On Feb. 15 at 8 a.m., I set out to walk the boundary of the 177 Legislative District, our home. I stepped out my front door onto Wakeling Street, turned left and kept going for the next five days. I was looking to learn more about the inside of the district by walking the outside of it. I was inspired by the Walk Around Philly initiative, which happens twice a year throughout February and September. I joined organizer JJ Tiziou for the two days that my border along the Delaware River overlaps the city’s border. Read more
In Harrisburg, our most important job is to pass a budget that makes people’s lives easier. We must support our schools, establish a safety net for when people face hardships, create a business environment of opportunity and respect for workers’ rights, and ensure community safety. A budget is a moral document, and it should reflect the best we have to offer each other. With $5 billion in extra revenue this year and the remaining American Rescue Plan (ARPA) dollars, the time is now to consider a range of measures that would protect life, including investments in maternal health, repair toxic schools that sicken children across the commonwealth, help families afford quality childcare or have paid time off to care for an aging loved one, and support Pennsylvania’s seniors. We can support our citizens at the same time we invest in our economy and infrastructure. The opportunity exists to fund both social programs and economic development at historic levels. We must have foresight to seize that opportunity. In my first three years in the legislature, I voted against the final budget each time – because each time it did not do enough for the people of the commonwealth and my neighborhoods. I hope that this year’s budget will include enough of the initiatives described below so that I can finally vote ‘yes.’ My first budget priority is our kids and our schools. I support proposals that will increase early childhood education by $70M Read more
Pa. state Rep. Joe Hohenstein will always fight for greater access to and support of healthcare for people who can become pregnant. Here in Pa., abortion remains safe and legal, and he is working to keep it that way. With the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, he is fighting to make sure no one else loses access to safe healthcare. Read more
Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia, called the unfettered right to bear arms a myth that leads to the type of violence seen in the Wild West. “We can say all we want about how guns will make certain people safer, they also make a whole lot of other people less safe,” he said during the brief hearing in the Capitol. Violence is occurring with legally purchased guns, he noted. “It’s legal purchases of firearms that are turning into the mass shootings that we see.” Read more
One of my biggest frustrations with the legislative process is that it can be like a glacier – frozen solid and unmovable. In Harrisburg, the rules give power to a single person – a committee chair from the majority party – to freeze a bill and keep it from ever being considered. This power is ripe for abuse – and it has kept bills that had more co-sponsors than the 102 needed to pass the bill from reaching the full House. This week we saw that power wielded again by Rep. Rob Kauffman, the majority chair of the Judiciary Committee. Chair Kauffman is on record that he would never pass or move forward bills that reflect commonsense gun safety policy. For this entire session, and for many sessions before, he has refused to move bills on safe gun storage (HB699), an assault weapons ban (HB770), local control over firearms regulations (HB1538), and temporary prevention of people in mental health crisis from possessing firearms (HB1903). Last week, I joined my Democratic colleagues in asking for those four bills to be discharged – to allow them to fly over the glacier in the Judiciary Committee and come to the full House for debate and a vote. These four bills do not represent the entire solution to our gun violence epidemic, but they are important pieces of the puzzle. It is wrong to reject them, like Chair Kauffman has done, and prevent us from even discussing them. Regardless of where you stand on the wisdom of the Read more
Pa. state Rep. Joe Hohenstein is disabled and proud. He says that Disability Pride is all about giving people a platform to show the world their true, fierce selves. He says the world often teaches people what is 'normal' and that people like him are different. He sees this as an opportunity to teach others what real humanity is. He is advocating for himself and others to be proud, angry, and strong enough to lift up themselves and those who need help. Read more
On Tuesday our nation was rocked once again by a horrific act of gun violence on the most innocent in our society: young school children. A shooter walked into Rabb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas at approximately 11:32 am after shooting his grandmother and crashing his vehicle near the school. The 18- year-old male gunman was fatally shot by law enforcement on the scene after killing at least 19 children and two adults. The suspect had a handgun, an AR-14 assault weapon, and high-capacity magazines. I cannot tell you what was going through that young man’s mind when he decided to take the lives of children and teachers. I cannot tell you what went through those scared children’s and teachers’ minds as they cowered in fear. What I can tell you is that this never should have happened, and it should never happen again. I can also tell you that this incident does not stand alone and is more connected to our community than some may have you believe. Gun violence is an indiscriminate plague on our society that touches every corner of this nation, both rural and urban, white and black, old and young, in supermarkets and elementary schools, and on the streets every day here in Philadelphia. You don’t need me to tell you how many young school-age children are gunned down every day in our city; I hear you when you tell me how gun violence has shaken your world. Many of us have been touched by what seems to be the uncontrollable and inevitable tragedy of gun Read more
