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PLBC Fall 2022 newsletter

McClinton Testifies for Phila. City Council on Bail Reform

(Dec 01, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Joanna McClinton testifies in front of Philadelphia City Council on her efforts to reform bail and criminal justice issues in Pennsylvania. Read more


House Democratic Policy Committee examines bold budget innovations

(Nov 29, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 29 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today hosted his first House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on bold budget innovations for the betterment of all Pennsylvanians. Held at Chestnut Hill College, Rabb was joined by Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, and several lawmakers from across the state. “We’re looking for innovative budget proposals that can help us improve economic security for all, better leverage taxpayer dollars for environmental stewardship, and ease the burdens on Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system. I am grateful to my colleagues for joining me at this forum to discuss these concepts and see where they may fit into our efforts to improve public policy,” Rabb explained. Chairman Sturla added, “Representative Rabb is an innovator and today’s discussion brought great insight into universal basic income, the municipal job guarantee, the carbon fee and various criminal justice reform proposals. Spending tax dollars in the most efficient way possible is the best approach and as we look for ways to close a budget deficit while still meeting the needs of all Pennsylvanians. I thank Representative Rabb for igniting this discussion.” Testifiers included Ioana Marinescu, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice; Darrick Hamilton, Ph.D., associate professor of economics and urban policy, The New School; Read more


Bullock joins Moms Clean Air Force to discuss impact of pollution on African American families in Pa.

(Nov 29, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 29 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., vice chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today spoke at a news conference hosted by Moms Clean Air Force and Defend Our Future to discuss how toxins from the oil and gas industry disproportionately impact African-American families throughout Pennsylvania. According to a November 2017 report co-authored by the Clean Air Task Force and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, African-Americans are exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than their white counterparts and are 75 percent more likely than the average American to live in a fence-line community. Fence-line communities are communities that neighbor a company, industrial or service facility, and are directly impacted by the facility’s operation, which includes noise, door traffic, odor and chemical emissions. “The recent report authored by the Clean Air Task Force and the NAACP only confirms what we already know: the oil and gas industry is making profits at the expense of the health and well-being of historically marginalized communities,” Bullock said. “Many fence-line communities consist of low-income residents who have faced a history of discrimination on the bases of race, gender, class and disability. These companies are able burden vulnerable communities, many which have low rates of health insurance, with the deadly consequences from air pollution.” The report shows Read more


McClinton: No More Sexual Violence Against Women

(Nov 22, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Joanna McClinton stood with her women colleagues in the House of Representatives to call for the elimination of sexual violence against women. McClinton sponsored a House Resolution designating November 25, 2017, as "Elimination of Violence Against Women Day" in Pennsylvania to coincide with the United Nations' "International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women." Read more


PLBC to host Women of Color in Business event

(Nov 21, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 21 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., announced that she will host a Women of Color in Business event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29 at Five Points Coffee, 5 Long Lane, Upper Darby . Cephas is the chairwoman of the PLBC Subcommittee on Women and Girls of Color. The event aims to bridge the gap between women of color and entrepreneurship. Women of color entrepreneurs will be able to hear directly from other women of color who have successfully launched businesses and learn more about the resources available to do the same. The Women of Color in Business event marks the second installment of a five part listening tour hosted by the PLBC. ### Read more


Harris congratulates Cheyney University on extended accreditation

(Nov 20, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 20 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, has released the following statement after hearing that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education granted Cheyney University another year of accreditation: “I would like to congratulate Cheyney University for receiving another year of accreditation on its probationary status. This victory reflects the hard work of the board of governors, Council of Trustees, President Aaron Walton, faculty, staff, alumni and countless supporters. This also reflects the vision and commitment of Governor Tom Wolf. Thank you Governor Wolf for taking the steps necessary to protect the legacy of our nation’s oldest Historically Black College. “As a member of the Cheyney University task force, I have been an outspoken advocate of saving Cheyney University’s accreditation and worked on the task force’s report of recommendations for reinventing Cheyney University into a 21st-century historically black college. While this is a major victory, there is still more work to be done. We must now work towards removing Cheney University from this probationary status and ensure that it not only survives, but that it may thrive. We must build upon the legacy that started back in 1837 and has continued for the last 180 years.” ### Read more


PLBC hosts policy hearing, tour at SCI Muncy

(Nov 17, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 17 – State Reps. Jordan Harris and Morgan Cephas, both D-Phila., on behalf of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today hosted a joint policy committee hearing and tour with the House Democratic Policy Committee, various stakeholders, and incarcerated women. The tour and policy hearing was held at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy. This is the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus’ and House Democratic Policy Committee’s first tour and policy hearing at a state prison facility. Advocacy and community-based organizations joined state legislators to discuss policy initiatives aimed at reducing incarceration rates, ending the school-to-prison pipeline for young girls, and improving conditions for incarcerated women. Panelists for the policy hearing included: Chloe Bohm, House Democratic Appropriations Committee, budget analyst; Joanna Visser Adjoian, Esq., Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, co-founder and co-director; John Hargreaves, Pennsylvania Prison Society, director of volunteers; Melissa Robbins, Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization of Women, delegate; Sameerah Shabazz, Ardella’s House, director of policy and advocacy; Farida E. Boyer, MS, Family Centered Outpatient Therapeutic Services, CEO; Peggy Sims, Sisters Returning Home, founder and executive director; and Rev. Michelle Anne Simmons, Why Not Prosper, founder and CEO. Cephas, chairwoman of the PLBC Subcommittee on Read more


