PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 10 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today held a joint hearing with the House Democratic Policy Committee on youth perspective on criminal justice. The PLBC requested the hearing to give youth an opportunity to express their views on the current criminal justice system. “I am grateful to the young people who were present for today’s hearing, as we are working to make changes to our society, including our criminal justice system, so that they will grow up in a better, more just world,” Kinsey said. “We know our system is flawed and unfair but hearing from the experts who testified today gave us invaluable information and insight that can be used to make much-needed improvements. I hope our young people know, after attending this hearing, that their voices are valued.” “Criminal Justice Reform is one of the important Civil Rights issues of our time,” Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said. “Additionally, many of our young people are affected by it as participants themselves or as a family member of a participant. It’s important to hear their voice as we continue to address this important issue.” The Philadelphia Community Youth Court sits in Harris’ district and is located at the Universal Institute Charter School, where the hearing took place. They were joined by state legislators from across Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 9 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, will host her “Healthy From Head to Toe” Senior Appreciation Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at Presbyterian Homes, 2050 S. 58th St., 19143. "The seniors in our community have done so much for their families and their neighborhoods. They deserve to be appreciated and to receive resources that are beneficial to them,” McClinton said. “My event is a great opportunity for them to meet with a number of agencies and companies that cater to them.” The event will offer screenings and other health-related services, resources from area agencies such as insurance and health-care providers. Lunch will be provided. McClinton and her staff also will provide seniors with information and tools to help live healthy lives. For more information, constituents can call McClinton's district office at (215) 748-6712. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 6 – Following their votes today to reject the new risk-assessment tool by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, state Rep. Joanna McClinton and Sen. Sharif Street said they vow to push for their legislation that would repeal the commission’s mandate to create a such a tool. “I voted to reject the risk-assessment tool because I have serious concerns that it is not the best way to reduce recidivism and keep people safe in my community and across the Commonwealth. I strongly believe that the mandate requiring the commission to create a new risk-assessment tool needs to be repealed and I will continue to work closely with Senator Street and my colleagues to pass legislation that would abolish that mandate,” McClinton said. Under this risk-assessment tool passed Thursday, when a person scores high- or low-risk based on the risk-assessment instrument, they would be flagged for further assessment of their risk of recidivism and need for treatment or support. The plan permits county probation departments to put these people through whatever assessment they use. Street said, “For almost a decade, the sentencing commission has worked – under a legislative mandate – to create a risk-assessment tool with the goal of reducing costs and decreasing the prison population. Senator Greenleaf, author of the original legislation, has denounced this version of the risk-assessment tool as having the adverse effect of its Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 4 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., vice chair of the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, today applauded the Wolf administration for securing a $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support efforts in decreasing maternal deaths in Pennsylvania. Cephas wrote letters of support for the CDC grant that will fund the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, a multidisciplinary committee tasked with addressing the pressing issue of growing maternal mortality rates across the commonwealth. “Nearly a thousand women die from pregnancy-related complications each year across the country and many of these deaths were preventable. It’s also a problem here in our commonwealth,” Cephas said. “I am proud that Pennsylvania was awarded this grant to protect women, mothers, infants and their families.” Cephas has been a staunch advocate for addressing the rise in pregnancy-related deaths. She has coordinated meetings with stakeholders and the five delivery hospitals in the Philadelphia area to discuss potential solutions, hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing, and sat on two panels to better assess the issue. In these discussions, Cephas said she also wanted to bring awareness to racial disparities and mental health issues as contributors to the increase in maternal deaths. “Black women are four times more likely to die from Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 30 – State Rep. Donna Bullock was joined today by Sen. Sharif Street, former Sen. Shirley Kitchen and local ward leaders to rename a portion of 29th Street, between Master Street and Thompson Street, as the Frank L. Oliver Memorial Highway. “Frank was a pioneer and staple of this community. During his time as state representative, he played an active role as an advocate for minority hiring and inclusion, affordable housing and criminal justice reform,” Bullock said. “His inspirational fight to protect our most vulnerable populations ended in much-needed laws being passed.” The designation came to light after a bill was enacted ( S.B. 1156 ) that included Bullock’s amendment for the renaming. “With the designation of 29th Street as the Frank L. Oliver Memorial Highway, we honor Frank’s contributions and remind everyone of his hard work and dedication to the people of Philadelphia,” Bullock said. Frank L. Oliver represented the 195th Legislative District from 1973 to 2010 and retired as the most senior African-American elected official in the commonwealth and the longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly with 37 years of service. During his tenure in the state legislature, he introduced legislation that enhanced First Amendment freedoms and benefits for women and minority civil service employees. Read more
