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Morning Joe: Reflecting on the Disability Summit

Wolf, Hohenstein, Tartaglione Call on General Assembly to Provide Immediate Support to Small Businesses

(Mar 24, 2022)

PHILADELPHIA, March 24 – Today, Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Representative Joseph Hohenstein, Senator Tina Tartaglione and local business leaders to call on Pennsylvania’s Republican-led General Assembly to immediately use $1.7 billion in unspent American Rescue Plan Act dollars to help Pennsylvania families and small businesses that are hurting right now from inflation and rising prices. “Families and businesses all across Pennsylvania are facing economic challenges as inflation goes up and prices rise right along with it. People all across Pennsylvania are hurting, but we have the money to help, and we need to spend it now,” said Gov. Wolf. “I am calling on the General Assembly to use Pennsylvania’s unspent American Rescue Plan Act dollars to help Pennsylvanians get back on their feet.” In February, Gov. Wolf proposed his $1.7 billion action plan. Today, he continues to call on the legislature to take immediate action on the proposal to put money back in the pockets of Pennsylvanians and put the commonwealth on the path to prosperity. The governor’s plan calls for $225 million to support small businesses across the commonwealth by recapitalizing the successful COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program. The COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program would provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been economically impacted by the pandemic. Among Read more

 

Co-announcing a $225M legislative commitment + Apprenticeship program grant opportunities

(Mar 24, 2022)

I’m excited later this week to help co-announce a legislative pledge of $225 million to re-capitalize the COVID Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program. You can read more in my weekly column here, and I’ll bring you more news as it develops. Read more

 

Hohenstein: How can Harrisburg help the folks who do their budget at the kitchen table?

(Mar 23, 2022)

My parents are fiscal conservatives. They had to be. In the 1970s, they balanced supporting seven kids on my dad’s teacher’s salary of $35,000. There were many long nights at the kitchen table making ends meet – which bills to pay, which kid would get new shoes. Today’s families have it even tougher because while the cost of everything from childcare, to education, to rent is rising; wages and income stay put. For my neighbors in Philadelphia who have to put together a budget, whether its for their own business or for their own household, it has been raining for more than two years since the pandemic started. The Governor’s proposal to increase funding to the Small Business Assistance Program, the PA Opportunity Program, and other funding for low-income families addresses the fact that so many of us are under water and need a working-class bailout. Last year, Pennsylvania was given an opportunity to help its citizens come in from the rain, but instead they got soaked. The American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds from the federal government totaled $7.5 billion, and my legislative colleagues decided to stock that away into a rainy-day fund. This year, we still have the chance to fix that, and provide relief to the people and business who deserve it most. I am supporting Governor Wolf’s efforts to take just a fraction of the federal funds, $1.7 billion, and put them to work for us and our local economies, instead of leaving them to rot in a Read more

 

Pennie, for health care insurance, can be reached by checkbox on taxes

(Mar 17, 2022)

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and Pennie have teamed up to allow uninsured tax filers the ability to get health care coverage outside of Open Enrollment by indicating their interest when they complete their Pennsylvania state income tax return. Read more

 

Hohenstein: We're Here for You

(Mar 16, 2022)

Pa. state Rep. Joe Hohenstein's local office is centrally located on Richmond St. in Bridesburg to be able to serve the many communities of the 177th Legislative District. Hohenstein and his staff are available to help with a variety of state services from PennDOT paperwork to utility assistance and so much more. He is working locally and in Harrisburg to lift up the communities of the River Wards and lower Northeast Philadelphia. Read more

 

War on Ukraine felt at home + Today is Women's Equal Pay Day

(Mar 15, 2022)

I have received numerous calls into my office from constituents (neighbors by another name) asking me to do what I can to help Ukrainians, and to help Poland, Moldova and other neighboring countries as they take in refugees. As an elected official, I cannot show favoritism towards any charitable cause, but I will say that for those looking to make donations and contributions, it is wise to look to organizations with a track record and those connected directly to refugee services. Read more

 

Hohenstein: What does being a neighbor mean to us?

