HARRISBURG, April 19 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., introduced a bill to require state departments and agencies, elected row offices, and the General Assembly to craft language access plans to better serve Pennsylvania residents with a limited ability to speak or write in English. House Bill 1241 would require these language access plans to identify all languages spoken by at least 3 percent of the population they serve, and provide vital documents and informational materials in those languages. It also requires that oral, in-person interpretive services be provided in languages encountered at least weekly. “All Pennsylvanians should have equal access to their government,” Dawkins said. “Our departments and agencies cannot fulfill their missions if there are 500,000 people in the state they can’t communicate with. This is a matter of protecting our residents’ health, rights and well-being.” The bill would require state agencies to submit their language access plans to the secretary of administration, who would provide central coordination and technical assistance. The secretary also would make these plans available online for the public to review. In addition to entities under the authority of the governor, the attorney general, auditor general and treasurer as well as the state House and Senate would be required to publish and implement language access plans under the bill. “As the population of non-English Read more
HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., voiced his strong opposition to H.B. 741, which aims to revive mandatory minimum sentences for a number of drug-related offenses. The bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee today. "Bringing back mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses is bad policy, and the majority of the public supports putting this era behind us," Dawkins said. "We need to ensure that judges can use their discretion and expertise to best serve the public in each case that comes before their court, instead of making demands from Harrisburg." House Bill 741 seeks to revive mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes that were ruled unconstitutional in cases before both the Pennsylvania and U.S. supreme courts. It also would increase sentences for certain offenses. "We need to face head on the challenges that our communities face with drugs and addiction," Dawkins said. "Increasing the prison population and placing greater strain on the Commonwealth’s budget will only make it harder to deliver the solutions that our constituents are demanding." Dawkins has been a leader on criminal justice issues in the House, where he has spoken out against mandatory minimums and introduced legislation to bring needed reforms to the state’s sentencing laws. ### Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 10 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., testified today before Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on the Disabled and Persons with Special Needs about Pennsylvania’s Health Choices program. At the hearing, Dawkins spoke about the state Department of Human Services procurement process for managed-care organizations. "Between the initial RFP and today, the process has been plagued by litigation, cancelled awards, scoring errors and lack of transparency," Dawkins said. "I have two primary concerns with these developments. First, that they run counter to some of the early lessons we’ve learned through the roll-out of the Medicaid expansion. And second, that this saga demonstrates the urgent need for reform to the way our state conducts procurement." Dawkins expressed concern that the process could impact health outcomes for patients, and increase costs for taxpayers. He also called for reforms to the procurement process. "The opaque nature of the department's requirements and scoring process has been cause for significant concern. It has resulted in the process being interrupted and contested by numerous parties at multiple stages. And even at this late date, the awards are being questioned," Dawkins said. "I am also troubled by the role the Commonwealth’s policy towards small and diverse business enterprises played in this process. This was reportedly one of the metrics that Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 6 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., voiced his strong opposition to District Attorney Seth Williams’ decision to seek life without parole sentences in at least three cases with juvenile defendants. “Last year, District Attorney Williams did what was right, and announced that he would no longer pursue life without parole for those under 18 years old,” Dawkins said. “It is disheartening to see him go back on his word, and I condemn in the strongest terms his decision to revive a punishment the Supreme Court has called cruel and unusual.” In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The court later held in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its decision in Miller applied retroactively. Dawkins said as the courts began resentencing hearings, Williams announced that his office “will not be asking for cases going forward for life without the possibility of parole for people under the age of 18” in order “to give all of these individuals some light at the end of the tunnel.” “I hope that the district attorney returns to his original position, and provides these individuals – whose decades in prison began in their teenage years – what he once called ‘some light at the end of the tunnel,’” Dawkins said. