Philadelphia Delegation lauds passage of Federal First Step Act

(Dec 19, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 19 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., chairman of the Philadelphia Delegation in the House of Representatives, applauded the passage of “First Step Act,” which is designed to reform the criminal justice system and ease punitive prison sentences at the federal level. “The First Step Act will change criminal justice reform in the United States as we know it. Even though there is lot more to accomplish when it comes to criminal justice reform, this is definitely a step in the right direction,” Dawkins said. “This legislation was long overdue – for too long we have only been tough on crime. It is past time to take a step back and reevaluate what works better for our communities, our states and the nation. “I’m glad to see action on mandatory minimums. As we all know they drive up the cost of the system by imposing longer prison terms on more offenders, in many cases nonviolent offenders, and they provide little enhancement to public safety. “Pennsylvania took the lead on criminal justice reform in the nation, when we passed the Clean Slate legislation and we’re eager to see more change happen across the country.” The U.S Senate passed the “First Step Act” (87-12) last night. The House is expected to take up the Senate version of the bill at a later date. The House passed a similar version of the bill back in May by a wide margin, 360-59. Read more


McClinton makes history in House Democratic leadership elections

(Dec 13, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 13; State Rep. Joanna McClinton today was selected by her peers to serve as the chair of the House Democratic Caucus for the 2019-20 legislative session. Read more


Taking Clean Slate Nationwide as First Step

(Dec 03, 2018)

Host and KYW Newsradio community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg asks the burning questions about the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill supported by President Donald Trump. Jordan Harris, Pa. State Rep- 186th Dist., Jules Epstein, law professor at Temple University and Sameerah Shabazz, policy director at Ardella's House walk us through the issues from a local perspective. Read more


Davidson makes history again as the first African-American woman elected Southeast Delegation's Chair with the new leadership team

(Nov 16, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – The Southeast Delegation of the state House Democratic Caucus has elected the first African-American woman to chair the delegation, Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware. Davidson is the second-most senior legislator in Delaware County. She was elected in 2010 as the first female, the first African-American and the first Democrat ever elected to represent her district. She is also the first Democratic woman ever elected from Delaware County in the history of the commonwealth. Davidson will continue to make history as chairwoman, leading the 33-member delegation which is the largest and fastest-growing delegation in the Democratic Caucus, including 16 women and five people of color. The delegation serves the people in the eight counties that make up the delegation: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and York. Davidson and the delegation will be selecting vice chairpeople and other officials by the second session day in January 2019. Davidson said the recent election in which the delegation gained 14 new representatives showed that people in the Southeast want legislators who will fight for what matters most to them -- good jobs, affordable health care, a clean environment, quality schools and a fair economy for everyone. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on legislative initiatives that will improve the lives of all Pennsylvanians,” Davidson said. “Now is the time to fight for social Read more


Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus selects new leadership

(Nov 14, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – Calling it a great opportunity to continue to be the voice for African-Americans and minorities across the commonwealth, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., was elected Wednesday to serve as the chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. “Being chosen by my colleagues to serve as the chairman of the PLBC is truly an honor. It is a tremendous responsibility that I will not take lightly,” Kinsey said. “It is the job of the PLBC to be a voice for African-Americans and people of color across Pennsylvania. As we have witnessed in recent years, minorities are facing injustice and discrimination more than ever, not only in the commonwealth but across our nation. I look forward to advancing the discussion to ensure African-Americans and people of color are equally respected and represented in Pennsylvania.” The PLBC leadership team is further made up of Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., vice chairwoman; Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, secretary; and Rep.-elect Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, treasurer. “I am honored to be reelected as vice chairwoman of the PLBC and will continue working to create opportunities and reduce barriers for black Pennsylvanians,” Bullock said. “I will keep having tough conversations with my colleagues in the House to make sure that our communities are heard and that legislation and policies from Harrisburg are inclusive of all communities.” “I am extremely honored Read more