HARRISBURG, Aug. 30 – State Rep. Christopher Rabb, D-Phila., introduced legislation that would establish a reparations plan to combat systemic racism impacting Pennsylvanians of African descent on the 400 th anniversary of enslaved Africans arriving to Virginia in 1619. “For many other disenfranchised groups, the United States government has provided reparations and our commonwealth must follow suit,” Rabb said. “I am proud to introduce this bill for our commonwealth to atone for its role in this heinous institution that has resulted in generations of systemic racism bolstered by public policy and culture practice statewide.” Rabb said that slavery in Pennsylvania has been documented as early as 1639, with Philadelphia becoming the region’s largest port for importing enslaved Africans. “Many of the colonists who settled Pennsylvania tolerated slavery, including William Penn who owned 12 enslaved people. These people were responsible for building his colonial estate, Pennsbury Manor. Additionally, despite the Gradual Emancipation Act, passed in 1780, no enslaved person was ever emancipated, with many living and dying in bondage,” Rabb said. “Pennsylvania has always been a willing enabler of the subjugation of an entire race of people and this subjugation has been maintained statewide through institutional racism.” The bill outlines a state-based reparations plan that would have four parts: A formal Read more
Rep. Ed Gainey attended a discussion about the financial security of Pennsylvanians and advocated for bringing the topic of financial literacy to the commonwealth's youth. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Jake Wheatley hosted a roundtable discussion about the financial future of Pennsylvanians at the BNY Mellon Center in Pittsburgh. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 21 – State Rep. Donna Bullock today said she is the first and only legislator to represent Pennsylvania during this week’s Clean Energy Legislative Academy in Breckenridge, Colo. The four-day conference brings together a bipartisan group of state legislators and their staff from across the country to learn about emerging energy issues and resources they will need to develop effective clean energy policy in their states. “I’m honored to represent Pennsylvania at this important and informative conference. I plan on learning as much as I can from the seminars and panels and legislators from other states,” Bullock said. “Pennsylvania needs laws that will help fight climate change and convert to renewable energy. I want to bring my experiences from this conference back home to not only share with my colleagues, but to craft legislation that would provide better, efficient energy policies for now and our future.” The Clean Energy Legislative Academy will hit on such topics as climate and air quality, securing our energy future, financial markets response to climate risk, and getting to 100% innovation in clean energy technology. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 16 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with its Philadelphia members, applauded the brave efforts of the Philadelphia Police Department and thanked Gov. Tom Wolf for signing an executive order to implement comprehensive gun reforms, in the wake of the two mass shootings in Philadelphia this week. “Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus as well as myself, commend the restraint and dedication of the Philadelphia Police Department in securing the scene that resulted in this heavily armed suspect being apprehended alive and no injuries to innocent bystanders ,” Kinsey said. “This career is rife with dangers, making returning home safely at the end of a shift a lingering uncertainty, but these men and women put those fears aside to fervently protect us.” A gunman began firing shots around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when police were at a house in the Tioga section of North Philadelphia to serve an arrest warrant, according to news reports . Six officers were shot, all of them were eventually treated at the hospital and released, and the gunman was taken into custody after the standoff. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said he, too, was grateful the violence Wednesday ended without the loss of life or any additional injury to the suspect, officers or the public. “I was at the hospital Wednesday for hours and saw the bravery of Read more
HARRISBURG, Aug. 16 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, commended Gov. Tom Wolf for his executive order today on gun violence prevention: “It breaks my heart that mass shootings have become a daily occurrence in Southwest Philadelphia and across the nation. As a legislator, protecting vulnerable Pennsylvanians is my top priority, so I am glad to see Governor Wolf make this commitment to public safety,” McClinton said. “My goal is to ensure that our children, neighbors and police officers can walk the streets of Philadelphia without coming under fire.” Wolf’s executive order will immediately implement a special committee on gun violence to discuss public health and community engagement strategies. The order will also establish the Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, along with the Division of Violence Prevention within the Department of Health. The two offices will work together to tackle gun violence as a public safety and health concern. The order also calls for state police to increase monitoring of hate groups, white nationalists and other fringe organizations to combat mass shootings, while expanding the gun buyback program through the Pennsylvania State Police and municipal police departments. “Governor Wolf is taking a big step in fighting gun violence, but an executive order can only accomplish so