Last summer, my grandmother passed away after years of living with Alzheimer’s disease. If you’ve lost a loved one to this disease or know someone who has, then you’re familiar with the long and cruel journey both the patient and their families have walked. Read more
Benham applauds up to $800,000 to combat substance use disorderState grants awarded to Tree of Life Bible Church, Crossroads Treatment Read more
The Pennsylvania Capital-Star covers the passing of the Fairness Act out of the Pennsylvania House. Read more
HARRISBURG, May 2 – Today, the Fairness Act (H.B. 300) passed out of the Pennsylvania House and is headed to the Senate for a future vote. Below is a quote that can be attributed to the co-prime sponsors of this bill: Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila; Jessica Benham, Dan Frankel and La’Tasha D. Mayes, all D-Allegheny; Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster; and Greg Scott, D-Montgomery. “Today is a historic day, as we take a critical step to make Pennsylvania fairer. The Fairness Act is as simple as it is substantive. H.B. 300 would protect LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians from facing discrimination and allow all individuals in the commonwealth to file complaints with the PA Human Relations Commission. “Now, we call on the Senate to quickly consider and pass this legislation and send it to Governor Shapiro’s desk.” Read more
HARRISBURG, April 26 – Today, the PA House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, chaired by state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, held a rally on the PA Capitol steps in Harrisburg promoting the Fairness Act (H.B. 300), anti-discrimination legislation currently moving through the state House. House Bill 300 would prohibit discrimination in PA based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression. On Monday, the bill was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee and is headed for an eventual vote by the full House. Today’s rally saw a huge turnout of legislators, advocates and the public. Kenyatta and Benham were joined by the other co-prime sponsors of H.B. 300, state Reps. Dan Frankel and Latasha D. Mayes, both D-Allegheny; Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster; and Greg Scott, D-Montgomery; to speak on their bill. “Pennsylvania is better when it’s fairer. Passing the Fairness Act is the right thing to do for our families, our commonwealth and for our economy. This legislation was first introduced 22 years ago -- leaving committee once before -- and never receiving a full vote,” Kenyatta said. “It’s time for that to change. Pennsylvanians are good and decent people. They know every single one of us should be treated with dignity and respect. We have a chance to deliver on that basic principle and we will.” “The Fairness Act is as Read more
HARRISBURG, April 24 – Today, The Fairness Act (H.B. 300) was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee 12-9 and will now head to the House floor for a vote. Prime sponsors of the bill, state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila; Jessica Benham, Dan Frankel and Latasha D. Mayes, all D-Allegheny; Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster; and Greg Scott, D-Montgomery; issued the following statement following the Judiciary Committee vote. “The Fairness Act has been in the works for years and never received fair consideration. With today’s vote in the Judiciary Committee, we took a huge step toward making Pennsylvania fairer for our LGBTQ+ residents. “As H.B. 300 heads to the house floor for a vote, we are ready to defend the rights of LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians. “Most Pennsylvanians believe what we believe; Pennsylvania is better when it’s fairer. We hope our colleagues in the House can see eye to eye with us and most Pennsylvanians, so they can meet this monumental moment for our commonwealth and pass H.B 300 out of the House and to the Senate.” Read more
HARRISBURG, April 13 – Today, the Fairness Act , whose prime sponsors are state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila.; Jessica Benham, Dan Frankel and Latasha D. Mayes, all D-Allegheny; Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster; and Greg Scott, D-Montgomery, was introduced as H.B. 300. The following joint statement can be attributed to the members listed above: “Every single Pennsylvanian deserves to live with dignity and respect. For far too long, LGBTQ+ folks across the commonwealth have faced horrific discrimination for who they love, how they identify and who they are. “In 2020, in the landmark decision of Bostock v. Clayton County, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an employer cannot discriminate against an individual because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. While this decision was a historic victory for civil rights, it does not prevent someone in our state who identifies as LGBTQ+ from being denied housing, education or access to public accommodations. These protections must be codified into law. “Lack of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law in Pennsylvania is a deterrent for workers and businesses who could help grow our economy, and its passage is long overdue. Discrimination in any form degrades us all. We can and must do better. “That is why we are introducing the Fairness Act (H.B.300) to prohibit discrimination in our state based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. “We Read more