PA Dept. of Corrections Secretary answers your questions

(Nov 09, 2018)

The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus recently hosted a Town Hall Meeting with PA Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel to discuss the recent lockdowns and its police changes within the prison system. Secretary Wetzel provided answers to the following submitted questions. His responses are in bold . Your new mail and visiting policies will severely affect my family. I feel hopeless that I cannot now send my brother a photo of a family event with a personal message written on it. A photo is a visit from a loved one far away. A photo speaks a thousand works, a scanned image does not. A scanned image is boot leg. I pay for the photos not a bootleg. Thank you for your comment. Although a duplicate of the photo is not on photo paper, the image copied is identical, in color and would capture any message that is written on it. In addition, we are pursuing the ability to send photos electronically on the tablets as well as other methods. This year (in Feb 2018), the PA DOC’s contract with GTL has an incentivized revenue structure; the more revenue from music, email, games, and books the DOC can get prisoners to generate from purchases, the higher the DOC’s commission rate. The contract was signed 6 months before the new policy that makes e-books people’s primary access point to reading materials. Why is the DOC profiting off limiting book access? E-books are not the primary access point to reading. It was an option that inmates had Read more


Rabb Honors the late Rep. David Richardson

(Nov 01, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Chris Rabb speaks about the legacy of the late state Rep. David P. Richardson from the neighboring Germantown area of Northwest Philadelphia. The Pastorius Elementary School which Richardson attended as a boy was recently renamed in his honor as the Pastorius-Richardson Elementary School in honor of his lifetime of public service. Read more


Youngblood to host fall open house

(Nov 01, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 – State Rep. Rosita Youngblood, D-Phila., today announced she is hosting a fall open house for constituents of the 198th Legislative District . It will take place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 at her district office, 310 W. Chelten Ave., 19144. Youngblood said she looks forward to seeing everyone and is excited for constituents to stop by and learn about state programs that may benefit them while discussing issues important to the community. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call Youngblood’s office at 215-849-6426. Read more


Heating aid via LIHEAP now open

(Nov 01, 2018)

The 2018-2019 Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP – is accepting applications for heating assistance grants. LIHEAP offers cash grants of $200 to $1,000 that are sent directly to the utility company to defray heating costs for eligible households, and crisis benefits of up to $600 for households in immediate danger of being without heat. Remember: These are grants and do not have to be repaid. This season’s income guidelines for both LIHEAP cash and crisis grants are $18,210 for an individual, $24,690 for couples and increases for each additional person in the household. Please click here for more LIHEAP information. Please consider visiting my office if you need help filing a LIHEAP application. Besides my office, LIHEAP information is available by: Contacting local County Assistance offices by phone or in person. Calling the LIHEAP Client Helpline at 1-866-857-7095 or PA Relay at 711 for the hearing impaired. Applying online at . Read more


Kinsey Honors the late Rep. David P. Richardson, Jr.

(Oct 31, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Stephen Kinsey honored the legacy of public service of the late Honorable David P. Richardson, Jr., a giant in the Northwest Philadelphia community of Germantown, with the addition of his name to the now Pastorius-Richardson Elementary School. Richardson was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus in 1973. Read more


Harris Working for Good Jobs

(Sep 26, 2018)

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, state Rep. Jordan Harris, is working with the Pa. Public Utilities Commission to help people find good jobs in the utility sector with the website Read more


Harris: Punishment Does Not Fit the Crime

(Sep 25, 2018)

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, state Rep. Jordan Harris, argues in a meeting of the House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee that a bill which would level a felony charge for criminal trespass in a critical infrastructure facility equates that crime to premeditated murder which seems unjust. Read more


