Neilson: House votes to put Pa. on track to federal Real ID law compliance

(May 24, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 24 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., said the House today approved compromise legislation that moves Pennsylvania toward compliance with federal Real ID regulations. Neilson said today’s passage of S.B. 133 was the first of many steps that need to be taken to secure Pennsylvanians’ identity documents and before the state can issue the Real ID-compliant IDs. “It is important to remember that the federal Real ID law was passed by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to ensure that every state was issuing IDs that were secure from counterfeit and fraud,” Neilson said. “In the past 16 years, we have done a lot to make this country a safer place, but we have done very little to secure our identity documents. This is the first step to ensuring all identity documents issued by Pennsylvania are safe, but only the first step of many.” Senate Bill 133 repeals the 2012 state law and requires the Department of Transportation and other agencies to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act. PennDOT will be required to provide eligible applicants the option of receiving a standard driver license or photo identification card, or one that is Real ID compliant. More details about PennDOT's implementation of the program will be available in the future. “Before anyone pats themselves on the back for beating the June 6 deadline, we need to realize that there is no guarantee the Department of Homeland Security will grant Read more


Neilson disappointed in vote on Real ID bill

(May 22, 2017)

HARRISBURG, May 22 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., said today he is disappointed in the 140-54 vote in the House of Representatives on a bill originally meant to put Pennsylvania in compliance with the Real ID Act by the June 6 deadline that was granted by the Department of Homeland Security. Senate Bill 133 was amended earlier this month by the House State Government Committee and would create a two-tiered system, which would issue residents a standard-use driver’s license/photo ID card unless they request a Real ID-compliant card and pay the additional, and yet undetermined, fee. The legislation as written would also force those seeking a Real ID-compliant card to cover the cost of the enhanced security efforts. Neilson said the bill does nothing to move Pennsylvania into full compliance. “This bill in its current form creates even more potential hurdles in meeting the June 6 deadline,” Neilson said. “Governor Wolf and his administration had indicated that this bill will not do enough to ensure Pennsylvania is up to par with federal law and I fully agree with him. It’s unfortunate that the bill did not come to the House as it was written.” Neilson said he has been a strong advocate for repealing the Real ID Act. He sponsored legislation last session and H.B. 150 this session that would put Pennsylvania in compliance with the federal law. “Repercussions from the noncompliance legislation would potentially Read more


Harrisburg must resolve REAL ID mess

(May 09, 2017)

Pennsylvania is currently facing down a deadline, one that should never have been an issue in the first place, with consequences that could potentially impact thousands of residents in this commonwealth. Read more


You're invited to a Town hall meeting May 13

(May 05, 2017)

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Dawkins introduces bill to eliminate state government language barriers

(Apr 19, 2017)

HARRISBURG, April 19 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., introduced a bill to require state departments and agencies, elected row offices, and the General Assembly to craft language access plans to better serve Pennsylvania residents with a limited ability to speak or write in English. House Bill 1241 would require these language access plans to identify all languages spoken by at least 3 percent of the population they serve, and provide vital documents and informational materials in those languages. It also requires that oral, in-person interpretive services be provided in languages encountered at least weekly. “All Pennsylvanians should have equal access to their government,” Dawkins said. “Our departments and agencies cannot fulfill their missions if there are 500,000 people in the state they can’t communicate with. This is a matter of protecting our residents’ health, rights and well-being.” The bill would require state agencies to submit their language access plans to the secretary of administration, who would provide central coordination and technical assistance. The secretary also would make these plans available online for the public to review. In addition to entities under the authority of the governor, the attorney general, auditor general and treasurer as well as the state House and Senate would be required to publish and implement language access plans under the bill. “As the population of non-English Read more


Neilson invites constituents to his senior expo

(Apr 13, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, April 13 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., today reminded his constituents that they’re invited to his senior expo from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, April 28 at Cannstatters, 9130 Academy Road. Neilson said there will be free health screenings, giveaways, music, light refreshments and ways to discover valuable resources they can use. “This event is a great opportunity for seniors in the community to come out and learn more about state programs that are available to help them lead happier, healthier lives,” Neilson said. “We’ll be hosting multiple local and state agencies, and my staff and I will be on hand to answer any questions that may arise.” Neilson said constituents with any questions should contact one of his district offices at (215) 330-3714. Read more


Cephas hosts public meeting on 'Stop-and-Go' issues

(Apr 06, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, April 6 – Philadelphia state Rep. Morgan Cephas today hosted a public meeting on the issues relating to nuisance establishments that sell alcohol and how they impact surrounding communities. "With the loosening of laws regarding liquor sales, businesses have greater opportunities to expand commerce and product lines, however, we are experiencing some unintended consequences of changing the laws," Cephas said. "It remains critical for local and state agencies to keep a watchful eye on nuisance establishments that are taking advantage of loopholes and this hearing, and others like it, is a step in the right direction." In addition to discussing the effect of these stop-and-go establishments on a state level, the public meeting also addressed how these stores may disrupt local communities. Cephas is currently working on a liquor control task force by bringing together local and state agencies, business owners and area residents that are immediately impacted by the operation of nuisance establishments. “As an organizer of this grassroots initiative and a member of the House Liquor Control Committee, I am using these opportunities to address growing concerns and attack this issue head on,” Cephas said. Among the testifiers were Officer Frank Gramlick from the 19th Police District of the Philadelphia Police Department, personnel from Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Pennsylvania Read more