STATE PROGRAMS NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS: Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry: DEI in the Building and Construction Trades Grant (Funding Source: General Fund) Who May Apply : Organizations that serve as sponsors or intermediaries of Registered Apprenticeship and/or Pre-Apprenticeship in the building and construction trades. Use : To develop diverse talent pipelines and reach underrepresented populations within the building and construction trades. Funds : $1 million in total program funding. Application Deadline : April 26, 2023 More Information : Click on https://www.dli.pa.gov/Businesses/Workforce-Development/grants/Pages/default.aspx . Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT): Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Program (Funding Source: State, Federal, & Private Funding) Who May Apply : Private companies. Use : To develop innovative ways to deliver transportation projects across a variety of modes including roads, bridges, rail, aviation, and ports. Funds : Varies by award. Application Deadline : April 30, 2023 More Information : Click on https://www.penndot.pa.gov/ProjectAndPrograms/p3forpa/Pages/default.aspx . Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry: Youth Reentry Grant (Funding Source: General Fund) Who May Apply : Read more
PITTSBURGH, April 13 – State Reps. Aerion A. Abney and Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, announced today that a state grant of as much as $500,000 will be awarded to Allegheny County for the establishment of a regional recovery hub spearheaded by Unity Recovery on Pittsburgh’s South Side. The funding will allow the recovery hub in Allegheny County and in counties across the Commonwealth to conduct an initial needs assessment for recovery support services in their specific region, including an estimate of individuals in need of these services and an analysis of their availability and accessibility. In addition, the hubs will develop a strategic plan, partnering with local organizations, that focuses on the importance of supporting multiple pathways to and through recovery, and will seek to promote recovery services in areas including peer support, family support and self-care. “Addiction is not a circumstance easily overcome by one individual’s own willpower,” Abney said. “These funds are essential to providing needed assistance for all those looking to turn their lives around for the positive.” “Substance use – especially opioid use – has devastated communities across the commonwealth, and South Pittsburgh is certainly no exception,” Benham added. “This is a public health crisis, and I applaud the Shapiro-Davis administration for embracing harm reduction strategies and investing in these recovery Read more
Bipartisan bill to expand tuition waver program headed for House chamber vote Read more
HARRISBURG, April 11 – State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Danilo Burgos, both D-Phila., Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, and Jamie Flick, R-Lycoming/Union, are introducing legislation to protect the right of marriage equality against further high court cases that could erode that right and to clean up the statute to be in line with the U.S Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges . Marriage was only recently extended to same-sex couples across the United States. While numerous states had previously recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry, it was the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, that made it clear that marriage, and all its privileges and responsibilities, should be available to all. Despite the landmark ruling, and same-sex marriage being legal in Pennsylvania, the commonwealth, as well as many other states, retain outdated, unconstitutional and unnecessary sections of law that prohibit marriage equality. This legislation would update Pennsylvania’s current laws by repealing the section of law that only recognizes marriage as being between a man and woman. Kenyatta, who serves as co-chair of the Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, said it’s important for the statue of Pennsylvania’s law regarding marriage to reflect Obergefell v. Hodges. “As the first openly LGBTQ person to get married during their tenure in the General Assembly, I know how special it is, to not Read more
HARRISBURG, March 31 – State Reps. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny; Izzy Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster; and Malcom Kenyatta, D-Phila., have introduced legislation (H.B. 575) to protect minors from conversion therapy. “There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that tells us efforts to change an individual’s sexual identity through so-called ‘therapy’ causes serious harm to their mental health,” said state Benham, who co-chairs the PA LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. “It is shameful that in 2023 Pennsylvania still allows the abhorrent practice known as conversion therapy to occur, and I am looking forward to outlawing it to protect and affirm LGBTQ+ youth across our Commonwealth.” “Conversion therapy is anti-gay bias masquerading as science,” said Smith-Wade-El. “This abusive practice has caused immense harm on patients, including depression, trauma, drug use, homelessness and suicide. It reinforces the idea that there is something psychologically wrong with LGBTQ people because of their sexual identity. It’s long past time that PA joins 20 other states and the District of Columbia in banning this abhorrent practice to protect the physical and psychological well-being of LGBTQ minors.” The legislation, the Protection of Minors from Conversion Therapy Act, seeks to address harms associated with conversion therapy by prohibiting a mental health professional from engaging in this archaic treatment with an Read more
