Fitzgerald: Budget forgets middle class, most vulnerable citizens

(Jun 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, D-Phila., issued the following statement regarding House passage of the state budget bill: “I voted no on House Bill 790 because it doesn’t put all people first. For years, we have seen states that surround Pennsylvania increase the minimum wage – some at least twice -- since the last time it was increased here. It hasn’t changed in more than a decade, yet people continue to struggle to make ends meet. “The people of Philadelphia deserve a living wage. The city has a poverty rate of 26%. If a person is making $7.25 an hour, which is a shame in the first place, their annual income is only $14,616 a year, and that’s before taxes! Our citizens should not work hard for 40 hours or more every week and still live below the poverty line. Pennsylvania is long-overdue to raise the minimum wage, yet this budget ignores that. “This budget bill also forgets our most vulnerable citizens by eliminating the General Assistance fund. This money would have helped those Pennsylvanians who just need a little bit of help. It could have been for things that many of us take for granted: buying toiletries, diapers for babies, getting the bus to go to a doctor’s appointment. “The $200 a month provided by the General Assistance fund would help victims of domestic abuse, residents with disabilities, our veterans, and people who are struggling with opioid addiction. It’s a Read more

 

Cephas welcomes first ‘Night Market’ to her district

(Jun 21, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, June 21 – State Rep. Morgan Cephas, D-Phila., welcomed The Food Trust’s Night Market Philadelphia for the first time to the Overbrook section of her district on Thursday. The event took place along Lancaster Avenue, between 61st and 63rd streets – lined with food trucks, vendors and live entertainment. “As a community partner of this event, I was excited to work with Overbrook West Neighborhoods to bring the Night Market Philadelphia to the 192nd Legislative District,” Cephas said. “It was a great opportunity for people to come together and enjoy plenty of food and entertainment. Night Market Overbrook also provided us with an opportunity to encourage civic engagement while promoting community and economic development. I look forward to the opportunity to welcome Night Market Philadelphia to the district in the future.” Cephas added Night Market Overbrook was made possible by several sponsors including first timers Mann Music Center, Please Touch Museum, Overbrook School for the Blind, The Friends of the Dell Music Center, West Philadelphia Financial Services Institute, Keystone First and Saint Joseph’s University, in addition to Green Mountain Energy, Xfinity, Penn Beer, Lankenau Medical Center, Together for West Philadelphia and Bath Fitter/Kitchen Saver. Entertainment included West Philadelphia’s own Joie Kathos, who headlined the event. The Food Trust’s Night Market event takes place in Read more

 

PLBC honors scholarship award winners with ceremony

(Jun 21, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 20 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said the PLBC recognized seven Pennsylvania students as scholarship recipients at the PLBC scholarship award reception at the Capitol today. The recipients will receive a $1,000 scholarship to their chosen accredited four-year college or university. "The PLBC Scholarship Program lets us reward hardworking students by helping to offset some of the costs of higher education," Kinsey said. "I am honored that we can continue to reward dedicated students of color in Pennsylvania.” The 2019 scholarship recipients are: Name of Student College/University Legislator Sponsors Ariana Cruz Ohio State University Rep. Kim Domenique Ross Howard University Rep. Wheatley Jae Fitch York College Rep. Hill-Evans Nahla Turner Howard University Rep. Kinsey/Sen. Haywood Jayla Hayden North Carolina A&T State University Rep. Cephas/Sen. Hughes Alphonso Samukai Cheyney University Rep. McClinton/Sen. Williams Tai Humphery Florida A&M University Rep. Fitzgerald/Sen. Read more

 

Harris releases statement on Philadelphia Energy Solution Explosion

(Jun 21, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., House Democratic Whip, released the following statement in response to this morning’s explosion at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery: “First and foremost, I’m relieved to hear that as of this point, officials believe there are no injuries in the explosion that ripped through the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery on Passyunk Avenue early today. The safety of the employees, first responders and citizens that live in South and Southwest Philadelphia is of the utmost importance. “Though this incident occurred outside my district, the flames and smoke were clearly visible from our community and my constituents have a right to be concerned about their safety and well-being. Over 150,000 people live in South and Southwest Philadelphia and we deserve the peace of mind of knowing that our homes and lives are not in danger. “Government at all levels, local, state and federal, has a job to do to ensure that the proper safety standards are met and our industrial complexes, which provide thousands of jobs to local residents, are operating in a safe and efficient manner. Though this directly impacts South Philadelphia, the entire city and region breathes the same air and drinks the same water. Incidents like this must be taken seriously to ensure public safety, and I’m extremely concerned that this is the second explosion within two weeks at the same facility. Read more

