PHILADELPHIA, July 10 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at Einstein Medical Center to discuss the preventable differences in health care experienced by socially disadvantaged populations. Kinsey requested the hearing to discuss how health care providers and community stakeholders can work together to reduce the burden of disease, injury, and violence to improve community health. “At a time when health care technology is advancing at exponential rates, people should not be dying from not having the medicine they need,” explained Kinsey, D-Phila. “It’s important that we work together to overcome to eliminate disparities and make sure that regardless of where people live or how much money they make, that they’ll have quality access to health care. Ultimately, it will strengthen our communities and workforce.” Testifiers include Theodore A. Christopher, MD, FACEP, Director of Office of Health Equity, Immediate Past President, Pennsylvania Medical Society; Rohit Gulati, MD, FACP, MBA, FACHE, Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Einstein Health Care Network; Dr. Howard LuVice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Health Partners Plans; David Saunders, Director of Office of Health Equity, Pennsylvania Department of Health; Raynard Washington, Chief Epidemiologist, Philadelphia Department of Public Health; Laura Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 8 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., announced today that the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will hold a public hearing on health disparities in conjunction with the House Democratic Policy Committee. The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 10 at Einstein Medical Center, Sheerr Building Auditorium, 1101 West Tabor Road, Philadelphia. The media and public are invited to attend. Kinsey requested the hearing to receive testimony from local stakeholders about what more the legislature can do to reduce health disparities in the Commonwealth, Testifiers include David Saunders, director of the Pa. Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity; Laura Handel, managing attorney with a Medical Legal Partnership; Raynard Washington, chief epidemiologist for Philadelphia Department of Public Health; AmeriHealth Caritas; Health Partners Plan; Einstein Health Care Network; and Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals. The meeting is one in a series held across the state on House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first, good jobs, healthcare access, quality schools and jobs training, and a fair economy. Additional information about the plan is available at www.plan4pa.com . For more information about the PLBC, go to www.pahouse.com/plbc . For more information about the Policy Committee, go to www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, July 8 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., joined the Council of State Governments Future of Work National Task Force for its first meeting to set goals for the biennium and to learn from speakers with expertise in the policy area. Bullock attended as a member of the Equity and inclusion Subcommittee. “As we explore the future of work in the United States, we need to focus on equity and inclusion at each step,” Bullock said. “Gender, race and other identities should not get in the way of someone’s career. That is why I am honored to be on this committee addressing the barriers that under-represented communities face.” The CSG Future of Work Task Force brings together a diverse group of state officials to explore how states can best navigate the challenges and opportunities of the new economy. Over the next two years, policymakers will survey best practices and innovative state initiatives during planned task force meetings, some of which will be held at annual CSG national conferences. Each subcommittee of The Future of Work Task Force has two co-chairs and 10 members. The four subcommittees are The Workforce of Tomorrow, Smart Government, What’s Next? Embracing the Future, and Equity and Inclusion. Read more
PHILADELPHIA , July 5 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., presented $30,000 in grant funding to two Philadelphia organizations today, which will be used on improvement projects. Kenyatta, who helped secure the state funds, presented a $15,000 check to Grands as Parents at its office on 2227 N. Broad St. The organization supports grandparents who currently serve as the caregivers for their grandchildren. “Grandparents as the primary caregivers of their grandchildren is becoming more common in our community. As lawmakers, we need to do all we can to help organizations like Grands as Parents continue to support these loving people,” Kenyatta said. The funding will go toward revitalizing its meeting space with new paint, heating system repairs, resealing the roof, and installation of a new floor. “This contribution from Representative Kenyatta is very important to us because most of the work we do around supporting grandparents and other caregivers isn't generally recognized with major government funding. So, this is a big, big plus for us. With the upgrades and building improvements this grant will cover, we won't have to worry about the safety of our kids here, and how we can provide a better place for these families,” Jean Hackney of Grands as Parents said. Kenyatta also presented a $15,000 check to Urban Creators, a community-collaborative which turned 3 acres of blighted land into a network of sustainable urban farms. Read more
