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Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus hosts Juneteenth program

Cruz sponsors bill to urge Attorney General action on opioid crisis

(Apr 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 4 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., today announced legislation that would urge the attorney general to file a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies, distributors and manufacturers that have contributed to the state's opioid addiction and overdose crisis. “I am urging the attorney general to pursue wrongful-death suits on behalf of the thousands of Pennsylvania families that have lost loved ones to this epidemic,” Cruz said. “Great strides have been taken -- including a statewide disaster declaration and making naloxone available to everyone to help save thousands of lives from overdose death. But Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states that has yet to pursue legal action over this opioid problem. We need to get to the root of the problem, and that started decades ago with the questionable and possibly illegal marketing and sales of these opioids.” Nearly 5,500 drug-related overdose deaths occurred in Pennsylvania in 2017 alone. Purdue Pharma recently settled its first lawsuit with Oklahoma on March 26, 2019. Cruz noted that Pennsylvania needs to act now to save as many lives as possible. More information about Cruz' legislation and other state-related matters is available by contacting his Harrisburg office at 717-705-1925. ### Read more


Cruz sponsors bill to require diverse culture and history lessons in schools

(Apr 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 4 – State Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., today announced legislation that would require African American, Native American and Hispanic history, culture and diversity to be included in history curricula in public schools. “Many of us were taught history in school, but from a homogeneous perspective,” Cruz said. “Other races are often portrayed in negative, over-simplified, or victimized ways. I want to ensure that our schools give a more complete picture of history. History should include all stories, regardless of culture or race.” Cruz noted that research has shown that inclusive lessons lead to fewer absences, higher grades and better graduation rates. Additionally, inclusive lessons help to bridge differences that exist in experiences and perspectives, building tolerance and understanding in communities. More information about Cruz's legislation and other state-related matters is available by contacting his Harrisburg office at 717-705-1925. ### Read more


Kinsey opposes U.S. Department of Commerce’s citizenship question

(Apr 02, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 2 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today announced his opposition to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. “I am proud to sign on with more than 150 bipartisan state and local elected officials to oppose the decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census,” Kinsey said. “The addition of this citizenship question will result in inaccurate census data and the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars away from vital programs that support education, health care, criminal justice, rehabilitation centers and unemployment compensation, among many other programs. The improper allocation of these funds impacts the lives of millions of Americans who need it the most." On Monday, April 1, an amicus brief was filed in support of plaintiffs in Department of Commerce v. New York , currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, which addresses the important issue of whether a citizenship question should be added to the 2020 Census. The addition of a citizenship question in the Census will significantly impair the accuracy of the Census, which is used to determine the allocation of more than $900 billion of federal funding. “I urge the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the decision of the lower court and reject the addition of the question to ensure the proper allocation of federal funds to the communities and people who need and rely on this Read more


Rabb sponsors resolution to censure disorderly members

(Apr 02, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 2 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today announced his resolution to amend the House rules to create a motion to censure. “All members of the House are here to serve based on the trust that has been given to us by the public and our constituents,” Rabb said. “If a member decides to act without any sense of common decency, it should fall upon all of us in the chamber to demand that order is maintained and a certain level of respect is shown when we are doing business in the People’s House. Rather than waiting for a committee, I want to put the power back in our hands so that we may act swiftly to condemn the words or actions of a fellow member when they choose to dishonor this institution.” Rabb’s resolution would create a motion to censure a member of the House that would require a two-thirds vote to be effective. Currently, to censure a disorderly member, a resolution must be introduced and sent to committee, which can take time or even be used to block a resolution. Rabb continued that although the motion should be taken very seriously, the power to censure should be exercised under the direct control of the House as a whole, not up to a committee. “By requiring a two-thirds vote, we can ensure that the motion is not used aimlessly, and we can now provide for immediate action of the House to enforce its own rules,” Rabb said. Rabb said he plans to push for passage of his resolution next Read more


PLBC Scholarship Opportunity: Deadline May 10, 2019

(Apr 01, 2019)

PLBC scholarship Read more


Hill-Evans Addresses Childhood Mental Health Issues

(Mar 29, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans hosted a public hearing to discuss the lifelong impacts of childhood mental health. She explains the collaborative effort needed to catch these issues early. Read more


Burgos to take on leadership role in agriculture policy

(Mar 29, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 29 – State Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Phila., today said he was appointed to serve in a leadership role with the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, a committee not normally linked with city lawmakers. Burgos, who is a member of the committee and will now serve as Democratic secretary, said the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee reviews bills that directly affect Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, including food safety and processing, transportation, marketing, weights and measures and farm equipment and production. It also works in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture on boards and commissions related to agriculture. “I am both humbled and honored to take a leadership role on the House Agriculture Committee, and I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to continue to tackle the agriculture concerns of our state, including food safety, food security and supporting the number one industry of our state,” Burgos said. “As a city lawmaker, not normally associated with dairy farms, corn fields and mushroom farms, I am excited to bring a different perspective to this committee.” Burgos said adding city legislators to the leadership fold will continue to help shape the committee in the image of the state. “City legislators within this committee means that we have the opportunity to continue to tackle the state’s agriculture issues, but with more of a balance,” Burgos Read more


