Featured News

Pennie's Open Enrollment Period is now open

Heating aid via LIHEAP now open

(Nov 01, 2018)

The 2018-2019 Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP – is accepting applications for heating assistance grants. LIHEAP offers cash grants of $200 to $1,000 that are sent directly to the utility company to defray heating costs for eligible households, and crisis benefits of up to $600 for households in immediate danger of being without heat. Remember: These are grants and do not have to be repaid. This season’s income guidelines for both LIHEAP cash and crisis grants are $18,210 for an individual, $24,690 for couples and increases for each additional person in the household. Please click here for more LIHEAP information. Please consider visiting my office if you need help filing a LIHEAP application. Besides my office, LIHEAP information is available by: Contacting local County Assistance offices by phone or in person. Calling the LIHEAP Client Helpline at 1-866-857-7095 or PA Relay at 711 for the hearing impaired. Applying online at https://www.compass.state.pa.us . Read more


Frankel, Sims condemn Trump administration move to narrow civil rights protections for transgender people

(Oct 24, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 24 – State Reps. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and Brian K. Sims, D-Philadelphia, today jointly condemned efforts by the Trump administration to roll back federal civil rights protections for transgender people. Their actions were prompted by news that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is attempting to impose a restrictive definition of gender as a biological, immutable condition determined at birth and limited to “male” or “female.” Doing so would remove protections available to transgender people under current civil rights laws such as Title IX, which bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government assistance. “This administration is attempting to legislate transgender men and women out of existence. But it doesn’t work that way. People won’t feel differently about their own bodies and lives just because Trump tells them to ,” said Frankel, who is co-chairman of the House LGBT Equality Caucus. Sims said, “The Trump administration’s proposal is designed to erase the legal identities of transgender Americans by destroying decades of American jurisprudence and precedent that unquestionably recognizes the scientific and medical reality of transgender existence. This is an abhorrent and dehumanizing attack on the transgender community that will undoubtedly cause millions of Americans to suffer. The federal government’s planned assault on Read more


Senior prescription program expanded to help more people

(Oct 23, 2018)

I voted for legislation that would allow more senior citizens in Philadelphia and across the state pay for their prescription medication. Putting people first and focusing on health care is part of the House Democrats' Plan for Pennsylvania. Read more


Pennsylvania receives extension for REAL ID

(Oct 11, 2018)

Pennsylvania has been granted a REAL ID enforcement extension by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through August 1, 2019. This extension means that Pennsylvania residents will not face access issues when entering federal facilities or boarding domestic commercial aircraft through at least that date. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and photo ID cards will be available from PennDOT at the customer’s option beginning March 2019. PennDOT is encouraging customers to pre-verify for REAL ID the required documentation as soon as possible, giving them ample time to prepare. More information about what documents will be required is available on PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services website . More information about REAL ID, including frequently asked questions , can be found at www.dmv.pa.gov . Read more


Sims announces grant to restore Schuylkill River sinkholes

(Sep 18, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 18 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., today announced that Schuylkill River Development Corporation will receive a $75,000 grant for the restoration of the East side of the Schuylkill River. “The sinkholes along this stretch of the river are a safety risk,” Sims said. “I’m glad that this area will be restored using these funds, so that residents can safely enjoy this beautiful landscape.” The grant will help SRDC restore the landscaping where sinkholes have appeared under the greenway. Weak areas in the bulkhead will be repaired, so that tidal water can no longer erode the soil. The funding was approved by the Commonwealth Financing Authority at its board meeting today, for restorations along the area along the Schuylkill River between Callowhill and Locust Streets in Philadelphia. The total project cost is $600,000. The CFA was established in 2004 as an independent agency of DCED to administer Pennsylvania’s economic stimulus packages. It is responsible for funding programs and investments in Pennsylvania’s economic growth. The CFA consists of seven board members: four legislative appointees and the secretaries of DCED, the Office of the Budget and the Department of Banking and Securities. Read more


Statement from Representative Brian Sims & Senator Larry Farnese Regarding the Mazzoni Center

(Aug 23, 2018)

We have closely followed the recent press reports regarding the firing of Kay Martinez, who served as Mazzoni’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Additionally, we spoke directly with Nefertari Sloan, a staff member, who was reprimanded for attempting to address inequities and organizational policy, as well as other members of the community. To say we are frustrated and angered by these reports would be an understatement. After witnessing the shameful events that unfolded over the past two years and what has come to light since, we are fed up with this organization’s inability to live up to the promises of transparency, accountability, and engagement made to us and members of our community. Inclusion and ethnic diversity cannot be espoused as priorities within an institution while discrimination continues to be perpetrated that runs contrary to those policies. From all reports, Kay Martinez, a queer transgender person of color, is undoubtedly qualified for the role for which she was hired. In our conversations with Mazzoni staff, it was clear that she was not only respected for her leadership in working to rectify the longstanding issues of failing to treat Mazzoni staffers of color equitably and respectfully but also needed because many of these same problems continued to plague this organization. We want to make ourselves unequivocally clear on several key points: The Board of Directors must hold the leadership of Mazzoni accountable and ensure that Read more