HARRISBURG, July 1 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., today announced Gov. Tom Wolf signed the PA Farm Bill package into law, including his legislation that will increase childhood education and exposure to nutritious foods and Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. Burgos said the legislation will expand grants to support children in pre-k through fifth grade. The previous program only provided money to children in kindergarten. These grants will aid in increasing nutrition and agriculture education, including the integration of both topics into regular school subjects. “These grants will be awarded to areas where there is a high percentage of children who receive free or reduced-price meals at schools. Many of the young people in Philadelphia fall under that guideline and have limited to no exposure to healthy or nutritious foods. That is a big problem,” Burgos said. “By exposing children to foods that are beneficial to good health, it hopefully will provide a foundation for them to make nutritious choices for the rest of their lives. “I would like to thank Representative Johnathan Hershey for his bipartisan work on this legislation and to Governor Wolf for signing it into law.” Burgos added these grants will support training for teachers and other educational staff on nutrition and agriculture education; field trips to Pennsylvania farms and other agricultural educational experiences; and will allow inclusion of parents, Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today expressed his dismay with the announcement that Hahnemann University Hospital plans to close its doors . “As a former program coordinator at Hahnemann University Hospital, this is personal for me,” Kenyatta said. “I know a great number of people who work at Hahnemann, who will be among the roughly 3,000 people to lose their job if the hospital closes. “This historic hospital serves a low-income patient population, and is a teaching hospital, training doctors and nurses. Its closure would put more stress on other Philadelphia-area hospitals that are already experiencing emergency room wait times that are far and above the state and national averages. To close it would be devastating to residents who rely on it for accessible health care, to Drexel University and to our economy alike.” The day Hahnemann officials announced it would close, Kenyatta and other members of the Philadelphia delegation wrote to Gov. Tom Wolf, asking that he use every available power to keep Hahnemann open. The letter is available here . Kenyatta said he would continue to work with fellow lawmakers, the governor, the city and Hahnemann officials to find a way to keep the hospital open and serving the city. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 26 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins and Sen. Sharif Street, both D-Phila., were joined by their colleagues to push for criminal justice reform by giving some people who are serving life without parole a second chance. “We are locking away so many positive role models that could diffuse a lot of the crime that we are seeing throughout this nation and throughout this world,” Dawkins said. “There are some powerful stories being told of experience. These lessons are the one thing young people are missing. If they have the chance to hear the experience of the folks who spent 25, 35 or even 45 years behind bars, they may make different decisions about their lives.” House Bill 135, sponsored by Dawkins, would provide a chance for people to get parole after serving 25 or 35 years of a life sentence, regardless of their crime. They would go before the Board of Probation and Parole and would be released on parole if they deserve it and do not present a safety risk to the public. Dawkins added people convicted of murdering a law enforcement officer would not be eligible. The legislation also would create an Office of Reentry program to assist those who are released under the new eligibility standards. Street, who has a companion bill ( S.B. 942 ) in the state Senate, said their legislation highlights the growing need to reform parole for lifers in the commonwealth. “The economic and moral imperatives of this reform are clear. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., issued the following statement regarding House passage of the state budget bill: “I voted no on House Bill 790 because it doesn’t put all people first. For years, we have seen states that surround Pennsylvania increase the minimum wage – some at least twice -- since the last time it was increased here. It hasn’t changed in more than a decade, yet people continue to struggle to make ends meet. “The people of Philadelphia deserve a living wage. The city has a poverty rate of 26%. If a person is making $7.25 an hour, which is a shame in the first place, their annual income is only $14,616 a year, and that’s before taxes! Our citizens should not work hard for 40 hours or more every week and still live below the poverty line. Pennsylvania is long-overdue to raise the minimum wage, yet this budget ignores that. “This budget bill also forgets our most vulnerable citizens by eliminating the General Assistance fund. This money would have helped those Pennsylvanians who just need a little bit of help. It could have been for things that many of us take for granted: buying toiletries, diapers for babies, getting the bus to go to a doctor’s appointment. “The $200 a month provided by the General Assistance fund would help victims of domestic abuse, residents with disabilities, our veterans, and people who are struggling with opioid addiction. It’s a Read more
