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PLBC unveils statewide anti-gun violence measures

(Feb 14, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 14 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, today announced the caucus’ comprehensive measures to reducing gun violence statewide. The first was the appointments of Reps. Edward C. Gainey, D-Allegheny, and Brian Kirkland, D-Delaware, as chairs of the caucus’ anti-gun violence subcommittee, who began their tenure immediately. “In the fight to eradicate gun violence in their own communities and across our commonwealth, Representatives Kirkland and Gainey have always been on the frontlines,” Kinsey said. “Both lawmakers serve with me on the PA Safe Caucus and both respectively lend a set of skills and perspectives on how we can move forward with ensuring all communities are safe.” Gainey, who is serving in his fourth term representing the 24 th Legislative District, lost his sister to gun violence after she rejected a man’s advances. He also recently introduced legislation, H.B. 307, that would ban the possession, purchase, transfer and use or manufacture of assault weapons. “My sister’s life was tragically cut short for simply standing her ground and telling a man no. Her memory guides me in ensuring no other woman or person is innocently gunned down for their right to live,” he said. “As legislators, it is our duty to protect and serve our constituents through the creation of comprehensive laws and initiatives. Read more

PLBC urges Judicial Conduct Review Board to investigate Allegheny County judge

(Feb 12, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 12 – Following Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark Tranquilli being reassigned on Tuesday to summary appeals after allegedly calling a Black female juror “Aunt Jemima” and making other racist remarks toward her, members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus are now urging the Judicial Conduct Review Board to investigate. Leading the effort are PLBC members representing Allegheny County, who condemned Tranquilli’s comments as another manifestation of a broken criminal justice system that systemically targets black and brown people. “The alleged comments made by Judge Mark Tranquilli are alarming on multiple fronts,” said state Rep. Austin Davis, who represents the 35 th Legislative District in Allegheny County. “On one hand we have an individual tasked with upholding the law to the highest extent but who clearly harbors bias and judgment toward defendants before a verdict is even reached. On the other hand, we have a judge who harbors an even stronger bias toward people of color, both of which are a recipe for disaster and an injustice to our community. I’m calling on the Judicial Conduct Review Board to do a thorough investigation into this matter.” State Rep. Edward C. Gainey, who represents the 24 th Legislative District, also in Allegheny County, echoed similar sentiments. “Our society is based on the belief that justice is blind – that regardless of race, color Read more

McClinton, Kinsey to introduce legislation to increase opportunities for pardons in Pennsylvania

(Feb 06, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, today announced that she and Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., will soon introduce legislation to increase pardon opportunities for individuals currently serving a sentence of life in prison. House Bill 2262 would do away with the requirement for a unanimous vote by the state Board of Pardons, and instead, replace it with a required simple majority vote. This vote is needed in order to recommend a pardon or commutation of a sentence to the governor for final approval. “Criminal justice reform is front and center on the minds of legislators in Harrisburg and people all across the commonwealth,” McClinton said. “One way we can truly seek reform is to offer hope to persons who have served decades in prison and no longer pose a threat to their communities. By lowering the threshold to a three-fifths vote of the pardons board to recommend pardon or commutation to the governor, Pennsylvania can show that it is truly leading by example when it comes to reforming our criminal justice system.” “In 1995, the Pennsylvania Constitution was amended to require a unanimous vote by the pardons board. I believe we’ve come a long way in understanding that we must do more in order to provide true opportunities for rehabilitated offenders to be pardoned or have their sentences commuted,” Kinsey said. “Ultimately, the final decision will still lay with Read more

