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Kenyatta calls US Supreme Court ruling a major victory for civil rights in America

(Jun 16, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 16 – Minutes after the United States Supreme upheld that Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 that bars sex discrimination also provides protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta issued an emotional statement, calling the decision a major victory in the fight for civil rights for LGBTQ Americans: “I’m still collecting my thoughts and fighting back tears, but the Supreme Court’s Title VII decision is a powerful moment for progress and the LGBTQ community,” Kenyatta said. “America has never lived up to its creed — ever. All men and women have been created equal but have never been treated equally or protected equally under the law. This decision changes that. “Three weeks ago, I told my coming out story on the House floor and today I can say confidently to our LGBTQ kids that you matter and who you are will not limit your possibility,” he said. Kenyatta, D-Phila, the first openly gay man of color to serve in the General Assembly in Pennsylvania’s history and a member of the governor’s LGBTQ Affairs Commission, expressed hopefulness that the court’s ruling will further elevate the visibility of LGBTQ Americans to better assess and mitigate their plights. He pointed to a bill he introduced months prior to the U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision that would Read more

 

Wheatley applauds state’s efforts to update state contracting process to improve opportunities for diverse businesses

(Jun 16, 2020)

PITTSBURGH, June 16 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley applauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to improve opportunities for minority, women, LGBT, veteran and disabled-owned businesses to compete for state contracts. Wheatley, D-Allegheny, said the governor’s changes, part of his Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities in Commonwealth Procurement and in Pennsylvania’s Economy executive order, would accomplish the following: Each competitive state procurement would use goal setting for small diverse businesses, with the intent of achieving a 26.3% state contract spending with SDBs. This would replace the previous scoring process used by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services to evaluate submitted proposals for construction projects over $300,000 (as of June 15) and for goods and services solicitations over $250,000 (beginning Aug. 17). DGS will set a goal of 4.6 percent of state contract spending to veteran-owned businesses through its Veteran Business Enterprise program, as recommended by the 2018 Statewide Disparity Study , which examined disparities in the state’s contracting system and made improvement recommendations. State agencies will be required to have at least 15% of their contract spending to go to eligible, state-certified small businesses through the Small Business Reserve program under DGS. This program helps all qualified businesses to compete as prime contractors on state contracting Read more

 

House lawmakers: Fight for equality not over with historic SCOTUS ruling

(Jun 15, 2020)

Nondiscrimination protections need to include housing, public accommodations, other areas Read more

 

Readshaw police background bill approved in committee

(Jun 15, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 15 – A measure requiring law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough background investigation on potential new hires was approved by the state House Judiciary Committee, state Rep. Harry Readshaw announced. Readshaw, D-Allegheny, said H.B. 1841 would require law enforcement agencies to conduct the investigation on an applicant for employment as a police officer or for a position leading to employment as a police officer before the applicant can be hired. It also compels a candidate’s present or former employers to disclose such information. This includes both law enforcement agencies and all other types of employers. “While an individual must undergo a background check to be certified as a municipal police officer with the Municipal Police Officers’ Training and Education Committee, what some might not know is that a law enforcement agency is not required by law to turn over employment history on a present or former employee to another agency looking to hire that officer. Law enforcement agencies often fear civil liability in turning over this information,” Readshaw said. “This is a problem, because the hiring agency might not know about past misconduct at other law enforcement agencies or other job positions. I am pleased that my bill is moving forward because employers will be protected from liability for disclosing employment information in good faith, and police departments will be able to get Read more

 

Davidson calls on Delco police officer to step down

(Jun 12, 2020)

State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, today issued a statement denouncing police officer Sgt. Robert “Skippy” Carroll, a Delaware County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27 1st vice president, for his recent posts on social media. Read more

 

Burgos stomps out disaster declaration termination rumors

(Jun 11, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., today issued a statement quelling the misinformation that Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency disaster declaration was eliminated. Burgos’ statement follows a widespread rumor claiming that the passage of H.R. 836 – a resolution that only aims to end the declaration – in the House and Senate means that the legislation has now become law. “My office has received many, many calls asking about the validity of this hearsay, while some also have taken to blindly sharing an image that erroneously declares that the declaration has been terminated because it passed both chambers,” Burgos said. “To dispel those rumors, I want to make it clear that the emergency declaration disaster is still in effect and all Pennsylvanians are still required to follow the guidelines set by the state Department of Health to continue to help curb spreading the virus. This especially means wearing masks and practicing proper social distancing while out in public and running essential errands.” Burgos reiterated that the resolution’s passage does not make it a law and highlighted the dire consequences that H.R. 836 carries. “It requires a signature by the governor to be binding, and Governor Wolf has adamantly expressed that he intends to veto the resolution because it not only puts countless lives at risk, but it also stands to inflict Read more