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 2 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila, voiced his support today for Gov. Tom Wolf’s appointment of Kerry L. Kirkland to serve as the deputy secretary for Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities in the Pennsylvania Department of General Services. “I have introduced legislation to modify our state’s procurement system to encourage the participation of women and minority-owned enterprises, and I’ve worked with Governor Wolf on his administration’s reform efforts,” Dawkins said. “The creation of this position, designed to facilitate the governor’s efforts to improve state contracting for minority businesses, is a great step in the right direction. Deputy Secretary Kirkland’s experience in the public and private sectors make him an ideal choice, and I look forward to working with him.” According to the governor’s office, Deputy Secretary Kirkland will serve as the senior public official to represent and advise the administration and the department on all matters related to the development of statewide policies and programs to substantially increase the participation of small diverse businesses (SDBs) and small businesses (SBs) in commonwealth contracting and in Pennsylvania’s overall economy. In the 2015-16 session, Dawkins introduced H.B. 2166, which would amend the Procurement Code to encourage the participation of minority and women-owned Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 28 – State Reps. Jason Dawkins and Morgan Cephas, both D-Phila., plan to introduce a bill that would require funeral homes to provide pricing information when requested and post that information on their website, if they have one, in an effort to assist and protect grieving families. "No grieving family should be required to spend lengthy hours of their time researching the cost of providing funeral services for their loved one," Dawkins said. "This legislation would allow families more time to focus on mourning their loss and celebrating the life of the deceased while providing peace of mind that they aren’t being taken advantage of." The bill would require funeral directors to provide a written or printed list of prices and goods offered at the beginning of any conversation about prices, professional services offered and goods. The lists also would include preparation of the body, use of facilities, use of automotive equipment and casket options. Cephas said, "During the loss of a loved one, it can be very difficult for some to manage dealing with their grief and for many in my district, the financial hardship that comes along with final expenses. Too often during this vulnerable time people are taken advantage of by bad actors who lack transparency in disseminating information to individuals and families. This legislation works to provide consumers with additional information needed to make cognizant decisions Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., voiced his support today for reforms recently ordered by the School District of Philadelphia in 11 area schools intended to improve academic performance and student attendance. The schools were identified last October by the district as needing immediate academic attention and additional support to provide their students with high-quality learning opportunities. Two of the schools, Harding Middle School and John Marshall Elementary School, operate in Dawkins’ district. Harding is one of seven schools selected to receive investments of up to $1 million for school-specific improvement plans designed to keep and hire the best teachers, as well as work to increase engagement with school communities and parents. Harding’s self-developed improvement plan will use technology and personalized learning to reach their goals of increasing student attendance and achievement in math and literacy. “These interventions are an important step towards ensuring children have access to the best educational opportunities possible. I’m particularly enthusiastic that using technology and individualized learning plans are both points of emphasis for improving academic performance and student attendance,” Dawkins said. In addition to the planned investment in Harding, the school district will move three schools, including John Marshall, into the district’s Turnaround Network. The goal of the Read more
HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 – State Reps. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., and Seth Grove, R-York, will reintroduce their bipartisan resolution that would establish a task force on juvenile life sentences. Grove said, "With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling a life sentence for juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment, we as a state must develop policies to address it. I appreciate Representative Dawkins' leadership on this issue and look forward to working with him on ensuring we as a state can develop policies which conform to the court’s rulings." Dawkins said, "Pennsylvania faces a greater challenge than most states in complying with the Supreme Court's rulings, since our state is home to nearly 500 of the nation’s 2,000 'juvenile lifers.' I thank Representative Grove for his commitment to working in a bipartisan way on this vital criminal justice issue." In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life without parole sentences for people who were under 18 at the time of the offense are unconstitutional, and in January 2016, the court ruled in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its decision in Miller must be applied retroactively. The proposed task force would undertake a thorough and comprehensive review of laws, court decisions, policies and procedures. The lawmakers said this would ensure an efficient appeals and post-conviction relief process that would provide just and fair sentences that are Read more
Pa. state Rep. Jason Dawkins discusses his priorities for Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania after taking the Oath of Office for the 2017-18 legislative session.