much. It’s vital that my colleagues Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 25 — State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., announced that OIC of America was awarded a U.S. Department of Labor Reentry Grant totaling $4.5 million, which will be used to expand its Skills, Opportunities, Achievement, and Responsibility program. These grants give organizations the opportunity to develop methods that maximize participants' inclusion and integration into society, employment opportunities, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency. The funds will be used to address the full range of challenges faced by justice-involved individuals transitioning back to the community. “I’m thrilled that this funding will come to the district to help this great organization continue its work bringing formerly incarcerated individuals back home successfully and without friction,” Kenyatta said. “This will help provide positive work and education opportunities to participants and enable them to become productive, responsible members of the community. ” The SOAR program will expand to serve 570 additional participants, bringing the total number of individuals served to nearly 3,000 by 2022. OIC of America is based in Philadelphia and operates as a national network of community-based organizations that focuses mainly on vocational training, job readiness, healthcare, education, reentry, and youth development. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 25 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos announced he will partner with Fox Chase Cancer Center to host breast cancer screenings at his district office. The mobile mammography event will be held outside of Burgos’ office at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at 635 W. Erie 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,” Burgos said. “Early detection is so important in the fight against breast cancer and I am pleased to partner with Fox Chase Cancer Center to offer these lifesaving screenings.” Additional requirements include: Must be 40 or older and provide photo ID and insurance card. 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, constituents should contact Burgos’ district office at 215-223-1890. Read more
HARRISBURG, July 23 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, today announced that Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement funding was approved for several projects in York County, in a very competitive new round of funding for housing programs. “Over $328,000 of PHARE funds will positively impact our district,” Hill-Evans said. “Many of these proposals seek to fill in gaps by helping residents, under the threat of eviction or foreclosure, who are not currently being assisted due to a lack in any other available funding. These funds will mean the difference between stable housing and living on the streets for those affected, including but not limited to senior citizens and veterans who are having trouble with foreclosures on their homes, as well as first-time homebuyers who can benefit from these funds.” The PHARE funding for York County is divided into six awards going to four organizations: $100,000 for Bell Socialization Services to provide homeless rental assistance and homeless prevention for those in York County struggling to maintain safe, stable housing. $100,000 for Emmanuel Community Development Corp. to provide for five veterans housing units at the East Side Community and Heath Center by 2020. $75,000 for the YWCA of York, which provides free comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, as they are the only provider in York County. This will fund a Read more
PHILADELPHIA , July 22 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta on Monday applauded Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and Disability Rights Pennsylvania for filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the more than 11,000 people who are set to lose General Assistance funding when the program ends Aug. 1. “Community Legal Services and Disability Rights Pennsylvania are speaking out on behalf of the most vulnerable among us in filing this lawsuit,” said Kenyatta, D-Phila. “Many of those who receive General Assistance are people who have a temporary or permanent disability that keeps them from work. “I and many of my Democratic colleagues spoke out on behalf of these citizens when we urged our Republican colleagues to save General Assistance,” Kenyatta said. “We were not heard in Harrisburg, but hopefully this lawsuit will be heard and heeded, and General Assistance can be saved.” In June, the General Assembly voted to end General Assistance, despite the pleas from many, including Kenyatta. Earlier this month, Kenyatta and state Rep. Melissa Shusterman introduced legislation to create an Emergency Relief program , funding for which would come from the state’s General Fund, to provide relief to those who will lose General Assistance. General Assistance provides about $200 of cash assistance to about 11,000 people across the state, including grandparents caring for their grandchildren, pregnant mothers and wounded Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 22 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., congratulated the Wynnefield Overbrook Revitalization Corp. on being awarded a $65,000 Commercial Corridor Cleaning Assistance Program grant from the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. “The Wynnefield Overbrook Revitalization Corporation has been an integral part of the community by addressing the essential points of community-building such as development, employment and ensuring nearby residents have a decent quality of life,” Cephas said. “I’d like to thank City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and the department’s director, Harold Epps, for their continued support to improve our commercial corridors. I am proud to see this grant be used to further this mission.” Cephas said the grant will be used towards creating local employment to maintain the cleanliness of streets, sidewalks and storefront areas, through a partnership between Wynnefield Overbrook Revitalization Corp. and Juveniles Active in Science and Technology Development Services Inc., a local non-profit that focuses on improving public health by ensuring communities in Philadelphia are more livable, sustainable and equitable. “This partnership will allow our young people to have access to jobs, most importantly jobs directly contributing and investing in their own community,” Cephas said. “Their hard work will, in turn, promote a decent quality of life for their fellow neighbors.” Read more
