HARRISBURG, March 16 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, announced that the members of the PLBC strongly supported today's House passage of an amended version of S.B. 3, which would permit the use of various forms of marijuana for medical treatment upon a doctor's prescription. "This is a crucial step with potential health benefits for many residents, especially children, who may have no other medical options to treat their illnesses," Brown said. The bill which passed today included four amendments authored by PLBC members: A6000, authored by Rep. Margo Davidson, added sickle cell anemia to the list of diseases that would be treatable with medical marijuana; A6004, authored by Rep. Ed Gainey, would require the state Department of Health to establish diversity guidelines with respect to employment opportunities in the industry; A6121, authored by Rep. Jake Wheatley, would prohibit a medical marijuana dispensary to be located within 1,000 feet of a public, private or parochial school or day care center unless the dispensary is also located within a designated Keystone Opportunity Zone; and A6124, also authored by Wheatley, would prohibit the establishment of a medical marijuana grower/processor within 1,000 feet of a public, private or parochial school or day care center unless the grower/processor is also located within a designated Keystone Opportunity Zone in Pittsburgh. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Vanessa Brown addresses the House Appropriations Committee about increasing funding or funding protection for programs she would like included in the budget including the Human Relations Commission, Board of Pardons, early childhood education, higher education for the disadvantaged, and Sickle Cell treatment. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Vanessa Brown spoke at the multi-agency celebration of Black History Month. Brown talked about all the contributions African-Americans have made to improve the world and encouraged the audience to go out and do the same. Read more
Forms for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program for the 2015 tax year are available at my district office – and my staff is ready to help you file yours for free ! The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2015 and meet all other eligibility criteria. The oft-extended deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2015 is June 30, 2016, and the rebates normally are distributed by the Deparment of Revenue beginning July 1. So, the sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your money. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown thanks the House of Representatives for their unanimous support of a resolution designating February 2016 as Black History Month. Brown is the Chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. Read more
PACE, PACENET and PACE plus Medicare are Pennsylvania's prescription assistance programs for older adults, offering low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older. As of this year, the legislature passed a law excluding Social Security Medicare Part B premiums from being counted towards income levels. Read more
Pennsylvania has a Children's Health Insurance Program that provides free and low-cost health insurance to children. CHIP is not welfare – it covers children of working parents whose employers don't offer coverage and who can't afford private insurance. If you can't afford health insurance for your children, chances are they are eligible for CHIP. Read more
Each year, the Pennsylvania Treasury receives millions of dollars of unclaimed property. It is estimated that roughly one in 10 Pennsylvanians has unclaimed property. Read more
In Pennsylvania, you can choose the company that generates your electricity – also known as your electric supplier. This means that you have the power to switch to a competing supplier who can offer the lowest price, or provide a specific service you want, such as “green” or renewable energy. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown speaks against a measure that would withhold police officers' names when they are involved in a shooting. Brown says that it's not clear how many people the bill would actually help, that there are no clear cases of this being a problem and that the bill is incomplete in how it would be enforced. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown is joined by hundreds of students to demand the Commonwealth do more to help Cheyney University – America’s oldest historically Black institution of higher education – as it struggles to survive in a time of budget crisis and faltering student enrollment. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 26 – Following the announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with the Cleveland Police Department over officer conduct, state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and its membership expressed optimism on behalf of the city, its residents, and the family and friends of the victims. The results of the settlement are expected to be announced sometime this week and come just days after a Cleveland police officer was found not guilty in the 2012 fatal shooting of two unarmed, black occupants inside a car. The acquittal prompted protests in the city. "While the judge’s ruling went for the police officer, which outraged many people in the city of Cleveland, we all must remember that all lives matter," Brown said. "The PLBC emphasizes its faith and optimism in hearing the results of the settlement and that the issues with the Cleveland Police Department will be