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PLBC Members Seek Equitable Budget from Gov. Wolf

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BioTech Innovation Organization, Pfizer share vaccine efficacy, role in COVID-19 recovery

(Apr 12, 2021)

HARRISBURG, April 12 – As Pennsylvania expands vaccine eligibility, the House Democratic Policy Committee heard from the manufacturers tirelessly working to develop safe and effective vaccines for global use. At a Policy Committee hearing today, testifiers included representatives from Biotechnology Innovation Organization and Pfizer, who provided details on the technology behind the development of the COVID-19 vaccines and how the United States can reach herd immunity. Chairman Ryan Bizzarro and state Reps. Patty Kim and Darisha Parker facilitated the hearing, where Amy Walker, director of Infectious Diseases Policy for Biotechnology Innovation Organization and Lisa Coen, senior director, Vaccine Public Affairs with Pfizer, shared insight into the science behind the creation of COVID-19 vaccines, ongoing research, development and trials. Walker shared that five presidents, both Democratic and Republican, have been vaccinated, highlighting that the vaccines have received bipartisan support. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have conversations based on science and fact. These vaccines will save lives and I encourage everyone eligible and interested to take the advice of scientists and medical professionals and help put this pandemic behind us,” Bizzarro implored. “It is important for us to hear this testimony today, especially for my constituents,” Parker said. “Communities of color have battled COVID extra Read more

Pa. Legislative Black Caucus holds budget information session with state Budget Secretary Jen Swails

(Mar 31, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 31 – Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus Chair Rep. Donna Bullock and PLBC Subcommittee Chair of Budget Equity Rep. Napoleon Nelson this week held a budget information and listening session with members of the PLBC and featured guest speaker state Budget Secretary Jen Swails. The discussion centered on state budget priorities for Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color communities across the commonwealth and concerns as well as suggestions for how the state budget could be fair and equitable. The PLBC plans to use the information from the listening session to formulate a response and requests for upcoming state budget negotiations. "We heard from business leaders, educators, advocates, and parents from communities of color across the commonwealth,” said Bullock, D-Phila. “We will use this information to inform our budget priorities as a caucus and advocate for equitable state investments in our communities. We can’t continue doing the same things when addressing the budget and expect a different outcome or result." "We do not take lightly the obligation to fight for the residents in our commonwealth who have known suffering, poverty and inequalities for generations,” said Nelson, D-Montgomery. “Leaders from these many communities came together to speak to their needs and seek our support. We have heard their call, and we will respond. The Legislative Black Caucus Subcommittee on Budget Equity will Read more

Racism on Pennsylvania high schools and college campuses creates barriers to opportunity

(Mar 26, 2021)

How far have we come, and how far do we have to go to diminish -- and possibly eradicate -- racism in high schools and college campuses? Our hearing on racism on the topic pulled the curtain on the continued systematic injustice towards minority students on high school and college campuses and the lack of diversity in educators. In some Pennsylvania school districts there is a blatant lack of effort to recruit and retain educators of color and that is problematic. The historic limited access to education for people of color is still happening. Students shared their stories of the mental, physical and emotional toll their experiences with racism and discrimination have had on their well-being. Fortunately, these students turned their painful experiences into meaningful advocacy. Their testimony showed the challenge facing educational institutions in Pennsylvania. Educators, including teachers and administrators play a large role in dispelling hate in their schools. It’s imperative that they are reflective of the communities that they represent but the statistics show, they don’t. While students of color make up 33 percent of Pennsylvania’s population, less than 5 percent of teachers are people of color. Across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education faculty, 4 percent are Black, 3 percent are Hispanic and just 6 percent are Asian. When students see a diversity that reflects them in their educators, it shows promise. It shows Read more

Madden, Kenyatta lead discussion on racism on high school and college campuses

(Mar 25, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 25 -- Education and shattering social norms are key in combatting racism in high schools and colleges, as evidenced by testimony at today’s House Democratic Policy Committee hearing hosted by state Reps. Maureen Madden and Malcolm Kenyatta. The Monroe and Philadelphia County legislators led today’s discussion bringing together state officials, students and educators to brainstorm solutions that aim to help break cycles of systemic racism via policy development and implementation. “How do we start conversations that help people understand that freedom of speech should not be a free pass for racism? We all deserve to be respected and the blatant hate and disrespect for others is impacting lives. Hate has no place in our education system. Students go to school to learn, grow and often overcome any barriers the hand that life has dealt them. I’m grateful for this forum today to learn what’s happening in our education system and what lawmakers can do to overcome the racism in our schools,” Madden shared. “Terms like ‘diversity quota’ and ‘affirmative action applicant’ are just some of the covertly racist insults that disparage the merits of students and faculty of color in academia. Ultimately, these slights have devastating effects on the emotional and mental health of these students and faculty, thereby straining their likelihood to graduate and excel at these institutions,” Read more

