HARRISBURG, Dec. 8 – Following an outburst during a House committee meeting that was captured on video and has garnered nationwide media attention, state Rep. Angel Cruz is seeking to bring his resolution up for a vote to address the conduct of committee chairmen. In a letter written to House Speaker Mike Turzai, Majority Leader Dave Reed and Minority Leader Frank Dermody, Cruz expressed outrage over the behavior of state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, Republican chairman of the State Government Committee, and urged that his resolution ( H.R. 128 ) be moved out of the Rules Committee and brought to the full House for a vote. “Chairman Metcalfe is making a mockery of this great body and further demonstrating that he is unfit to serve as chairman of a committee which has oversight on very important civil rights issues,” said Cruz, D-Phila. During the State Government Committee meeting on Tuesday, Democratic Chairman Matt Bradford touched Metcalfe’s arm while trying to make a point about a bill being discussed. Metcalfe interrupted Bradford by saying, “Representative Bradford, look, I’m a heterosexual. I have a wife, I love my wife. I don’t like men, as you might. But stop touching me all the time.” Bradford is married to a woman and has four children. Cruz said he is calling for movement on his resolution because of this outburst and an instance last session in which Metcalfe prevented a member of his committee from speaking during Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 16 -- Two weeks after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called for the School Reform Commission to disband itself, state Reps. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., and Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, joined fellow members of the Philadelphia Delegation to defend the decision. Ahead of a scheduled SRC meeting, the state lawmakers held a news conference Thursday afternoon inside the library of the Philip Sheridan Elementary School. “The commission had more than a decade to fix the issues within the School District of Philadelphia, but it seems things have just gotten worse,” Cruz said. “I have been fighting to dissolve the SRC for the past three years to bring control of our schools back to the city that depends on its success and the taxpayers who help fund them.” Cruz introduced House Bill 654 in January, which would eliminate the SRC and establish an elected board to oversee operations of the city’s school district. He’s been pushing for this cause since 2014. Donatucci, chairwoman of the Philadelphia County Delegation, said, “At the end of the day, the students are our top priority. The success of this country starts in the classroom, and that includes the young, bright minds that make up the School District of Philadelphia. I support what’s best for them, and what’s best for them is a local school board that has their best interests at heart calling the shots.” During today's SRC meeting, the Read more
HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today announced that a $1.8 million grant has been awarded to help continue funding the redevelopment of Logan Triangle. The Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Multimodal Transportation Fund Program authorized the grant, which will help transform the blighted neighborhood east of North Broad Street into a vibrant commercial and community redevelopment. “Every investment made to our community is crucial, it helps create jobs and other opportunities. This grant will truly benefit the people of the Logan community by ensuring the safety of pedestrians and motorists while increasing the quality of life,” Kinsey said. “I want to thank Gov. Tom Wolf for once again understanding the need for these types of investments for the city of Philadelphia.” Kinsey added the $1.8 million grant is in addition to a grant awarded to the project in 2016. Last year’s funding was less than originally requested. When complete, the project will include retail and professional office space as well as a youth sports and education facility. Grant funds also will be used to make improvements to the failing infrastructure around Logan Triangle, including the replacement of curbs, sidewalks and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 6 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., announced he will host two weatherization events to inform constituents how they can keep their homes warm and save money this winter. The two events will be held: 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Houseman Recreation Center, 5091 Summerdale Ave., 19124. 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28 at the Ziehler Playground, 200-64 E. Olney Ave., 19120. Dawkins said experts will be on-hand to provide information and resources for people to prepare their homes for the cold months ahead. “There are many people in our community who struggle to make ends meet, and it can be more difficult in the winter when paying heating bills,” Dawkins said. “I want to ensure everyone has the information that can help keep their families warm and save money at the same time.” For more information, constituents can call Dawkins’ constituent service office at (215) 744-7901. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 – State Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky and Kevin Boyle today unveiled a plan to protect access to birth control under health insurance coverages in Pennsylvania. The legislation, proposed by Krueger-Braneky, Boyle and Rep. Tina Davis, would require that all state-regulated insurance plans in Pennsylvania cover contraceptives and vasectomies. It would further require that plans provide coverage for any prescription or non-prescription method of birth controlled approved by the FDA. It also would: Eliminate most co-payments for birth control and vasectomies Enable women to receive 12 months of birth control at one time Lift pre-authorizations on intrauterine devices (IUDs) On Oct. 6, the Trump administration announced it would roll back the contraceptive coverage requirements within the ACA. The rollback allows any employer to opt-out of providing contraceptive coverage in its health plan based on religious beliefs or moral convictions. At least 2.5 million women in Pennsylvania depend on this coverage to access affordable, effective contraceptives. “Contraception is health care, and access to health care is a fundamental human right that is inextricably tied to economic mobility and freedom,” said Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware . “By making basic preventive care like the pill a costly