erie’s Public Schools, and has worked in business development for the Erie County Convention Center Authority.