Boom boom boom. Boom boom boom. This is the soundtrack of our neighborhood in summer, each summer for the past few years. At times, this boom on repeat is punctuated with the high-pitched revving of engines from illegal motorbikes and ATVs. Some people call this a quality-of-life issue. But the loss of sleep, the suffering of pets and kids from all the noise and the feeling that you and your neighbors are forgotten affect more than just the quality of your life, they affect how you Live. It is that feeling of being forgotten, of not being seen or heard, that is the most painful. At times we feel too poor for people to see us, or too well off for the government to spend resources on us. Welcome to the middle neighborhoods. The middle is fine if you are middle class or Malcolm, but middle neighborhoods are places that are too often overlooked. The Riverwards, and especially Port Richmond and Bridesburg, are being overlooked now. Our police are – correctly – addressing gun violence in other parts of the city. These communities are alone in the battle against the boom boom boom. I am working to change that. Over the past year, I have met regularly with the police, city agencies, and neighborhood stakeholders to address what has grown from a nuisance to a public health issue affecting entire neighborhoods who feel hostage to the noise. We worked on plans in a few different areas. One place we had success was at Frankford Boat Launch, Read more
Hohenstein issues a statement after testing positive for COVID-19. Read more
It is the day after our Primary Election Day, one of the most partisan days of the year. Most folks in the middle are often left wondering whether anyone in power is interested in the greater good. In my work for the people of my neighborhoods in the 177th, my focus has always been on the basics: better jobs, better schools, and safer communities. It is easy to say, but not so easy to accomplish because the same words can mean different things to everyone. One of the words that has many different meanings is Freedom. Everyone agrees it is a fundamental principle of our life in the United States but we can’t come to a common definition. I have spoken before about the three dimensions of freedom : individual liberty, equality of liberty for the entire population, and a system of being accountable to each other when our rights collide. To me, the way I judge whether to support a particular expression of individual liberty is whether the people exercising it recognize its impact on others. I am concerned with a ‘me first’ approach that gives no consideration to the impact one right has on another. I am also concerned with a definition of freedom that does not account for the greater good. To me, freedom of speech and expression means everyone speaking their mind, but not closing minds by banning books. To me, economic freedom means fair wages, safe workplaces, and ensuring workers right to organize; not the ‘right to work’ Read more
STATE PROGRAMS NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS: Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs: Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Loan Repayment Program (LRP) (Funding Source: Federal Funding) Who May Apply : Eligible practitioners with the capacity to provide SUD treatment or SCA-funded case management services at approved practice site(s) and can demonstrate a minimum of two prior years of experience in the SUD field as well as a service commitment of two additional years. Use : To support the supply, distribution and retention of individuals delivering SUD treatment and SCA funded case management services. Funds : Varies by award. Application Deadline : May 26, 2022 More Information : Click on https://www.ddap.pa.gov/Documents/Funding%20documents/GIFA%2022-02%20LoanRepayment_applicationguidance.pdf . Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency: Enhancing Services to Culturally Specific Populations Program (Funding Source: Federal Funding) Who May Apply : A nonprofit organization for which the primary purpose of the organization as a whole is to provide culturally specific services to one or more of the following racial and ethnic communities: 1) American Indians (including Alaska Natives, Eskimos, and Aleuts); 2) Asian Americans; 3) Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders; 4) Blacks; and 5) Hispanics. Use : To establish, expand, or Read more
Pennsylvania’s 2022 primary election will be held a week from today on Tuesday, May 17. I sincerely hope you exercise a most fundamental right in America, and vote! Read more
This week, a draft opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States was leaked in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson. This draft would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision and, in the process, send a message to more than half of all Americans that they cannot control their own bodies; that they are second-class citizens, without access to safe, legal abortion. This decision is troubling, and the way it came to light is also troubling. Read more