 

Kinsey Applauds All Who Helped Pass Juneteenth Day Legislation

(Jun 20, 2019)

PA Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Stephen Kinsey thanks Rep. Sue Helm and Governor Tom Wolf for making PA the second state to sign legislation making Juneteenth an annual holiday. He also recognized the Mills family, and all of the individuals/organizations who never gave up. Read more

 

Legislators call for action following weekend of gun violence in Philadelphia

(Jun 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 17 – The Philadelphia Delegation of the General Assembly released the following the statement following a weekend in which 28 victims were involved in 19 shootings leaving five dead in the city: “Father’s Day weekend, in which 28 Philadelphians were shot, opened a wound of gun violence that we can’t let fester. Our constituents and our city deserve a safe environment, and it’s imperative that we have all hands-on deck from various levels of government to deal with this issue. “With that in mind, we’re asking Governor Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner to work together in a coordinated way to reduce the scourge of gun violence in our city. We’re also asking Mayor Kenney to issue an executive order to formulate an emergency response in Philadelphia to facilitate these coordinated efforts. There is no more time for thoughts and prayers. We need action before we unnecessarily lose more life in our city. “This weekend can’t set the tone for what this summer will be like in Philadelphia. More and more, these incidents are impacting our teenagers and young adults, and until we have concrete steps to take to address this public health epidemic the number of victims will only continue to rise. We look forward to working together with all parties to find a resolution to this epidemic that works for the city now, not later.” Read more

 

Reps. Jordan Harris & Sheryl Delozier talk criminal justice reform

(Jun 17, 2019)

Pennsylvania lawmakers discuss Meek Mill, Jay Z, and Michael Rubin's involvement in the bipartisan effort to reform probation & parole policies Read more

 

2019 PLBC Scholarship Winners

(Jun 14, 2019)

2019 PLBC Scholarship Winners Read more

 

Kenyatta seeks passage of 'Phillip’s Law'

(Jun 12, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today announced the formal introduction of bipartisan legislation aimed at ensuring adequate mental health resources for students in public schools. Known as “Phillip’s Law,” the bill ( H.B. 1622 ) would require the Department of Education to investigate the number of school mental health professionals available to students, as well as make recommendations on how to increase their numbers to meet nationally accepted levels. It was introduced by Kenyatta and state Reps. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks, and Joanna McClinton, D-Phila. Kenyatta suggested the legislation following the death of an 11-year-old student from his district, Phillip, who committed suicide after school. The child’s family said he urgently tried to get the attention of support staff but was unable to connect. “When an 11-year-old takes his life, everyone must take stock of how and why children can get that far in their despair,” Kenyatta said. “The tragedy of Phillip’s passing sheds light on the fact that school mental health professionals are not always available or equipped to identify and intervene when a child is suffering. In fact, there is no mandate for schools to retain mental health staff, and there certainly is not enough funding provided for it. But there should be.” Kenyatta recently created an action item on his website, www.pahouse.com/Kenyatta , to give Pennsylvanians Read more

 

Hill-Evans amends Charter School bill

(Jun 12, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, today announced that her amendment to H.B. 357 has been adopted in the House chamber. “Certain charter schools have complicated our public school funding formula for years, and the funding that goes to public schools should not be going to these charters if they have plans to disband or terminate their charter,” Hill-Evans said. “I’m happy that my colleagues have agreed to my amendment that would make it illegal to allow more students to enroll at a charter school if they plan to eliminate their charter. Our tax dollars and our students should not be sent to a charter school if it is going to be shut down within less than a year.” Hill-Evans' amendment would make it so that upon notification of a nonrenewal or termination of a charter, a charter school may not enroll new students unless the charter school files an appeal to the Charter School Appeal Board. If that appeal is denied, the charter school must immediately stop enrolling new students. In 2013-14, the York City School District paid $9 million in charter school tuition to New Hope Academy, with nearly half a million attributable to New Hope’s enrollment growth between 2012-13 and 2013-14. The school closed in 2014. The latest to shut down is Helen Thackston Charter School after a legal battle over audit reports with the York City School District, and a decision not to appeal the court ruling ordering it to Read more

