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
My family loves our pit bull, Gertie. Drama, our German shepherd/cattle dog mix, found Gertie as a four-month-old puppy on March 17, 2016 under a pickup truck, emaciated, and scared out of her puppy mind. We brought her home, got her spayed and checked out by the vet. We welcomed her into our home. Doing the math, we figured out that Gertie was probably a holiday present for a family that was not ready for a dog. She was left on the street to fend for herself. Those first four months have left Gertie anxious and excitable – not a good combination in a 70-pound pit bull. Fortunately, my wife Brandi has infinite patience and we have worked through some serious ups and downs, training Gertie and eventually isolating her from most social contact. Today, Gertie is happy with her sister Drama, and brother, Chief Hopper (our tri-pawed rescued from 69 th Street Terminal, but that is a story for another piece) and all the cat cousins in our house. She is the right pet for our home, but she would not be for others. I have the honor of serving on the board of the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Team, which has about 18,000 animals through its doors annually. It serves three roles: as a rescue, providing veterinary care, and administering an adoption program. It is funded by the City of Philadelphia and handles this large caseload with a much lower budget than any other major city rescue and adoption shelter. Since its inception in 2012, ACCT Philly has Read more
HARRISBURG, Dec. 7 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein today announced $4.5 million in grant funding for four area organizations, including $1 million to assist in converting the Old Port Richmond Power Plant into a commercial/entertainment destination. “These grant funds will go far in helping our community in several ways,” Hohenstein said. “The grant award for Frankel Management Company to convert Old Port Richmond Power Plant into a commercial and entertainment destination is fantastic for the city of Philadelphia, which will see a positive impact in the local economy as a result of this project because it’s going to add jobs and drive revenue. “I have been a supporter of the Old Port Richmond Power Plant project and wrote a letter of support back in March for the project to receive grant funding because I believe in its potential to have a tremendous positive impact,” Hohenstein added. “And the other grant awards in our district are sure to have a positive impact, as well.” The three other projects receiving funding in Hohenstein’s legislative district are: $1.5 million for Jacquin’s distillery, which is Pennsylvania’s oldest distillery. $1 million for the Arsenal. $1 million for Trinity Police Athletic League, which encompasses a police athletic league in Hohenstein’s district on Clearfield Street. The funding for these projects was awarded through the Redevelopment Assistance Read more
This holiday season, in reflecting on what kind of society we are, I think it makes sense to examine the guiding principles of our nation and Commonwealth that require us to welcome refugees into our communities. The protection of liberty, equal opportunity for all, and social responsibility make up our very essence. In short, our democracy is a celebration of humanity. This is reflected in our makeup: a melting pot of cultures, faces, and stories from every corner of the world, so rich in its diversity that no other place on earth comes close to matching it, save for the planet itself. Refugees from Afghanistan and Haiti seeking to relocate to the Commonwealth are doing so for reasons similar to those of many of our ancestors, experiences captured and immortalized by Emma Lazarus’ famous sonnet beckoning the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” At some point in the family history of many Pennsylvanians is an immigrant or refugee, traveling to this land in search of a better life. My own history includes ancestors from Germany and Ireland coming to Philadelphia more than 150 years ago. Many Americans share this special bond. The recent influx of refugees into the Commonwealth from Afghanistan is a continuation of this great tradition. Resettled Afghans bring with them a proud and storied history. Tempered by time and conflict, they are no strangers to great achievements and stubborn perseverance. Much like ours, contemporary Read more
HARRISBURG, Nov. 19 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein announced the Commonwealth Financing Authority has awarded a $150,000 Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program grant to Friends of Samuel Rec to be used to renovate the basketball courts at Bernard Samuel Playground. “You can learn a lot about life through the game of basketball, like how fundamental skills are tied to your ability to succeed, and how important it is to work with your team,” Hohenstein said. “I’m thrilled that $150,000 in grant funding will be returning to my district to renovate the basketball court area of Samuel Playground. I know that the investment will not only allow those who use the court to enrich their physical health but also help them make strides socially by teaching them about the value of hard work and teamwork.” The funding for the grant comes from Act 13 of 2012, which established the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority for planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects using the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program. The program allows funds to be used for projects which involve development, rehabilitation and improvements to public parks, recreation areas, greenways, trails and river conservation. Contact Hohenstein’s office at 215-744-2600 for more information about the grant. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Joe Hohenstein opposes and moves to postpone the consideration of Senate Bill 565. This bill would end the requirements to carry concealed weapons and lowers the age from 21 to 18. Hohenstein says that individual liberty, equal rights for all, and accountability form the three dimensions of freedom. It is possible to attain the goals of the 2nd Amendment, ensuring a safe and free society. This legislation has only a one-dimensional look at freedom and would give us a more dangerous society. Read more
