HARRISBURG, May 21 – On the sixth anniversary of marriage equality being recognized in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., yesterday gave an impassioned speech in the House chamber urging his lawmaker colleagues to support his legislation that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ residents and other minorities. The introduction of this proposal follows a similar amendment that would have outlawed employee discrimination at outdoor sportsman clubs across the state. The measure failed to pass the full House. Kenyatta, who is the first openly gay man of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, prefaced his speech with an emotional unprecedented public telling of his coming out story. He later expressed the dire need to pass this necessary measure in working toward a truly equal and accepting commonwealth. “I’ve never publicly talked about my coming out story, but I felt compelled to do it today,” Kenyatta said. “On this sixth anniversary of our state recognizing marriage equality, it is nice to celebrate this milestone, but we must also recognize we still have miles to go in this fight for civil rights and true equality. I will continue demanding an end to discrimination against our LGBTQ+ communities, and I will not stop until we are victorious. I once again fought to convince House Republicans to adopt my measure that would move this commonwealth forward in recognizing Read more
HARRISBURG, May 20 – In a statement today, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta said that Pennsylvania’s complacency in allowing discrimination to continue proves that the state has a long way to go in the fight for equal rights. His statement comes after legislation he introduced that would ban outdoor sportsman clubs from discriminating against an employee on the basis of age, race, sex, religion, ethnic origin, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or disability failed to pass in the full House on Monday. Of his legislation that fell short of a few votes required to pass, Kenyatta, D-Phila, said, “The loophole in making discrimination permissible in sportsman clubs, or any entity, is for them to designate themselves as private. This leverages them the ability to continue to deny these marginalized groups membership and employment opportunities. If passed, my legislation would have served as the catalyst in dismantling discrimination and the suppression of civil rights in not just sportsman clubs, but also in all factions of our commonwealth. Its defeat, however, magnifies how ingrained and normalized discrimination is across our state.” Kenyatta, who is the first openly gay man of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, lamented on the reality that despite tirelessly serving residents across the commonwealth, there are parts where he is still unwelcomed. “I am a black openly Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 13 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today commended Gov. Tom Wolf’s move to include gender identity, sexual orientation and expression in electronic health records used by health care providers to report COVID-19 data. Praising the governor’s efforts in recognizing that the LGBTQ community has been among the most critically affected groups for the novel coronavirus as progressive, Kenyatta said, “The COVID-19 health crisis has magnified and intensified the many ongoing disparities among our nation’s minority groups, especially as it relates to sexual orientation and gender identity. In our fight to combat these inequities, we must be deliberate in our approach and I applaud Governor Wolf for doing just that by mandating that health care records for testing account for LGBTQ patients receiving quality care.” The freshman legislator, who serves on the governor’s LGBTQ Affairs Commission and is also the first openly gay man of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, raised that more must be done to elevate the visibility of LGBTQ residents to better assess and mitigate their plights through ongoing data collections. He pointed to a bill he recently introduced that would require all state forms which collect demographic information to contain a voluntary LGBTQ identifier question for respondents to answer. “The LGBTQ community is a Read more
HARRISBURG, May 12 – In efforts to mitigate the financial blowback of the pandemic, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today introduced legislation that would prohibit credit reporting agencies from negatively reporting any missed or late payments resulting from financial hardships that have hit so many Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 disaster emergency. The bill, Kenyatta said, would amend the Credit Reporting Agency Act and suspend negative reporting for 90 days after the disaster declaration is lifted. “Pennsylvanians have had their lives and livelihoods upended in the wake of this pandemic, with some families having endured the temporary lapse of a paycheck, while waiting for federal stimulus money, or for their unemployment compensation to start,” Kenyatta said. “Others, however, have relied on credit cards, or sought unplanned loans from financial institutions, or even borrowed from friends.” Kenyatta said that delinquent payment reports stemming from Pennsylvanians