PHILADELPHIA, June 21 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., welcomed The Food Trust’s Night Market Philadelphia for the first time to the Overbrook section of her district on Thursday. The event took place along Lancaster Avenue, between 61st and 63rd streets – lined with food trucks, vendors and live entertainment. “As a community partner of this event, I was excited to work with Overbrook West Neighborhoods to bring the Night Market Philadelphia to the 192nd Legislative District,” Cephas said. “It was a great opportunity for people to come together and enjoy plenty of food and entertainment. Night Market Overbrook also provided us with an opportunity to encourage civic engagement while promoting community and economic development. I look forward to the opportunity to welcome Night Market Philadelphia to the district in the future.” Cephas added Night Market Overbrook was made possible by several sponsors including first timers Mann Music Center, Please Touch Museum, Overbrook School for the Blind, The Friends of the Dell Music Center, West Philadelphia Financial Services Institute, Keystone First and Saint Joseph’s University, in addition to Green Mountain Energy, Xfinity, Penn Beer, Lankenau Medical Center, Together for West Philadelphia and Bath Fitter/Kitchen Saver. Entertainment included West Philadelphia’s own Joie Kathos, who headlined the event. The Food Trust’s Night Market event takes place in Read more
HARRISBURG, June 20 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the PLBC recognized seven Pennsylvania students as scholarship recipients at the PLBC scholarship award reception at the Capitol today. The recipients will receive a $1,000 scholarship to their chosen accredited four-year college or university. "The PLBC Scholarship Program lets us reward hardworking students by helping to offset some of the costs of higher education," Kinsey said. "I am honored that we can continue to reward dedicated students of color in Pennsylvania.” The 2019 scholarship recipients are: Name of Student College/University Legislator Sponsors Ariana Cruz Ohio State University Rep. Kim Domenique Ross Howard University Rep. Wheatley Jae Fitch York College Rep. Hill-Evans Nahla Turner Howard University Rep. Kinsey/Sen. Haywood Jayla Hayden North Carolina A&T State University Rep. Cephas/Sen. Hughes Alphonso Samukai Cheyney University Rep. McClinton/Sen. Williams Tai Humphery Florida A&M University Rep. Fitzgerald/Sen. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic Whip, released the following statement in response to this morning’s explosion at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery: “First and foremost, I’m relieved to hear that as of this point, officials believe there are no injuries in the explosion that ripped through the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery on Passyunk Avenue early today. The safety of the employees, first responders and citizens that live in South and Southwest Philadelphia is of the utmost importance. “Though this incident occurred outside my district, the flames and smoke were clearly visible from our community and my constituents have a right to be concerned about their safety and well-being. Over 150,000 people live in South and Southwest Philadelphia and we deserve the peace of mind of knowing that our homes and lives are not in danger. “Government at all levels, local, state and federal, has a job to do to ensure that the proper safety standards are met and our industrial complexes, which provide thousands of jobs to local residents, are operating in a safe and efficient manner. Though this directly impacts South Philadelphia, the entire city and region breathes the same air and drinks the same water. Incidents like this must be taken seriously to ensure public safety, and I’m extremely concerned that this is the second explosion within two weeks at the same facility. Read more
PA Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Stephen Kinsey thanks Rep. Sue Helm and Governor Tom Wolf for making PA the second state to sign legislation making Juneteenth an annual holiday. He also recognized the Mills family, and all of the individuals/organizations who never gave up. Read more
HARRISBURG, June 17 – The Philadelphia Delegation of the General Assembly released the following the statement following a weekend in which 28 victims were involved in 19 shootings leaving five dead in the city: “Father’s Day weekend, in which 28 Philadelphians were shot, opened a wound of gun violence that we can’t let fester. Our constituents and our city deserve a safe environment, and it’s imperative that we have all hands-on deck from various levels of government to deal with this issue. “With that in mind, we’re asking Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner to work together in a coordinated way to reduce the scourge of gun violence in our city. We’re also asking Mayor Kenney to issue an executive order to formulate an emergency response in Philadelphia to facilitate these coordinated efforts. There is no more time for thoughts and prayers. We need action before we unnecessarily lose more life in our city. “This weekend can’t set the tone for what this summer will be like in Philadelphia. More and more, these incidents are impacting our teenagers and young adults, and until we have concrete steps to take to address this public health epidemic the number of victims will only continue to rise. We look forward to working together with all parties to find a resolution to this epidemic that works for the city now, not later.” Read more
