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Pa. could pass a ‘lemon law’ for homes to protect residents from shoddy construction

It’s time to help those who help others live with dignity

(Oct 26, 2021)

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


An ally for equal and adequate health care

(Sep 28, 2021)

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


Hohenstein, neighbors and other public officials to discuss construction problems in city

(Sep 22, 2021)

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


We must pass an agenda that values our children

(Sep 21, 2021)

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’s time for the building industry to take Mr. Roger’s advice

(Sep 14, 2021)

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


20 Years After – How did 9/11/2001 change us?

(Sep 09, 2021)

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

(Sep 06, 2021)

34th Annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Family Celebration Read more


Albert Gannotta's 103rd birthday celebration

(Aug 31, 2021)

Rep. Joe Hohenstein presented a House of Representatives citation to Al Gannotta, a WWII veteran, who is celebrating his 103rd birthday! Read more


Open the umbrella to protect our students and school staff

(Aug 31, 2021)

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


Hohenstein: As US House Lawmakers Return to DC, the PA Delegation Should Back Infrastructure

(Aug 24, 2021)

As lawmakers in the US House return to Washington DC to continue to work on the President’s broader Build Back Better agenda, we may see a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement much sooner than the larger reconciliation package. I hope my counterparts in the PA Congressional Delegation on both sides of the aisle will support much-needed improvements in infrastructure when they have the opportunity to vote for the proposed bipartisan package. I also hope they will vote for immediate passage of the larger reconciliation bill, because it adds investments from caregiving to education to school construction and more to the infrastructure plan. As a state lawmaker, I have seen firsthand people in my district trying to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal relief efforts already underway via the American Rescue Plan -- most visibly, stimulus checks and child tax credit payments -- have been a lifesaver for many of my neighbors because they put money directly in the pockets of those impacted the most. The additional investments included in the reconciliation bill are necessary to ensure that our recovery includes all Pennsylvanians, and that the economy that emerges after COVID is one that rewards work and not wealth. While the American Rescue Plan and what could be passed via reconciliation both provide very tangible, immediate solutions that working people can see in their bank accounts, Pennsylvanians shouldn’t overlook how much Read more


Hohenstein: We must step up now and show humanity at its best

(Aug 17, 2021)

As I watch the humanitarian crisis unfold in Afghanistan, I can’t help but think that our city is facing a humanitarian crisis of its own. In Philadelphia, we are preparing to evict homeless, mostly drug addicted, people from the places they have encamped – telling them to move on but not providing a real destination. These are people least able to absorb hardships. Read more


Hohenstein: Investing in Neighborhoods

(Aug 13, 2021)

Pa. state Rep. Joe Hohenstein is excited about the passage of the Build Back Better plan and wants to make sure that the jobs it creates make their way to Philadelphia communities. He says that infrastructure investments will have positive impacts on the Port of Philadelphia and SEPTA mass transit funding. He wants to see more investments in people and neighborhoods, including wider access to high-speed internet and support for healthcare and frontline workers. Read more


Hohenstein: Immigrant Workers Need Driver's Licenses

(Aug 12, 2021)

Pa. state Rep. Joe Hohenstein recently learned that over half of the agriculture workforce is immigrant workers who have helped provide food throughout the pandemic. He is working to allow those workers to obtain driver's licenses and learner's permits so that they can be fully licensed and insured. This will increase safety on the roadways and provide more economic opportunities for these hard-working families. Read more


Hohenstein: Temple's Expansion of Medical Care

(Aug 10, 2021)

Pa. state Rep. Joe Hohenstein is happy to see Temple University purchase the building that was once Parkview Hospital to expand medical care services. Not only will this expansion create 500+ new jobs, he says he's happy to see more medical services focused on quality care and accessibility for all coming to the area. Read more


Now open for applications: Alternative fuel vehicle and agriculture funding opportunities

(Aug 10, 2021)

STATE PROGRAMS NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebates (Funding Source: Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants Fund) Who May Apply : Pennsylvania residents who purchase/lease a new or used alternative fuel vehicle with a purchase price of $50,000 or less. Businesses are not eligible . Use : To defray costs of purchasing a battery electric vehicle (BEV), hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (HFCV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, electric motorcycle, natural gas vehicle, or propane vehicle. Purchase price cannot exceed $50,000 to be eligible for a rebate. Funds : Up to $1,000 rebate depending on type of vehicle; additional $1,000 rebate for low-income households. Application Deadline : Rebates are first-come, first-served. Application must be submitted within 6 months of purchase. More Information : Click on https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/GrantsLoansRebates/Alternative-Fuels-Incentive-Grant/Pages/Alternative-Fuel-Vehicles.aspx . Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: Commonwealth Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (Funding Source: General Fund) Who May Apply : State and local organizations, producer associations, academia, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders. Use : To assist with the growth, certification of seed, and marketing of eligible crops including hemp, hardwoods, honey, Read more


