PHILADELPHIA, July 11 – In his continued effort to promote health and well-being of constituents in the 200th Legislative District, state Rep. Chris Rabb will host a Summer Health Fair and Mammogram event. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19 at his satellite office located at Wadsworth Library, 1500 Wadsworth Ave., 19150. Various community groups will be present to provide blood pressure screenings, healthy food samples and information about choosing and living a healthy lifestyle. Fox Chase Cancer Center also will be in attendance with its mammography van. Women may receive a mammogram if they are 40 or older, have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months and if they get a prescription from their physician to give to the technician. “Whether it’s a family member, friend or colleague, many of us know someone who has battled breast cancer,” Rabb said. “Early detection is so important, so I urge all eligible women to make an appointment to get a lifesaving screening.” Women interested in scheduling a screening should contact Debra Resnick at (215) 214-1682. Space is limited. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 3 – State Rep. Kevin Boyle announced he will again partner with Fox Chase Cancer Center to host breast cancer screenings at his Fox Chase office. The annual mobile mammography event will be held outside of his district office at 9 a.m. Friday, July 20 at 7801-A Hasbrook Ave. Those interested in receiving a breast cancer screening are required to make an appointment. “Many of us have had either a friend or loved one who has battled this deadly disease. About one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime and some will be diagnosed with it at a young age,” Boyle said. “Early detection is so important in the fight against breast cancer and I am pleased to continue this partnership with Fox Chase Cancer Center to offer these lifesaving screenings.” Additional requirements include: Must be 40 or older. Name and address of the patient’s doctor. Prescription from a doctor. May not be breast feeding nor have breast fed within the last nine months. Must not have had a breast cancer diagnosis within the past three years. Must not be under treatment for breast cancer. Must not have had a mammogram in 12 months. Must be able to board the van and stand while being examined. To make an appointment or for more information, please contact Boyle’s district office at 215-695-1016. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 27 – State Rep. Emilio Vázquez, D-Phila., invites residents to his free community health and wellness fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 14 at Fairhill Park, located at the corner of West Lehigh Avenue and North Fourth Street. Vázquez said while the event aims to promote healthy lifestyles, its main focus is financial health and wellness. “From obtaining savings and checking accounts to setting up a plan for retirement, there are a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to good financial health,” Vázquez said. “It will connect people with services and support to help them get their financial house in order now and for their future.” The event will feature more than 60 exhibitors offering information on finances, health and wellness, and local and state services; activities for children, food and refreshments, health screenings, exercise demonstrations, and nutritional resources. Vázquez said his staff also will be on site to answer questions constituents may have about state programs and services. Assistance will be available in English and Spanish. No RSVP is required. For more information, contact Vázquez’s office at (215) 425-5708. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 27 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, chairwoman of the Philadelphia Delegation, released this statement after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision on unions: “The high court’s decision was a step in the wrong direction for our families and the working class. It is because of unions that we have an eight-hour work day, rules limiting underage labor and workers who truly believe in what public service is all about. “This outcome will harm public servants such as nurses, teachers, school district workers, police, firefighters and social workers, in addition to driving down wages for everyone, eliminating health insurance for many working families and making workplace accidents and deaths more likely. “Just this month, 1,500 airport workers at the Philadelphia International Airport secured their first union contract, more than doubling their wages in the process and ensuring workplace protections for the men and women who make the airport work. Thousands of health-care workers across the commonwealth have joined SEIU Healthcare PA in recent years and adjunct faculty members at colleges and universities across the state have been joining unions in droves. “Every resident, not only in Philadelphia but across the commonwealth, will be harmed if we allow the attacks on working families to continue. We must make it easier, not harder, for men and women to join together to form strong unions and fight for good Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., along with Austin Davis, Ed Gainey and Jake Wheatley, all D-Allegheny, and other members from across the state, offered solutions on how to restore public trust and improve the professionalism of law enforcement, during a news conference today held at the Capitol. They hoped taking action will help improve police and community relations. The lawmakers unveiled a framework for legislative action, including three main initiatives: Establishing a licensing board or commission, similar to nearly every other professional occupation from doctors and lawyers to barbers, that would be able to independently take action regarding individuals’ ability to participate in that profession. They believe law enforcement should be no different. Creating a bipartisan caucus to bring policymakers together to offer ideas and best practices from across the commonwealth Enacting legislation similar to laws that apply to teachers, so that any incidents or transgressions related to their employment can be shared with potential employers. “As a parent, none of us want to ever bury a child,” said Wheatley, who is also Democratic chairman of the House Finance Committee. “We want to find ways on how we can prevent and possibly eliminate police shootings of unarmed men and women, particularly those of color.” The