PLBC to kick off Women and Girls of Color listening tour

(Nov 15, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 15 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., announced that the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus will kick off a five-part listening tour to better address the needs of women and girls of color across Pennsylvania. This listening tour will be spearheaded by the caucus’ Subcommittee on Women and Girls of Color. The listening tour will address such issues as criminal and juvenile justice, economic opportunity, health and wellness, education and workforce development, and overall empowerment. Cephas, chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus’ Subcommittee on Women and Girls of Color said, “Last March, I was appointed chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Women and Girls of Color. It is an honor to finally launch this initiative. This listening tour will allow us to hear directly from our most vulnerable constituency and find ways to tackle many of the issues women of color have been facing for generations.” The PLBC’s Subcommittee on Women and Girls of Color was created in March with the goal of identifying key areas where black women and women of color face the largest disparities. The listening tour will last until the celebration of Women’s History Month in March 2018. In March 2018, the subcommittee will host a keynote event to announce a legislative and policy agenda that best reflects the needs of women of color in Pennsylvania. The kickoff event is a policy committee meeting and tour set for Read more


Dawkins on Criminal Justice Reforms

(Oct 26, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Jason Dawkins rallied a large crowd at the State Capitol in support of legislation that would institute reforms in the criminal justice system, including parole reforms and an end to mass incarceration. Read more


McClinton Ending Stop and Go Nuisances

(Oct 25, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Joanna McClinton celebrated with her colleagues after legislation was sent to the governor that aims to put a stop to stop and go nuisance establishments, which have been plaguing Philadelphia and Delaware County communities. Read more


Bullock Ending Stop and Go Nuisances

(Oct 25, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Donna Bullock celebrated a win against stop and gos after legislation was sent to the governor that would help crackdown on the nuisance establishments. Read more


Harris Ending Stop and Go Nuisances

(Oct 25, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris commends the teamwork and dedication that produced legislation awaiting the governor’s signature that would help crackdown on stop and go nuisance establishments and keep communities safer. Read more


Harris Gets Support from Trio of Eagles for Clean Slate Legislation

(Oct 24, 2017)

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, Rep. Jordan Harris, is getting support from a few members the Philadelphia Eagles for his clean slate legislation, House Bill 1419, which would implement automatic sealing of records after a period of time with no action required by the person. Read more


PLBC hosts meet and greet luncheon with Philadelphia Eagles

(Oct 24, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today hosted a meet and greet luncheon with players from the Philadelphia Eagles. During the luncheon, PLBC members and Philadelphia Eagles players discussed criminal justice reform efforts taking place in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia Eagles players in attendance included: Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith and Chris Long. Chairman Jordan Harris, D-Phila., applauded the players for using their platform to uplift Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents. “Beyond being stellar athletes, they have been a vital part of the conversation around criminal justice reform in our nation,” Harris said. “It’s time to remove the scarlet letter that prevents many Pennsylvanians from being able to receive gainful employment, adequate housing and loans to pursue a post-secondary education. If passed, our clean slate bill would be the first of its kind anywhere in the country.” Harris and Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, have introduced H.B. 1419 which would implement automatic sealing of records with no action required by the person. Harris said he believes clean slate legislation can get passed this session, but only if both parties reach a compromise to improve outcomes for all Pennsylvanians. State Reps. Donna Bullock and Joanna McClinton, both D-Phila., discussed their experience today. Bullock is the vice chairwoman of the PLBC. “I admire athletes who use their Read more


Harris joins Center for American Progress for national discussion on criminal justice reform

(Oct 24, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, joined the Center for American Progress, the National Employment Law Project, and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia to discuss criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania and across the nation. Harris joined the discussion Monday via video conference. Harris was joined by state Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., to discuss the efforts of clean slate legislation. Harris championed Act 5 of 2016 which seals non-violent misdemeanor convictions for people who have been crime-free for 10 years. Harris and Delozier have introduced H.B. 1419 which would implement automatic sealing of records with no action required by the person. “This is not a Democratic or Republican issue – it’s about providing better service to people in our communities,” Harris said. “Moreover, it’s about dollars and cents. Too often, criminal records are dooming people to a life of poverty through the creation of a social and financial underclass.” Harris calls the clean slate movement the next long-range plan on criminal justice reform. “Bills like these disrupt the cyclical nature of incarceration,” Harris said. “If we are serious about rehabilitating and reintegrating residents back into society, then we need to do something sooner rather than later. We can no longer look Read more


