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Kenyatta: LGBTQ+ Americans should not be fired for who they are or love

(Oct 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 8 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta issued the following statement after the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether federal civil rights law protects the LGBTQ+ community from job discrimination: “The cases before the Supreme Court today cut to the heart of whether LGBTQ+ Americans like me should have full access to the freedom and protections that my straight friends so often take for granted. We should not have to worry if we can keep our jobs or be fired for who we are or who we love. “I hope that sooner rather than later, LGBTQ+ kids will be able to grow up where they have no limits. We should all live in a country without having to hide who we are, who we love and how we identify. This should never be challenged or used against us, and this is why we fight. “It’s unfortunate that we may have to wait for the results on this important decision by the Supreme Court. It’s unfortunate we live in a country or even a state that doesn’t protect our LGBTQ+ young people. However, the Pennsylvania General Assembly can change that. I am a proud co-sponsor of House Bill 1404, which would provide equal protection to LGBTQ+ family members and neighbors across the commonwealth. It is our duty to lead and do everything in our power to protect all citizens. “I am extremely grateful to Aimee Stephens, Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock. They faced discrimination in Read more

Johnson-Harrell calls for statewide recognition of nation’s oldest pan-African dance ensemble in new bill

(Sep 30, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 30 – To commemorate Kùlú Mèlé, the oldest continually-performing African dance and drum ensemble in the nation, state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Phila, introduced legislation that would designate Oct. 18 as Kùlú Mèlé Day in Pennsylvania. Since its inception in 1969, according to Johnson-Harrell, Kùlú Mèlé has been influential to the Black Arts Movement in Philadelphia and incorporates the cultures and aesthetic values of the African diaspora, specifically intertwining West African traditions with African American creativity. “Kùlú Mèlé has remained true to its values and has continually dedicated itself to serving the community by presenting and preserving the culture, dance and music of Africa and its diaspora,” Johnson-Harrell said. “It has also performed in other countries, gaining international visibility. I am proud to introduce this legislation that would give Kùlú Mèlé special recognition in its home state.” Read more

Cephas and Lee call on state Human Relations Commission to investigate after assault of two black women by Pittsburgh business owners

(Sep 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 26 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., chairwoman of the Women and Girls of Color Subcommittee for the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today condemned the assault of two black women by male gas station owners at an Exxon Mobil on Brighton Road on Pittsburgh's North Side last Friday. “This public beating inflicted upon these two young women is absolutely vile,” Cephas said. “The motives for this gang-style free-for-all by these men are clear: they didn’t view their victims as humans worthy of respect. They were appalled that these women -- these black women -- dared to speak up for themselves and not back down. In these individuals’ minds, this warranted a savage beating on camera for all to see. “This situation is hardly an isolated incident and relates to many larger issues that reveal how much black women and girls are devalued in our society.” State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, added, “In the wake of this abhorrent assault, our collective pain as a community is instigated by the conviction of those who would be quick to justify such an offense, by the realization that no matter how many of these interactions we record, and no matter how much restraint we exhibit in the face of abuse, that our society has failed us in its incapacity to recognize our humanity. The frequency and blatant disregard with which these assailants batter black women reveals a deeper truth about our Read more

Kinsey, PLBC appoint Johnson-Harrell chairwoman of gun violence subcommittee

(Sep 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 25 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, on Friday announced the appointment of Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Phila., as chairwoman of the caucus’ newly established subcommittee on gun violence. “Representative Johnson-Harrell has been a champion for victims of gun violence, advocating for ways to make Philadelphia and communities across the commonwealth safer,” Kinsey said. “Having lost her son to gun violence in 2011, Representative Johnson-Harrell knows firsthand the devastation of gun violence. That personal connection to this issue, and her passion for preventing others from experiencing the pain she’s known too well for the past eight years, make her the perfect person to lead this subcommittee.” Johnson-Harrell expressed her gratitude for the appointment. “After losing my son, I turned my grief into activism and began advocating for countless families in Philadelphia and across our state who’ve also been left reeling for solace and solutions after losing loved ones to gun violence,” Johnson-Harrell said. “As legislators, it is our duty to protect and serve our constituents through the creation of comprehensive laws and directives. Through research and discussion, we can help lower the shockingly high rates of gun violence ending the lives of our loved ones.” Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf appointed Johnson-Harrell to his Read more

Kinsey, PLBC join in call for passage of Emergency Assistance legislation to help Pa.’s most vulnerable citizens

(Sep 24, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – Today, State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, stood with his Democratic House and Senate colleagues to call for the passage of House Bill 1709 , which would restore assistance to Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens. “That the legislature in Pennsylvania allowed General Assistance to expire on Aug. 1, leaving vulnerable Pennsylvanians without the very modest cash assistance on which they relied to pay for things like basic toiletries, quarters to do their laundry, bus fare to get to work and educational opportunities, is unconscionable,” Kinsey said. “Our obligation to help the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians – from veterans and their caregivers, to victims of domestic violence – is past due. We must pass House Bill 1709 to end the suffering thrust upon our most vulnerable neighbors.” Kinsey and other members of the PLBC stood in solidarity during a news conference Tuesday with several Pennsylvanians who had relied on General Assistance before the program ended. The message they aimed to send: House and Senate Democrats are not walking away from this issue. On Aug. 1, the state’s General Assistance program ended. It had provided about $200 per month to about 11,000 Pennsylvanians who qualified. People who received Social Security benefits received too much monthly income to qualify for General Assistance. Kinsey and several other members of the Read more

Legislative effort to raise awareness on diaper need in Pa.