news conference was held almost a week after the death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose, Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – A bill that would give people with low-level, nonviolent criminal records an opportunity to have their record sealed from public view is now awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature after passing in the Senate, said state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila. The Senate voted 49-0 in favor of House Bill 1419 , which Harris introduced with Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, last year. “I’m pleased to see real and meaningful change happening in Pennsylvania,” Harris said. “This legislation will help fix many inefficiencies and inequities of the criminal justice system in our commonwealth, by clearing the darkness, shining a light and creating a path to do what is right for our people. There’s still work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction. I look forward to the governor’s signature in the upcoming weeks.” Harris added Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long from the Philadelphia Eagles along with former Eagles player Torrey Smith were very supportive of H.B. 1419. Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing non-violent misdemeanors, but requires that former offenders file a sealing petition with a court. Under H.B. 1419, though, no action would be needed by former offenders to automatically seal their records. The legislation proposes the following structure for sealing records: Non-violent misdemeanor convictions – sealing would occur after a Read more
If you, or someone you know, is currently a student loan borrower or is paying back a student loan, I encourage you to participate in PHEAA’s Twitter chat on Monday, June 25 at 1 p.m. You can ask questions and learn about different repayment options, how to establish repayment goals, how to set and stick with a manageable budget, avoiding delinquency and other information. To participate in PHEAA’s Twitter chat, follow @PHEAAaid and use the hashtag #RepaymentReady. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila./Delaware, today announced her bill that would increase eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings in Pennsylvania was unanimously voted out of the House Health Committee. House Bill 562 would amend the Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Screening Act by allowing low-income, underinsured and uninsured women ages 30 to 65 to qualify for the screenings through the Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program. Currently, only women ages 40 to 49 are eligible for the program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates eight out of every 100,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. “About one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime and some will be diagnosed with it at a young age. Many of them win the battle due to early detection,” Donatucci said. “We must ensure every eligible woman in the commonwealth has access to these potentially life-saving screenings.” According to Breastcancer.org, more than 40,000 women in the U.S. are expected to die this year from breast cancer, despite the decrease in death rates since 1989. House Bill 562 will now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote. Read more
The events that have been unfolding along the U.S.-Mexico border have been heartbreaking and unbearable to see. As a mother, I cannot fathom the idea of having my children taken away from me, let alone the devastating impact on the children. This separation is a vile and inhumane act. I am firmly against the administration’s zero tolerance, family-separation immigration policy. I joined some of my colleagues from the House and the Senate for a rally Thursday in opposition to these actions. I also co-sponsored House Resolution 1000 , which would urge the president to immediately reverse the policy. While the president signed an executive order into place Wednesday that would stop the separation of immigrant children and parents, we all must make sure he stands by it. Using children as political pawns is a tasteless and horrifying tactic to gain immigration policy changes. I hope Congress will work on sensible reform and to ensure these events do not occur again. This country is supposed to be the land of the free for everyone, not just for some. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 19 – The House Judiciary Committee today voted on several gun safety bills, including legislation authored by state Rep. Maria Donatucci, D-Phila., which would deal with people with mental health issues and firearms. House Bill 273 would establish a voluntary "no firearm purchase list" that the Pennsylvania State Police would maintain. A person could request to be placed on the list for at least one year and up to five years. State police also would inform a person 20 days before his or her time ends on the list and provide a way for reenlistment should that person desire. “This bill is similar to legislation that created the existing voluntary gambling self-exclusion list. It would help people who are struggling with mental or physical health issues and who fear they may be a danger to themselves or others,” Donatucci said. “If my legislation could save at least one life, then it is truly worth it.” In addition to Donatucci’s bill, the following pieces of legislation were voted out of the committee and will now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote: H.B. 2060 – Would require a person to surrender his or her firearms 48 hours after being convicted of domestic violence. H.B. 2227 – Would prohibit someone who could be an extreme risk of causing harm to himself, herself or others from possessing firearms. H.B. 2275 – Would prosecute someone convicted of attempted rape, Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, today lauded the vote by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to postpone a move on the controversial sentence risk assessment tool. McClinton, who serves on the commission, made the motion to delay the vote after receiving several pieces of testimony against implementing the tool. The commission voted unanimously to postpone any action. The General Assembly mandated the commission to adopt a sentence risk assessment instrument to serve as an aid in the sentencing process in an effort to reduce the prison population. It would provide judges with facts and information to ensure a defendant receives the proper punishment while indicating if they need help, such as a drug treatment program. McClinton said she believes the risk assessment tool is unfair because it would adversely impact people of color. “During three public hearings, including one in Philadelphia where 33 people testified, we heard from citizens, the Philadelphia Bar Association and advocate groups opposing the sentence risk assessment tool because of its racial implications,” McClinton said. “We cannot allow a judge to put someone in a box when they have a family to support and bills to pay. They should be granted another chance to put their best foot forward and work to become a productive member of society. “I am pleased the commission decided to take a step back, digest and evaluate the comments Read more