addressed by the DOJ with its decree. "The PLBC truly remains committed to finding real solutions to the issues that plague our cities and minority populations. With the many injustices that have occurred across the nation involving law enforcement, we must take a proactive approach to prevent similar incidents from happening in Pennsylvania. It is important and necessary that we build a bridge between the public and law enforcement to create a level of trust that Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 13 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., has announced her 190th Legislative District Image Awards event, scheduled for this Saturday, has been postponed until Saturday, June 27. The event will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 27, at the Christian Stronghold Church 4701 Lancaster Ave., Philadelphia. "I will be honoring nearly 200 women at this event," Brown said. "Unfortunately, the original date did not work for a large number of honorees, so a new date has been selected. I want to be able to honor as many recipients in person as possible, so the new date gives them six weeks to clear their schedules." About 190 local women who have been active in the community were nominated and will receive certificates acknowledging their contributions to the city. This year’s honorees come from all walks of life and careers, from pastors and educators to municipal workers and community volunteers. The winners are cited under various categories; among them are: integrity, strength, wisdom, courage and humanity. For more information, contact Brown's constituent service office at 215-879-6615 . ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 7 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., will host the 190 th Legislative District Image Awards from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 16, at the Christian Stronghold Church 4701 Lancaster Ave., Philadelphia. The theme of this year’s awards ceremony is “Women working together for change.” “I am proud to have this opportunity to honor local women for their efforts in our community every day,” Brown said. “Too many times, the real heroes who are fighting every day to make our neighborhoods a better place get overlooked when it is time to say, 'Thank you!'” The Mission Statement for the awards is “To recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of African American Women living in the 190 th Legislative District located in West and parts of North Philadelphia.” Approximately 190 local women who have been active in the community were nominated and will receive certificates acknowledging their contributions to the city. This year’s honorees come from all walks of life and careers, from pastors and educators to municipal workers and community volunteers. The winners are cited under various categories; among them are: integrity, strength, wisdom, courage and humanity. ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 5 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., and the Coalition for Life Equality held a news conference Monday at the Enterprise Center to discuss recent events in Baltimore surrounding the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Brown was joined at the podium by state Reps. Ronald G. Waters, D-Phila./Delaware and Mark Cohen, D-Phila; state Sen. Anthony Williams, the Rev. Robert Shine, president of the Pennsylvania Statewide Coalition of Black Clergy, Paula Peebles, president of the National Action Network of Pennsylvania, Rochelle Bilal, president of the Guardian Civic League, attorney Michael Coard and Rev. Dr. Steve Avinger, senior pastor, Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church, Philadelphia. "What we as a nation have come to clearly recognize following the days of Ferguson is that the level of trust between the community and police is virtually nonexistent or tenuous at best, particularly in communities of color," Brown said. "However, the protests, fervor and collective frustration that we all witnessed last week in Baltimore is the byproduct of something deeper than just a lack of trust. "What many in the city of Baltimore and other communities of color suffer from is an utter lack of investment and commitment by their local, statewide and federal governing bodies. "If we take nothing else away from the death of the late Mr. Gray, it should be that we explore the prospect Read more
HARRISBURG, April 29 – – As Baltimore begins the process of recovering from this week's destruction, state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and its membership expressed dismay on behalf of the city, its residents, and the family and friends of the late Freddie Gray. On Monday afternoon, following Gray's funeral, violence spread throughout the city, an unfortunate occurrence that overshadowed the message that peaceful protesters set out to convey to Baltimore and the entire nation: that black lives matter and are equally deserving of dignity and respect. "It really gives you a greater sense of perspective to see this happen so close to Pennsylvania," Brown said. "It is critically important that we look beneath the surface to determine what systemic issues are fueling such widespread outrage. The fact that a young man’s spine was severed while in police custody is on its face a matter of grave concern. However, what is clear is that it was not this incident alone that sparked Monday afternoon’s events; rather, it is the cumulative effect of the many injustices that have occurred across the nation involving law enforcement. "The PLBC is dedicated to finding real solutions to the issues that plague our cities and minority populations. It is imperative that we build a bridge between the public and law enforcement to create a level of trust that has been lacking Read more