facing financial difficulties stand to mar otherwise decent credit histories and could potentially prevent residents from qualifying for a loan, a mortgage, employment and housing. “My bill would save countless families from this slippery slope of financial ruin and devastation,” he said. “As this economic fallout unfolds, we as lawmakers must do all we can to ensure that those struggling to rebuild their Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 8 -- State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., will host a Facebook LIVE virtual town hall titled “Education in the Era of COVID-19” from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, May 14. The town hall will examine the topics of state education funding, crisis preparedness, the digital divide, mental health supports and educational disparities. The town hall will include speakers from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Commonwealth Association of School Administrators, Philadelphia Student Union and a member of the state Special Education Advisory Council, Cecelia Thompson . The Philadelphia School District has also been invited. Online viewers will be able to offer live questions and comments during the townhall by attending through Kenyatta’s official legislative Facebook page . “The COVID19 pandemic crisis has changed the way we have been able deliver education to our children,” Kenyatta said. “It has also raised questions about our preparedness and ability to do so in the future in a productive and effective way. We must also deal with those systemic and ongoing socioeconomic challenges in education that have been exacerbated by this crisis.” Kenyatta, a graduate of Philadelphia public schools said, “I look forward to hearing from our informed guests on the many issues around schooling and education in the era of COVID-19.” Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 8 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today applauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order that halts foreclosures and evictions until July 10, but also announced he is drafting legislation that would extend the freeze for an additional six months. Kenyatta praised Wolf’s order, calling it a great start in ensuring that Pennsylvanians will not lose their homes during the pandemic. However, with the July 10 grace-period ending just two months from now, Kenyatta said that assurance is only short-lived. Kenyatta said the economic shockwave stemming from the pandemic will outlast the order’s two-month provision. “Pennsylvanians who have been unemployed will be fiscally stunted, and realistically, the timeframe for many to gradually recoup their finances after months of lacking steady income will surpass July. It could easily go on until the end of the year,” he said. Kenyatta called for a lengthier mortgage and rent payment freeze to allow for Pennsylvanians to financially rehabilitate. “As lawmakers, we can’t allow renters and homeowners to relive the fears and dread of homelessness. We can’t allow those struggling to rebuild their lives to be casted into a downward spiral of financial ruin because they missed mortgage or rent payments out of desperation,” he said. “This incredibly trying time has upended countless lives in various ways, Read more
PHILADELPHIA, May 1 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., expressed his support for the Temple Allied Healthcare Professionals Union striking today in front of Temple University Hospital, located in Kenyatta’s 181 st Legislative District, to demand hazard pay, personal protective equipment and testing availability: “In every period in history, the labor movement has been a paramount force in dismantling systems of oppression and guaranteeing rights and protections for American workers. In the wake of this pandemic, labor is once again demonstrating that reputation,” Kenyatta said. “I stand in solidarity with Temple University Hospital workers, who have been fiercely fighting on the frontlines of this pandemic. These people have gone above and beyond in ensuring our communities receive exceptional care in sanitized environments, all the while putting themselves, and their families, at risk. It is time to give them what they are owed!” Kenyatta stressed that there is power in numbers in the efforts to make the demands of striking workers concrete, saying, “We can be victorious in this fight if we band together as a collective in thwarting this capitalistic system that grossly and consistently prioritizes profits over lives. In Harrisburg, I have been fighting for many of the provisions the union is demanding today for all workers across Pennsylvania on the frontlines of this crisis. As lawmakers, we also Read more