This week, a draft opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States was leaked in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson. This draft would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision and, in the process, send a message to more than half of all Americans that they cannot control their own bodies; that they are second class citizens, without access to safe, legal abortion. This decision is troubling, and the way it came to light is also troubling. I believe that anyone who can become pregnant deserves access to care – including a safe abortion – as part of their fundamental human rights. I have always supported the right to choose, and I will continue to do so in the Pennsylvania legislature. I often say, that as a representative, it is my role to hear my constituents and amplify their voices, especially on issues where I may be the only person in power listening to them. In a male-dominated legislature, it is my obligation to listen to anyone who may become pregnant; respect what they say about their own health, bodies, and the choices they have to make in all aspects of health care; and give voice to their experiences and needs. On this issue, I stand with all people who assert the need for equal access to the full range of health care, including safe, legal abortion. The leak of this draft decision presents a second threat beyond the very real danger of cutting off health care access and control over a person’s own body. That threat is to the legitimacy of the Read more
The people of Philadelphia are living in fear, and they are looking for answers. The Inquirer recently reported on a Pew survey that found 70% of Philadelphians view community safety as the primary issue affecting the city. Here are some more numbers from the Philadelphia City Controller’s report on gun violence clearance rates and case outcomes that came out in 2020: just 37% of fatal shootings were cleared by the PPD. At the same time, the number of individuals arrested for illegal gun possession increased by more than 100% between 2015 and 2020. While gun possession arrests have drastically increased, conviction rates — the share of cases prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office that result in conviction — for gun possession declined. Between 2015 and 2020, the share of illegal gun possession cases resulting in conviction fell from 65% to 42%. The bottom line from the facts and figures is that our neighbors all across the city do not feel safe or protected by those of us that are entrusted with their wellbeing. Different communities have different relationships with law enforcement. For some the police mean security. For others cops and the system are something to be feared and distrusted. The solutions we craft need to incorporate these divergent attitudes and combine respect with common sense of change. And make no mistake, we need to provide solutions that are different from what we are doing now. If we don’t, fear will continue to Read more
Last week, Governor Wolf announced funding totaling more than $11 million for 26 apprenticeship programs statewide. The Wistar Institute, in our community, earned one of the 26 awards, netting a $649,551 grant for its work in biosciences. Read more
This week, the House majority passed a shameful bill to deny trans students the right to compete as their true selves in scholastic sports across Pennsylvania. Needless to say, I voted ‘no’ on the bill, even though H.B. 972 passed along party lines. Governor Tom Wolf will undoubtedly veto the bill should it reach his desk, but the House majority Republican political theater was hurtful enough for me to need to say something here. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Joe Hohenstein discusses the inequality that members of the Trans Community face in the Commonwealth. He believes that all Pennsylvanians, especially members of the #TransCommunity, should have the ability to change their identities and names without going through a biased process. Read more
This week, I’d like to share with you information about fishing across PA and in our region. Trout season opened Saturday. Read on for all you need to know to get you excited and prepared for the season! Read more
This past Saturday my office joined with Riverfront North Partnership, fellow Rep. Mike Driscoll, and the Philadelphia 6 th Councilmanic Office to help clean up Lardner’s Point Park on the Delaware River. It was a brisk, cold, early Spring day – the day the PA Fish & Boat Commission designated for the Trout Opener. We did our work in the morning, getting trash from short dumping together and cleaning the area so people can continue to enjoy it. Around about noon, we celebrated the opening of an art installation by Rebecca Shultz of Tacony LAB. The combination of the river’s natural beauty and Rebecca’s artistic grace was something that brought joy to all in attendance. We left our worries and concerns and complaints at the riverside. We simply savored the sweetness of the water, the light sting of the wind, and absorbed the river’s sights and sounds. These are the moments that are the reason I requested appointment to the Fish & Game Committee. People deserve to have the river, the natural world, in their lives and at their fingertips. The 177 th has about four miles of the Delaware Riverfront and after re-districting we will have more than 6 miles. In my great-grandparents’ day, over a century ago, people had access to the river and its creeks and streams. They caught fish, like the prodigious sturgeon, caught in Frankford Creek near Thompson Street, pictured here. Today, we have only a few spaces to Read more
This week in the House, majority Republicans from the Education Committee moved a mean-spirited bill to exclude trans athletes from playing and competing with their peers. Read more
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