PLBC applauds state funding for gun violence reduction initiatives

(Sep 07, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 7 – Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus applauded the announcement made today by Gov. Tom Wolf that more than $1.5 million in funding will be allocated across the commonwealth to help reduce gun violence. "The crisis created by the illegal gun violence epidemic cannot be averted without those on the frontlines of this fight having access to the resources and tools needed to do the work of healing those affected,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., PLBC chairman. “The PLBC is proud to stand with Governor Wolf as we begin to ensure that our communities have the support and tools needed to begin to address this public health crisis." “The PLBC has been working hard to address gun violence in our community as a public health issue, because we understood that resources follow public health concerns. Today’s grant is a result of our collective work with Governor Wolf, city officials, and local advocates,” said state Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., vice chair of the PLBC. “As a member of the School Safety and Security Committee, I hope to bring more resources to Philadelphia to address gun violence in and around our schools.” “It is no secret there is a gun violence epidemic in the commonwealth. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and all points in between, shootings are taking lives one or two at a time, destroying our communities and families,” said state Rep. Chris Read more


Kinsey: $1 million grant for WES health service hub and headquarters

(Sep 07, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 7 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., is pleased to announce that WES Corp. has been awarded a $1 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to build a state of the art medical service hub and headquarters on 13th Street. “I’m thrilled to see WES getting this grant,” Kinsey said. “This money will help them fulfill and grow their mission of promoting the total wellness of our neighbors. As a state representative, it is my job to make health resources more accessible and affordable for people. I’m proud to take part in the amazing job WES is doing to improve the well-being of our communities.” The project includes a new four-story office building to hold corporate and service staff. It will also host medical offices to service behavioral health needs, outpatient clinics, patient direct services, underground parking and complementary business services including daycare and retail services. The RACP grant program is administered by the governor’s Office of the Budget to foster economic, cultural, civic and historical projects with significant potential for improving economic growth with new jobs. Read more


McClinton welcomes 120 students during Back to School event in Darby

(Sep 06, 2018)

DARBY, Sept. 6 – To help students get the tools they need to have a successful school year, state Rep. Joanna McClinton hosted her 2nd Annual Back to School Resource Fair at the Darby Borough Recreation Center. “Our students are in line to become the next generation of leaders,” McClinton said. “That is why we have to provide them with the resources they need to lead. My Back to School Resource Fair is just one of the many initiatives I have to ensure that our younger residents are successful.” McClinton added more than 100 families attended the fair and 120 children received supplies and book bags to start the school year strong. Students also received free haircuts and styles from Yasmeen’s Clean Cuts and BBC Beauty Academy. There were 20 local exhibitors in attendance – including representatives from Aetna, Crozer-Keystone Community Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, the Maternity Care Coalition and the William Penn School District – providing information on health care and school safety to attendees. McClinton was joined by Mayor Helen Thomas, Darby Borough Council President Darlene Hill, Council members Darren Burrell and Donald Deigh, Darby Police Chief Robert Smythe and Lieutenant Joseph Gabe. “I would like to thank our corporate sponsors as well as the residents of the 191st Legislative District. With their help, the event was a success, and several students now have Read more


McClinton to host Senior Appreciation Fair Sept. 7

(Aug 29, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 28 – 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. 7 at Presbyterian Homes, 2050 S. 58th St., 19143. The event will offer screenings and other health-related services, resources from area agencies such as insurance and health-care providers, a senior fitness class, dance competitions and musical guests. Seniors also will have an opportunity to have their picture taken for their SEPTA Key ID card. Lunch will be provided. "This is a great opportunity to meet with a number of agencies and companies that cater to our wisest neighbors – senior citizens," McClinton said. "I look forward to meeting many of our seniors as we pursue healthier lives together!” 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


Joint state legislative hearing at SCI-Dallas focuses on prison reform

(Aug 23, 2018)