(Mar 15, 2022)

"Won’t you be my neighbor?" As a kid watching Mr. Rogers, I took this question, and the answer it implied, very seriously. The lesson that everyone can be your neighbor, was ingrained in me from my family, school, and TV (we had a black and white that stopped at Channel 12 so I got a healthy dose of PBS). That lesson is the reason that my neighborhoods mean so much to me. It’s also the reason that events that happen in faraway places like the Ukraine matter to me. Those folks are my neighbors in a bigger sense. In my district, a place where Polish is probably the second language ahead of Chinese Mandarin and Spanish, many of my neighbors are even more connected to what is happening half a world away. I have received numerous calls into my office from constituents (neighbors by another name) asking me to do what I can to help the Ukrainians, and to help Poland, Moldova and other neighboring countries as they take in refugees. As an elected official, I cannot show favoritism towards any charitable cause, but I will say that for those looking to make donations and contributions, it is wise to look to organizations with a track record and those connected directly to refugee services. The requests coming into my office are from people who have personal experiences with the Soviet regime. They know firsthand what tyranny and oppression look and feel like. In the fleeing Ukrainian refugees they see themselves. Seeing someone else and recognizing yourself Read more

 

Youth trans athletes need encouragement, inclusion + PA ABLE Savings Program + Primary Voting Schedule

(Mar 08, 2022)

A PA ABLE Savings Program account gives individuals with qualified disabilities (eligible individuals) and their families and friends a tax-free way to save for a wide range of disability-related expenses, while maintaining government benefits. The state and federal tax-free investment options are offered to encourage Eligible Individuals and their families to save private funds to support health, independence, and quality of life. Read more

 

Hohenstein: Youth trans athletes need encouragement, inclusion

(Mar 07, 2022)

I miss coaching. Of all the changes in my life since I decided to run for public office, saying goodbye to the teams I coached was the hardest. From 2000 through 2016 I coached soccer for NEO, first my children’s teams and then my nephew’s. We won our share of championships. Newts field in Fishtown, was the site of two of our championship games. In the first one, our right-defender, Shay, came to the sideline, with her leg bleeding after a slide tackle. We got out a water bottle, washed it up. I told her she was a real Philly soccer player now because her blood had been spilled on the fabled cinders of Newts. I asked if she wanted to come out. “No, I’m good,” was the reply from this fierce 12-year-old. A few years later, we were back in Fishtown with my nephew’s team. The game went to penalties. My nephew was the goalie and he saved a couple of shots, but the key was when I told him he was taking one of our penalties. “Really?” The doubt was palpable in his voice. “I believe in you,” I told him. His shot hit the back of the net before the keeper even blinked. Newts has seen a lot of historic soccer, but for me, those two games are the most important. Belief in our kids is the point of playing youth sports. They learn lessons from coaches and from each other. Sometimes they teach us lessons. My younger child, Mars, taught me a lesson when they told me they didn’t want to play anymore. It was their choice, Read more

 

Special note on Ukraine + Weekly Update

(Mar 02, 2022)

The neighborhoods of the 177th include significant populations from the Ukraine and its neighbors. Many of my constituents feel the harm of the Russian invasion on a personal level. I join them in praying for the wellbeing of their family and friends. We are seeing images of war in Europe we have not seen in several generations. At this time, we must recognize that this is a war of aggression, engineered by an autocrat, Mr. Putin, against a democratically elected government in Ukraine. The annexation of Belarus is less overtly violent, but no less an attack on free, democratic societies. This is the time for us to come together in solidarity with all our eastern European community members, many of whom know the cost of fighting for freedom firsthand. Read more

 

Driver's Licenses For All + PHEAA Webinar Schedule

(Feb 23, 2022)