Rabb to be Democratic vice chair of House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee

(Mar 29, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 29 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today announced his appointment as Democratic vice chair of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. “Agriculture is much more than just farming and putting seeds into the ground. More Pennsylvanians – especially who live in urban areas -- need to understand how important this industry is to our families, to our communities, to our metro areas, and to our state as a whole,” Rabb said. “We must invest more into urban agriculture and inform young people entering the workforce that agriculture offers a diversity of opportunity and isn’t just for rural residents. It can happen in Philadelphia, whether it’s creating a garden, a vertical farm, or working with a food co-op. “We should envision vacant lots as entrepreneurial opportunities for the betterment of communities and the people who live there. By doing so, we can help beautify our neighborhoods and eradicate food deserts that are so predominant throughout Philadelphia. Agricultural issues are also frequently bipartisan matters that can build bridges between rural and urban priorities,” Rabb said. In his role as vice chair, Rabb will be responsible for conducting committee meetings when the chairman is absent and support any subcommittees that may be created. “I am very pleased to have Representative Rabb serving as a vice chair on our committee,” said state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Read more


McClinton: Housing grants announced to help individuals battling opioid use disorder

(Mar 28, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 28 – Rep. Joanna E. McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, announced today that Philadelphia and Delaware counties have been selected to receive a portion of the $15 million in state funding that was awarded to create pilot programs for case management and housing support services for Pennsylvanians with an opioid use disorder. The recipients are the Philadelphia Single County Authority and the Delaware County Office of Behavioral Health. The pilot programs that will be established through the released grants will assist individuals as they become and remain engaged in evidence-based treatment programs and will provide individuals with support services such as pre-tenancy and tenancy education services to maintain stable housing. The recipients were chosen via a formula that considered both the rate of individuals diagnosed with a substance use disorder and the rate of overdose-related deaths in a county. “The opioid epidemic has been devastating for so many individuals in Pennsylvania, so I am glad to see more state resources being dedicated to this issue,” McClinton said. “This program will help establish much needed support services for people affected by substance use disorder.” According to national data, about one in five people experiencing homelessness has a chronic substance use disorder. The grants were awarded by the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Human Services from the $55.9 Read more


Johnson-Harrell: We Must Work Together For Everyone Across PA

(Mar 27, 2019)

Pa. state Movita Johnson-Harrell is responding to a controversial prayer given the day she took the oath of office. She explains why her presence in the House is needed now more than ever. Read more


Legislative package would help incarcerated women, parents in Pa.

(Mar 27, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 27 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., and colleagues today unveiled a package of legislation that would help incarcerated women and parents in Pennsylvania. “As chairwoman of the Women and Girls of Color Subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, I traveled to SCI-Muncy last year, which is one of the two state prisons that house female inmates, and heard the cries for help,” Cephas said. “The visit made me realize that while I'm proud of the significant strides we've seen in our fight for criminal justice reform, we must include our women and girls of color in the bipartisan discussion. "Women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population. According to a report from the Vera Institute of Justice, the number of women in jail in the U.S. has grown 14-fold since 1970. Furthermore, a majority are accused of non-violent offenses. What's often ignored by our criminal justice system, though, is the fact female offenders have vastly different needs and experience different stresses compared to men.” Cephas plans to introduce two bills: one would create a Women and Girls Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency; the other bill would require the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to submit an annual report on healthcare screenings and care services they provide to the House Health and Human Services committees and the Senate Health and Human Read more


Kenyatta gives staunch defense of General Assistance

(Mar 27, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 28 – In an impassioned floor speech, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., spoke against Republican attacks on the “least of these” and forcefully denounced H.B. 33 which would re-enact the elimination of the general assistance cash benefit program. “We cannot allow a constant attack on our citizens who are already working to get out of poverty,” Kenyatta said. “This kind of legislation encourages the cycle of poverty, and will always get a ‘no’ vote from me. I introduced over a dozen amendments to save this program for particularly vulnerable constituencies. I will continue to fight for those less fortunate. If you’re on general assistance, you shouldn’t have to worry if a source of income will be taken away from you.” Kenyatta said the general assistance program costs about $57 million dollars, just .006 percent of the total General Fund budget. He said legislation to eliminate general assistance was introduced this year because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned a 2012 law (Act 80) that stripped money from about 60,000 general assistance recipients and eliminated the program. Following that court decision, the Department of Human Services began operating the program again. General assistance provides approximately $200 a month to low-income and disabled Pennsylvanians in emergency situations who do not Read more


McClinton: We Must End The Suffering

(Mar 27, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Joanna McClinton continues her fight to bring dignity to incarcerated women. She joined colleagues and advocates to explain why addressing this issue is critical to families across the commonwealth. Read more


Fitzgerald Works To Provide Hygiene Products For Incarcerated Women

(Mar 27, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald continued her fight in Harrisburg to bring dignity to incarcerated women. She explains how her bill would ensure their needs are met. Read more