Put People First -- Pay UC Benefits Now

(Aug 10, 2021)

Our UC system has failed many people – not because there is not enough money – but because it has not gotten to people in time. Read more


Legislature must extend opioid disaster declaration by Aug. 26

(Aug 03, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 3 – As the opioid addiction crisis rages on and access to treatment and monitoring programs hangs in the balance, two Philadelphia area state lawmakers are urging House Republican leaders to end the summer recess now so lawmakers can vote to extend the governor’s statewide opioid disaster declaration. On Jan. 10, 2018, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order declaring a statewide disaster emergency due to the opioid epidemic and has continued to renew it since. Wolf said he intends to renew this declaration again on Aug. 5, but recent changes to the Pennsylvania Constitution will cause the emergency order to expire 30 days from that date unless the Pennsylvania General Assembly votes to extend it. As such, the renewal would expire on Aug. 26. The House is not scheduled to return to voting session until Sept. 27. State Reps. Mary Isaacson and Joe Hohenstein, both D-Phila., on Monday sent a letter to House Speaker Bryan Cutler , R-Lancaster, urging him to bring lawmakers back to session before that Aug. 26 expiration so they can vote to extend the emergency declaration. “The opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities throughout our state. Last year, over 5,000 individuals died in Pennsylvania from overdose -- a 16% increase from 2019,” the lawmakers wrote to Cutler. “Each of those numbers represents a life cut short. Each represents families who will never be whole again.” Isaacson and Hohenstein said the Read more


We are not out of the woods yet

(Aug 02, 2021)

We have spent the last 17 months in a global pandemic that has disrupted our lives and our economy and changed how we interact with one other. Some thought we were out of it, but we know now that it isn’t over. We have to finish the job and beat back the Delta variant of COVID-19. This means going back to some of the things we didn’t like – like social distancing and mask wearing – if we want to avoid some of the things we really didn’t like – like stay-at-home orders, small business closures, and our kids learning virtually. In my office, we will keep our services going, but we will be doing most of our work through phone and email. In the office, we will set appointments and ask everyone – vaccinated or not – to wear masks. Our most vulnerable are still vulnerable and most of our kids are not vaccinated, so we will take these measures to protect them and prevent the spread of the Delta variant. We must work together to shut down COVID’s attempt at a comeback, and I believe there are four basic things we can do: Stop the Spread – This means getting vaccinated, wearing masks, social distancing, sanitizing surfaces, and washing hands. The vaccines are safe. If my parents and grandparents and older siblings all could do what was need for the greater good and get vaccinated for things like polio and smallpox, then we can and should get COVID vaccines. The basic steps of vaccination and engaging in Read more


Weekly legislative update

(Jul 28, 2021)

This week marks the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation, providing rights, access, and accommodation to an often invisible, yet numerous, marginalized group. More than 1 in 4 Americans have a condition affecting their ability to interact with the world. Read more


Justice for the disabled is justice for all

(Jul 28, 2021)

This week marks the 31 st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Last year’s 30 th anniversary went largely unrecognized during the pandemic. The ADA is a landmark piece of Civil Rights legislation, providing rights, access, and accommodation to an often invisible, yet numerous, marginalized group. More than 1 in 4 Americans have a condition affecting their ability to interact with the world. At some point in time, through injury or age, a majority of people will experience disability – even if just temporarily. We have come a long way to include our disabled siblings, parents, and children in society – but there remains much to do. Things like access ramps, larger bathroom stalls, and kneeling buses are normal now, but did not exist before 1990. However, we cannot forget that attitudes that treat the disabled with fear, scorn, or (the worst) pity, still persist. My own work for the members of our community who walk through the world differently than the “rest” of us – because their bodies or minds work differently – is rooted in my respect for their experiences and their gifts. In just the past few weeks, I have seen a young girl with an intellectual disability overcome a hateful act – turning the tables by responding with openness and compassion and creating joy in the process. A young man who in past times would have been a perpetual “burden” on his loving mother came to my office asking for Read more