 

Snyder: Measure to honor local fallen heroes passes House

(Jun 10, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – A bill that includes designations to honor three local men who died while serving their country and their community passed unanimously in the House today, state Rep. Pam Snyder announced. Snyder, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, said H.B. 1510 included the following designations in honor of Greene County Sheriff Brian Tennant, Pfc. Joseph Frank Duda of Brownsville, Fayette County, and Cpl. Denny Ray Easter, also from Fayette County: A bridge on S.R. 2003, also known as South Porter Street over the South Fork Tenmile Creek in Waynesburg, Greene County, as the Sheriff Brian A. Tennant Memorial Bridge. Ten years ago, Tennant saved several lives from a house fire and was later elected sheriff in Greene County for two terms. Tennant passed away last year at 35. The interchange of S.R. 43, also known as the Mon-Fayette Expressway, with U.S. Route 40, known as Exit 22, in Redstone Township, Fayette County, as the Pfc. Joseph Frank Duda Memorial Interchange. Duda of Brownsville served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Duda was a member of the 1 st Battalion, 7 th Marines, 3 rd Marine Brigade, and the Fleet Marine Force aboard the USS Fuller. He died in the line of duty on Jan. 9, 1944. The interchange of U.S. Route 40 with S.R. 4035, also known as Market Street and Spring Street in Brownsville, Fayette County, as the Cpl. Denny Ray Easter Memorial Interchange. Easter joined the U.S. Army in 1970 and served Read more

 

State lawmakers announce grants to strengthen Berks County

(Jun 10, 2020)

State lawmakers Reps. Tom Caltagirone, Mark Rozzi and Sen. Judy Schwank today announced state grants from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency have been approved for two programs in Berks County. Read more

 

Galloway Introduces two COVID-19-related financial services bills

(Jun 10, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 10 – State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, announced that his Covid-19 related bills, which would waive penalties for early CD withdrawals during COVID-19 (H.B. 2580) and would waive fees for remote banking and ATM charges during COVID-19 (H.B. 2581), were both introduced and referred to the House Consumer Affairs Committee on Monday. “Families across Pennsylvania have been hard hit financially from the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Galloway said. “My bills are aimed at alleviating the pains that have ensued by removing penalties from early withdrawals of CDs and by making it illegal for financial institutions to charge fees for remote transactions or uses of ATMs. “If they were enacted, both bills would be in effect until 90 days after the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration issued by the governor has expired.” Galloway said that CDs, or a certificates of deposit, are popular products offered by banks and credit unions because they provide higher interest rates in exchange for leaving a lump-sum deposit untouched for a period of 6 months to 3 or more years.. At the end of the term, known as the maturity date, the depositor can withdraw his or her funds penalty free, and with a few dollars in earned interest on top of the initial deposit. According to Galloway, CDs are a safer and more conservative way for people to invest their money than Read more

 

Southeast Delegation issues statement supporting protests against racial injustice

(Jun 09, 2020)

The House Democratic Southeast Delegation today issued the following statement in response to the death of George Floyd and ongoing protests against racial injustice. Read more

 

Kenyatta, colleagues take House chamber to demand action on police reform

(Jun 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 8 – At the start of today’s House session, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and other members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with numerous House Democratic colleagues, took control of the speaker’s rostrum to demand action on 19 bills from the House and Senate that would address police reform across the commonwealth. “For 13 days, folks have been protesting in the streets, demanding that we actually do something. Now we are here demanding that you actually do something,” Kenyatta said to House Republican leadership. “You should come up from your seats, come up here and demand that we don’t get to business as usual,” He told his white House colleagues. “That we don’t get the same speeches and lip service. We demand that we get meaningful police reform passed out of the Pennsylvania House. It’s the people’s house, and if we ain’t doing the people’s business, then we ain’t doing business." He expanded on why immediate action is crucial, saying, “We can’t go back to normal. The folks in our districts cannot allow us to come back home and say that we introduced a bill. They need movement. They need movement." Kenyatta’s call-to-action speech is in response to rallies and protests that have swept the nation following the highly publicized death of George Floyd, who was killed Read more