Equality Caucus welcomes Pa. accepting LGBT discrimination complaints

(Aug 16, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 16 – Members of the legislature's LGBT Equality Caucus today welcomed a state agency's decision to interpret existing law on sex discrimination to protect LGBT people from discrimination, as several courts and agencies have already done. Members of the caucus provided public comment last year in support of the change. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission , which enforces state non-discrimination law, has updated how it interprets the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. That law bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on several categories, including sex. The commission also made a similar update to how it interprets the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act. State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus, said, "While I still believe we need the bipartisan Pennsylvania Fairness Act passed and signed into law to avoid any ambiguity, I fully support interpreting existing laws to include anti-LGBT discrimination. As Equality PA noted in its public comment, a federal appeals court stated, 'Any discomfort, disapproval, or job decision based on the fact that the complainant -- woman or man -- dresses differently, speaks differently, or dates or marries a same-sex partner, is a reaction purely and simply based on sex ... It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the 'sex' from 'sexual orientation.'" The bipartisan Fairness Read more


Sims thanks Wolf for creating statewide LGBTQ affairs commission, calls for action on non-discrimination bill

(Aug 06, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 6 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., today thanked Gov. Tom Wolf for the governor's historic creation of the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, believed to be the only statewide commission of its kind in the United States. "Governor Wolf has consistently supported equal rights for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, and today's announcement confirms that. I'm honored that he appointed me to serve on this commission," said Sims, the first out LGBTQ person elected to the legislature. "The work of equality also needs to move forward in the legislature. One example of stalled legislation is the Pennsylvania Fairness Act , which would include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the types of discrimination banned statewide in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. The people are ahead of the legislature on this: Polls have shown consistent 70-percent support for this in Pennsylvania for eight years. The Fairness Act has bipartisan support in the legislature, and there should be hearings and votes on it. We know Governor Wolf would sign it into law." ### Read more


Sims: Gloria Casarez mural to be saved

(Jul 23, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, July 23 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., today announced that following talks with Midwood Investment and Development and the Philadelphia Mural Arts program, an agreement has been reached to save the mural of Gloria Casarez that adorns the former 12th Street Gym in his legislative district. Midwood purchased the property at 204 S. 12th St. several months ago, which includes the mural of Gloria Casarez. She was Philadelphia’s first director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT affairs and passed away in 2014 after battling breast cancer. Sims stated Midwood had not solidified the future development plans for the property. “Midwood has continuously supported and invested in Philadelphia’s arts and local communities for more than 20 years. We’re committed to helping ensure that the costs needed for the mural’s relocation are provided,” said John Usdan, CEO of Midwood. Sims said, “I greatly appreciate Mr. Usdan’s commitment to ensuring the mural lives on in honor of the life and legacy of Gloria Casarez. Midwood has consistently demonstrated it is a valued partner in Philadelphia. “Gloria worked tirelessly for not only the LGBT community, but also the city of Philadelphia as a whole. It is important to memorialize the steadfast work Gloria dedicated to establishing our city's policies that made us one of the most LGBT inclusive cities in the nation,” Sims added. Read more


Sims, Risk Assessment Task Force applaud postponement of new tool vote

(Jun 11, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 11 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., today applauded the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission’s decision to postpone the vote on the risk assessment tool, scheduled for this Thursday. “The commission made the right decision,” Sims said. “If the tool can’t be shown to be accurate enough for courts to use and if we don’t know whether the tool is fair to racial minorities, if it doesn’t actually identify candidates for alternative sentencing but only people who might get accused and arrested, we can’t move forward – at least not without further information. “Along with the Risk Assessment Task Force, I look forward to working with the commission in the future to ensure equal treatment for defendants and develop fair and unbiased instruments. We cannot have a fair criminal justice system within our state if the guidelines we use are imbalanced and unfair.” The Risk Assessment Task Force was created by Sims and Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Marni Snyder in spring 2016 to bring together a diverse field of practitioners, scholars, jurists and advocates concerned about the implementation of risk assessment tools in criminal case sentencing. It includes both prosecutors and members of the defense bar, to evaluate the proposed tools from a balanced perspective. Read more


Frankel, Sims: Supreme Court ruling shows need for Pa. Fairness Act

(Jun 04, 2018)