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 3 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., was sworn into office today during a ceremony at the Capitol for a second term as representative for the 179th Legislative District.The swearing-in ceremony marks the beginning of the 201st session of the General Assembly. The oath of office will be administered by Northampton County Judge Craig Dally. Read more
HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., has been elected as vice chairman of the Philadelphia County Delegation for the 2017-18 legislative session. Dawkins, who was elected to his second term representing the 179th Legislative District last week, was voted to the leadership post by fellow Philadelphia legislators from the Pennsylvania House. He will join the leadership team of delegation Chairwoman Rep. Maria Donatucci and Secretary/Treasurer Joanna McClinton. All three members are newly elected to these positions, which Dawkins said is a benefit. "We bring fresh energy to the leadership of the Philadelphia Delegation," Dawkins said. "I am looking forward to working with all the members of the delegation to move Philadelphia forward." ### Read more
Pa. state Rep. Jason Dawkins took to the House floor to oppose legislation changing mandatory minimum sentences for criminal acts. Dawkins feels strongly that locally elected judges should be left to decide each criminal case based on the facts and circumstances, and not have their judgment overridden by the legislature. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 21 – State Reps. Ed Neilson and Jason Dawkins, both D-Phila., urged their colleagues in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to amend legislation under consideration today to raise the minimum pay for poll workers on Election Day.
Neilson’s amendment would have increased the minimum compensation for individuals serving as judges or inspectors of election from $75 to $150. Clerks and machine operators would have seen their minimum compensation raise from $70 to $140.
“The hard-working men and women who serve our communities on Election Day are a vital component in preserving our democracy,” Neilson said. “Without them, the integrity and efficacy of our elections would be nonexistent.”
Dawkins’ amendment would have set a fixed rate of pay for judges of election, inspectors of election, clerks and machine operators at a minimum of $10.10 per hour.
"Poll workers have not seen a pay increase in 10 years, while legislators in Harrisburg get one every year," Dawkins said. "This is unfair, and the time has come to provide fair pay to the people who serve our communities and make sure our elections run effectively and efficiently."
Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley said she was disheartened to see efforts to ensure fair wages for hard-working poll workers throughout the state defeated.
“One must consider the rationale of the legislators who voted no. Would they work a 14-hour day and earn $6.78 per hour as an inspector of election, or $7.14 Read more
State Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Jason Dawkins, both D-Phila.,co-chaired a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on legislation, H.B. 2135 , introduced by Dawkins, which would abolish life without parole in Pennsylvania and extend parole eligibility to people sentenced to life imprisonment. Kinsey said the bill would allow the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole to consider the circumstances of each inmate serving a life sentence. “So many people could be impacted by House Bill 2135 that I think it is important for us, as legislators, to hear from our constituents on this very important matter,” Kinsey said. “Today’s hearing highlights the need for prison sentencing reform. A continuum review of profiling, mandatory minimum sentences, prison overcrowding, halfway houses, drug and alcohol treatment, and life sentences need to be a part of this discussion. Representatives Kinsey and Dawkins are strong advocates of reform and I thank them for hosting today’s hearing,” said committee Chairman Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. "Those sentenced to life in Pennsylvania have no chance of release, even if their age or health make it extremely unlikely that they will ever reoffend," Dawkins said. "Not only is this an injustice to those who are incarcerated and have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation, it also is fiscally irresponsible to require taxpayers to foot the bill for sentences that are longer than Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 9 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today announced the second annual Frankford Community Day and Gospel Concert Series, which will be held 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Gambrel Playground, 1900 Wakeling St., Frankford. “I'm very excited to bring the community together and meet new people in my district," Dawkins said. “We will have something for everyone, so bring your entire family.” Dawkins said the event will feature carnival games, a dunk tank, moon bounces, water slides, live music and a book bag giveaway for children. Representatives from local and state agencies will also be available to provide information about a variety of social services. Free refreshments also will be served. For more information, contact Dawkins’ constituent service office at 215-744-7901 . ### Read more
HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, said the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2015 has been extended from June 30 to Dec. 31. Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older qualify for the benefits under the program. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income and any COLAs are excluded. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but supplemental rebates can boost the amount up to $975. "This vital program benefits thousands of Pennsylvania seniors, and my office welcomes anyone who needs help completing an application or finding out if they’re eligible,” Dawkins said. Dawkins’s office is located at 4915 Frankford Avenue. Constituents can also contact the office at (215) 744-7901 . The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program is one of five programs supported by the Pennsylvania Lottery. Since the program’s 1971 inception, older and disabled adults have received more than $5.6 billion in property tax and rent relief. The expanded portion of the rebate program is paid for with revenue from slots gaming. For more information about the program, go to www.revenue.pa.gov . Read more
Pa. state Rep. Jason Dawkins comments on the importance of reforming life sentences for certain inmates, giving them a chance to have a parole hearing when certain criteria are met. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today introduced legislation that would establish the Task Force on Juvenile Life Sentences. Dawkins said the task force would develop recommendations on how to best handle appeals and applications for post-conviction relief from the hundreds of people who were sentenced to mandatory life without parole when they were under 18. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life without parole sentences for people who were under 18 at the time of the offense are unconstitutional. Then, on Jan. 25, 2016, the court ruled in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its decision in Miller must be applied retroactively. Dawkins says that this creates a greater challenge for Pennsylvania to comply with Miller and Montgomery than most states, as it is home to nearly 500 of the nation’s 2,000 "juvenile lifers." "My legislation calls for a thorough and comprehensive review of laws, court decisions, policies and procedures," Dawkins said. "This will ensure an efficient appeals and post-conviction relief process that will provide just and fair sentences that are in line with the Supreme Court's rulings in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana ." The task force would be comprised of 11 experts knowledgeable and experienced in issues relating to criminal appeals, post-conviction relief, and the appropriate sentencing of youth offenders. It would be Read more
HARRISBURG, June 7 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., introduced legislation that would abolish sentences of life without parole in Pennsylvania and extend parole eligibility to those already sentenced to life imprisonment. Specifically, Dawkins’s bill would permit a person sentenced to life imprisonment to be released on parole after spending at least 15 years in prison. It also would extend parole eligibility retroactively to those sentenced before the legislation's effective date. Dawkins said that all life sentences in Pennsylvania are imposed without the possibility of parole, which means that people sentenced to life imprisonment may not be considered for parole, no matter how much they have reformed themselves and no matter how unlikely they are to reoffend. "Those sentenced to life in Pennsylvania have no chance of release, even if their age or health make it extremely unlikely that they will ever reoffend," Dawkins said. "Not only is this an injustice to those who are incarcerated and have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation, it also is fiscally irresponsible to require taxpayers to foot the bill for sentences that are longer than necessary." Dawkins added that his bill would not grant a right to parole, and that the Board of Probation and Parole would continue to thoroughly examine parole requests. "The Board of Probation and Parole will continue to carefully consider requests for parole. This bill Read more
HARRISBURG, May 2 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., announced today that his bill, H.B. 2033 , that would require the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to waive the fee for identification cards for applicants that are low-income, disabled, or experiencing homelessness was assigned to the House Transportation Committee for consideration. The current application fee for an identification card is $28.50. Dawkins said the cost can be prohibitively expensive to those Pennsylvanians who are struggling to get by, and lacking proper identification can be an immense barrier to accessing employment, educational opportunities, financial services, and government programs. Waiving this fee, while having little effect on PennDOT’s revenue, will have a profound impact on those for whom a government-issued photo ID would otherwise be out of reach. “Ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have access to a government-issued photo ID is critical,” Dawkins said. “You need an ID to get a job or an apartment, enroll in school, or open a bank account. We need to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens aren’t needlessly held back simply because they can’t afford such a high fee.” ### Read more
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