 

Briggs, as Democratic House Judiciary chairman, calls for action on police reform bills

(Jun 08, 2020)

HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Tim Briggs, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, supported calls for a special session to take action on police reform legislation. “Since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we’ve seen communities around Pennsylvania and the rest of the country come together in peaceful protests to speak out against systemic racism resulting in the loss of innocent black lives. These calls for justice are happening around the world, as well as up the street – and even in the House chamber,” said Briggs, D-Montgomery. “Our communities are demanding change. We must act now, and we must move legislation that will make meaningful reforms and strengthen police-community relations.” Democratic lawmakers have proposed numerous reform measures , which include outlawing the use of police chokeholds, improving access to police video footage, and improving oversight and accountability for law enforcement. The House Judiciary Committee will be at the forefront in considering many of these reform proposals. “ For too long, my Republican colleagues have allowed numerous reform bills to languish without bringing them up for action. We can’t wait any longer,” Briggs said. “I support calls from the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus to vote on these bills now, and I’ll urge my Republican colleagues to bring these measures up for a vote swiftly.” Read more

 

Petrarca: Bill would ensure child welfare workers and service providers have access to personal protective equipment

(Jun 05, 2020)

VANDERGRIFT, June 5 – Child welfare personnel and service providers are in significant need of personal protective equipment, and state Rep. Joseph Petrarca will soon introduce legislation to ensure they have vital access. Petrarca, D-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana, said his bill would provide additional funding to county welfare agencies and service providers to assist them in purchasing the PPE they need to conduct their work during the current pandemic. “We know that during this time, it’s vital to take steps to protect ourselves and others from this virus, and that includes wearing masks and other types of protective personal equipment,” Petrarca said. “I understand that this restricted face-to-face contact can be challenging for staff and the youth they serve, but it’s necessary to prevent the spread of this virus and also protect those who are vulnerable, including those with compromised immune systems.” More information can be found at this link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=31911 . Read more

 

Davis legislation would create grace periods for insurance premium payments during a disaster emergency

(Jun 05, 2020)

LEVITTOWN, June 5 – State Rep. Tina Davis has announced that she will be introducing legislation that would require insurance companies to provide a 90-day grace period for the payment of insurance premiums during a disaster emergency. “Many Pennsylvanians have lost their jobs or had to close their businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are now struggling to pay their bills,” Davis said. “People shouldn’t have their insurance canceled because of an inability to keep up with insurance premiums during this period of unprecedented economic hardship . By requiring insurance companies to provide a 90-day grace period for insurance premium payments during a disaster emergency, my legislation would protect Pennsylvanians from having their insurance terminated at a time they need it most.” Currently, Pennsylvania has only recommended insurers grant a grace period to policy holders during the pandemic. Davis said that many states have required such grace periods in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of natural disasters. Residents with questions should contact Davis’ office by phone at 267-580-2660 or email ( repdavis@pahouse.net ). Read more

 

Police Reform Working Group releases statement on progress toward reform

(Jun 04, 2020)

The Police Reform Working Group, a collection of elected officials and advocates working to bring accountability and transparency reforms to law enforcement, released the following statement on Gov. Tom Wolf’s adoption today of their request for a state-level deputy inspector general aimed at improving law enforcement conduct, as well as Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s, along with the Fraternal Order of Police’s, support of a confidential database to track complaints against police officers: Read more

 

Enough political theater; it’s time to work for the people

(May 29, 2020)

Now, more than ever, is the time to come together and pass legislation that seeks to protect our frontline and essential workers, pay them fairly, assist those struggling without employment, health care or child care, and, above all, keep our citizens safe. Read more

 

Davis’ legislation advocating for rental assistance rolled into crucial fiscal code bill

