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PLBC condemns S.B. 1166

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Wheatley introduces “Return Your Rights” legislation

(Oct 16, 2020)

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 16 – State Rep. Jake Wheatley has introduced a measure designed to end the cycle of branding nonviolent offenders, who have paid their debt to society, for their past mistakes. Wheatley, D-Allegheny, says H.B. 2942 would ensure their full rights as citizens are restored, provided they have served their time and paid all fines, fees and restitution. His bill would allow offenders to vote while in prison and once they are released. In addition, Wheatley’s measure would provide for the expungement of nonviolent felonies under the state’s The Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act and allow nonviolent offenders who have completed their sentence and paid any fines or related costs to obtain a firearm license. “When nonviolent offenders serve their time and have paid their debt to society, sadly it’s not uncommon for them to be subsequently denied basic rights and privileges that many of us take for granted,” said Wheatley. “While we’ve made some strides in recent years to implement meaningful criminal justice reforms, including the passage of clean slate legislation in 2018, we can and must do more. They deserve a second chance.” More information on the bill can be found at the following link: https://legis-pahofr.msappproxy.net/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=30908 Read more

How video gambling companies profit off communities of color

(Oct 09, 2020)

As community activists and public officials call for a change in how resources are provided to communities of color throughout the Commonwealth, some members of the state legislature are still looking into policies that exploit low-income and minority neighborhoods. The most recent example is the fast-tracking of legislation that would create thousands of mini casinos and slots parlors on every street corner in cities across the state. This is simply a proliferation of gambling that historically targets poor and largely minority communities. My colleagues and I on both sides of the political aisle are working hard to address policies that rethink how we fund and operate policing in our communities and how we can better reinvest public tax dollars back into programs that lift up minority neighborhoods. This includes investments in public education, economic development and health care. But, as the General Assembly finally begins to address the systemic issues and inequities that plague communities of color, some in the legislature are pushing for expanded gambling that will have major consequences in our neighborhoods. Even as the eyes of the world have been opened to the injustices and inequities facing people of color, a coalition of out-of-sate video gambling companies are looking to expand their predatory practices and bring tens of thousands of video gambling devices into bars, restaurants and grocery stores. These machines Read more

State lawmakers representing Philadelphia welcome lawsuit against commonwealth, legislature for restricting gun-safety measures

(Oct 07, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 7 – State House lawmakers representing the House Philadelphia Delegation and Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today pledged their full weight behind major legal action being taken against the commonwealth for preventing local governments from enacting their own gun-safety laws. The lawsuit filed by the city and private law firms on behalf of Pennsylvanians who have been impacted by gun violence was announced at a news conference in Philadelphia today. Philadelphia Delegation Chairman Jason Dawkins and PLBC Chairman Stephen Kinsey said it was long past time for the many people who have been impacted by gun violence to receive true acknowledgement and justice for their pain. They said the delegations they lead have worked for years to enact sensible gun-safety measures in the state but have been hampered by a Republican majority legislature determined to give no one in the state the ability to reduce gun violence and save lives. “Philadelphia and municipalities across the state took action tragedy after tragedy on behalf of the residents they serve when the state would not, only to be met with callous laws specifically designed to prevent them from doing so,” Dawkins said. “I am equally tired of the hallow promises to help reduce gun violence being made by the Republican majority following each tragedy. They hold the power to move the commonsense gun safety legislation we put forward. Yet, they continue to deny Read more

The Pa. Legislative Black Caucus condemns grand jury decision in slaying of Breonna Taylor, continues fight for police reform

(Sep 28, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 28 – Days after a Kentucky grand jury’s failure to indict one of the three police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor on charges related to her killing, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with PLBC members, said the decision is a grim reminder of how Black lives — more specifically Black women’s lives — are devalued. However, in the spirit of the esteemed PLBC’s core mission of dismantling systemic racism across the commonwealth, the caucus of legislators collectively vowed to use this pain to fuel their ongoing fight for racial justice and meaningful police reform. Kinsey, D-Phila., a father of four Black daughters, expressed that he is especially saddened. He also dissipated the attempts to vilify her memory by reflecting on Breonna’s life and her dedication to public service as a first responder on the frontlines of this pandemic. “I am a father of four Black daughters and my heart is breaking for Breonna and her family as she reflects my own girls. I see their brilliance, their strengths, and their vulnerabilities. It pains me to know that Black girls and women are denied protection and the privilege of being viewed as whole,” the chairman said. “I want to buck that narrative: Breonna was a caring young woman who had a bright future. She effortlessly juggled enjoying life and a Read more