Harris urges Amtrak to honor legacy of Congressman Gray

(Sep 29, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 29 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today joined Sen. Bob Casey and members of the Gray Coalition to urge Amtrak to rename its 30th Street Station as the “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.” Harris was also joined by Reps. W. Curtis Thomas and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila. “We are standing on the shoulders of giants and Congressman Gray was one of those giants who paved the way for many of us today,” Harris said. “He dedicated his life to making Philadelphia a better place. In fact, without his help, Amtrak would have never received the funds necessary to complete the restoration project for 30th Street Station.” In 2014, the United States Congress unanimously passed H.R. 4838 to rename 30th Street Station as the “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station. In August 2014, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 4838 into law. Since then, Amtrak has failed to rename the station after the late Congressman Gray. To urge Amtrak to immediately change the name of the station, Harris co-sponsored H.R. 419 , which was unanimously adopted by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. “It’s time to fully honor Congressman Gray’s legacy by renaming 30th Street Station,” Harris said. “Amtrak must comply with H.R. 4838, as unanimously passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. It’s the right and honorable thing to Read more


Harris, Ortitay react to fire chief’s comments

(Sep 27, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and state Rep. Jason Ortitay, R-Washington/Allegheny, released the following statement in response to a written comment by Cecil Township Volunteer Fire Department No. 2 then-Chief Paul Smith: “There is no place in society for racism and hate, and the language used by Mr. Smith should be eliminated from everyone’s vocabulary,” Ortitay said. “That is a derogatory and hurtful term and should never be used. I strongly condemn this type of language. It is my understanding that Mr. Smith resigned Tuesday afternoon. “Those in positions of authority and leaders in the community need to be careful about the language they use. Words matter. Others, especially children, take note of the language used by those in positions of influence and the attitudes promoted by such language. We need to set a better example of respect and compassion for each other.” "Chief Smith's behavior was out of step with the values of the average Pennsylvanian," Harris said. "Unlike athletes, celebrities, or even other citizens, he is a public servant who has held the trust of the general public in the capacity in which he serves them. That capacity came under question, due to his behavior, and he did the right thing by resigning. “He could no longer be trusted to serve the general public in his current capacity as the very Read more


Harris announces $250,000 DCED grant to revitalize communities

(Sep 25, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 25 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today hosted a news conference to announce a $250,000 Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development grant he helped secure. The grant will be used in Harris’ district in the following neighborhoods: Point Breeze, Grays Ferry, Graduate Hospital, and Kingsessing. “Thank you to the state Department of Community and Economic Development for continuing to invest in communities that need it most,” Harris said. “Many older residents living on fixed incomes cannot afford tree trimming and removal services. This grant will help revitalize our community and address a pressing quality-of-life issue.” The grant will be used to remove overgrown and unwanted vegetation and debris from community common spaces, alleyways and commercial corridors. The funds will also go toward training to provide returning citizens with tree trimming and removal skills. Harris was joined by representatives from Ready, Willing and Able, NSA Education Network, and Surge Recovery. “These grant dollars serve a dual purpose: they allow us to work with our community partners and assist returning citizens by providing them with valuable skills,” Harris said. “These individuals will be able to work under the guidance of trained professionals to develop a skill set that will be a tremendous asset to our community. Once Read more


Bullock introduces legislation to increase access to solar energy

(Sep 21, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 21 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., has introduced legislation ( H.B. 1799 ) that would make solar energy more accessible to low-income and disadvantaged Pennsylvanians. Bullock announced the introduction of this bill today at a joint news conference with PECO. “Many families in Philadelphia are forced to choose between heating their homes and what’s for dinner,” Bullock said. “While there are other, more energy-efficient alternatives, these options are simply out of reach for many of our residents. Instead of thinking about alternative energy, they may be struggling to repair a leaky roof or are fighting to keep the lights on.” House Bill 1799 would allow utility companies like PECO to own and operate Pennsylvania-based solar sites and provide solar energy to low-income residents at a discounted rate. Under Act 213 of 2004, Pennsylvania electric distribution companies and electric generation suppliers are required to produce 18 percent of electricity through alternative resources by the year 2021. “House Bill 1799 would make solar energy more accessible to all Pennsylvanians – no matter how much they make or what their credit score is,” Bullock said. “Investing in solar energy has the potential to transform our lives, improve our neighborhoods and energize our economy. It can also remove the perception that solar energy is only reserved for the wealthy.” The average cost for Read more


PLBC honors legacy of Lenora M. Smith

(Sep 20, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 20 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement honoring the life and legacy of Lenora M. Smith, Esquire: “Ms. Lenora M. Smith was truly the embodiment of what is means to be a public servant. A South Philadelphia native, she was a civil rights attorney best known for defending Harrisburg’s most vulnerable residents. She often took on the cases of those who needed her help the most – giving a voice to the voiceless and hope to those who had lost it. She was a force to be reckoned with and that is why we honor her. “Ms. Smith was also a trailblazer who knocked down barriers impacting both women and African Americans. She used her role as vice president of Harrisburg City Council to put the needs of the people first. Even after leaving office, she continued to fight for those who were unable to fight for themselves. Her legacy will serve as a constant reminder of how much we have accomplished, but also how much we have left to do.” ### Read more