I am a sponsor of HB279, a bill which calls for Driver’s Licenses for All in Pennsylvania. This is a bill that would make the roads safer and provide an economic boost to our Commonwealth. It would return Pennsylvania law to 2011 and remove any reference to an individual’s U.S. immigration status as a requirement to receive a standard issue Pennsylvania driver’s license. Read more

 

Hohenstein: Drivers Licenses for All Make us Safer

(Feb 23, 2022)

I am a sponsor of HB279, a bill which calls for Drivers Licenses for All in Pennsylvania. This is a bill that will make the roads safer and provide an economic boost to our Commonwealth. It would return Pennsylvania law to 2011 and remove any reference to an individual’s US immigration status as a requirement to receive a standard issue Pennsylvania drivers license. Applicants would still need to prove their identity and provide either a Social Security (SS) or Tax Identification Number (TIN). It is a designed to open doors to people who already pay taxes and provide them with a degree of security as they pursue the American Dream. To be certain, I am supporting this legislation because of my history as an immigration attorney. During 25 years in active practice, I represented people in various stages of the immigration process. I carried men and women and their families forward from being undocumented to being U.S. citizens. Their paths were as different and varied as their countries of origin and there was no single “right way” to get full legal status. Some spent years in legal temporary status, some never had documents, some had a temporary protection that had to be renewed every year, some had asylum cases that took years to adjudicate, and some would boomerang between lawful and unlawful status based on the most recent decision in their immigration cases. If you are familiar with the concept of Purgatory, that is precisely the place where most Read more

 

We must do better balancing individual liberty and social accountability

(Feb 16, 2022)

Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the U.S. Constitution in more ways than one. Not only did we physically host the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the Quaker-inspired Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges formed the philosophical framework for our nation’s Supreme Law of the Land. In 1701, the Charter read, “no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences …” This document was where freedom of religion and many other civil liberties found their first foothold in the American spirit. Our own state constitution mirrors the federal one and has a history of being amended only when the issue is serious, and the final change is well considered. Now, we, who have followed William Penn, Ben Franklin, and other early legislators, have a responsibility to uphold that spirit, protecting the balance of individual liberty and social accountability. I fear that we are not doing that in the current climate, where constitutional amendments are now being produced like popcorn in a movie theater. We cannot fix a leaky faucet by tearing down the whole house. In the past few years, we have passed amendments to fundamentally change criminal law and to limit the governor’s emergency powers. The governor is the executive, duly elected to be the primary decisionmaker for Pennsylvania. He must have the ability to make those decisions, and sometimes needs to make them quickly Read more

 

Hohenstein: I know how it feels to be different

(Feb 14, 2022)

Along with my Republican colleague, Jason Ortitay, I am a prime sponsor of HB726 which will establish a Disability Inclusive Curriculum in Pennsylvania. I know how it feels to be different and excluded. I was 5 years old. I had learned to speak late, still could not read, and my parents and teachers were concerned. A hearing test showed I had a moderate hearing loss, so I was given a hearing aid. The earpiece, cord, and clunky mechanism strapped to my chest might as well have been a scarlet letter. When you combined that apparatus with big coke-bottle glasses for nearsightedness, to say I felt conspicuous is an understatement. Within months I showed improvement, and became a good enough student in school, college and then law school. All through that time, I remained plagued by my own sense of stigma. I only wore my hearing aid in educational settings, never in social ones. I learned to compensate for missing pieces of conversation and just got along. I shouldn’t have had to make this choice in order to avoid stigma. It was not until I was in law school that someone recommended I get binaural hearing aids (one in both ears as opposed to the solo aid I had always worn). The change was dramatic, my ability to interact and get the entire context of conversations and lessons was more complete than ever before. Improvements in sound quality over the years helped as well. Now, older and wiser, I wear my aids in both ears in almost every situation. My hearing loss is Read more

 

