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PLBC says state should prioritize COVID-19 focus and funding on longstanding racial and economic divide in communities of color

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


Rabb-introduced legislation calls for immediate fair public school funding

(Mar 22, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 22 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., today introduced legislation that would push the General Assembly to commit itself to full and fair funding of Pennsylvania’s public schools. House Bill 961 would require that 100 percent of state funds for public schools immediately be distributed through the fair funding formula. It also would acknowledge that significantly more funding is required to ensure each school district has enough resources to educate its students. “As state legislators, we have a constitutional obligation to properly fund our schools. I would hardly call Pennsylvania’s current school funding model fair but rather one that sets our young people up to fail,” Rabb said. “Our schools receive a mere fraction of what they should be getting, which handicaps our students and strips them of critical opportunities. “I am leading the charge to require all of the state public school funds be distributed through this formula to certify our kids have the resources and tools needed to give them the best chance at success.” While the Basic Education Funding Commission unanimously agreed in 2015 to provide 100 percent funding to public schools through the fair funding formula, only 9 percent of 2018-19 state funds is currently being distributed to schools. Read more


Rabb seeks co-sponsors for bill to impose fines for certain resignations

(Mar 21, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 21 – State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Phila., announced he is seeking support for his legislation that would take the burden off of Pennsylvania taxpayers for special elections after a state lawmaker is expelled or resigns and is ultimately convicted of a felony. “Elected officials are required to uphold the highest standards of the state constitution and of their constituents. These positions are taxpayer funded so those people should remember the privilege they have to serve and should maintain a level of integrity, respect and trust,” Rabb said. “When a lawmaker abuses their power to the point they can no longer hold office, it should not be up to the taxpayers to foot the bill for a special election to replace that person.” Rabb is currently looking for co-sponsors for his legislation that would amend the state election code in order to impose fines for certain legislative resignations and establish a Special Election Fund. Under the proposed bill, an elected official who is found guilty of a felony and who is expelled or resigns from office would be required to pay a fine of $100,000 that would go into the fund. “These elected officials should be held accountable for the mistakes they made and the consequences that follow. Under no circumstances should taxpayers face the burden for the costs of these special elections,” Rabb said. “We owe it to the people of Pennsylvania to change the laws so future members Read more


Kinsey Stands Up For Nurses

(Mar 20, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Stephen Kinsey rallied with healthcare workers in Harrisburg to address a growing number of nurses being overworked and understaffed. He explains why it’s critical for Pennsylvanians we take action now. Read more


PA Is Better When It’s Fair

(Mar 19, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta joined his colleagues to unveil a new exhibit in the State Capitol Building supporting the LGBTQ community and stood up for a diverse workforce. He explains why fairness is critical to people across the Commonwealth. Read more


Davis introduces legislation to help job applicants with criminal records

(Mar 19, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 19 – In an effort to give state residents with a criminal record a chance to find meaningful, family-sustaining jobs, state Rep. Austin Davis today introduced legislation that would prohibit employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s criminal history until a conditional offer of employment has been made. Coined “Ban the Box,” Davis’ H.B. 898 is modeled after a similar application process currently in place in Allegheny County. It’s a system Davis said has yielded positive results. “We live in a land of hope and opportunity, but sometimes fair opportunities are squandered because of mistakes made in the past. That’s not what this country was built on – everyone deserves a second chance, especially when it comes to being able to provide for one’s family,” said Davis, D-Allegheny. “Applicants with criminal histories are automatically disqualified for certain jobs before the ink dries on their application, and that’s unacceptable. This bill would not only reduce repeat offenders but also provide qualified workers for our growing workforce.” If enacted into law, Davis’ measure would still allow employers required by state or federal law to inquire about criminal histories at the appropriate, required time. Read more


Kinsey Stands Up For A Diverse Workforce

(Mar 19, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Kinsey joined his colleagues in fighting for a diverse workforce. He explains why it’s critical for Pennsylvania’s economy that all entrepreneurs have equal opportunities. Read more


McClinton Fights For A Diverse Workforce

(Mar 19, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. McClinton joined her colleagues in supporting a diverse workforce. She explains the struggles women and people of color are facing when it comes to becoming successful entrepreneurs. Read more


Kenyatta Fights To Strengthen Cybersecurity

(Mar 19, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta continues his push to strengthen cybersecurity across the commonwealth. He questioned Auditor General Eugene DePasquale in a public hearing on the importance of protecting families online and the good paying job opportunities that are created by cybersecurity. Read more


Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority (PMBDA)

(Mar 19, 2019)

Learn how entrepreneurs can get low-interest loans to help with their business. Read more


A Diversified Workforce Makes PA Stronger

(Mar 19, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Jordan Harris joined his colleagues to fight for a diversified workforce, stand up for women and people of color, and demand action to ensure they have the best opportunity to succeed as business owners. Read more