House Democratic Policy Committee-PA Legislative Black Caucus to hold sixth hearing on Police Reform Friday in Capitol

(Sep 22, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 22 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., announced today that the House Democratic Policy Committee and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will hold its sixth hearing on police reform and community solutions. Read more

8/20/20 – Police Reform - Harrisburg

(Aug 20, 2020)

Materials from a public hearing held jointly with the House Democratic Policy Committee in the Capitol and co-chaired by State Rep. Patty Kim. Read more

8/19/20 – Police Reform - Harrisburg

(Aug 19, 2020)

Materials from a public hearing held jointly with the House Democratic Policy Committee in the Capitol and co-chaired by State Rep. Ed Gainey. Read more

House Democratic Policy Committee, PA Legislative Black Caucus to hold fifth hearing on Police Reform Thursday in Capitol

(Aug 18, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 18 –State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., announced today that the House Democratic Policy Committee and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will hold its fifth hearing Thursday on police reform and community solutions. Requested by state Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, HDPC Chairman Sturla and PLBC Chairman Kinsey said this hearing will focus on the Harrisburg region. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 20 in Room G-50 Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg. The media and public are urged to watch the livestream at www.pahouse.com/live . Testifiers and members will participate in-person and remotely. Testifiers will include: Brenton Lipscomb, community activist, Black Lives Matter Kevin Dolphin, founder and CEO, Breaking the Chainz Inc. Jonathan Lee, associate professor and professor-in-charge of Criminal Justice Program, Penn State Harrisburg, School of Public Affairs Stephen Bishop, senior associate, Juvenile Justice Strategy Group at The Annie E. Casey Foundation Juan Colon, national director of Opioids and Illegal Drug Solutions, SAS Institute Following the hearing, testimony and full hearing video will be posted at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . ### Read more

House Democratic Policy Committee/PA Legislative Black Caucus to hold fourth hearing on Police Reform Wednesday in Capitol

(Aug 17, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 17 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila, announced today that the House Democratic Policy Committee and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will hold a fourth hearing on police reform. HDPC Chair Sturla and PLBC Chair Kinsey said the hearing will focus on the Pittsburgh region. The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19 in Room G-50 Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg. The media and public are urged to watch the livestream at www.pahouse.com/live . Testifiers will participate remotely while members participate in-person and remotely. Testifiers will include: Michelle Kenney , mother of Antwon Rose and director of the Antwon Rose II Foundation. Jasiri X , co-founder and CEO, 1Hood Media. Rose Price , community activist. Tameka Hatcher , educational outreach/police training program coordinator, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Alphonse Gerhardstein , board member, National Police Accountability Project. Following the hearing, testimonies and full hearing video will be posted at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . ### Read more

Kinsey, Webster and PLBC members amplify call to remove Montco Commissioner Joe Gale

(Aug 13, 2020)

JEFFERSONVILLE, Aug. 13 – State Reps. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus; and Joe Webster, D-Montgomery, along with PLBC members state Reps. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, and Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, today participated in a “Free from Hate” news conference led by PA Women Rise at the West Norriton Municipal Center. The group’s “Free from Hate” platform was centered around increased demands for the ousting of Montgomery County Commissioner Joseph Gale for his comments earlier this summer referring to people involved in the Black Lives Matter movement as terrorists. To further amplify their demands, the state legislators unveiled Webster’s H.R. 920 , which would impeach Gale and which Webster introduced in response to the offensive statement. “In our quest to free our communities of hate, we must condemn actors like Commissioner Gale who used his official capacity to perpetuate hate by vilifying residents’ calls for equality and justice,” Kinsey said. “Instead of being an active agent of change in upholding those calls, Gale chose to side with the powers of oppression. His actions demonstrate his complacency with injustice, making him unfit to serve the public, and for that, Gale must be removed immediately.” Concurring with Kinsey, Webster acknowledged the solidarity among lawmakers and community members, and also Read more