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PLBC honors scholarship award winners with ceremony

McClinton to host Monday news conference to address prison gerrymandering

(8 hours ago)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 23 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, will host a news conference on ending the practice of prison gerrymandering at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28 at the state Capitol Media Center. McClinton will be joined by House and Senate colleagues and advocacy partners to discuss House Bill 940 – legislation that would require Pennsylvania to count incarcerated individuals at their last residential address for the purpose of congressional and legislative redistricting. Media coverage is invited. Read more

 

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

 

Cephas joins Philadelphia mayor and MERCK for Mothers foundation to announce $1 million grant to reduce citywide maternal mortality rates

(Sep 13, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 13 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila, vice chair of the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, today joined Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and others to applaud the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Philadelphia Health Federation for securing a $ 1 million grant from MERCK for Mothers to support efforts to decrease maternal mortality in Philadelphia. The grant will support the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Review Committee and create a local action team to address the daunting, increasing maternal mortality rates and improve maternal health outcomes. “When it comes to maternal care, Philadelphia has abysmal maternal mortality rates, at 27.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. The city’s rising rates are among poor maternal mortality across the commonwealth,” Cephas said. “This grant is a great start to improve outcomes for women and families in Philadelphia. It will also support efforts that can help to provide a clearer understanding of the causes and correlations of maternal deaths, so we can better track them and save lives.” In addition to her leadership role on the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, Cephas chairs the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus’ Subcommittee for Women and Girls of Color and has been a stalwart at addressing the rise in pregnancy-related deaths. She has coordinated meetings with stakeholders in Philadelphia and across the Read more

 

PLBC and Policy Committee listen to youth perspective on criminal justice

(Sep 10, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 10 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., and the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today held a joint hearing with the House Democratic Policy Committee on youth perspective on criminal justice. The PLBC requested the hearing to give youth an opportunity to express their views on the current criminal justice system. “I am grateful to the young people who were present for today’s hearing, as we are working to make changes to our society, including our criminal justice system, so that they will grow up in a better, more just world,” Kinsey said. “We know our system is flawed and unfair but hearing from the experts who testified today gave us invaluable information and insight that can be used to make much-needed improvements. I hope our young people know, after attending this hearing, that their voices are valued.” “Criminal Justice Reform is one of the important Civil Rights issues of our time,” Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said. “Additionally, many of our young people are affected by it as participants themselves or as a family member of a participant. It’s important to hear their voice as we continue to address this important issue.” The Philadelphia Community Youth Court sits in Harris’ district and is located at the Universal Institute Charter School, where the hearing took place. They were joined by state legislators from across Read more

 

McClinton to host Senior Appreciate Fair on Friday

(Sep 09, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 9 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, will host her “Healthy From Head to Toe” Senior Appreciation Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at Presbyterian Homes, 2050 S. 58th St., 19143. "The seniors in our community have done so much for their families and their neighborhoods. They deserve to be appreciated and to receive resources that are beneficial to them,” McClinton said. “My event is a great opportunity for them to meet with a number of agencies and companies that cater to them.” The event will offer screenings and other health-related services, resources from area agencies such as insurance and health-care providers. Lunch will be provided. McClinton and her staff also will provide seniors with information and tools to help live healthy lives. For more information, constituents can call McClinton's district office at (215) 748-6712. Read more

 

Legislators vow to fight Pa. Commission on Sentencing's risk-assessment tool

(Sep 06, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 6 – Following their votes today to reject the new risk-assessment tool by the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, state Rep. Joanna McClinton and Sen. Sharif Street said they vow to push for their legislation that would repeal the commission’s mandate to create a such a tool. “I voted to reject the risk-assessment tool because I have serious concerns that it is not the best way to reduce recidivism and keep people safe in my community and across the Commonwealth. I strongly believe that the mandate requiring the commission to create a new risk-assessment tool needs to be repealed and I will continue to work closely with Senator Street and my colleagues to pass legislation that would abolish that mandate,” McClinton said. Under this risk-assessment tool passed Thursday, when a person scores high- or low-risk based on the risk-assessment instrument, they would be flagged for further assessment of their risk of recidivism and need for treatment or support. The plan permits county probation departments to put these people through whatever assessment they use. Street said, “For almost a decade, the sentencing commission has worked – under a legislative mandate – to create a risk-assessment tool with the goal of reducing costs and decreasing the prison population. Senator Greenleaf, author of the original legislation, has denounced this version of the risk-assessment tool as having the adverse effect of its Read more

 

Cephas touts Wolf Administration for winning $2.25 million grant to reduce maternal mortality rates

(Sep 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 4 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., vice chair of the House Democrats’ Women’s Health Caucus, today applauded the Wolf administration for securing a $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support efforts in decreasing maternal deaths in Pennsylvania. Cephas wrote letters of support for the CDC grant that will fund the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, a multidisciplinary committee tasked with addressing the pressing issue of growing maternal mortality rates across the commonwealth. “Nearly a thousand women die from pregnancy-related complications each year across the country and many of these deaths were preventable. It’s also a problem here in our commonwealth,” Cephas said. “I am proud that Pennsylvania was awarded this grant to protect women, mothers, infants and their families.” Cephas has been a staunch advocate for addressing the rise in pregnancy-related deaths. She has coordinated meetings with stakeholders and the five delivery hospitals in the Philadelphia area to discuss potential solutions, hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing, and sat on two panels to better assess the issue. In these discussions, Cephas said she also wanted to bring awareness to racial disparities and mental health issues as contributors to the increase in maternal deaths. “Black women are four times more likely to die from Read more