McClinton to host Financial Literacy Seminar

(Mar 31, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 31 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, announced she will host an event designed to provide constituents with tools and information they can use to make informative decisions about their finances. The Financial Literacy Seminar will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6 at Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia, 501 S. 54th St., 7th Floor, 19143. McClinton said constituents can learn useful information to help them navigate their public and private financial matters, including ones concerning insurance, taxes, real estate, savings and more. “Financial literacy can benefit people in regards to entrepreneurship, home ownership, education, their community and their future,” McClinton said. “I hope everyone will attend this informative event and become more invested in their financial profile for years to come.” McClinton said that invited guests include Clarifi Credit Counseling, Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, The Student Loan Doctor LLC, Budget Me Budget Services and The Ivy Investor. For more information about the event, constituents can contact McClinton’s office at (215) 748-6712. Read more


Stop and go public meeting scheduled for April 6

(Mar 30, 2017)

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Senior Expo April 28

(Mar 28, 2017)

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Human Services Committee 'Air Bridge' public hearing

(Mar 24, 2017)

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Fitzgerald/Kinsey host public meeting on 'Stop-and-Go' issues

(Mar 23, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 23 – Philadelphia state Reps. Isabella Fitzgerald and Stephen Kinsey today hosted a public meeting on the issues relating to stop-and-go establishments that sell alcohol and how they impact surrounding communities. "This is an opportunity to address this issue head on. Bringing everyone together under one roof allows concerns to be addressed and provides an avenue for all of us to be part of the solution," Fitzgerald said. "I remain committed to working with local and state agencies and organizations to reverse the negative trend of consequences associated with the nuisance establishments that are taking advantage of the state's liquor laws." In addition to discussing the effect of these stop-and-go establishments on a state level, the public meeting also addressed how these stores may disrupt local communities. "Overwhelmingly, this boils down to a public safety issue. The residents of northwest Philadelphia, south Philadelphia, northeast Philadelphia and the entire city deserve to live their lives without the problems caused by stop-and-go issues," Kinsey said. "I am encouraged by the actions taken today to ensure that we continue the conversation on how we can answer the public's call to provide them with the best quality of life as possible." Among the testifiers were Inspector Anthony L. Washington, Northwest Police Division commanding officer and personnel from Pennsylvania State Police Read more


McClinton condemns bill for reviving unconstitutional mandatory minimums

(Mar 22, 2017)

HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, spoked out against H.B. 741, which aims to revive mandatory minimum sentences for a number of drug-related offenses. The bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. McClinton said a letter that she received from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association stated that mandatory minimums work to improve public safety, something that she said she wrestles with. “I wonder where the safety has improved,” McClinton said. “Time and time again, I look at the unfortunate homicide rate in Philadelphia and the number of non-fatal shootings where I live and they are always high, no matter how many people are behind bars serving 10-20, 25 to life.” House Bill 741 seeks to revive mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes that were ruled unconstitutional in cases before both the Pennsylvania and U.S. supreme courts. It also would increase sentences for certain offenses. “This bill would potentially get more support if there were studies that showed crime was reduced, that neighborhoods are safer, that people stop selling drugs at the same intersection where someone gets arrested,” McClinton said. “Where is the decreased recidivism? Why hasn’t it happened yet in my community? Why are there drugs readily available and we have all these sentences, yet nothing has changed?” McClinton has been a strong advocate on criminal Read more


McClinton to host Entrepreneurship Seminar March 28

(Mar 17, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 17 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, will host an event to provide helpful tools for current local business owners or for people aspiring to open their own small business. The Entrepreneurship Seminar will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 28 at the Ezekiel Baptist Church, 5701 Grays Ave. Attendees will learn what it takes to establish a business and secure the necessary finances to make it happen, how to effectively establish a business by promoting a brand in all forms of media, and hear experiences in effectively establishing a business and the paths taken to achieve inspiration. “Small businesses are the backbone to our community, so we must assist them with tools to help them grow and remain successful. If small businesses thrive in our neighborhoods, then job opportunities are available to more neighbors,” McClinton said. “I encourage everyone – business owners or those looking to take on a different pathway and own a business – to come be inspired and informed.” McClinton noted seminar participants include the Enterprise Center, the U.S. Department of Small Business Administration, City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Office of Business Services, City of Philadelphia Department of Procurement, Southwest Community Development Corporation, Citizens Bank, African Cultural Alliance of North American, INC. and local entrepreneurs. For more information, constituents Read more