STATE PROGRAMS NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS: Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs: Substance Use Disorder Drop-In Centers (Funding Source: Federal Funding) Who Can Apply : Existing drop-in centers in Allegheny, Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. Single County Authorities (SCAs) are not eligible to apply, nor are DDAP-licensed treatment providers. Use : To expand drop-in center services for individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) in areas of the commonwealth experiencing high overdose deaths. Funds : Approximately two to three grants up to $650,000 each will be awarded. Application Deadline : December 13 More Information : Click on https://www.ddap.pa.gov/DDAPFunding/Pages/Funding-Opportunities.aspx . Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency: Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training (PACTT) Grants (Funding Source: General Fund) Who Can Apply : Residential facilities, community-based, and/or juvenile probation office providers that are PACTT Affiliates primarily serving adjudicated delinquent youth. Use : To advance academic and career/technical training among adjudicated youth receiving services while in residential facilities, from community-based providers, and through juvenile probation departments. Funds : Up to $75,000. Application Deadline : December 22 More Information Read more
Freedom has three dimensions. Our Constitution is not a flat, lifeless piece of paper. It is a document that we have interpreted for more than 230 years. This week in Harrisburg, we are discussing the Constitutional right to carry a concealed, loaded weapon anywhere – without any accountability to fellow citizens – Senate Bill 565 . Some people call this “Constitutional carry” and others call it “permitless carry.” I believe the key difference is whether you have a flat, one dimensional view of the Constitution, or you can see all three elements of true freedom: individual liberty, equality, and accountability. This is a complicated issue. No matter which side of the issue you are on we all agree on that. We should have a debate, hear from all the different sides – people who feel safer with guns in their community and those who see guns as dangerous, fueling rises in suicide deaths and violence in our streets. In Harrisburg, that debate was cut short when the Republican supporters of SB565 moved to table all of the Democratic amendments to the bill. This means that no one was able to talk about what those amendments would do to make the bill better, to improve and balance the individual liberty to own a gun with the right to public safety. How we can we give life to the words of the Second Amendment? It reads: “ A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of Read more
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a game changing law that establishes programs to create millions of family sustaining jobs, address the climate crisis, and connect us through classic infrastructure like bridges and roads and informational infrastructure to get high speed internet to everyone, no matter where they live in this great country of ours. The basics of the act are simple, but powerful things that everyone can agree makes sense: Clean water – replacing lead pipes and getting truly clean, safe drinking water to everyone. For people in the Riverwards, this should mean improvements to an aging water system going underneath increasingly unstable streets. Access to the internet – providing $65 Billion. While this is primarily focused on rural areas, the program will also make internet services more affordable and provide good paying jobs in the trades for constructing the physical infrastructure that will be needed. Roads, bridges, and climate change (oh my) – the investment to repair our roads and bridges is designed to be completed in a way that will reduce our impact on climate change. Again, for people of the 177 th , there is a program that will impact us directly – Safe Streets and Roads – to reduce traffic fatalities. Mass transit and rail – appropriating almost $90 Billion over the next five years to agencies like SEPTA to improve and expand services and expand fleets Read more
On May 19, 1963, President John F. Kennedy told students at Vanderbilt University, “the educated citizen knows that … only an educated and informed people will be a free people – that the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” Our right as citizens to vote was established with our Constitution in 1787, first as a right of white, landowning men, then developed and expanded to include everyone after they turn 18. Now more than ever we need to be vigilant to make sure that universal access remains not only the letter of the law but the truth in practice. In most elections, a small percentage of eligible people vote. There are many reasons for that. I believe one of the most important is tied to what President Kennedy identified – education. Our lives are busy, but I encourage you to become an ‘educated citizen.’ On Tuesday we’ll mostly vote for statewide and local judges. Who our judges are matters, so it is important to learn their positions on issues, their reputations for ethics and truth, and their reputations for fairness and balance. Tomorrow is the final day to cast a vote in this year’s election. For the past seven weeks, our fellow citizens have been voting, casting votes at voting centers or by mail. Early figures show that in this year, one year removed from a historic Presidential election, we are lagging. Of over 110,000 mail-in ballots requested by Read more