Cephas Fights To Bring Dignity To Incarcerated Women

(Mar 27, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Morgan Cephas led a news conference to introduce a package of bills aimed at bringing dignity to incarcerated women. She explains why this issue is critical to families across the commonwealth. Read more


PLBC condemns divisive invocation given in the House Chamber

(Mar 26, 2019)

Members from Philadelphia and of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today condemned a divisive opening prayer delivered Monday in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Here’s a selection of quotes. Rep. Stephen Kinsey, PLBC chairman: “On a day that should have been celebrated, we found ourselves confused and mortified. The swearing-in of Representative Movita Johnson-Harrell as the first Muslim woman to ever serve in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives was overshadowed by the outrageous remarks made by the Republican member. This is disgusting behavior. I choose to celebrate the diversity of our caucus, and welcome Representative Johnson-Harrell with open, loving arms. I believe our Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said it best, ‘It was beneath the dignity of the House.’ There is no room for hate.” Rep. Donna Bullock, PLBC vice chairwoman: “It is unfortunate that prayer was used to intimidate and divide. As our state legislature becomes more diverse, as we elect more women, more people of color, and people of different faiths and experiences, our ability to work together for all Pennsylvanians will be tested. I pray that my colleagues come to understand that Pennsylvania's diversity is our strength, not the enemy.” Rep. Summer Lee, PLBC treasurer who represents a portion of Allegheny County: ”We want to foremost, recognize and celebrate the historic victory and swearing-in of Read more


Kenyatta applauds order to remove Glen Mills School students from site

(Mar 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 25 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today said he supports the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ order for the emergency removal of all children currently remaining at the Glen Mills School in Delaware County. “I’ve said from Day One, that if there are any violations of criminal law regarding the care of youth at Glen Mills, that those who are responsible need to be held accountable,” Kenyatta said. “I’m happy to see the state take action to remove all children from Glen Mills and hope that it is done in a safe and expeditious manner. I also look forward to the results of all investigations that are pending. Today is a good day for the safety of our kids, a good day for the advocates and elected leaders at the state and local level who have fought for the protection of youth. I am happy to have been able to lend my voice toward elevating the need to examine tragic situations such as those alleged to have occurred at Glen Mills, or other places that dare to abuse the trust we put in them to care for our children.” Under the DHS order, all children residing at the school will be removed and relocated as soon as it can be safely accomplished. DHS’ Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) delivered the order to the Glen Mills School today. Prior to this, counties, states, and judicial systems with children at Glen Mills were notified that the emergency removal order would be Read more


Kenyatta, Lewis unveil Fighting Chance Act legislation

(Mar 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 26 -- Working to cut government red tape and reform the criminal justice system, freshmen state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and Andrew Lewis, R-Dauphin, today unveiled their Fighting Chance Act legislation at a state Capitol press conference. The bill would require state agencies overseeing occupational licensure and the Board of Probation and Parole to reduce red tape by 25 percent over the next three years, with the intent to eliminate unnecessary barriers for people trying to get into these important, licensed occupations. “Pennsylvania has the potential to be the top state in the nation for jobs and opportunity, but we won’t achieve that goal without significant government reform,” Lewis said. “For example, our state has thousands of outdated regulations governing occupational licensure that are keeping good people out of the workforce and hindering our small businesses growth. We believe we can change that through the Fighting Chance Act.” The bill also aims to reform the criminal justice system by calling for the removal of barriers to employment for people who have paid their debt to society. “People who are incarcerated have to perform all types of work in the institutions in which they’re being held,” Kenyatta said. “If you have the training and expertise to do the work of an electrician, plumber, or barber, you should be able to get back to work when you have paid your debt. Read more


Rabb seeks support for interdepartmental police hiring reform bill

(Mar 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 26 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today announced he is currently seeking co-sponsors for his forthcoming legislation that would crack down on police violence and misconduct by making it harder for “pariah police” to job-hop across Pennsylvania. Rabb’s circulation of the co-sponsorship memorandum comes in the wake of a not guilty verdict in the trial of Michael Rosfeld, the ex-East Pittsburgh cop charged with shooting and killing 17-year-old Antwon Rose II, who was unarmed. Rosfeld previously had been dismissed with cause from the Pittsburgh University Police Department a few months before joining the East Pittsburgh Police Department. “This officer’s knee-jerk reaction in this incident was illogical and tragically ended the life of a young black man. It could have been prevented had the officer’s previous transgressions been thoroughly investigated before he bounced from one police department to another,” Rabb said. “Police officers are supposed to be well trained to protect and serve in any given incident. The commonwealth must help ensure police departments secure as much relevant information as possible on anyone who is looking to join their ranks.” Rabb said his legislation, which is modeled after a similar law in Michigan, would require law enforcement agencies to keep detailed personnel records that include all criminal, civil and ethics substantiated complaints, as well as the Read more


Johnson-Harrell Begins Term in Pa. House

(Mar 25, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell was sworn-in to office in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Johnson-Harrell became the first muslim woman to be elected to the state House. Read more