luxury, the Trump administration is sidelining girls and women – whether they are students, hourly wage workers, Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – Joined by Democrats and Republicans from the Senate and House, state Reps. Kevin J. Boyle, D-Phila., and Tom Murt, R-Montgomery/Phila., called upon the General Assembly during a Capitol news conference to pass legislation to strengthen the hate crimes law in Pennsylvania. House Bill 505, co-sponsored by Boyle and Murt, would amend current state law to expand the offense of ethnic intimidation to include malicious intention against the actual or perceived ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity of another person or a group of people. Senators Lawrence Farnese and Anthony Williams also have legislation ( S.B. 96 ) regarding hate crimes. Boyle said under H.B. 505, a crime motivated by hatred toward these protected classes would be graded one degree higher than already specified in law. “Pennsylvania’s lack of protections against hate crimes for LGBT communities and persons with disabilities is a national embarrassment. We remain the only state in the Northeast to not enshrine protections against hate crimes for these groups into law,” Boyle said. “I have introduced this bill for two consecutive sessions to add these protections but it has never been brought to a vote. Our legislature is failing its duty to protect the citizens of this commonwealth, and ignoring the constitutional rights of the physically and intellectually disabled, and the LGBT communities.” Boyle Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 19 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., has joined Rep. John Taylor R-Phila., to introduced two bills that would amend the Crimes Code to address chronic nuisance issues that cause problems for downtowns and neighborhoods throughout Pennsylvania. “During the last 10 years, we have provided innovative new laws to help local governments, like Philadelphia, fight blight,” Taylor said. “This legislation gives us new tools in that struggle. Nuisance acts depress property values and deter investment in our communities, large and small.” “The nuisances outlined in the legislation threaten the public health, safety and welfare of residents in neighborhoods across our commonwealth,” Solomon said. “These two bills would not only assist with decreasing these petty acts, but also help improve the appearance of our communities both big and small in all 67 counties.” The first bill, House Bill 1812, groups littering, loitering, and disorderly conduct under the umbrella of "chronic nuisances," and creates incrementally higher penalties for such incidents with this grouping. The bill increases existing fines for the following offenses when committed two or more times within a two-year period; graffiti, scattering rubbish, public drunkenness, loitering and public nuisances. Fines will be doubled for a second offense, and tripled for a third or subsequent offense. Under current law, the fines vary. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 16 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., announced she will host a housing conference and job fair for constituents of the 203rd Legislative District. The events will take place from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 at the West Oak Lane Charter School, 7115 Stenton Ave., 19138. Fitzgerald said constituents can attend workshops on various aspects of home buying and ownership, including how to obtain good credit, tangled titles and reverse mortgages and more. “Everyone should have the opportunity to become a home owner, so it’s crucial they get as much information as possible,” Fitzgerald said. “This event will provide some great tools for those people thinking about buying a home in order to help them make informed discussions.” Fitzgerald added there will also be a job fair with dozens of employers looking to hire. “I encourage everyone to bring copies of their resume and dress to impress,” Fitzgerald said. For more information, constituents can call Fitzgerald’s office at (215) 549-0220. Read more
With less than 10 years until America celebrates the nation’s 250 th birthday in July 2026, a bipartisan team in the Pennsylvania House has introduced House Bill 1793, establishing the Pennsylvania Semiquincentennial Commission. This effort, led by state Reps. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., and Alex Charlton, R-Springfield, envisions the commission to plan, encourage, develop and coordinate the commemoration of the 250 th anniversary of the founding of the United States. “Our country’s semiquincentennial is a moment for all Americans and Pennsylvanians to engage in a shared undertaking of national unity, remembering what unites us American citizens while aiming toward a better tomorrow as individuals, families and communities,” said Charlton. In the legislation, the commission is expected to submit a comprehensive report that includes the specific recommendations of the commission to the governor and General Assembly by next September. “This is exceptional for our Commonwealth, as we led and became the first state in the nation to begin the very important planning of welcoming in the 250 th birthday of America,” said Solomon. The commission will coordinate planning with all federal, state and local agencies on infrastructure improvements and projects to welcome regional, national and international tourists. “For Pennsylvanians, it is both a privilege and responsibility to host the nation and the world on the anniversary of Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 13 – With October declared as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, state Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., said he will provide resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse during an upcoming town hall meeting. The meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at the Olney Elementary School, 5301 N. Water St., 19120. Dawkins said an expert who deals with domestic violence and sex abuse issues will attend the meeting to offer information and help for victims and people who may know victims. “Often times, victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse are scared and confused and not sure where to go,” Dawkins said. “I want to help be the light at the end of the tunnel for victims to get the assistance they need to try to heal and move on with their lives.” Dawkins added he will provide attendees an update on his work in the community and in Harrisburg. His staff will be on hand to answer any questions and provide assistance on any state-related issues. For more information, call Dawkins’ office at (215) 744-7901. Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 5 – Members of the Philadelphia Delegation in the state House of Representatives continue to push for commonsense ways to balance Pennsylvania's overdue budget. "The main spending bill was passed on June 30, on a bipartisan basis, and it became law on July 10. Democrats have offered commonsense, popular ways to pay for that budget. Unfortunately, House Republican leaders have kept the people's representatives from voting on these commonsense proposals," said delegation chair Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware. Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., vice chair of the delegation, said, "On Wednesday nearly all House Republicans voted to block consideration of a natural gas extraction tax, also known as a severance tax, even though every other major natural-gas state already has one. About 75 percent of the proposed tax would be paid by out-of-state customers, just as Pennsylvanians already pay it to other states on natural gas that's sent here." Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., said, "There are commonsense solutions out there already – the natural-gas extraction tax, closing corporate tax loopholes and raising the minimum wage. Higher pay earned by workers would mean more revenues for the state -- without the need for a tax increase. And it would mean less money spent in the state and communities for assistance programs. That's a win-win!" Rep. Mike O'Brien, D-Phila., Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., will host constituents and state and local leaders to discuss and gather input on public safety in the Lower Northeast and the state-wide criminal justice system. The Public Safety and Criminal Justice Summit will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at St. Thomas Indian Orthodox Church, 1009 Unruh Ave., 19111. Solomon said the event will provide an opportunity to engage in dialogue with city and state criminal justice leaders on issues of crime, safety and community. “Public safety remains a big issue in my district, and the criminal justice system – both here in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth – continue to find themselves under scrutiny,” Solomon said. “This legislative summit will offer constituents an opportunity to have an informed discussion with leaders on the state and local level and give input into how we can make our community safer.” Solomon added the summit will present constituents with a chance to help shape his legislative agenda in Harrisburg. In addition to community leaders and experts, those expected to attend include Secretary John Wetzel from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Commissioner Richard Ross from the Philadelphia Police Department. To RSVP, constituents should call Solomon’s constituent office at (215) 342-6340. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 18 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., announced he will host representatives from the Philadelphia Police Department for a recruitment drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 at his district office, 3503 North B St., Unit 7, Philadelphia, PA 19134. “Being a Philadelphia police officer is a demanding and important job because our communities rely on law enforcement for safety and protection. It can be a rewarding opportunity to serve the public as well,” Cruz said. “I encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a police officer to come to my office and speak with a representative from the Philadelphia Police Department.” Constituents with questions should contact Cruz’ district office at (215) 291-5643. Read more
PHILDELPHIA, Sept. 14 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, will join state Sen. Anthony Williams and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack for a resource fair designed to inform constituents about the possibilities of clearing their name from minor past convictions. The Re-entry Resource Fair: Pathways to Pardons and Expungements will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28 at the Francis J. Myers Recreation Center, 5800 Chester Ave., 19143. McClinton said constituents can learn how the pardon process works in Pennsylvania and how they can seek a pardon for past convictions. “Many people have fallen on hard times as a result of a minor conviction that keeps haunting them,” McClinton said. “I believe this workshop will help constituents find a way to clear that conviction from their name and set them on the right path.” McClinton added many local agencies will be on hand with valuable information that focuses on reentry. Anyone who is looking for an expungement for free should call Sen. Williams’ office at (215) 492-2980 to RSVP. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 8 – The fate of the immigration program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) currently lies in the hands of Congress, as state Rep. Chris Rabb fights to protect thousands of undocumented families in Pennsylvania, while, at the same time, helping law enforcement keep communities safer. “I am furious about the President’s decision to end the DACA program,” Rabb said. “My main focus now is to do what’s in my power to ensure families aren’t torn apart here in Pennsylvania.” Rabb introduced House Bill 1604 , also known as the Police and Community Safety Act, which would protect DREAMers, their parents, and other undocumented residents who live in the commonwealth. The proposal would also allow state and local police officers to concentrate on their priority of protecting residents from violent offenders and not be responsible for immigration enforcement unless directed by a federal court order. “Research proves working with federal immigration enforcement made it difficult for local police departments to do their jobs,” Rabb explained. “If a witness or victim was in the country with an expired visa, he/she was less likely to cooperate for fear of being forced out of their home and separated from their loved ones.” Rabb pointed out the legal and financial burdens that weigh down on already cash-strapped police agencies when officers erroneously detain U.S. citizens at the Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 8 – State Rep. Ángel Cruz, D-Phila., today announced that he plans to introduce a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and urging Congress to pass S.B. 1615 sponsored by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), known as the Dream Act of 2017. “In Pennsylvania, nearly 