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PLBC Fall 2022 newsletter

Harris: Budget Solution Requires Leadership

(Sep 12, 2017)

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jordan Harris says the House GOP proposal to raid several state agencies to balance the state budget does nothing to protect Pennsylvanians or move Pennsylvania forward. Read more


Harris joins Pa. Human Relations Commission and Greater Harrisburg NAACP to take a stand against hate and bias

(Sep 11, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 11 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today joined the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the Greater Harrisburg Chapter of the NAACP to take a stand against hate and bias. According to the PHRC and the NAACP, there has been an increase in hate and bias incidents over the past year, including the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. “The actions we have seen in Charlottesville and across our country are unpatriotic and un-American,” Harris said. “Some wish to take us back as a nation. We can’t allow that to happen.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 2016 was an unprecedented year for hate. Anti-Muslim hate groups grew from 34 to 101 last year. In addition, the number of hate groups operating in 2016 rose to 917. “It is our responsibility to stand up and tell our children this is unacceptable,” Harris said. “Standing on the sidelines only allows this behavior to flourish. We must continue to root out systemic injustice wherever we see it. This means meeting people where they are to have discussions on hate and bias. This includes in barbershops, beauty salons, churches, mosques and even on the streets.” “I would like to thank the NAACP and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission for all of their work,” Harris said. “We’re all in this together. We must continue to work Read more


Harris Stands with NAACP Against Hate

(Sep 11, 2017)

Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jordan Harris joined the Pa. Human Relations Commission and the Greater Harrisburg Chapter of the NAACP to stand together against hate and bias in light of recent acts of racism around the country. Read more


PLBC applauds plan to forgive Cheyney University debt

(Aug 24, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 24 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, applauded the board of governors for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s plan to forgive Cheyney University of more than $30 million in loans. Harris said, “I am thankful that the stewards of this nation’s first historically black college have demonstrated their desire and will to take another step in ensuring that the people of this great state continue to have in their treasure chest the crown jewel of black college life. Saving Cheyney is not just the moral responsibility of the university’s governing bodies, but a centerpiece in preserving one of the greatest incubators of black intellect in the region. It is important that those responsible for this effort are applauded by those who have and will continue to benefit from this great institution. It is also of critical importance to remember that this is only one of the many steps needed to ensure that this illustrious university is returned to prominence.” “I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Cindy Shapira, the chair of the board of governors, for her leadership and action in preserving the legacy of our nation’s oldest historically black college.” Harris, along with state Sen. Vincent Hughes, is a member of the Cheyney University task force. Both Harris and Hughes have been outspoken advocates of saving Cheyney Read more


Following Charlottesville, Kinsey to introduce a bill to protect the First Amendment rights of Pa. residents

(Aug 16, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 16 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., announced he will introduce legislation that would prohibit a person participating in or attending a public demonstration in Pennsylvania from possessing a firearm or other dangerous articles. “Following the events that took place in Charlottesville, it is more important now than ever to protect our First Amendment right,” Kinsey said. “Civics teaches us that the right of people to assemble peacefully to express, promote, pursue and defend their beliefs is fundamental to a functioning democracy. The presence of firearms and other dangerous articles place that fundamental right in grave danger.” Kinsey said the possession of a firearm during a public demonstration presents a clear and present danger not only to law enforcement and other first responders, but also to those who attend and participate in public demonstrations. Kinsey believes that the presence of firearms and other dangerous articles impede on the rights of Americans to assemble in a peaceful manner. During the protests and counter-protests in Charlottesville, Va., one person died and several others were injured. “I have absolutely zero tolerance for intolerance,” Kinsey said. “I am relieved that the situation in Charlottesville did not escalate further. However, we must now take the precautionary measures necessary to keep residents safe and that they are able to utilize their First Amendment right. Read more


Rabb to introduce bill to create more transparent and accountable Pa. budget process