On April 21, the House State Government Committee, on which I serve, met to vote on H.B. 153, which would reduce the size of the House from 203 members down to 151. The committee voted to report the bill as amended to the full House for further consideration. The bill passed the committee with NO Democratic votes, and for good reason. This bill and a related bill the committee also reported out as amended, H.B. 384, which would reduce the Senate from 50 to 37 members, sound like great ideas. Reduce legislators; reduce staff; reduce expenses. However, in the name of saving money, we would be undermining the key tenet of our democracy – local representation. Current population estimates count more than 12,700,000 Pennsylvanians. Under our current legislative system, one representative serves a district with an average population of about 62,500 people. Reducing the number of representatives to the targeted number of 151 would mean each representative would instead stand in for 85,000 Pennsylvanians. Each representative would be responsible for 33 percent more residents. On the Senate side, with the current 50 senators, each represents more than 250,000 residents. Yes, a quarter of a million residents per senator. Reducing the number of senators to 37 would increase a Senate district by about 90,000 residents. In other words, the legislation is asking us to give up local representation in an effort to save some money. I don't think the trade-off is a good Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 17 – State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, was thrilled with the turnout at the PLBC's second regional Know Your Rights Symposium held Thursday, April 16. More than 100 people attended the Philadelphia event, an occasion that provided the local community with an interactive opportunity to constructively discuss the subjects of basic legal rights and community/police relations. In addition to Brown, those who attended included PLBC members and state Reps. Louise Williams Bishop, D-Phila., and Ronald Waters, D-Phila. The centerpiece of the event was the evening’s panel discussion, which was comprised of local representatives from the law enforcement community, community-based organizations and legal/criminal defense fields. They included: • Lt. Beverly Pembrook, 16th Police District; • Nena Carter, Philadelphia Public Defenders Office; • Michael Coard, attorney and activist; • The Rev. Rodney Muhammad, president, Philadelphia NAACP; • Leon Goodman, attorney; • Debra Watson Stokes, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office; • Ronald G. Waters, state representative, 191st Legislative District; and • Joy Soto, Philadelphia Mayor’s Office, executive director of the Philadelphia Youth Commission. "We have all heard the horror stories about violence occurring between police and members of various communities," Read more
State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, announced the PLBC will sponsor a Know Your Rights Symposium from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at the Global Leadership Academy Charter School, 4701 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia. Another PLBC member, state Rep. Ronald Waters, D-Phila./Delaware, is expected to join Brown at the event. "We have all heard the horror stories about violence occurring between police and members of various communities," Brown said. "The goal of this event, and others planned around the state, is to inform citizens what their rights are and how to interact with police officers so that we don't have those incidents in Pennsylvania." The symposium will bring together representatives from the law enforcement community, including Philadelphia Police Capt. Altovise Love-Craighead and members of the legal/criminal defense field including Public Defender Charlie Cunningham, as well as members of the local religious community. "The symposium participants will discuss what rights citizens have, how law enforcement interprets those rights and how both sides can work toward a positive interaction," Brown said. "I expect both the law enforcement community and the general public will see the discussion as a way to develop a framework for better communication and understanding on both sides." ### Read more
The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, under direction of Chairwoman Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., met with leadership of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association last week to discuss legislative priorities for the next few years.
"This meeting was a great way to open dialogue between state prosecutors and the PLBC," Brown said. "Members of the PLBC have expressed concerns over a number of items that we brought forward in the meeting, including the state's grand jury process, use of a special prosecutor when law enforcement is involved in shooting incidents, gun owner rights and responsibilities, use of civil forfeiture for profit, and simplifying the process for criminal record expungement.""
Representing the PLBC, in addition to Brown, were Vice Chair Ed Gainey, PLBC and Democratic Caucus Secretary Rosita Youngblood, and state Reps. Michelle Brownlee, Jason Dawkins, Jordan Harris, Patty Kim and W. Curtis Thomas. Also attending were representatives from the offices of state Sens. Art Haywood and Shirley Kitchen.
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