The 2022 Open Enrollment Period for Pennsylvanians seeking health insurance coverage through Pennie is now open (as of Monday, Nov. 1) and will remain open through Jan. 15, 2022 . Pennie connects customers with financial aid and helps them shop for, compare and purchase health insurance. Nearly everyone qualifies for savings because of the American Rescue Plan. Pennie was created through legislation in 2019, moving Pennsylvania from the federal-based exchange to a state-based marketplace, which helped residents save hundreds – and, in some cases, thousands – of dollars on health insurance. Customers may see additional savings when enrolling in a 2022 Pennie plan because of the American Rescue Plan, according to state Rep. Tony DeLuca , Democratic Chairman of the House Insurance Committee. If you have questions, Pennie has answers via its FAQ page . Visit Pennie.com or call 1-844-844-8040 for more information. While open enrollment continues through Jan. 15, 2022, the last day to enroll for coverage starting Jan. 1 is Dec. 15, 2021 . Visit the Pennsylvania Insurance Department website for more information on how to get health insurance. Read more
HARRISBURG, Oct. 26 – State lawmakers representing the Philadelphia region have introduced legislation to start and fund a nonpartisan, academic research center on gun violence in Pennsylvania with the goal of providing policymakers and the public with accurate data to develop policies and programs that prevent gun violence. House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton joined state Reps. Joe Hohenstein and Stephen Kinsey in introducing the bill (H.B.2009), which was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review. “In 2019, there were 1,541 people killed in Pennsylvania as a result of gun violence,” Hohenstein said. “There is a dire need to implement new policies that could prevent so much unnecessary death in our communities.” McClinton strongly agreed. “Gun violence has become a massive public-health crisis that must be addressed now,” McClinton said. “This center would provide key research to determine the main causes behind gun violence and what strategies are most effective at reducing it in Pennsylvania.” Gun violence is particularly rampant in Philadelphia, where more than 2,200 people were shot in 2020, according to statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department. “Shootings are happening more frequently and our current approach to combat them is not working,” Kinsey said. “Our duty as legislators is to protect and serve our constituents. Establishing this research center is Read more
My parents raised me to always pay attention to the people who needed a little help being heard. Often, those people were the ‘different’ kids, people with disabilities that make them go through life with extra challenges. This week, the people who are members of the Intellectual Disability/Autism (ID/A) community are paying attention to the people who need to be heard. They are raising their voices, not for themselves, but for the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who take care of them. In a role reversal, folks in wheelchairs, who live in constant need, are calling on me and my fellow legislators to provide DSPs with living wages and safe workplaces. To be sure, this is not completely altruistic, but the ID/A community has recognized that if justice and fairness are to prevail, we need to take care of everyone in the care system for people with disabilities. #SuportMeSupportDSPS is their moto. Among the people who came to Harrisburg is Michael Anderson, an advocate from the ARC of Philadelphia. I first met Michael in my Bridesburg office, and I just saw him again, lobbying this week in Harrisburg for the fair treatment of the people who serve his community. Michael is a forceful voice for people like him who need improved services. He knows all about the Community Living Waiver backlog that has left 10,000+ eligible and deserving individuals (and the families of those folks) to live in constant limbo. Michael knows that even before Read more
In Pennsylvania’s male-dominated, Republican-controlled legislature, women need allies to ensure their health care rights and access to safe, legal abortions. I am an ally. My role in this debate is to vote for policies that ensure women equal and adequate health care. My role is to speak truth to the power that my fellow lawmakers – predominantly middle-aged white guys like me – wield over women’s needs. Too often, this debate devolves into judgmental statements that focus exclusively on the woman and her actions and choices, as if these decisions exist in some bubble that absolves men from having to contend with these extremely difficult and personal decisions relating to abortion. The debate also gets bogged down by philosophical and theological gray areas and a continually threatening loop. In reality, a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion is necessary for public health. We are talking about access to a full range of health care by more than half our population (there are nearly 280,000 more women than men in the state). Everyone should have accurate information about all their health care options, which includes access to abortion. Restricting that information and access – especially in the draconian manner contemplated in the Texas and Mississippi laws currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court – will not eliminate abortions. It will only make getting one more difficult and dangerous. The result will Read more