“Giving a podium and university resources to someone like Michael Knowles who has publicly stated his goal is to eradicate ‘transgenderism’ from public life is a direct violation of the university’s commitment to support and protect its transgender community members. Transgender individuals at Pitt are not feeling supported – they are feeling endangered. I am urging the university to step in and cancel the events in the interest of protecting the LGBTQ+ community at Pitt.” Read more
We will do everything we can to ensure LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians have a voice in the halls of Harrisburg and a seat at the table directing our commonwealth’s future. Read more
"This is an awesome and vibrant neighborhood, and we need some help from you guys to make it to continue to be so," Lou Kroeck of the South Side Chamber of Commerce said. Read more
State Rep. Jessica Benham hosted the gathering and says the state is investing in solving the issues, like the PennDOT project in the East Carson corridor and $8 million towards preventing youth violence. Read more
“Those of us who live here know the challenges that we have faced, recently and stretching into the past, and I know – from my conversations with my colleagues – that many of these challenges are shared by other communities throughout Pennsylvania,” state Rep. Jess Benham said. Read more
MT. OLIVER, Feb. 6 – Nearly $63,000 has been awarded to local fire and EMS companies through the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program , state Rep. Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, announced today. “We are very fortunate to have incredibly hard-working first responders in the 36th Legislative District,” said Benham. “I’ll continue fighting for state grant funding to train and equip our courageous firefighters and EMS workers to ensure they have the best tools to serve our neighbors.” The following local funding was included among $2.5 million in FCEMSG grants awarded in Allegheny County: $10,000 to Brentwood EMS. $13,000 to Brentwood Volunteer Fire Co. $14,800 to Mt. Oliver Hook and Ladder Co. $15,000 to Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire. $10,000 to Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire (EMS). Eligible projects include facility upgrades, equipment, debt reduction, training and certification, education and public outreach, and recruitment and retention efforts. Additionally, fire companies were permitted to apply for constructions savings accounts for the purposes of new facility construction. The FCEMSG is administered by the Office of State Fire Commissioner and makes an annual grant program available for volunteer and career fire companies, emergency medical services and rescue squads. All fire companies, emergency medical service and volunteer rescue squads are eligible to apply for this annual grant program. Read more
STATE PROGRAMS NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS: Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs: Regional Recovery Hubs Grant Program (Funding Source: General Fund) Who May Apply : Nonprofit organization or governmental entity. Use : To support a Recovery-Oriented-System of Care (ROSC) by establishing a Recovery Hub and Spoke model. Funds : Nine grants up to $500,000 each will be awarded.. Application Deadline : February 24, 2023 More Information : https://www.ddap.pa.gov/Documents/Funding%20documents/GIFA%2023-01%20Regional%20Recovery%20Hubs_2023.01.11_FINAL.pdf . Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency: Substance Abuse Education and Demand Reduction Category 1 Funds (Funding Source: SAEDR Fund) Who May Apply : Nonprofit organizations may partner with governmental entities, including school districts, provided the nonprofit organization is the applicant. Use : To provide research-based or evidence-based approaches to prevention, intervention, treatment, training, and education services to reduce substance use or to provide resources to assist families in accessing the services needed to reduce substance use behavior, as well as strategies aimed at combating opioid/heroin overdoses. Funds : Grants up to $150,000 over a two-year project period. Application Deadline : February 24, 2023 More Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – House LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus co-chairs, state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and Jessica Benham, D-Allegheny, are denouncing state Sen. Doug Mastriano’s, R-Adams/Franklin, proposed bill to ban drag shows in Pennsylvania public places. This bill would place drag shows under the “adult-oriented business” classification. “The LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus recognizes that this legislation – which has no chance of becoming law – is a sad stunt by Mastriano and shows Republicans’ lack of addressing important issues facing our families. “When all a politician or party can offer you is a list of who to hate, what to ban, and what marginalized group to blame — it’s because they have no serious ideas to help solve your actual problems. This fact-free legislation has zero chance of becoming law or making communities safer, but has a very serious chance of increasing violence against performers, venues and guests.” Kenyatta said. Benham stated that this bill could lead to further attacks on LGBTQ+ individuals. “Drag shows are a celebration of identity,” Benham said. “This bill has no basis in any actual threat to the safety of young people and provides the foundation for attacks against the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals to exist in public.” Many Republican legislators across the country have introduced similar legislation to ban or put restrictions on Read more
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