 

Cephas: Bill to protect workers from sexual harassment passes House (with video)

(Jun 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – Bipartisan legislation that would protect employees in the commonwealth from sexual harassment in the workplace passed in the House today by a vote of 199-0, said state Rep. Morgan Cephas, prime co-sponsor of the bill. House Bill 849 would prohibit employers from requiring current or prospective employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement related to sexual harassment as a condition of employment. It would not prevent such an agreement if both parties consent to it. “Sexual harassment can take many vile forms. The one thing all these reprehensible acts have in common, however, is that they frequently involve attempts by the perpetrator to silence the victim – to exert undue influence and power over them,” said Cephas, D-Phila. “It’s often done through an insidious practice in which the employee is forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement.” Cephas said the bill would prohibit employers from forcing employees to sign agreements that prevent them from disclosing, reporting or participating in a sexual harassment investigation. “This bill would be an important step toward protecting all employees in the commonwealth from the scourge of sexual harassment, the pain and humiliation it inflicts on victims and the havoc it can wreak on their lives,” Cephas noted. “The legislation is a product of bipartisan effort, thanks to the prime sponsor of the bill, Representative Kate Klunk.” House Read more

 

Johnson-Harrell to host Expungement, Clemency, and Pardons Clinic

(Jun 11, 2019)

As part of her ongoing fight for criminal justice reform, state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell is teaming up with state Sen. Vincent Hughes to hold an Expungement, Clemency, and Pardons Clinic this Friday, June 14. The event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Bible Way Baptist Church, 1323 N. 52 nd St. Legal experts from the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, Philadelphia Defenders Association, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and Community Legal Services will be on hand to provide free information about the criminal justice system, explain eligibility requirements, and offer limited on-site application assistance. Read more

 

Response to Philadelphia Police Officers' Investigation

(Jun 06, 2019)

We are hopeful that the Philadelphia Police Department will conduct a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into widespread social media posting of racist and offensive content by certain officers. In our letter to Commissioner Ross, we’ve encouraged him to publicly hold accountable those found to be responsible and to send a clear message that racism will not be tolerated in any form. Read more

 

McClinton, Nesbit call for passage of automatic expungement legislation

(Jun 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 5 – State Reps. Joanna McClinton and Tedd Nesbit were joined by advocates, legal experts and fellow colleagues for a news conference to urge the General Assembly to pass their bipartisan legislation that would automatically expunge some people’s criminal record. “There are women and men who have served their time for a minor offense, yet they are still being punished while no longer being incarcerated. Their criminal record is a blemish that is prohibiting them from obtaining employment, purchasing a home and walking into a brighter future for themselves and their families,” said McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware. “It’s time that we remove the unnecessary roadblocks so these people can move forward with their lives.” House Bill 440 would provide an opportunity to expunge a person’s record if they have been unconditionally pardoned or fully acquitted of all charges. The commonwealth would receive notice of a potential expungement and would have an opportunity to object and conduct a hearing. “It’s plain and simple: individuals that are fully acquitted or pardoned of crimes should not have to be forced to carry the burdens and stigma that are associated with a criminal record,” said Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. “That’s what this bill seeks to do—improve our expungement laws and remove barriers to employment for the people of the commonwealth. I am excited to work with Read more

 

Kinsey Honors Local Marine Hero

(Jun 04, 2019)

Chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, honors local hero Cpl. Earl Guydon, who was one of the founding Marines to integrate the Corps during WWII. Cpl. Guydon was awarded the congressional gold medal in 2012 and was a stalwart and humble pillar in the community his entire life. Read more

 

Burgos Stands Up For Democracy, Pushes For Voting Reforms

(Jun 04, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Danilo Burgos joined colleagues in Harrisburg to support voting reforms. He discussed how these proposals are critical in ensuring democracy across the commonwealth. Read more

 