Pennsylvania lawmakers discuss Meek Mill, Jay Z, and Michael Rubin's involvement in the bipartisan effort to reform probation & parole policies Read more
2019 PLBC Scholarship Winners Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced the formal introduction of bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring adequate mental health resources for students in public schools. Known as “Phillip’s Law,” the bill ( H.B. 1622 ) would require the Department of Education to investigate the number of school mental health professionals available to students, as well as make recommendations on how to increase their numbers to meet nationally accepted levels. It was introduced by Kenyatta and state Reps. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks, and Joanna McClinton, D-Phila. Kenyatta suggested the legislation following the death of an 11-year-old student from his district, Phillip, who committed suicide after school. The child’s family said he urgently tried to get the attention of support staff but was unable to connect. “When an 11-year-old takes his life, everyone must take stock of how and why children can get that far in their despair,” Kenyatta said. “The tragedy of Phillip’s passing sheds light on the fact that school mental health professionals are not always available or equipped to identify and intervene when a child is suffering. In fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff, and there certainly is not enough funding provided for it. But there should be.” Kenyatta recently created an action item on his website, www.pahouse.com/Kenyatta , to give Pennsylvanians Read more
HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, today announced that her amendment to H.B. 357 has been adopted in the House chamber. “Certain charter schools have complicated our public school funding formula for years, and the funding that goes to public schools should not be going to these charters if they have plans to disband or terminate their charter,” Hill-Evans said. “I’m happy that my colleagues have agreed to my amendment that would make it illegal to allow more students to enroll at a charter school if they plan to eliminate their charter. Our tax dollars and our students should not be sent to a charter school if it is going to be shut down within less than a year.” Hill-Evans' amendment would make it so that upon notification of a nonrenewal or termination of a charter, a charter school may not enroll new students unless the charter school files an appeal to the Charter School Appeal Board. If that appeal is denied, the charter school must immediately stop enrolling new students. In 2013-14, the York City School District paid $9 million in charter school tuition to New Hope Academy, with nearly half a million attributable to New Hope’s enrollment growth between 2012-13 and 2013-14. The school closed in 2014. The latest to shut down is Helen Thackston Charter School after a legal battle over audit reports with the York City School District, and a decision not to appeal the court ruling ordering it to Read more
HARRISBURG, June 11 – Bipartisan legislation that would protect employees in the commonwealth from sexual harassment in the workplace passed in the House today by a vote of 199-0, said state Rep. Morgan Cephas, prime co-sponsor of the bill. House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring current or prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment. It would not prevent such an agreement if both parties consent to it. “Sexual harassment can take many vile forms. The one thing all these reprehensible acts have in common, however, is that they frequently involve attempts by the perpetrator to silence the victim – to exert undue influence and power over them,” said Cephas, D-Phila. “It’s often done through an insidious practice in which the employee is forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.” Cephas said the bill would prohibit employers from forcing employees to sign agreements that prevent them from disclosing, reporting or participating in a sexual harassment investigation. “This bill would be an important step toward protecting all employees in the commonwealth from the scourge of sexual harassment, the pain and humiliation it inflicts on victims and the havoc it can wreak on their lives,” Cephas noted. “The legislation is a product of bipartisan effort, thanks to the prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Kate Klunk.” House Read more
As part of her ongoing fight for criminal justice reform, state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell is teaming up with state Sen. Vincent Hughes to hold an Expungement, Clemency, and Pardons Clinic this Friday, June 14. The event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Bible Way Baptist Church, 1323 N. 52 nd St. Legal experts from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, Philadelphia Defenders Association, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and Community Legal Services will be on hand to provide free information about the criminal justice system, explain eligibility requirements, and offer limited on-site application assistance. Read more
We are hopeful that the Philadelphia Police Department will conduct a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into widespread social media posting of racist and offensive content by certain officers. In our letter to Commissioner Ross, we’ve encouraged him to publicly hold accountable those found to be responsible and to send a clear message that racism will not be tolerated in any form. Read more
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