HARRISBURG, July 19 – Today, state Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., announced that the PA Liquor Control Board denied the renewal of a local liquor license to a Stop N’Go following complaints from the recently established Liquor Control Task Force and the community. “Stop N’Go establishments like this have been a major problem throughout our communities,” Cephas said. “Two years ago, my office launched a local Liquor Enforcement Taskforce in partnership with area stakeholders, including the 191st and 190th legislative districts. If a business doesn’t meet the requirements in the Liquor Code for seating, square footage, food or health, it shouldn’t be serving our community. This is about keeping people safe and ensuring these establishments aren’t circumventing the law.” Cephas said the business will have to cease operations at 11:59 pm on July 19. However, the licensee, Yong’s Place, will have 20 days to file an appeal in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. If an appeal is filed, the owner will be allowed to continue operating during the appeal process. “I appreciate my West Philadelphia colleague, Representative Cephas, for working collaboratively with me to address our quality of life concerns,” Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila., said. “Bad businesses that do not follow the established protocols serve as a haven for crime, and that reduces property values. I am thrilled to Read more
HARRISBURG, July 19 – Rep. Joanna McClinton spoke with members of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at Drexel University on Thursday, on the 10 th anniversary of Nelson Mandela International Day and what would have been the humanitarian’s 101 st birthday. “Meeting with the Fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders on such an auspicious day, and sharing with them my own professional journey, was an inspiring experience,” said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “These young people are tomorrow’s leaders, and I’m excited to see all that they will go on to accomplish to make their communities and the world a better place.” Mandela Day is recognized each July 18, in honor of the legacy of Mandela. The day is intended to remind those observing it of all that has been done to make the world a better place, and to consider the work that is still to be done. McClinton, the first African-American and woman to be elected as the House Democratic Caucus chair for the 2019-20 legislative session, fielded public policy questions from the group Thursday, and presented legislative citations on behalf of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative , which empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training and networking. The fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, have established Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Chris Rabb said the move by the Philadelphia Police Department to fire more than a dozen police officers who made racist or offensive Facebook posts is the right thing to do. “We rely on police officers to protect us, all of us, and to serve as an example of appropriate behavior in our community,” said Rabb, D-Phila. “Unethical, racist, inappropriate behavior or comments by police officers, like that exhibited by these officers from the Philadelphia Police Department, undermines the public’s trust in an institution that is supposed to serve us all. “Sending the message that such behavior will not be tolerated in any police department is the right thing to do,” Rabb said. “But it’s not enough if those police officers are able to find employment in another community that’s unsuspecting of their past behavior.” Rabb said his legislation, H.B. 1666 , would ensure that officers like those being fired by the Philadelphia Police Department cannot just move on to another department without leadership and the community being aware of their past behavior. Rabb said H.B. 1666 would not stop a department from hiring a police officer who separated from their last job after a pattern of allegations, complaints or charges for inappropriate behavior. But, it would ensure that the hiring departments are fully informed about whom they are hiring. “This legislation would empower Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic whip, announced today that two organizations in his district received a total of $950,000 from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund to help renovate and construct affordable housing. “This much-needed funding will improve and maintain access to affordable housing for those who need it the most,” Harris said. “Having consistent access to affordable housing is key in helping people maintain a quality standard of life in a place they can call their own home.” The Office for Community Development of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will receive $750,000 in PHARE funding toward the construction of St. Rita Place. This five-story, mixed use building will be built on a currently vacant lot and will include 46 one-bedroom apartments targeted toward seniors. Holy Trinity Baptist Church Enterprises Inc. will receive $200,000 in PHARE funding toward the Fitzwater Homes Preservation Project. This project will rehabilitate and extend the affordability of 22 units in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood of the 186 th Legislative District. These units are targeted toward low-income families. PHARE, which is managed by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, was established in 2010 to provide the mechanism to allocate certain state or federal funds to assist with the creation, rehabilitation and support of affordable housing throughout the Read more
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