(Aug 07, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 7 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., announced he will introduce legislation that would require the leaders of Pennsylvania’s executive and legislative branches to hold daily public hearings on the state budget whenever there is a budget impasse. The bill would require executive and legislative leaders to hold public hearings if comprehensive spending and revenue bills for the upcoming fiscal year have not been introduced by June 19. These leaders include the governor, state treasurer, secretary of revenue, auditor general, Independent Fiscal Office director, and majority and minority leadership for both the House and Senate. These individuals would be required to participate in hearings until such legislation is introduced. “It’s been six weeks after the House overwhelmingly passed a spending plan, and we still don’t know how we are going to pay for it,” Rabb said. “On Friday, our state treasurer had to extend to the Commonwealth a $750 million line of credit to prevent us from running out of money. We are only in the second month of the fiscal year and our schools and county agencies are already at risk of experiencing funding shortfalls. This is not responsible budgeting and it certainly is not how to run a government.” Rabb said he wants Pennsylvanians to see democracy in action and require all relevant parties work together to meet the needs of the Commonwealth. Hearings would be required to last at Read more


Kinsey rallies to protect legacy of Cheyney University

(Aug 01, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 1 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today joined students and activists to demand that Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education step in and save Cheyney University. Cheyney University, founded in 1837, is the nation’s first institution of higher learning for African Americans. The university faces financial struggles as funding has gone down and tuition has gone up. Since 2010, its enrollment has dropped by 50 percent from over 1,500 students to an estimated 746. If a solution is not formulated by Sept. 1, the university could lose its accreditation. “Each of us are here today because we have an obligation to fulfil: to save Cheyney University,” Kinsey said. “I am proud to stand here with my colleagues and friends as we demand that Cheyney receive fair and equitable funding. Cheyney University is our school, our system, and our responsibility. It’s up to us to save it.” While recent state budget conversations have been focused on securing funding for the Commonwealth’s state-related universities, Kinsey says legislators should focus on the 14 universities Pennsylvania actually owns. Since 2013, Cheyney University has had to borrow over $30.5 billion to stay solvent. If the university loses its accreditation, students would no longer be eligible for federal aid. Kinsey said this would be particularly devastating since nearly three-quarters of students are from low-income households and Read more


Rabb speaks out against pay gap affecting Black women workers

(Jul 31, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, July 31 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., released the following statement recognizing Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: “I stand with my colleagues and friends as we speak out against the disparities that prevent Black women from receiving equal pay for equal work. “Today marks the day where Black women received the same pay that their white male colleagues received in 2016. They are forced to work an additional seven months to eventually receive the same pay for the same or similar jobs. In fact, Black women would have to work over 66 years to earn what a white man earns in 40 years. “We can no longer overlook the systemic barriers that cause this inequality based on gender and race, hurdles that inhibit Black women from thriving and achieving economic security. And the situation is exponentially worse when this discussion moves to policies and practices that continue to imperil Black women's ability to create financial wealth for themselves and their families. "My colleagues and I have fought for various solutions to address these issues, including proposals for increasing the minimum wage, providing women with paid leave and even prohibiting employers from firing women because they are pregnant or nursing. We must do more to correct this economic injustice.” ### Read more


Bullock to join Twitter storm to highlight gender and racial pay discrimination

(Jul 28, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, July 28 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., announced that she will join a Twitter storm from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, July 31 to highlight gender and racial pay discrimination. July 31, 2017 marks the day when African American women’s pay reaches the amount the average white, non-Hispanic man was paid in 2016. “I am excited to join the Twitter storm this year and to continue fighting for Black women to receive the full dollar they deserve,” Bullock said. “After hosting a roundtable discussion on the issue last year, I was confident that we could make the issue a priority in our state legislature. However, I am beyond disappointed that not much progress has occurred since then.” Bullock said pay discrimination prevents women of color from being able to fully support their families and calls it an economic justice issue. According to data collected by the Women’s Law Project, it would take African American women 107 years to achieve equal pay at the current slow rate of progress. Pennsylvania received a “D ” ranking from the Center for American Progress in terms of economic security. The 2016 report highlighted the disparities Pennsylvania women of color faced in terms of economic security. According to the report, African American women are paid 63 cents for every dollar a white male makes. In addition, nearly one-third of African American women in Pennsylvania live in poverty. “It’s Read more