DALLAS, Aug. 23 – A joint state House-Senate Democratic Legislative Policy Committee hearing was held Wednesday at the State Correctional Institute in Luzerne County to discuss proposals aimed at reforming the state’s justice and prison systems. Held at SCI-Dallas at the request of Rep. Jordan Harris, Rep. Donna Bullock and Sen. Sharif Street, all D-Phila., the hearing focused on S.B. 942 that would provide the possibility of parole for model prisoners serving life sentences. The legislation would enable someone sentenced to life imprisonment to be considered for parole after spending at least 15 years in prison. The state Board of Probation and Parole could still reject parole requests from those who do not deserve it or pose a safety risk to the public. Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., has introduced companion legislation ( H.B. 135 ) in the House of Representatives. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and co-sponsor of the recently-enacted clean slate law, said: “Yesterday's policy hearing and tour of SCI-Dallas was a historic moment. Both House and Senate Democratic Policy committees along with the PLBC joined to hear from a group of constituents often forgotten about. In this time of fiscal crisis, it's the legislature's responsibility to ensure that we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. There is much cost saving that can come from the Department of Corrections while keeping communities safe. Lengthy yet Read more


McClinton annual Back to School Community Resource Fair is Sept. 4

(Aug 13, 2018)

DARBY, Aug. 13 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila/Delaware, will host her annual Delaware County Back to School Community Resource Fair from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4 at the Darby Recreation Center, 1022 Ridge Ave., Darby. "I love seeing children so excited to start the school year," McClinton said. "I want to encourage that excitement with the school supplies giveaway. The kids aren’t just receiving pens or notebooks. They are being empowered to succeed in school, and when they succeed, we as a community succeed.” Local vendors will provide free haircuts and hairstyles in addition to the free school supplies. Refreshments will be available. “It is a priority that parents and students have access to the critical resources they need to thrive,” McClinton said. “My staff and I will be there to talk to residents about how to improve education in the district, as well as answer any state-related questions they may have.” McClinton said students must reside in the 191 st Legislative District , which includes parts of Philadelphia and all of Darby and part of Yeadon in Delaware County, and must be present to receive school supplies. For more information, call McClinton’s district office at 215-748-6712. Read more


Roebuck, Policy Committee discuss free college tuition legislation (with video)

(Aug 09, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 9 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing at Temple University on the PA Promise Act, his legislation that would provide free tuition for students attending Pennsylvania’s community colleges, state system universities, and state-related institutions. Roebuck was joined by Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and state legislators from across the commonwealth. The committee discussed H.B. 2444 , which would remove substantial financial burdens on students and their families and make college more affordable. “Free tuition makes sense. The success is proven. The pressures of getting into a good college can be stressful. The overwhelming cost that comes with it should not be one of them,” Roebuck said. “Graduates should be able to concentrate on getting good jobs and starting families, not be concerned with drowning in debt for years to come. And it is our duty to help create that reality.” Sturla added, “Pennsylvania families are afforded the right to an excellent and thorough public education in their state constitution, but when it comes to higher education many of students are still unable to afford it. As policymakers, we must understand that investments in education are the key to move our state forward. Having people ready to fill the jobs that businesses and corporations are offering will create an enormous economic opportunity Read more


McClinton, Policy Committee discuss new ideas on probation reform (with video)

(Aug 08, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 8 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing at the Philadelphia City Hall on probation reform. McClinton was joined by Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and state legislators from across the commonwealth. The committee discussed initiatives and potential legislation that would update Pennsylvania’s probation policies, reduce recidivism, create reforms and give returning citizens a second chance and save taxpayer dollars. “For far too long administrations and policymakers have enforced probation and parole as a measure of public safety, but it didn’t work. Pennsylvania has the highest parole rate in the nation and nearly one third of our prison’s beds are occupied by citizens who don’t pose a threat to their communities,” McClinton said. “We must reverse the equation by redirecting the hundreds of millions we currently spend in prisons into the resources returning citizens need to succeed.” Sturla added, “This is the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to move probation reform forward. This issue also affects our institutions as probation and parole officers struggle to manage increasing caseloads. Thanks to Representative McClinton for taking the lead on this important conversation.” The committee heard testimony from Christian Stephens, deputy secretary for field services, Pennsylvania Read more