HARRISBURG, June 4 – Leading pro-LGBT legislators in Harrisburg say today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a discrimination case shows the need to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act. The bipartisan legislation ( H.B. 1410 / S.B. 613 ) would include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the types of discrimination banned statewide in the workplace, housing and public accommodations. "This is about much more than cake – this is about people being denied a job or a place to live just because of who they are. That's still legal in much of Pennsylvania, it's wrong and it's time to fix it," said state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus in the legislature. Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., the first out LGBT person elected to the legislature, said, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision appears to be narrow, based in large part on comments made by some Colorado officials. The door is still wide open for states to protect their LGBT residents and visitors, and Pennsylvania should act. The people are ahead of the legislature: Polls have shown consistent 70-percent support for this in Pennsylvania for eight years. The Fairness Act has bipartisan support in the legislature, and there should be hearings and votes on it." Frankel, lead House sponsor of the bill, said, "Many Pennsylvanians are stunned when they learn state or federal law doesn't already protect LGBT people in the Read more


4/27/18 – House Bill 1243 – Philadelphia

(Apr 27, 2018)

Materials from public hearing hosted by State Rep. Brian Sims. Read more


Sims to host House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on equal pay Friday in Philadelphia

(Apr 24, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, April 24 – As part of the House Democratic Caucus’ Plan4PA, state Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., will host a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on House Bill 1243 calling for equal pay regardless of gender or other factors. The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, April 27 at the Kimmel Center, Hamilton Gardens, 300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102 . Sims requested the hearing to spark discussion on strengthening the Equal Pay Law to provide additional protections for all employees and to ensure wages are based on education, training and experience. The measure is part of House Democrats’ Plan4Pam focusing on putting People First with good jobs and family sustaining wages. Sims will be joined by state legislators from across the state, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. The current agenda is: 10:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks 10:10 a.m. Panel One: Susan Carty , President, League of Women Voters Pennsylvania Heather Arnet , CEO, Women & Girls Foundation Barbara Price , Public Policy Co-Chair, American Association of University Women (AAUW) of Pennsylvania Terry Fromson , Managing Attorney, Women’s Law Project 10:50 a.m. Panel Two: Andrea Mead , Chief of Staff to the First Lady, Office of Governor Tom Wolf Rebecca Rhynhart , Philadelphia City Controller Melissa Robbins , Delegate, Pennsylvania NOW 11:20 a.m. Closing Remarks Read more


Sims Studying Equal Pay Issues

(Apr 20, 2018)

In his ongoing fight for equal pay, Pa. state Rep. Brian Sims is holding a public hearing to figure out the best ways to close the pay gap for women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ communities. Read more


Sims Fighting to End Gun Violence

(Apr 16, 2018)

At a House Judiciary Committee special meeting on gun violence & public safety, Pa. state Rep. Brian Sims talks about the scourge of gun crimes in Philadelphia and his bill that would fairly regulate the sale of ammunition in the Commonwealth. Read more


Sims: It’s Time to Fix This

(Apr 11, 2018)

Equal pay advocates came together in Harrisburg rallying for change, where Pa. state Rep. Brian Sims expressed frustration over the unnecessary gender pay gap that still exists in workplaces throughout the state. Read more


Sims Putting #PeopleFirst with the #Plan4Pa

(Mar 08, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Brian Sims is fighting for quality schools, good paying jobs, making sure big business pays their share of taxes and putting people first with the Plan4Pa. Read more


Winter 2018 Newsletter

(Mar 07, 2018)

My winter 2018 newsletter includes details on $3.4 million in state grants for local projects, an overview of the 2017-18 budget, what's happening with sexual harassment in Harrisburg, my legislative initiatives - and more. Read more


Sims Supports Pa. Education Investment

(Feb 08, 2018)

Pa. state Rep. Brian Sims supports Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposal that invests in education from Pre-K through college and workforce development. Read more


Sims hails education funding increases in Wolf's budget proposal

(Feb 05, 2018)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 5 – State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Phila., praised the education funding increases Gov. Tom Wolf will propose Tuesday in his yearly budget address. "I've been proud to work with Governor Wolf and my Democratic colleagues to restore the funding that Corbett-Republican cuts took from K-12 and higher education, but I want to keep going in the direction of full and fair funding. I support the return of local control of Philadelphia public schools driven by Governor Wolf and Mayor Kenney, but we need to have levels of state funding to help our young people succeed," Sims said. Sims said Wolf's proposal will reaffirm their shared commitment to increasing funding for public education at all levels. Since Wolf took office in January 2015, Pennsylvania has made sustained investments in education, including restoring the cuts made under the Corbett administration, increasing the number of children able to attend pre-kindergarten by nearly 50 percent and enacting a fair funding formula. Sims said Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal for education will include: $100 million increase in basic education; $40 million increase in Pre-K Counts and Head Start; $20 million increase for special education; $15 million increase for the State System of Higher Education; and $10 million for career and technical education. "The governor's proposals go hand in hand with the House Democrats' Plan For PA," Sims said. Read more