HARRISBURG, June 14 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement after the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing voted to postpone action on the sentence risk assessment tool: “I applaud the members of the commission for delaying their action to vote for a tool that is in no way a crystal ball of predicting whether a convicted offender will commit another crime after they have served their sentence,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris, chairman of the PLBC. “A tool of predictability has no place in the criminal justice system, especially in a program that could end badly for citizens of this commonwealth, particularly people of color. There is certainly no predictability to the degree of accuracy of this tool as a result, so we will continue to see bias against young black males who are incarcerated at a nine-to-one ratio than other races.” “As a former public defender in Philadelphia, I always encouraged judges to sentence the individuals who were in front of them. I often reminded these jurists that "sentencing guidelines" are simply "guidelines," state Rep. Joanna McClinton said. “Computer statistics should not determine one's sentence because they cannot accurately predict one's ability to be rehabilitated, make positive changes and be properly punished. I do not want to interfere with a judge's ability to fairly administer justice and will not be voting to Read more
HARRISBURG – June 6, 2018 – State Reps. Jordan Harris and James Roebuck, both D-Phila., joined Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, D-Phila./Montgomery, to introduce legislation for the Pennsylvania Promise initiative, a program that would make college free and affordable to many students across the state. The legislators were joined by guests from the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) President Ken Mash, dozens of APSCUF members, a student and other members of the House and Senate announcing Senate Bill 1111 and House Bill 2444. “Helping our students should be priority number one,” Senator Hughes said. “I’ve heard from far too many college students who are struggling to make ends meet. They’re starving and some can’t maintain stable housing throughout the school year. They need something like PA Promise to make college reality.” The bills would: Cover up to four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate enrolled full-time at one of the Commonwealth’s 14 public community colleges. Cover up to four years of tuition and fees for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $110,000 per year at one of the 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education or a state-related university. Cover room and board for any recent high school graduate with a family income less than or equal to $48,000 per year at a Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 6 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, welcomed 400 families of the 191 st Legislative District to her Southwest Community Day, where the whole family could enjoy a day of fun and entertainment. “The weather held up and it turned out to be a great day to celebrate our community and empower neighbors with resources,” McClinton said. “I love to hear first-hand what issues our constituents face in their daily lives, and my staff was able to provide on-the-spot assistance.” The event featured 35 vendors that provide community resources and giveaways; main stage entertainment by the African Dance and Drum Ensemble, local churches, local hip hop/R & B artists as well as physical fitness activities; children’s activities, food and refreshments. Attendees also had the opportunity to gather information on a variety of state programs such as CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), Medicaid, and the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. McClinton said she wanted to thank the community sponsors and partners, which included Greater Philadelphia Health Action, JEVS at Home, The Village, African Cultural Alliance of North America Inc. (ACANA), Africom, Mercy Health System, Giant, Cousin’s Supermarket, Shoprite, Philadelphia Water Ice Company, CoCo’s Chicken and Waffles and McDonald’s. “I am thrilled that we had 400 families in attendance. I cannot thank the vendors, sponsors Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 5 – Following approval by the state Office of the Budget, state Rep. Angel Cruz announced a $1 million grant has been awarded to Esperanza Health Center to help fund construction for the new Kensington Health Center. The new facility will be built in the former bank building at 861 E. Allegheny Ave. and will be a state-of-the-art center providing primary medical and dental care as well as mental health and enabling services. “Anytime there is an opportunity to transform blight into some resourceful and sustainable in our community is a welcomed addition,” Cruz said. “I applaud Esperanza Health Center for making investments in our neighborhood that will not only improve the quality of life but also create jobs and help the economy.” "Esperanza Health Center is thrilled to receive this RACP award to help us build our comprehensive primary health care center. We are excited to invest in the health of this community and hope to be an anchor organization in the rebuilding of Kensington,” said Susan M. Post, executive director of Esperanza Health Center. “This project will allow us to provide high quality, faith-based primary health care and dental care to thousands of additional. We are thankful for this support to Esperanza Health Center and the people of Kensington." Construction is slated to begin this summer with the new health center expected to open in early 2019. RACP is administered by Read more