6,000 Dreamers benefit from DACA. The Trump administration’s decision to end the program by March 2018 will not only affect Dreamers throughout the country, but also hurt our economy by losing revenue and labor force,” Cruz said. “We’re talking about our farm workers, our nurses, our teachers and our engineers. This country is the only place they call home. With this action, the government is turning its back against people who came to the United States to reach the American Dream, because that’s what our country is: the land of opportunities. I am beyond disappointed and I stand in solidarity with all the Dreamers in Pennsylvania and across the country. I’ll keep up the fight against this deplorable act.” DACA provides temporary deportation deferral to individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as children, known as “Dreamers,” who pass vetting so they may live, study and work legally in the only country they know as home. The program was authorized in 2012 by then President Obama as a compromise between his administration Read more
It has been impossible to avoid the news on the contentious debate surrounding the removal of confederate memorial statues. Citizens have been asked to organize and mobilize until these statues, and the discriminatory and bigoted views they represent, are removed. I believe that these actions, while desperately needed, stop short of calling out the larger and more systemic need for change in our communities. As a result, we must create a deeper and much more wide-reaching change than the mere removal of a statue or monument. We could focus not on viewing confederate memorials as divisive monuments, but instead use them as reminders to apply ourselves as minority citizens. These statues should be used as symbolic motivators to create the change we know we so desperately need to see in our community. When we hear of confederate heroes and stories of southern heritage, we cannot become enveloped in anger. Instead, we must reflect inward and ask how we are making ourselves and our community better. Frederick Douglass once said that “learning will forever unfit an individual to be a slave.” As trite and clichéd as it may sound, knowledge is power. If ignorance constrains us, then knowledge is what allows us to break free from our shackles, both physically and metaphorically. That freedom is a naked threat to those who wish to preserve the status quo and maintain power balances as they currently exist in America. This threat, this fear of an educated Read more
HARRISBURG, Aug. 29 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., today said he is currently seeking co-sponsors for his legislation that would assist with maintaining the mental health of law enforcement officers in the commonwealth. The legislation would require police officers to undergo Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder evaluations every other year and within 30 days of an incident in which lethal force is used. “Being in law enforcement is a very demanding and stressful job. These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day to keep our families and communities safe,” Dawkins said. “That demand can certainly take a toll on a police officer mentally and with dangerous consequences.” Dawkins noted there are numerous incidents that can cause PTSD in police officers, such as hostage situations, dangerous drug busts, fatal crashes, and other cases that involve serious injury or death to the people involved in the incident. Other stressful situations that could trigger PTSD include working long hours, handling people’s attitudes, waiting for the next call and not knowing how the situation will play out, and even politics within the police department. “While many of these factors seem to be a part of the job, the repeated exposure can be unhealthy for a police officer,” Dawkins said. “Many times, they suffer in silence and rein in their own emotions to serve the community. “By requiring our law enforcement Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 17 – State Reps. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, chair of the Philadelphia County Delegation, released the following statement regarding the white nationalist protests that took place in Charlottesville, Va.: “As legislative leaders representing countless Pennsylvanians of color, we condemn the actions of white nationalists in Charlottesville as racist and un-American. As proud Americans, we know that these actions and ideals do not represent the values of tolerance, inclusiveness, and equality that our country strives to uphold. The diversity of our Commonwealth – and of our country – is an asset that must be fully utilized if we are to fulfil the promise of our democracy. “The flags, statues and monuments of the Confederacy are not the celebration of heritage, but are instead the articulation of hatred using the language of an enemy nation. No other country celebrates the conquered, just as no other country flies the flag of the defeated. The Confederacy and the monuments erected long after its defeat represent an ideology that should not be celebrated. This ideology commemorates treason while romanticizing slavery and systemic oppression. “Monuments honoring the Confederacy should be to the Civil War as Benedict Arnold is to the American Revolution. These symbols do not deserve to tower over those they once oppressed, but belong Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 17 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., today announced she is inviting residents to discover if they have any unclaimed property waiting for them. The representative will host an Unclaimed Property Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30 in her district office at 7178 Ogontz Ave., 19138. Fitzgerald said her staff will search the database for residents to see if they have unclaimed property belonging to them. Residents can also get assistance with filling out their claim forms. “My staff is happy to help residents go through the process to find out if they have any property that rightfully belongs to them,” Fitzgerald said. "It’s a good idea for residents to check annually if they are owed money as the Treasurer's Office estimates that roughly one in 10 Pennsylvanians has unclaimed property." The Pennsylvania Treasurer's Office reports it is currently holding $2.3 billion in unclaimed property, which includes things such as closed bank accounts, uncashed checks, lost stocks and bonds, contents of safe deposit boxes, and unexpired gift certificates and gift cards. Read more
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