 

Street renamed after the late former Rep. Frank L. Oliver

(Aug 30, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 30 – State Rep. Donna Bullock was joined today by Sen. Sharif Street, former Sen. Shirley Kitchen and local ward leaders to rename a portion of 29th Street, between Master Street and Thompson Street, as the Frank L. Oliver Memorial Highway. “Frank was a pioneer and staple of this community. During his time as state representative, he played an active role as an advocate for minority hiring and inclusion, affordable housing and criminal justice reform,” Bullock said. “His inspirational fight to protect our most vulnerable populations ended in much-needed laws being passed.” The designation came to light after a bill was enacted ( S.B. 1156 ) that included Bullock’s amendment for the renaming. “With the designation of 29th Street as the Frank L. Oliver Memorial Highway, we honor Frank’s contributions and remind everyone of his hard work and dedication to the people of Philadelphia,” Bullock said. Frank L. Oliver represented the 195th Legislative District from 1973 to 2010 and retired as the most senior African-American elected official in the commonwealth and the longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly with 37 years of service. During his tenure in the state legislature, he introduced legislation that enhanced First Amendment freedoms and benefits for women and minority civil service employees. Read more

 

Rabb introduces state-based slavery reparations bill on 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans arriving to North America

(Aug 30, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 30 – State Rep. Christopher Rabb, D-Phila., introduced legislation that would establish a reparations plan to combat systemic racism impacting Pennsylvanians of African descent on the 400 th anniversary of enslaved Africans arriving to Virginia in 1619. “For many other disenfranchised groups, the United States government has provided reparations and our commonwealth must follow suit,” Rabb said. “I am proud to introduce this bill for our commonwealth to atone for its role in this heinous institution that has resulted in generations of systemic racism bolstered by public policy and culture practice statewide.” Rabb said that slavery in Pennsylvania has been documented as early as 1639, with Philadelphia becoming the region’s largest port for importing enslaved Africans. “Many of the colonists who settled Pennsylvania tolerated slavery, including William Penn who owned 12 enslaved people. These people were responsible for building his colonial estate, Pennsbury Manor. Additionally, despite the Gradual Emancipation Act, passed in 1780, no enslaved person was ever emancipated, with many living and dying in bondage,” Rabb said. “Pennsylvania has always been a willing enabler of the subjugation of an entire race of people and this subjugation has been maintained statewide through institutional racism.” The bill outlines a state-based reparations plan that would have four parts: A formal Read more

 

Gainey: Importance of Financial Security

(Aug 21, 2019)

Rep. Ed Gainey attended a discussion about the financial security of Pennsylvanians and advocated for bringing the topic of financial literacy to the commonwealth's youth. Read more

 

Wheatley: Financial Future of Pennsylvanians

(Aug 21, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Jake Wheatley hosted a roundtable discussion about the financial future of Pennsylvanians at the BNY Mellon Center in Pittsburgh. Read more

 

McClinton to host Monday news conference to address prison gerrymandering
8 hours ago

Kenyatta: LGBTQ+ Americans should not be fired for who they are or love
Oct 08, 2019

Johnson-Harrell calls for statewide recognition of nation’s oldest pan-African dance ensemble in new bill
Sep 30, 2019

Cephas and Lee call on state Human Relations Commission to investigate after assault of two black women by Pittsburgh business owners
Sep 26, 2019

Kinsey, PLBC appoint Johnson-Harrell chairwoman of gun violence subcommittee
Sep 25, 2019

Kinsey, PLBC join in call for passage of Emergency Assistance legislation to help Pa.’s most vulnerable citizens
Sep 24, 2019

Legislative effort to raise awareness on diaper need in Pa.
Sep 24, 2019

Legislators fight to bring back General Assistance Fund
Sep 24, 2019

McClinton welcomes advocates for probation reform to state Capitol
Sep 24, 2019

Rep. Johnson-Harrell appointed by Gov. Wolf to gun violence council, introduces legislation to reduce gun violence in PA
Sep 20, 2019

9/10/19 – Youth Perspective on Criminal Justice – Philadelphia
Sep 13, 2019

Cephas joins Philadelphia mayor and MERCK for Mothers foundation to announce $1 million grant to reduce citywide maternal mortality rates
Sep 13, 2019

PLBC and Policy Committee listen to youth perspective on criminal justice
Sep 10, 2019

McClinton to host Senior Appreciate Fair on Friday
Sep 09, 2019

Legislators vow to fight Pa. Commission on Sentencing's risk-assessment tool
Sep 06, 2019

Cephas touts Wolf Administration for winning $2.25 million grant to reduce maternal mortality rates
Sep 04, 2019

Street renamed after the late former Rep. Frank L. Oliver
Aug 30, 2019

Rabb introduces state-based slavery reparations bill on 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans arriving to North America
Aug 30, 2019

Gainey: Importance of Financial Security
Aug 21, 2019

Wheatley: Financial Future of Pennsylvanians
Aug 21, 2019