Kinsey applauds Wolf’s budget provisions

(Feb 05, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 5 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., applauded the 2020-21 state budget proposal outlined Tuesday by Gov. Tom Wolf. “Governor Wolf’s proposal is ambitious and is exactly what’s needed to lay the foundation that poises Pennsylvania to be a better, more equitable commonwealth,” said Kinsey, who serves as subcommittee chairman on education in the House Appropriations Committee. “My top committee duty will be to work relentlessly to ensure that these proposals become concrete and implemented.” Wolf’s budget proposal includes heavy investment in public schools and early childhood education, as well as new workforce initiatives to prepare more workers for in-demand jobs. Wolf proposed a new scholarship program to help students in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education avoid crushing student debt. “Student loan debt bounds college students to a life of misery and potential financial ruin,” Kinsey said. “I’m thrilled for these provisions that would not just provide financial relief for graduates, but also address every academic stage in the lives of young Pennsylvanians to prepare them for bright futures.” Reiterating his strong commitment to keeping Pennsylvanians safe, Wolf proposed additional measures to protect vulnerable populations and renewed his call for legislators to pass measures to reduce gun violence, including a “red flag” law and Read more

PLBC reflects on deceased NBA star Kobe Bryant’s legacy, leads effort to pass resolution

(Jan 30, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – Following the death of NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who were among 9 people killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, along with caucus members, reflected on the Pennsylvania native’s legacy and his activism, and spearhead bi-partisan effort to have Bryant’s memory etched in the state’s legislative record by way of a House resolution. “Lives were lost, and families are mourning. A wife and mother is mourning the loss of her husband and child; siblings are reeling from the loss of their father and sister,” Kinsey said. “Across the globe, our nation and in our commonwealth -- where Kobe grew up -- young children are trying to comprehend the death of a world-famous athlete, a role model they innocently thought was immortal. “Through basketball, Kobe inspired, unified and uplifted people around the world. As chairman of a legislative body that tirelessly advocates for policy that is inclusive and demands fairness for black lives across our commonwealth, I especially appreciate Kobe using his celebrity platform for his activism to elevate black voices by unapologetically wearing a ‘I can’t breathe’ shirt, compelling everyone to recognize our humanity and the pervasive culture of police brutality,” he said. State Rep. Edward C. Gainey, D-Allegheny, Read more

Roebuck eager to enact governor’s plan to clean up lead, asbestos in schools

(Jan 29, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – State Rep. Jim Roebuck, D-Phila., is applauding Gov. Tom Wolf for making the cleaning up of Philadelphia’s toxic schools and similar health hazards across the state a priority in his upcoming budget proposal. At a Capitol news conference today, Wolf announced that his budget proposal would include $1.1 billion to support remediating toxins like lead and asbestos in schools, daycare centers, homes and public water systems across Pennsylvania. “Philadelphia’s children and children in other parts of the state have been forced to learn in deplorable conditions that present serious health risks to them and their teachers,” Roebuck said. “It is unconscionable that these schools have continued to fall in disarray to the point of shutting down. Even though legislation was introduced to help fix the problem, the Republican majority has not moved it from committee since it was first introduced in June. “I am grateful that Governor Wolf is taking this issue seriously and making it a priority in his budget, signaling to lawmakers across the state, especially the Republican majority, that this crisis needs substantial resources to be resolved. With this proposal, we have a real and significant opportunity to build a brighter health and education future for our children,” he said. Wolf’s proposal to address asbestos and lead includes: Funding up to $1 Read more

Kinsey outlines Northwest Philadelphia public safety tour, set to host communitywide meeting

(Jan 24, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 24 – Following the spate of shootings throughout the city, one of which left an 18-month-old baby suffering from a bullet-graze wound just blocks away from his Germantown district office, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today outlined Step Up, Stand Up -- a grassroots community campaign to end gun violence throughout Northwest Philadelphia. To kick off the campaign, Kinsey and state Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, who represents Northwest Philadelphia’s 203 rd Legislative District, were joined by local community organizations and city law enforcement for a roundtable discussion on rampant gun violence across Northwest Philadelphia. “While our loved one’s lives are cut short and our community reels for solace through these dark times; our legislature turns it back by ignoring our calls to vote on the nearly two dozen bills that would address gun violence and ultimately save lives,” Kinsey said. “We must take back our communities and I extend the invitation to anyone else in helping to develop comprehensive actions to end this public health crisis.” Step Up, Stand Up, an initiative that Kinsey is leading, is geared toward providing comprehensive approaches to reducing local and citywide gun violence through education, community empowerment and fostering healthy relationships between residents, community organizations, law enforcement, and city, state and federal officials. Kinsey said he is seeking input Read more