Students are at heart in disability-inclusive bill for Pa. schools

(Feb 11, 2022)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – Lawmakers heard bipartisan testimony over a bill Thursday that would encourage disability-inclusive curriculum in schools across the commonwealth, ensuring that all Pennsylvania students see the lives of people with disabilities reflected in their schoolwork. The pair of legislators championing the plan, state Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., and H.B. 726 sponsor Republican House Special Education Subcommittee Chairman Jason Ortitay said that the testifiers made a clear case that representation matters and that students with disabilities excel when they see and learn from people who are like them. The concept of seeing one’s self represented in a role model fights the effects of exclusion and installs essential pride into learning minds, testifiers said. “When I was young, I wore a hearing aid that embarrassed me because of the way people treated me. Many people can relate to a feeling like this,” Hohenstein said, noting that one out of five people have a disability. “Now, when I look at kids who have colorful wheelchairs, and even hearing aids, my heart swells with pride for how far we’ve come. “This legislation could take us even further, so that students better see the ‘diversability’ in themselves and others.” The bill number “726” refers to July 26, 1990, when the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. “Hopefully, this bill can be passed this Read more

 

Hohenstein: Wolf's final budget proposal underscores complicated time for PA

(Feb 09, 2022)

(Photo caption): In 2018, as part of his work as a DSP in Philadelphia, my brother Frank worked with his residents to make clay pottery. This type of hands-on dedication is one of the reasons I support DSPs and other frontline caregivers. Governor Wolf’s final budget proposal arrives during a complex time for the commonwealth. The pandemic continues to affect the lives of Pennsylvanians – impacting their health, the health of their loved ones, their job prospects, the care and education available for their children, and their access to goods and services in the economy. The economic recovery has fueled General Fund revenues that continue to exceed estimate by billions of dollars, but the disruption of the pandemic has shown widespread need and increased costs. With billions in remaining federal rescue dollars and a historic state surplus, simply banking these dollars and doing nothing for Pennsylvanians and our commonwealth’s economic growth – is not an option. The 2022/23 budget approaches the coming fiscal year by choosing opportunity over status quo and prioritizes our core ideals of investing in education at all levels; making Pennsylvania a better place to work and do business; supporting families and caregivers; and prioritizing seniors, veterans, and all vulnerable populations – all without raising taxes. I support the measures in the Governor’s budget Read more

 

Welcoming PA Caucus introduces bill to create Office of New Pennsylvanians

(Feb 09, 2022)

Joined by immigration advocates across Pennsylvania, members of the Welcoming PA Caucus unveiled legislation Wednesday to establish the Office of New Pennsylvanians. Read more

 

Kinsey seeks solutions for problems in Pa. prison system

(Jan 26, 2022)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., held a news conference today with House and Senate colleagues and prison-reform advocates to discuss legislation to help address systemic problems in Pennsylvania’s prison system. Kinsey was joined by House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Phila., House Minority Whip Jordan Harris, D-Phila., state Reps. Amen Brown, Danilo Burgos, Joe Hohenstein, Darisha Parker and Brian Sims, all D-Phila.; Tim Briggs, Napoleon Nelson, Ben Sanchez and Joe Webster, all D-Montgomery; Bob Brooks, R-Westmoreland/Allegheny; Gina Curry, D-Delaware; Manuel Guzman, D-Berks; Dianne Herrin, D-Chester; Carol Hill-Evans, D-York; Patty Kim, D-Dauphin; Emily Kinkead, D-Allegheny; Maureen Madden, D-Monroe; Melissa Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery; and Regina Young, D-Delaware/Phila.; along with state Sen. Sharif Street, D-Phila. and Anton Andrew from PA Prison Society. “Right now, in Pennsylvania and the entire United States, we have a prison system that does not work,” Kinsey said. “We must pass legislation to reform this system, so that those incarcerated have a chance to live dignified lives when they’re serving their sentence and when they’ve completed it.” The lawmakers are seeking enactment of several bills that would improve the prison system for incarcerated people and their families as well as save taxpayer dollars, including: Probation and Parole Reform: Earned Compliance Read more