(Sep 24, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – In conjunction with their resolution ( H.R. 465 ) recognizing “Diaper Need Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania, state Reps. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., and Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, hosted a Capitol news conference today promoting the sixth annual Capitol Diaper Drive. “Access to a reliable supply of clean diapers is a necessity for the health and well-being of Pennsylvania's children and incontinent adults,” Youngblood said. “Unfortunately, across our commonwealth, there is a growing epidemic as many families and seniors on fixed incomes are simply unable to afford disposable diapers and undergarments.” To demonstrate the scope of the problem, Youngblood and Hill-Evans cited these statistics from the National Diaper Bank Network, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the diaper gap in the Unites States: One in every three mothers finds it difficult to provide diapers for her children. Nearly 5.2 million children under the age of three suffer from diaper need. For incontinent seniors on fixed incomes, purchasing what they often view as their most important item of clothing can cost at least $1,000 a year. Hill-Evans said, “Diaper need is often the hidden result of extreme poverty for a family. There are no safety-net programs that allocate dollars for the purchase of diapers and, as a result, our Read more

Legislators fight to bring back General Assistance Fund

(Sep 24, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – Joining advocates, former recipients of General Assistance and state senators, state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, Melissa Shusterman and Elizabeth Fiedler repeated the call for the General Assembly to restart the program that many vulnerable residents depended on in the commonwealth. “Ending General Assistance was one of the cruelest legislative decisions that has been made in this body since I became a member. There is no logical excuse or argument for denying support for the most vulnerable communities when they needed it most. It was like kicking them while they’re down,” Kenyatta, D-Phila., said. “That is why I’ve introduced House Bill 1709 to bring this vital resource back. I’m urging my colleagues across the aisle to understand the severity of the harm this has caused for Pennsylvania families and fix it now.” Kenyatta is the main sponsor of H.B. 1709, which would provide emergency relief to those Pennsylvanians who previously received support through the General Assistance Fund. The program provided $200 a month in cash assistance to those who were unable to work, those caring for loved ones who were sick or disabled, veterans, victims of domestic violence and those receiving treatment for substance abuse, among others. In June, the General Assembly voted to end the program, despite the pleas from many, including Kenyatta and Shusterman, Read more

McClinton welcomes advocates for probation reform to state Capitol

(Sep 24, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 24 – In her continued efforts for criminal justice reform in the commonwealth, state Rep. Joanna McClinton rallied with advocates for probation reform during a news conference at the state Capitol. “There are so many people who have served their time and who are now working to become upstanding citizens for their families and their communities. Yet, they are facing a long period of probation and one slip, such as missing a meeting with their probation officer, can land them back in jail. These people who are trying to change for good deserve better,” McClinton said. Participants of today’s event were Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Justice Action Network, Commonwealth Foundation, Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania, ACLU-Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Prison Society, REFORM Alliance, Amistad Law Project and American Conservative Union Foundation. McClinton also met with advocates one-to-one to discuss their thoughts on how to change the system in Pennsylvania. “I am a supporter of House Bill 1555 , a probation reform bill that is currently in committee. I also was a staunch advocate for the historic Clean Slate Act that became law last year,” McClinton said. “As a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, I voted against the new risk-assessment tool because I had serious concerns that it is not the best way to reduce recidivism. We need to Read more

Rep. Johnson-Harrell appointed by Gov. Wolf to gun violence council, introduces legislation to reduce gun violence in PA

(Sep 20, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 20 – State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, D-Phila., longtime anti-gun violence advocate, today announced her appointment to serve on Gov. Tom Wolf’s Special Council on Gun Violence. The announcement comes on what would have been the 27 th birthday of her son, Charles, who was shot to death in a case of mistaken identity in 2011. He was just 18 at the time. “After losing my son, I turned my grief into activism and began advocating for countless families in Philadelphia and across our state who’ve also been left reeling for solace and solutions after losing loved ones to gun violence,” Johnson-Harrell said. “I am grateful for Governor Wolf appointing me to this council so I can continue my mission to protect families from this ravaging epidemic.” The governor’s Special Council on Gun Violence was unveiled in August and included in a package of provisions in an executive order he signed to reduce gun violence following spates of shootings in Philadelphia. As a member of the council, Johnson-Harrell is authorized to attend council meetings, engage in discussions and vote on matters relevant to combatting gun violence across Pennsylvania. In addition to being appointed to the council and to further her mission to reducing statewide gun violence, Johnson-Harrell recently introduced legislation that would require a selection committee to accept proposals for a non-partisan research center for Read more

9/10/19 – Youth Perspective on Criminal Justice – Philadelphia

(Sep 13, 2019)

Materials from a joint public hearing with the House Democratic Policy Committee. Read more