McClinton, Bullock to introduce bill to create community-based sentencing programs for women with children

(Jul 27, 2017)

HARRISBURG, July 27 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Deleware, and Donna Bullock, D-Phila., announced that they will introduce legislation that would direct Pennsylvania courts to sentence the primary caretakers of children younger than 18 to individualized community-based sentencing programs. The bill would require judges to determine if an offender is the primary caretaker of a child under 18, and if so, to hand down a sentence of non-confinement for low-level and non-violent offenses as long as they do not carry mandatory minimums. The offender would be required to complete a number of rehabilitative services instead of serving time in prison. “The tough-on-crime stances in our Commonwealth are ineffective and are tearing families apart,” McClinton said. “Yes, individuals who break the law should be held accountable. However, if they have committed a low-level, non-violent offense, they should not be sent to prison where they would lose custody of their child.” Over the past 30 years, the number of incarcerated women in the United States increased by over 700 percent, rising from 26,378 in 1980 to 215,332 in 2014. More than 60 percent of women in state prisons are reported to have a child under 18. Incarcerated mothers are forced to either relinquish their child to foster care or place them under the care of relatives. “Incarcerating women for low-level, non-violent offenses has detrimental effects on children,” Read more


Bullock: Let's Take Care of All Pennsylvanians

(Jul 21, 2017)

Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. Donna Bullock urges her colleagues to finish a responsible state budget for all Pennsylvanians, that helps working families and doesn't add to their burden with expanded gaming and liquor and one-time budget fixes. Read more


Harris discusses future of Pa. State System of Higher Education

(Jul 18, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, July 18 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement regarding the announcement of Chancellor Frank Brogan’s retirement from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education: “Chancellor Frank Brogan – our Commonwealth’s top higher education official – will be retiring in September. I would like to thank Chancellor Brogan for his lifelong commitment to public service and his impressive career as an educator. As a former educator myself, as well as a trustee at my alma mater Millersville University, I fully understand the challenges that he faced while making critical decisions about the future of our State System. “While we will miss Chancellor Brogan’s leadership, his retirement does provide us with an opportunity to refocus our System. Currently, our System is at a crossroads. Several of our state colleges and universities are facing uncertain futures. Simply put, we don’t know what could happen. As a member of the task force to redesign Cheyney University – our nation’s first Historically Black University – it is vital that the General Assembly and the new chancellor recommit ourselves, and the resources needed, to meet the needs of all of our state schools. The future of Cheyney University must be made a priority by both parties. Doing otherwise is unacceptable. “I have full faith that our Read more


Harris expresses outrage over noose found in Philadelphia

(Jul 08, 2017)

PHILADELPHIA, July 8 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement regarding the wave of racially motivated hate crimes in Philadelphia: “Yesterday in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection, a noose was found hanging from a tree near 18th and Lombard streets. This is the second time in nearly two weeks that this has occurred. As an elected official whose district borders where the noose was found, and as chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislation Black Caucus, I immediately wanted to make an official statement. However, I couldn't. I couldn't because as a black man in Philadelphia, while I wanted to be outraged – while I wanted to be upset – I wasn't. More importantly, I wasn't even shocked. Instead, I thought ‘here we go again.’ Yes, here we go again. Again with domestic terrorists seeking to intimidate, frighten and frankly, terrify people of color – particularly African Americans. “There is no other reason for hanging a noose in 2017, unless your goal is to resurrect feelings of racial terror from the days of Emmitt Till. Or to incite fear from the days of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. There is no other reason. Knowing this, it saddens me for it has been 53 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was championed. But then I’m reminded that it is 2017, and a black man with a license to carry a Read more


PLBC Scholarship Winners Recognized

(Jun 30, 2017)

The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus honored the nine winners of their annual scholarships given to worthy high school seniors and college undergraduates. Read more


PLBC hosts 2017 scholarship reception

(Jun 30, 2017)

HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., said the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus today hosted its annual scholarship reception. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the reception recognized nine Pennsylvania high school seniors and current undergraduate students of color as recipients of the PLBC scholarship program. “Since its establishment in 1973, the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus has been committed to serving the needs of people of color throughout Pennsylvania,” Harris said. “I am honored as chairman to host our seventh annual scholarship program. I firmly believe that we should not only make college more accessible, but also ourselves as elected officials. This scholarship program is about showing young people that we have their backs and to encourage them to be active in the political process.” The scholarship is intended to assist students with their college financial obligation and to foster a relationship between students and PLBC members. Recipients received a $1,000 scholarship to attend an accredited two- or four-year college or university in Pennsylvania. Exceptions apply for students attending any historically black college or university. “This year’s round of scholarship applicants was particularly competitive with many outstanding candidates,” Harris said. “Each applicant possessed outstanding academic achievements and leadership Read more


Rabb Tribute to Ahmeenah Young

(Jun 28, 2017)

Pa. state Rep Chris Rabb memorialized his constituent Ahmeenah Young, who as the first woman and first African-American to hold the position of President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center was a trailblazer for young African American women and a strong advocate for civil and equal rights. Read more


Harris Strikes a Blow to Stop and Gos

(Jun 27, 2017)

Chairman of the Pa. Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jordan Harris sponsored legislation to increase penalties and enforcement against nuisance bars, commonly referred to as “Stop and Gos,” that are a burden on many Philadelphia neighborhoods, dragging down business corridors, hurting communities and lowering quality of life for families. Read more


Aprobado proyecto sobre 'stop-and-go' en la Cámara de Representantes

(Jun 27, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Junio 27 – El representante estatal Jordan Harris, D-Fila., se expresó complacido con la aprobación de un proyecto de su autoría que atiende la situación actual de los establecimientos que alteran el orden público y deterioran la calidad de vida de las comunidades, conocidos como ‘stop-and-go’. “La proliferación de los stop-and-go a través de comunidades históricamente desventajadas exacerba la violencia y los estereotipos negativos de las personas y las comunidades. Las mismas comunidades donde familias de la clase trabajadora luchan por proveer a sus hijos y seres queridos una mejor calidad de vida”, dijo Harris. “Era necesario que la legislatura actuara en favor de esta población y con la aprobación de este proyecto así se ha hecho”. El Proyecto de la Cámara 1547 fue presentado por los representantes Jordan Harris y Donna Bullock, ambos D-Fila.; y la representante Joanna McClinton, D-Fila/Delaware. La legislación permitiría a la Junta Reguladora de Alcohol (LCB, por sus siglas en inglés) designar áreas saturadas de establecimientos que alteran el orden público, imponer penalidades, multas e incluso revocar licencias. “Estos establecimientos tienen un efecto negativo inmediato en las comunidades en las que operan. A diferencia de negocios responsables, que proveen empleo y entretenimiento Read more


Harris 'Stop and Go' bill passes House

(Jun 27, 2017)

HARRISBURG, June 27 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., is pleased the House voted in favor of legislation that would address the issues of nuisance establishments that sell alcohol and disrupt the quality of life in the communities where they operate. “The proliferation of these nuisance establishments throughout economically disadvantaged communities fuels the violence and general disruptions of family life while feeding into the stereotype of poor and dangerous neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are the same places where working-class parents are struggling to provide a decent home and striving to provide a superior quality of life for themselves and their children,” Harris said. “Families should not be forced to feel that their futures are under siege, held hostage by the less than scrupulous business practices. The legislature needed to act accordingly and we did by passing this legislation.” House Bill 1547 was introduced by state Reps. Jordan Harris and Donna Bullock, both D-Phila.; and Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. The bill would allow the state Liquor Control Board to designate saturated nuisance market areas, where violations would be subject to enhanced penalties, fines and suspensions, and allow the board to remove licenses from those areas. “Nuisance or problem liquor establishments have an immediate and negative impact on their surrounding areas. Unlike many responsibly owned bars and taverns that Read more


Rabb: Giving Kids a First Chance

(Jun 22, 2017)

Pa. state Rep. Chris Rabb is introducing legislation that would create the First Chance Trust Fund to help with the educational costs of children with incarcerated parents. It would be funded by a surcharge on larger Dept. of Corrections vendors and not raise taxes for Pa. taxpayers. Read more