Cephas to host MLK Day of Justice on Jan. 18

(Jan 08, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 8 – Inspired by a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., state Rep. Morgan Cephas announced she will host a day of justice to help give people who have dealt with the state criminal justice system a second justice. The event will take place from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 at Shepard Recreation Center, 5700 Haverford Ave., 19131. “Doctor King once said, ‘If America is to remain a first-class nation, it cannot have second-class citizens.’ I whole heartedly believe this, yet we have so many people in the commonwealth who are treated unfairly following their time behind bars,” Cephas said. “This event will provide an opportunity for people to get the information and resources they need to help clear their record and get on proper footing to lead productive lives for their families and their community.” Cephas said a news conference will be held to launch the soft opening of the Haddington Participatory Defense Hub. Those in attendance will be able to learn about the state pardon process and record expungement to determine if they may be eligible to get their record erased. Refreshments will be served. To RSVP, call Cephas' office at 215-879-6625. Read more

Kinsey blasts Mummers for use of blackface for second year in a row

(Jan 03, 2020)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 3 – State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, called the use of blackface by members of the Froggy Carr Wench Brigade during the New Year’s Day Philadelphia Mummers Parade racist. “It was just last year, almost exactly to the date, that the Mummers stirred controversy with an incident of similar nature. PLBC representatives met with them and attempted to use that as a teachable moment on how hurtful and racist these character portrayals are, but this year, we’re through,” said Kinsey, D-Phila. “We’re through with trying to reason with an entity that is essentially a modern minstrel show laced with hate speech, xenophobia and the denigration of Blackness under the guise of entertainment. We can no longer tolerate having our humanity and skin color repeatedly mocked and donned as costumes.” Kinsey applauded Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney for censuring and subsequently disqualifying the Froggy Carr Wench Brigade but pressed for more substantive consequences for performers who engage in racially insensitive behavior. “I am pleased that Mayor Kenney immediately stepped up to condemn the use of blackface; however, as chairman of the PLBC, I’m calling on the mayor to impose more harsh penalties that are swift and severe for any performer or troupe who indulges in this disgusting spectacle. Funneling taxpayer dollars in the form of city employees Read more

Kinsey, Fitzgerald welcome over 350 children at 2nd annual Holiday Toy Giveaway on Saturday

(Dec 23, 2019)

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 23 – In the spirit of giving for the holiday season, state Reps. Stephen Kinsey and Isabella Fitzgerald, both D-Phila., hosted their second annual Holiday Toy Giveaway at the New Journey Christian Center on Saturday. “We’re at the peak of the holiday season and what better way to celebrate than giving toys to our local youth,” Kinsey said. “I am pleased to partner with my House colleague, community leaders and business partners in hosting another successful annual toy giveaway.” Nearly 300 families attended the event, and more than 350 children received presents, just in time for Christmas. The children and their families also indulged in holiday music, refreshments and a visit from Santa Claus. “When communities come together, the possibilities are endless in how we can truly make a difference,” Kinsey said. “Our community joined forces in providing this amazing and festive event to bring joy to every child and family this holiday season. I look forward to more years of spreading joy.” The lawmaker duo thanked Pastor Rob Harrison and First Lady Liz Harrison of the New Journey Christian Center, Philadelphia 14 th Police District, Men Who Care of Germantown, Philadelphia Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, Mentoring Our Youth Through the Arts, community leaders, business partners and other civic organizations. Read more