Fitzgerald to host town hall meeting

(Mar 15, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 15 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., announced she will host a town hall meeting to discuss quality-of-life issues impacting residents in the 203rd Legislative District. The meeting will take place 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 23 at Simons Recreation Center, 7200 Woolston Ave., Philadelphia, 19138. Fitzgerald said government officials and community organizations that provide quality-of-life services in area neighborhoods will be on hand, including law enforcement and public safety, neighborhood beautification, public health, youth advocacy and senior services. “The purpose of this event is to provide a platform for our residents to learn about the services available to them in our community,” Fitzgerald said. “I encourage everyone to come out and become engaged in this informative event.” For more information, constituents can call Fitzgerald’s district office at (215)-549-0220. Read more


Fitzgerald/Kinsey to host public meeting on 'Stop-and-Go' issues

(Mar 15, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 15 – Philadelphia state Reps. Isabella Fitzgerald and Stephen Kinsey will host a public meeting on the issues relating to stop-and-go convenience stores that sell alcohol and how they impact surrounding communities. It will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 23 at the Oak Lane Library, 6614 N. 12 th St., 19126. Along with the representatives, personnel from the Liquor Control Board and Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement will be on hand to address concerns and discuss potential solutions. For more information, constituents can call Fitzgerald’s district office at (215) 549-0220 or Kinsey's district office at (215) 849-6592. Read more


Neilson, House members advocate for ‘My Work, My Choice’

(Mar 13, 2017)

HARRISBURG, March 13 – A bipartisan group of legislators from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today rallied to prevent individuals with disabilities from being forced to sit in the community and leave day programs and sheltered workshops where they are comfortable. Following the rally, the House Human Services Committee conducted a hearing on the topic to gather more information. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) proposed changing how it administers its home- and community-based waivers. To be eligible, individuals with disabilities would be forced to spend time in the community away from sheltered workshops and day programs where they currently go. The initial proposal would have required individuals to spend 75 percent of their time in the community, rather than being segregated at day programs or sheltered workshops. This requirement left many day programs and sheltered workshops wondering how they would continue to operate if individuals can only participate essentially one day out of five. While an alternate proposal to have individuals spend 25 percent of their time in the community has been advanced, some unanswered questions remain. “All Americans deserve the right to work and should have the liberty to keep a job they love,” said Rep. Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland). “We need more people working, not less. Clelian Heights and the Blind Association in my legislative district meet the needs of individuals with Read more


Dawkins condemns DA’s decision to seek life without parole for juveniles

(Mar 06, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, March 6 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., voiced his strong opposition to District Attorney Seth Williams’ decision to seek life without parole sentences in at least three cases with juvenile defendants. “Last year, District Attorney Williams did what was right, and announced that he would no longer pursue life without parole for those under 18 years old,” Dawkins said. “It is disheartening to see him go back on his word, and I condemn in the strongest terms his decision to revive a punishment the Supreme Court has called cruel and unusual.” In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juvenile offenders violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The court later held in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its decision in Miller applied retroactively. Dawkins said as the courts began resentencing hearings, Williams announced that his office “will not be asking for cases going forward for life without the possibility of parole for people under the age of 18” in order “to give all of these individuals some light at the end of the tunnel.” “I hope that the district attorney returns to his original position, and provides these individuals – whose decades in prison began in their teenage years – what he once called ‘some light at the end of the tunnel,’” Dawkins said. Read more


Working together to clean up Castor Avenue

(Mar 02, 2017)

On Feb. 26, I was joined by my Chief of Staff Andrew, staffers from Councilwoman Cherelle Parker’s office, and nearly 100 volunteers from the World Church of God to help clean up Castor Avenue. Check out these stats of our progress from the day: 3,012 pounds of trash = 1.506 tons of trash 81 bags of trash 14 bags of recyclables 95 bags total (plus a mattress, a tire, a suitcase and a bicycle) 77 volunteers from the Church of God on Castor Avenue (5 more back at the church, watching children and preparing lunch) 3 state leaders 2 people who were passing by and just stopped and started to help 82 total participants 2.3 miles covered on each side of the streets 4.6 linear miles covered Everyone was out at least 3 hours (not including travel time)... 3 x 77 = 231 person-hours of cleaning 231 hours = more than a week's worth of work by 1 sanitation employee or 1 day of work from 29 employees A great effort by everyone involved. Thanks! Read more


Avoid having your utilities shut off, apply for LIHEAP today!

(Feb 28, 2017)

If you or someone you know received notice that you are delinquent on your PECO account, you may be eligible for assistance with grants from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP offers one-time cash grants of $200 to $1,000 that are sent directly to your utility company, and crisis benefits of $25 to $500 for households in immediate danger of losing heat. Income guidelines do apply . As one example, if you’re living in a household of four people with total income less than $36,450, you qualify for LIHEAP. You can apply now online using Pennsylvania’s COMPASS website. Read more