State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta voted against legislation that would move towards ending COVID-19 mitigation efforts in the commonwealth before it’s safe, tie Gov. Tom Wolfs hands and create unnecessary health risks for Pennsylvanians. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 17 – State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, Danilo Burgos and Elizabeth Fiedler, all D-Phila., introduced a resolution urging Congress to also acknowledge the roughly 10 million undocumented workers in any COVID-19 financial response legislation. The resolution comes as the federal government issues portions of the historic $2 trillion financial assistance package to individuals and businesses to help mitigate the adverse economic impacts resulting from the pandemic. “There are roughly over 10 million undocumented people living in America paying billions of dollars in state and federal taxes yearly, yet many will never benefit from the services they constantly contribute to,” said Kenyatta, who represents the 181 st Legislative District. “In this time of desperation, our government should not be complicit in watching this vulnerable population that has time and again proven themselves to be a pillar of America’s economy continue to suffer.” Burgos, representing the 197 th District, concurred with Kenyatta saying, “Undocumented immigrants consistently pay about 8 percent of their income in taxes, a sizeable percentage for many who are relegated to working low-paying jobs with no benefits. These workers produce many of the essential goods we heavily rely on, even more so during this pandemic, yet they receive nothing for their labor.” Adding to Burgos’ assertion, Read more
The Honorable Tom Wolf Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Office of the Governor 508 Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, PA 17120 Dear Governor Wolf: I stand with the citizens of this Commonwealth in gratitude for the leadership you have demonstrated in providing assistance to workers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic disaster emergency. Your swift action has allayed the fears of many by providing for non-essential businesses and the workers they employ left without income, sacrificing their livelihoods for the safety of all Pennsylvanians. Yet, while non-essential businesses are shuttered, our essential workers continue to guarantee our citizens have food, medicine, gas and other essentials vital at this difficult time. I feel strongly that we need to provide for these workers, toiling daily at great risk to their own safety to keep our grocery stores stocked, our cars running, and our pharmacies staffed. Recently, Minnesota and Vermont became the first states to protect and provide for workers deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz classified “food distribution workers” (which includes grocery store employees) as “emergency personnel.” Vermont’s Department of Public Safety Commissioner added grocery store workers to the department’s list of “essential persons.” These classifications grant Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 8 – Today, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., expressed disapproval of bills (H.B. 2400, H.B. 2376, and H.B. 1874) introduced by House Republicans that would reopen industries that are classified as non-life saving in Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts: “It’s absolutely ludicrous to even contemplate going against everything state, national and global medical experts are urging residents to do to reduce the spread of this fatal virus,” Kenyatta said. “Opening businesses that are not essential during a time when this pandemic is soon poised to reach its peak will have disastrous consequences. For one, our health care systems will be overloaded with the inevitable uptick of new cases, compounded by the existing cases it’s already struggling to quell. Additionally, these bills lack foresight into offering provisions like paid sick leave and hazard pay for these employees who will be most at-risk for exposure. However, I expect nothing more from the same members of our legislature who denied many of these employees fair pay by voting against increasing the minimum wage, but are now conveniently coding them as essential for cheap profit. “We’re battling a very dangerous, yet invisible threat that is an unprecedented occurrence in our lifetime right now, which incites feelings of confusion and fear among so many Pennsylvanians who are looking to us as legislators for the Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 8 – In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., today penned a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, expressing his gratitude for the governor’s swift pandemic mitigation responses, and requested immediate relief and assistance to Pennsylvanians employed in essential industries. In his letter, which was endorsed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union and currently has over 47 signatures -- including leadership and three delegation chairs -- Kenyatta pointed out that Pennsylvanians working at jobs deemed essential are still lacking essential benefits, while they put themselves at risk to ensure many other Pennsylvanians are provided food, medicine, gas and other necessities. “Despite tactics to undermine leadership by the governor and his administration, Pennsylvanians commend his actions in keeping us all safe during this trying time,” Kenyatta said. “Those actions should also include active recognition that many of our neighbors on the frontlines working essential jobs continue to do so without proper provisions like hazard pay and expanded sick leave, among other crucial benefits. These heroes cannot be forgotten, and they deserve assurance and security.” A link to the letter can be found on Kenyatta’s website . Read more