Kenyatta bill to ensure permanence of ‘Stop and Go’ enforcement clears committee

(Jun 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – Legislation authored by state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., to make Pennsylvania’s law that better deals with “stop and go” nuisance establishments ironclad, today was approved by the House Liquor Control Committee. Kenyatta’s bill (H.B. 1434) would move the language that cracks down on nuisance establishments, which was originally included in the state Fiscal Code (Act 44 of 2017), to the state Liquor Code. He said the Liquor Code is the correct place for this important law. “The key to holding ‘stop and go’ businesses accountable is to ensure the law is solid and enforceable,” Kenyatta said. “Since this landmark law passed in October 2017, we have seen an increase in investigations by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and, ultimately, stricter compliance. However, the language of the law was placed in a state code that deals with financial matters of state government. It’s no place for liquor enforcement, and I am glad the members of the Liquor Control Committee agree.” Under the 2017 law, if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board finds that a licensed establishment does not meet the seating, square footage, food, or health requirements under the state Liquor Code, it can suspend the license immediately. The law also gives local governments the power to recommend that the LCB investigate establishments believed to be failing to meet code requirements. “I am Read more

 

Human milk donor bank bill passes House

(Jun 04, 2019)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – State Rep. Youngblood, D-Phila., announced that H.B. 1001 passed the House Monday. The bill would license and regulate donor human milk banks in Pennsylvania. “We understand that many mothers face obstacles in producing enough milk and donor milk can provide life-saving health benefits,” Youngblood said. “It’s important that we regulate these banks so that distribution is effective and milk supplies remain safe.” The bill would call on the Pennsylvania Department of Health to license milk banks if they comply with regulations, or if they are recognized by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America or another nationally recognized accrediting organization. This legislation would also create licensing fees and establish prohibited practices to preclude the direct or indirect sale of human milk by entities not licensed in Pennsylvania. “Too often, mothers rely on milk from online and unknown sources. The Food and Drug Administration warns about the dangers of this,” Youngblood added. “I’m hopeful that this bill will help more mothers access safe breastmilk in Pennsylvania.” The bill, which was introduced by Youngblood and Rep. Donna Oberlander, R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest, had bipartisan support in the House and passed in a nearly unanimous vote. Read more

 

Kenyatta appointed to Suicide Prevention Task Force

(May 30, 2019)

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila, responds to statewide Suicide Prevention Task Force appointment: Thank you to Governor Wolf for this appointment to the unprecedented Suicide Prevention Task Force. As public servants, we are obligated to ensure our residents are physically, emotionally and mentally well. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues to help Pennsylvanians in crisis know that they are valued and to develop long-term solutions to curb this depressingly increasing trend. Suicide is the 10 th national leading cause of death, according to a 2018 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This tragedy hit home when I received a phone call from the grandmother of 11-year-old Phillip, a child from my district, informing me he died as a result of suicide, as a result of being constantly bullied. He sought help from the few mental health professionals at his school, but he was told to wait. He later went home and took his own life. For me, this was the worst day since being elected, but I made the choice to mourn with a mission. In Phillip’s memory and to prevent the loss of another young life to this tragedy, I introduced legislation-Phillip’s Law- to ensure mental health help is available when students need it most. If you or someone you love is in crisis or you are considering harming yourself, free help is available 24/7 through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Read more

 

Kenyatta slams Trump administration rollback of transgender protections

(May 29, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, May 24 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today released a statement criticizing the Trump administration for their proposal to eliminate “gender identity” as a factor in the nation’s healthcare system. “The cruelty of this administration seems to know no bounds. Time and time again, we continue to see the rights of the LGBTQ community chipped away by this administration that feeds off the hatred and fear of its base,” Kenyatta said. “I continue to do everything in my power to highlight these injustices and push for meaningful civil rights legislation at the state level to protect all of our citizens, regardless of how they identify, or on any basis of sex or gender. This political move directly threatens to undermine nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people that were provided under the Affordable Care Act. This puts LGBTQ people at a higher risk of being denied the health care they need, solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a direct attack on civil rights, and quite simply wrong.” LGBTQ and Transgender rights activist groups are alarmed at the rollback of protections. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published its proposed regulation on Friday, which would eliminate a 2016 regulation inserted by the Obama administration that redefined discrimination “on the basis of sex” to include gender identity. This provision of the Affordable Read more