 

Getting COVID-19 sucks

(Dec 14, 2021)

This week I learned what many of my constituents already knew – it is no fun getting COVID. Late Saturday evening, I began to experience mild symptoms typically associated with a head cold. Out of an abundance of caution, I tested for COVID-19 and received positive results Sunday, Dec. 12. Despite being fully vaccinated I contracted a breakthrough infection. I immediately notified my HR team and my district office to conduct contact tracing protocols and to receive proper testing if necessary. Earlier in the week I had tested negative after one of my district office staff tested positive with mild symptoms. Since my test, another staff person has also begun to have symptoms. As a result, we are going to operate the office remotely, with phone calls and emails the best ways to reach us. All of my staff, even those who have tested positive, have stepped up to continue the remote services just like we did in the early days of the pandemic. We didn’t miss a beat then, and we won’t now. We will not be seeing constituents in person at the office on Richmond Street until after the New Year to give everyone a chance to get well and be sure that we are fully clear of this round of the virus. Breakthrough infections happen. Everyone in my office is fully vaccinated and boosted. The symptoms we are experiencing now are mild and hopefully will continue to be mild. The vaccines worked for us, by keeping us all from having more Read more

 

Hohenstein issues statement on positive COVID-19 test

(Dec 13, 2021)

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 13 – State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Phila., will move his district office operations to online and by phone only until further notice after he and one of his staff members recently tested positive for COVID-19. “My team and I will continue to offer services to constituents, both over the phone and by email, just as we did when our office was closed for in-person services earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hohenstein said. “We’ve decided on the in-person closure out of an abundance of caution, and we will reopen again as soon as it’s safe to do so. We plan to inform the community on our social media channels once the office reopens, and in the meantime we look forward to providing constituent services over the phone and over email.” Hohenstein’s office can be reached by phone at 215-744-2600 or by email at RepHohenstein@pahouse.net . Constituents may also use the contact form on his website to send messages or questions. Read more

 

Wolf, Hohenstein, Tartaglione Call on General Assembly to Provide Immediate Support to Small Businesses
Mar 24, 2022

Co-announcing a $225M legislative commitment + Apprenticeship program grant opportunities
Mar 24, 2022

Hohenstein: How can Harrisburg help the folks who do their budget at the kitchen table?
Mar 23, 2022

Pennie, for health care insurance, can be reached by checkbox on taxes
Mar 17, 2022

Hohenstein: We're Here for You
Mar 16, 2022

War on Ukraine felt at home + Today is Women's Equal Pay Day
Mar 15, 2022

Hohenstein: What does being a neighbor mean to us?
Mar 15, 2022

Youth trans athletes need encouragement, inclusion + PA ABLE Savings Program + Primary Voting Schedule
Mar 08, 2022

Hohenstein: Youth trans athletes need encouragement, inclusion
Mar 07, 2022

Special note on Ukraine + Weekly Update
Mar 02, 2022

Driver's Licenses For All + PHEAA Webinar Schedule
Feb 23, 2022

Hohenstein: Drivers Licenses for All Make us Safer
Feb 23, 2022

We must do better balancing individual liberty and social accountability
Feb 16, 2022

Hohenstein: I know how it feels to be different
Feb 14, 2022

Students are at heart in disability-inclusive bill for Pa. schools
Feb 11, 2022

Hohenstein: Wolf's final budget proposal underscores complicated time for PA
Feb 09, 2022

Welcoming PA Caucus introduces bill to create Office of New Pennsylvanians
Feb 09, 2022

Kinsey seeks solutions for problems in Pa. prison system
Jan 26, 2022

Getting COVID-19 sucks
Dec 14, 2021

Hohenstein issues statement on positive COVID-19 test
Dec 13, 2021