PHILADELPHIA, April 1– Today, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., issued the following statement about car repossessions during the state of emergency declared by Gov. Tom Wolf: “In these uncertain times, people should not have to worry about losing a vehicle. They may be dealing with unemployment, shuttling kids to daycare or showing up to an essential job and desperately need their car for transportation. Governor Wolf declared a state of emergency, and it’s time to start taking strong actions to protect Pennsylvanians where it really matters. “Public transportation across the state is operating on reduced schedules and that makes it harder for people to get groceries and medicine. If we want to keep people safe and help flatten the curve, we need to make sure people keep their own vehicles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Reliable transportation can be a matter of life and death in situations like these.” Kenyatta said he plans to introduce legislation, along with Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, that would prohibit repossessions for the duration of the governor’s state of emergency. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 25 – As a historic $2 trillion COVID-19 financial response legislation package struck a deal in Congress early Wednesday morning, state Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Melissa Shusterman today introduced a resolution urging federal lawmakers to ensure unemployment compensation for the nation’s 57 million independent contractors and “gig” economy workers (or app based independent contractors) is included in the final financial aid legislation aimed at helping workers during the coronavirus crisis. “These employees comprise over a third of the country’s working population and remain among the most critically under-protected workers, with many not qualifying for unemployment benefits. During this pandemic, they were left with the terrible ultimatum of continuing to work to make ends meet or do their part in reducing spreading the virus by staying home. Many have chosen the latter, resulting in loss of income at alarming rates and the prospect of recouping those losses is uncertain,” Kenyatta, D-Phila., said. “We’re demanding that all independent contractors are protected in any final package.” Shusterman, D-Chester, concurred with Kenyatta’s assertion saying, “It is important that we help this sector of our work population navigate this crisis with immediate relief and action.” Kenyatta said that a copy of the resolution would also be sent to President Donald Trump and Vice Read more
** Below is a list of informational links for resources in and around Philadelphia related to COVID-19. This will be updated as more/new information becomes available ** The latest info on COVID-19 cases and other data statewide from the Pennsylvania Department of Health : https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx The latest information on COVID-19 cases and other data in Philadelphia from the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health : https://www.phila.gov/services/mental-physical-health/environmental-health-hazards/covid-19/ The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has activated a Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline . It’s available 24/7. If you have questions about symptoms and risk factors, what to do if you think you may have been exposed, testing resources, or recommendations for social distancing, you can contact the helpline at 1-800-722-7112. More info: https://www.phila.gov/2020-03-14-greater-philadelphia-coronavirus-helpline-opened-by-health/?fbclid=IwAR2HZUc0yYdy66IMO4nrx8g4Z8vKMHE9qWUXmmLDe3OZFIjVhiwGDu0ZFIo List of essential Philadelphia services and how to access them: https://www.phila.gov/2020-03-18-essential-city-services-remain-open-here-is-how-to-access-them/?mc_cid=7f7be1d618&mc_eid=eda5e48c86 . Information about how SEPTA is operating: http://www.septa.org/service/rail/midday-schedule.html Information about how Amtrak is Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 13 – With Pennsylvanians impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak , state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., is currently drafting legislation that would defer student loan repayments to PHEAA for up to 60 days. “ With all the workplace closures happening in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many commonwealth residents are grappling to pay their necessary bills because of the sudden loss of income,” Kenyatta said. “Borrowers, especially, are unable to make payments on their student loans.” Kenyatta, who represents the 181 st Legislative District, said Pennsylvania bears the second highest average debt per student at $35,759 per student. A total of $53.7 billion collectively looms over the state’s borrowers. “We’re in the midst of an incredibly stressful time and the legislation I’m drafting aims to provide some financial relief during this pandemic,” he said. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 12 – Following Mastery Clymer Elementary School announcing its closure for precautionary measures after a student displayed flu-like symptoms and Temple University becoming the latest higher education institution in the region to move all classes online for the remainder of the semester, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., said he supports these measures and will continue to closely monitor updates from within his 181 st Legislative District. “These are aggressive but necessary moves to protect the health and human safety,” Kenyatta said. “I’ve been closely monitoring the latest updates surrounding COVID-19 and having ongoing discussions with Temple University, including the hospital, on efforts to prevent exposure. Fortunately, there hasn’t been a reported case on campus and I fully support Temple’s and Clymer’s decisions to keep its faculty, staff, students and the at-large community safe.” Kenyatta also announced the cancellation of the upcoming Women’s Resource Fair scheduled for Thursday, March 19 at Lutheran Settlement House, co-hosted by state Rep. Mary Isaacson. “Representative Isaacson and I were thrilled to co-host this event to celebrate women and encourage solidarity through this resource fair, but the state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control have strongly cautioned against going into heavily populated contained spaces,” Kenyatta Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 10 – State Reps. Ben Sanchez, D-Montgomery, and Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., on Monday co-hosted a news conference at St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Kenyatta’s 181 st Legislative District to urge the General Assembly to vote on legislation about reporting lost or stolen firearms. “ We’re standing in the epicenter of the gun violence epidemic. It’s right here in North Philly – my community – where countless lives have been taken by guns, particularly guns that have been lost or stolen only to resurface in the hands of dangerous people,” Kenyatta said. “Today, we’re demanding our state legislature to stop ignoring this critical piece of legislation and to stop putting special interests and petty partisanship over what truly matters – lives.” Sanchez reintroduced H.B. 1288 in April – it was first introduced as H.B. 1515 by former state Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, during the 2013-14 legislative session – to require any owner or other person lawfully in possession of a firearm who suffers the loss or theft of a weapon to report it to law enforcement within 72 hours of the discovery. A failure to do so would result in a summary offense. Bearing the same language, the bill was reintroduced as H.B. 832 during the 2014-15 legislative session and again in the 2016-17 session. To date, the bill has been introduced five times. “This Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 4 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta today announced $14,963 in state grants are headed to the 181 st Legislative District to help support the preservation of two local historical landmarks. Historic Fair Hill, a 300-year-old Quaker burial ground and nature and history education center, and Wagner Free Institute of Science, a natural science history museum founded in 1855, received a $4,000 and a $10,953 state grant, respectively. “Historic Fair Hill and the Wagner Free Institute of Science have both served as longtime community education centers that have fostered and inspired Philadelphians’ hunger for knowledge for centuries,” Kenyatta said. “These sites are also tourist destinations that direct traffic into many of the local businesses here in North Philly. It’s critical that we preserve these organizations and help them continue their invaluable and timeless purpose.” The funding was awarded through the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Society's Cultural and Historical Support Grant Program, which provides general operating support to Pennsylvania museums and official county historic societies. Read more
PHILADELPHIA, March 2 – State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta today congratulated Tech Freire Charter School, which resides in his 181st Legislative District , for winning a $7,000 state grant to measure its current physical safety and behavioral health programs to determine if adjustments should be made. He also lauded a safety grant awarded in the same round to Temple University. “Children are among our must vulnerable citizens and it is our civic and moral duty to provide safe spaces for them in school and beyond,” Kenyatta said. “I congratulate the educators and administrators of Tech Freire for recognizing the need to assess the physical and mental safety of their students and for making a strong case for the state dollars that will help in the effort. I am committed to making sure all possible state funding that is meant to ensure the presence of behavioral health counseling services, security equipment and safety plans in schools is sent to the people I serve.” Kenyatta is a sponsor of legislation that would require the Department of Education to investigate and report on the number of mental health professionals in schools in order to make recommendations on how to increase the number of school mental health professionals to meet nationally accepted ratios. The bill (H.B. 1622), known as Philip’s Law, is named in honor of a an 11-year-old student from his legislative district who died by suicide after struggling to seek and get Read more
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