Madden, Kenyatta to examine incidents of racism on high school and college campuses at Thursday’s public hearing

(Mar 23, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 23 – Recent incidents of racism involving students at the high school and college levels will be discussed at a House Democratic Policy Committee virtual hearing hosted by state Reps. Maureen Madden and Malcolm Kenyatta. The hearing will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 25. To view the hearing, the media and public can tune in to www.pahouse.com/policycommittee or the committee’s Facebook page -- @PADemPolicy. Media inquiries may be submitted via email to policy@pahouse.net . Madden and Kenyatta will be joined by committee Chairman Ryan Bizzarro and Democratic Policy Committee members to hear from educators, state officials and advocates on how to curb racism with meaningful policy reforms. Additional hearing information will be available by clicking here . Read more

Krajewski: Dignity and forward thinking needed with approaches for incarcerated parents

(Mar 19, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 19 – The House Democratic Policy Committee’s Subcommittee on Progressive Policies for Working People hosted a roundtable discussion focusing on incarcerated parents and the impact of incarceration on families. Led by Subcommittee Chair Elizabeth Fiedler, state Reps. Rick Krajewski and Summer Lee facilitated the meaningful discussion bringing together advocates and formerly incarcerated individuals to discuss ways to best serve our communities and the families impacted by the criminal legal system. “The trauma of family separation impacts the children and families of those incarcerated, and specifically the parent-child bond, as well as the whole community,” Fiedler said. “Those impacts are immediate and severe and they are deep and long-lasting. We deserve a legal system centered on people- and community-focused models of care that operate with transparency and accountability. We must take steps to a better future for our families.” "We live in a society that doesn’t exercise humanity when we look at or talk about incarcerated people," Krajewski said. "So often, we forget that these people have family members who are trying to carry on while they are incarcerated, often including children who are especially vulnerable.” Lee added, “We sometimes lose how incarceration impacts so much more than just the individual. Entire families and Read more

PLBC Chair Bullock, Rep. Kim joint statement on AAPI violence, racist attacks

(Mar 18, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 18 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, and state Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, a member of the PLBC and an Asian American, are speaking out against the recent violence against Asian Americans and the uptick in harassment toward the AAPI community in light of the attack in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 16. “This week, we saw another attack on people of color at a time when our country is still reeling from a global pandemic and overt racist acts and violence,” Bullock said. “For weeks, the AAPI community has reported a rise in hate crimes against their loved ones and small businesses. Their calls for action were ignored by many; their voices silenced in discussions about racism in this country. We in the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus want our brothers and sisters in AAPI communities to know we stand with you, beside you and support you in every way possible. We recognize this attack on Tuesday, March 16 for what it is: a hateful, racist attack on Asian Americans and, in particular, on women of color. As legislators, we must do everything in our power to protect these communities of color and stand in solidarity with them at this time.” “Asian-American communities are vitally important, and we want to make sure that all of our neighbors in these communities feel safe and supported,” Kim said. “The worst thing we can do is nothing. I plan to work with Read more

Breaking down information barriers key to supporting communities of color through COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine efforts

(Mar 11, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 11 – Trust and inclusive policies are key in getting COVID-19 vaccines distributed to communities of color and members of the House Democratic Policy Committee heard from multiple researchers, doctors and advocates on how to execute those strategies. Read more

PLBC awardees for inaugural Crystal Bird Fauset Award, Women’s History Month

(Mar 10, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 10 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced the awardees of the PLBC inaugural Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Award during Women’s History Month. The award is named in honor of former state Rep. Crystal Bird Fauset, who was a Democrat elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1938 and represented Philadelphia’s 18th District. She was the first African American woman elected in any state legislature. The honorees will be presented at a virtual event at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 18. It can be viewed live here: www.facebook.com/PALegislativeBlackCaucus . “ I am honored to present each of these accomplished Black women with the inaugural PLBC Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Award,” Bullock said. “From the Underground Railroad to the Black Lives Matter movement, Black women have led the way. Too often their contributions to society are minimized or ignored. That is why we named this award after the first Black woman elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly and to any state legislature, Crystal Bird Fauset. The three women we are honoring embody the spirit of Fauset and have made a significant impact in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through their leadership in state government. ” The honorees are former state Sen. Leanna Washington, D-Phila./Montgomery; former state Rep. Rosita Youngblood, Read more

COVID-19 impact on communities of color focus of public hearing Thursday

(Mar 09, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 9 – State Reps. Donna Bullock and Stephen Kinsey will host a joint hearing of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and House Democratic Policy Committee this week to explore how communities of color have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more