(May 29, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 29 – In May, state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, began his push to advocate for residents struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic by introducing legislation geared toward providing rental assistance to those in need. On Thursday, portions of his legislation were rolled into the final supplemental fiscal code bill. Davis said he was encouraged and thankful to see portions of his bill included in H.B. 2510, which passed the House on Thursday, and noted he was able to advocate for the inclusion of his legislation through his role on the House Appropriations Committee. “I’m grateful to see portions of my legislation included in this bill, most notably because it’s legislation that will benefit state residents which, by the way, is the reason we’re all here,” Davis said. “It’s my hope that members from both sides of the aisle can continue to work in bipartisan fashion, especially during times of crisis, so that we can do what is best for commonwealth residents.” Davis said his legislation was wrapped into H.B. 2510 under the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. Specifically, section 191-C dedicates a minimum of $150 million to rental assistance through the proposed COVID Relief Rent and Mortgage Assistance Grant Program. Homeowners or renters may be eligible for assistance if they became unemployed after March 1, 2020, or their annual household income was reduced by 30% or Read more

 

Burgos condemns PennAg Industries VP for insensitive migrant workers comments

(May 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., today issued a statement condemning comments made by PennAg Industries Executive Vice President Christian Herr about immigrant migrant agriculture workers during a House Agricultural & Rural Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday. Herr, during a committee discussion about the vulnerability of farming employees —a workforce mostly comprised of migrants -- temporarily residing in farm labor camp housing in the wake of the pandemic, said that “ethnic families, close-knit families ride the buses to these facilities together,” describing their lengthy travels to commercial food processing facilities for employment that involves working for long hours and for low pay, while living in subpar employer-sponsored housing conditions as “cultural in many ways.” Burgos said he was deeply angered by Herr’s remarks, calling them insensitive and dehumanizing. He also said Herr’s assertion that the overrepresentation of migrants enduring these exploitative practices are their customary traditions absolves perpetrators instituting this predation of any accountability. “I am deeply disturbed that Herr is so morally bankrupt that he’s able to causally contort the systemic exploitation of marginalized people-- desperately trying to survive and provide for their families-- performing physically taxing labor in exchange for a pittance Read more

 

Terminating disaster declaration does little for public safety, phased reopening

(May 28, 2020)

Rep. Ryan Bizzarro expresses his opposition to HR836. Read more

 

Conklin applauds passage of bill to aid volunteer fire, EMS companies statewide

(May 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, May 28 – A measure that would provide one-time crisis grants to each volunteer fire and emergency medical services company in Pennsylvania passed the House unanimously today, state Rep. Scott Conklin announced. Conkin, D-Centre, said S.B. 1122 would establish the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program, setting aside $50 million in federal CARES funding for fire and EMS companies to provide services during the coronavirus pandemic. Forty-four million dollars of the funds would be used for grants to fire companies, with the remaining $6 million to be used for grants for EMS companies. “These men and women have been on the front lines in responding to our communities’ needs, now more than ever, and without the ability to fundraise to stay active, it’s imperative we give them the support they need and deserve,” Conklin said. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature. Read more

 

Kenyatta calls US Supreme Court ruling a major victory for civil rights in America
Jun 16, 2020

Wheatley applauds state’s efforts to update state contracting process to improve opportunities for diverse businesses
Jun 16, 2020

House lawmakers: Fight for equality not over with historic SCOTUS ruling
Jun 15, 2020

Readshaw police background bill approved in committee
Jun 15, 2020

Davidson calls on Delco police officer to step down
Jun 12, 2020

Burgos stomps out disaster declaration termination rumors
Jun 11, 2020

Snyder: Measure to honor local fallen heroes passes House
Jun 10, 2020

State lawmakers announce grants to strengthen Berks County
Jun 10, 2020

Galloway Introduces two COVID-19-related financial services bills
Jun 10, 2020

Southeast Delegation issues statement supporting protests against racial injustice
Jun 09, 2020

Kenyatta, colleagues take House chamber to demand action on police reform
Jun 08, 2020

Briggs, as Democratic House Judiciary chairman, calls for action on police reform bills
Jun 08, 2020

Petrarca: Bill would ensure child welfare workers and service providers have access to personal protective equipment
Jun 05, 2020

Davis legislation would create grace periods for insurance premium payments during a disaster emergency
Jun 05, 2020

Police Reform Working Group releases statement on progress toward reform
Jun 04, 2020

Enough political theater; it’s time to work for the people
May 29, 2020

Davis’ legislation advocating for rental assistance rolled into crucial fiscal code bill
May 29, 2020

Burgos condemns PennAg Industries VP for insensitive migrant workers comments
May 28, 2020

Terminating disaster declaration does little for public safety, phased reopening
May 28, 2020

Conklin applauds passage of bill to aid volunteer fire, EMS companies statewide
May 28, 2020