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 22 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., will hold a news conference at noon Friday, Sept. 24, at 2343 E. York St., the home of a constituent who is dealing with the aftermath of faulty construction in her neighborhood. Hohenstein will be joined by fellow lawmakers and people who have been impacted by shoddy techniques used during construction on their homes or in their neighborhoods and those who are fighting the massive, out-of-scale development they say threatens to change the whole character of their blocks. Among those expected to join Hohenstein Friday are: Drew Miller and Venise Whitaker, representing the Riverwards L&I Coalition, a neighborhood group seeking to help neighbors fight irresponsible development. Adrian Bondy and Hanna Sherril from the Build Like You Live Here campaign and their fight against a monstrous development at 2400 E. Huntingdon St. Clarice Brooks, who will discuss the lack of protection for existing neighbors. Megan Murray, who will discuss faulty new home construction. Tamika Tansley, who will talk about the lack of protection for faulty renovations – especially with stucco. Nancy Lewis and Michelle Gaffney, who also will talk about the lack of protection for existing neighbors. State Reps. Mike Driscoll, 173 rd Legislative District, and Mary Read more
The only way to stop the merry-go-round of school and business closures, of hospitals being overrun, and of the economic crises that result in lost work is to get as many people vaccinated as possible and to engage in other behavior that will mitigate the spread. Read more
It doesn’t take much to be a good neighbor. The folks at Riverwards L&I Coalition have invoked America’s neighbor, Mr. Rogers, as part of its drive to have our neighborhoods respected. “The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling they are worthwhile,” he once said. I know my neighbors are worthwhile; their lives and their families are valuable. If others fail to regard that value, I want to show them the way. That is why I am introducing a package of bills in Harrisburg that seeks to hold builders and developers accountable when they fail to recognize the value of people who put their trust in them to care for their investments. A family’s most valuable investment is their home. It is where we watch our children grow, where we celebrate life’s victories, and where we comfort one another during difficult times. In recent years, several issues have arisen in the Philadelphia region regarding residential construction and faulty, defective building materials and/or building techniques. I have heard stories from many families who were impacted by shoddy techniques used during construction and faced repairs costing tens of thousands of dollars. Other long-time residents have had the quiet enjoyment of their home disintegrated by profit-mongering builders who literally cut corners and leave once stable rowhomes at risk of collapse. In some of my neighborhoods, Read more
Our experiences of September 11, 2001 are, first and foremost, intensely personal. As Laurie Guadagno, sister of Flight 93 hero Richard Guadagno, put it: “The world changed. My family changed.” We all changed that day. Like almost everyone who lived through it, I can remember where I was and what I was doing on that day. I was in my fourth-floor walk-up office at Nationalities Service Center downtown. With a fellow attorney, I listened to a North Jersey AM station we managed to find on the radio. The announcer was seeing the events directly from his studio, looking across the Hudson at the World Trade Center towers: first burning and then collapsing. The anguish in his voice was palpable and he described this as the worst day since December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I went home to be with my wife and kids. We checked the news online but put Sesame Street on the TV. We gave our children one last day of innocence. We all remember how we felt on September 11 th . Maybe today, we need to remember how we felt on September 12 th . We made decisions to come together. We shared grief and sadness. We also shared the feelings of pride as we recognized that our country was not simply a piece of land, it was an idea that occupied a place in our hearts and minds. Even though the sense of security we had as a nation was gone, we found a resilient core and had a sense of community that was greater than it had been in a generation. Read more
34th Annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Family Celebration Read more
Rep. Joe Hohenstein presented a House of Representatives citation to Al Gannotta, a WWII veteran, who is celebrating his 103rd birthday! Read more
How much does it need to rain before an umbrella is opened? In Philadelphia, it’s been raining cats and dogs for quite some time and needs protection from the storm. That protection can come from some of the $2.3 billion that was placed in the state’s “rainy day” fund in June, and I am urging my colleagues in the Pennsylvania legislature to authorize its use. If we are wise, also would spend the stimulus and infrastructure funds currently being appropriated in Washington. Our local and state economies need this investment.?? On August 10th, 2021, the U.S. Senate gave bipartisan approval to a $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild our nation's deteriorating infrastructure and help improve the lives of many Americans. Of that $1 trillion, Pennsylvania could potentially see $11.3 billion going to projects such as highway work, bridges, and public transportation. My focus has been renovation of school infrastructure, especially in Philadelphia.? We all are well aware of the health risk posed by COVID-19 in our schools. The Wolf administration’s universal masking requirement in schools and its vaccine campaign are designed to keep our kids, teachers, and staff safe, but that is not the only grave health crisis facing our schools. According to a report conducted by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in 2021, "Dozens of Philadelphia public schools continue to have Read more
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