HARRISBURG, May 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris and state Sen. Shariff Street, both D-Phila., applauded the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s vote to change its policy on headgear following protest from the Muslim community. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with Street and members of the PLBC, joined the protest after 16-year-old Nasihah Thompson-King was excluded from participating in a basketball game because she refused to remove her hijab. Harris said, “I applaud the PIAA for protecting the rights of children of all faiths in this commonwealth to participate in athletic events while maintaining their religious and cultural identities. I thank my colleague Senator Street for taking the lead on this issue on behalf of the Black Caucus. Additionally, I thank members of the Muslim community and of all faiths for standing up against this injustice, but lastly, and most importantly, I thank young Ms. Nasihah Thompson-King for the strength of her convictions." Street said, “The PIAA’s historic decision to remove guidelines that unduly burden the free exercise of religion for student athletes is in compliance with the law, morally sound and victory for American values, the foundation of which was established here in Philadelphia in our great commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The collective action of my colleagues, the Muslim community and, most importantly, the courage of Nasihah Read more
HARRISBURG, May 23 – The House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution (H.R. 938) sponsored by state Rep. Angel Cruz which pays tribute to nine Puerto Rican service members who were killed in a noncombat-related military plane crash in Georgia on May 2. The service members were flying to Arizona to decommission the plane, a WC-130 attached to the Puerto Rico Air National Guard 156th Airlift Wing, when it crashed shortly after takeoff. The plane was used in relief efforts for several hurricanes in the Caribbean, including both Irma and Maria during the 2017 hurricane season. “These nine service members truly represent the commitment that Puerto Ricans living on the island and also here on the mainland have with our nation,” Cruz said. “We honor them for their service and dedication and hope not to repeat this tragedy ever again.” Cruz added the incident involving these service members brings the total number of noncombat-related crashes of military aircraft to seven, resulting in the deaths of 27 United States service members this year. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 23 – The House Children and Youth Committee today advanced bipartisan legislation, co-authored by state Reps. Thomas Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) and Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia), which would help parents and caregivers with the difficult decision of which child care to send their children. House Bill 1742 would require all state-licensed child care centers to post their Keystone STARS rating in a prominent location, on their websites and in informational enrollment materials given to parents. “Parents are faced with dozens of decisions every day that impact the well-being of their child, their family and their family’s future,” Mehaffie said. “With this bill, we hope to make one of the more daunting choices a little easier by putting each facility’s quality rating front and center.” The Keystone STARS program, operated by the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning, sets quality requirements for early childhood educators based on a four-star rating system. All licensed child care centers that meet the state’s health and safety requirements are required to be part of the Keystone STARS system. The Keystone STARS performance standards are grouped into four levels. The standards address staff qualifications and professional development, early learning programs, partnerships with family and the community, and leadership and management. The lawmakers added that they hope the new display requirements Read more
HARRISBURG, May 16 – In her continued effort to create safer learning environments for young people in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth, state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, D-Phila., announced the application process is now open for Safe Schools Targeted Grant opportunities. The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Safe Schools is providing grants for schools to help fund programs that address school violence. The money can be used for school resource and police officers, safety equipment and programs or trainings. “A potential threat of violence in our schools can be a disruptive and frightening time for students,” Brown said. “This funding is a great way for school officials to take a proactive approach in creating a safer learning environment by getting the tools they need to protect students and employees.” The deadline to apply is July 31. For more information, visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.pa.gov . Read more
HARRISBURG, May 11 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., is fighting to close a dangerous legal loophole in Pennsylvania’s sexual assault law by pushing legislation that would better protect all residents. Currently in Pennsylvania, a police officer who sexually assaults a person in custody can use sexual consent by the individual as a defense in court. Rabb plans to introduce a bill that would: Expand the commonwealth’s definition of institutional sexual assault to include law enforcement officers and any person in the officer’s custody. Eliminate sexual consent as a defense. Make any sexual contact between an officer and a person in custody a third-degree felony. “Police officers are supposed to use their authoritative power to protect the public, not prey on the innocent,” Rabb said. “I find it ludicrous that this major oversight in our legal system has received such minor attention. Everyone has rights and no one deserves this type of mistreatment, no matter what your criminal history.” Similar legislation has passed in New York state. According to a Buffalo News database , more than 700 allegations of sexual misconduct by law enforcement officers across the country, between 2006 and 2015, showed a repeating pattern of officers using their position to force women in custody to perform sexual acts. In at least 26 cases, charges were dropped or the officer was acquitted. Read more
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