Good afternoon, Friends! In the last few weeks, we’ve witnessed great victories on both the local and federal levels regarding the racial injustices against Black and brown people and our immigrant communities, who deserve to be recognized and celebrated. The countless protests, marches, and demonstrations across the country andPennsylvania have pushed for action to take place, and we must continue to fight for and advocate for much-needed change in our Commonwealth and across the country.We hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your day to read through this week’s eBlast and celebrate the victories we have recently seen while keeping in mind the continued importance of #StayintheStreets. There is much more to be done to change the system that has failed communities of color for far too long—let’s continue to push forward!
Gov. Wolf to Sign Pennsylvania’s First Police Reform Bills After a historic vote in both the House and Senate, two policing bills will now be sent to Governor Tom Wolf’s desk where he is expected to sign both. Following the murder of George Floyd, we saw many protests, marches, and demonstrations across Pennsylvania, standing up against systemic racism and police brutality against Black and brown people. We even witnessed a historic moment in the Pennsylvania House when several members of the PA Legislative Black Caucus held the rostrum for 90 minutes demanding action on several policing bills that had been introduced in the House since 2018. A week later, House bills 1841 and1910 passed out of committee and then unanimously passed out of the House to the Senate. The Senate then voted on June 30 unanimously to pass both bills and send them to Governor Wolf to sign into law. HB 1841 will require employers to disclose employment information to any law enforcement agency that is conducting a background investigation of an applicant and will create an electronic database containing separation records. HB 1910 will mandate in-service training on the use of force, de-escalation techniques, cultural awareness, and bias. It will also be amended to include training on trauma-informed care, specifically for PTSD. Read more here.
Other bills to watch for movement on and support in pushing forward: SB 459 ould mandate that all police departments maintain records of use of force incidents that detail the event, including the reason for the use of force; detail of the injuries inflicted, as well as property damage or death. Those records are to be forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Police and reports issued to the General Assembly.SB 1205 would ban the use of chokeholds in an officer’s efforts to detain an individual and would require every municipal police department to adopt a use of force policy, publish that policy for the public, and train its officers to that standard.
Supreme Court Rules for Dreamers On Thursday, June 18, the U.S.Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s plan to dismantle an Obama-era program that has protected 700,000 DREAMers from deportation. The program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, allows qualified individuals who were brought to the United States as children to receive temporary legal status if they graduated from high school or were honorably discharged from the military after passing a background check. Upon taking office, one of President Trump’s first actions was moving to revoke the program which was blocked first by the lower courts and now officially ruled against by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote. Our partner organization CASA, an organization building power for justice in Latinx and immigrant communities through grassroots community organizing, has done important work advocating for DACA recipients and reacts to the news: “This is an important decision for our immigrant youth, just days after DACA’s 8th anniversary, after years of fierce advocacy on behalf of DACA holders. The Supreme Court showed a commendable capacity to rise above partisan lines to give relief” #HomeisHere. Please read more here and go here to listen to local DACA recipients’ reactions to the ruling.
Bryan Cutler Replaces Speaker Mike Turzai Representative Bryan Cutler, Republican from Lancaster County, District 100, is now the newest speaker of the Pennsylvania House. He will take over the chamber from previous house speaker, Rep. Mike Turzai, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic which has exhausted Pennsylvanians and leaves the state with a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. Representative Cutler, a former X-ray technologist and attorney, will now have a say over the day-to-day operations of the chamber, including calling up bills, enforcing rules, and controlling debate. He began his legislative appearance in 2006 and became majority leader in 2016. He has taken conservative positions on many issues, including opposing abortion rights, supporting gun rights and voicing skepticism about allowing Syrian refugees into the state. We The People-PA will continue to push for our progressive policies to be heard at the state level and will advocate for the new speaker to hear the voices of Pennsylvania’s Working people. Please read more here.
UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES TO GET INVOLVED Exclusive Capitol Insiders Zoom Calls Join our exclusive Zoom room every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. to hear an important update from Harrisburg or Washington, and take action in real time to hold our elected officials accountable! Become an EXCLUSIVE insider today: https://bit.ly/capinsider
Virtual Community Conversations
We are continuing to organize these conversations across the state—be on the lookout for them in your area!Tuesday, July 7 at 7 p.m. – Bucks County, constituents of PA House District 144, including Warrington, Neshaminy, Chalfont, New Britain, Newville, Dublin, Hilltown, Silverdale, and Fair Hill Register to attend here: https://bit.ly/31q
Wednesday, July 8, 7 p.m. – Lancaster County, constituents of Senate District 13, including, Millersville, West Lampeter, Leola, Intercourse, Quarryville, Kirkwood, Drumore, and Little Britain Register to attend here: https://bit.ly/38keEea.
Upcoming:Mid-July – Montgomery County PAHouse District 146 (Includes Limerick, Sanatoga, Pottsgrove, Linfield, and Royersford)Late July – Delaware and Chester Counties, PA House District 160 (Starts along Delaware border from Boothwyn, continuing west to Chadds Ford, including Pocopson and Kennett Square)
IN THE NEWS
Federal Judge Rules U.S. Must Release Children From Family Detention Centers
On Friday, a federal judge in Los Angeles, California, ordered the release of migrant children held in the country’s three family detention centers. The ruling orders states to release children held in these facilities by July 17 after reports of positive coronavirus tests came from several plaintiffs in the case. This applies to children who have been held for more than 20 days in the detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including two centers in Texas and one in Pennsylvania. According to the ruling, there were 124 children living in these facilities as of June 8. The order is the first time a court has set a firm deadline for the release of minors in family detention if their parents designated a relative in the United States to take custody. Great work has been done by Our partner, Make The Road Pennsylvania, a multi-issue and generational membership organization that builds power for justice in Latinx, immigrant and working-class communities of color. Make The Road has worked tirelessly on advocating for the closing of the detention center in Berks County. #ShutDownBerks They remind us to keep fighting for this center to be shut down for good: “We are cautiously optimistic about this news. We’ve sadly seen Judge Gee’s orders ignored by ICE before. There’s a high chance this order will also be ignored and family detention will continue. But, mark July 17 on your calendars, we’re going to Berks.” Read more here.
PA Extends Unemployment Benefits For 13 More Weeks Amid Pandemic
On Monday, June 29, Department of Labor & Industry secretary, Jerry Oleksiak, announced that Pennsylvania is extending unemployment compensation for an additional 13 weeks. Pennsylvanians who exhaust their regular unemployment compensation and federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation can now qualify for 13 additional weeks of payments through a program called Unemployment Compensation Extended Benefits. This program is in place for whenever the state’s unemployment rate reaches a certain level. The state’s unemployment rate was over 13% in May and since then has paid out more than $21.5 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits. Benefits will begin with the week ending July 4. Please read more information about the benefits, eligibility, and how to apply here.
CALL TO ACTION
Join the Renewed Call for a Just Pennsylvania
In 2018, We The People-PA launched our progressive agenda built from the ground up with input from people and organizations from across the state. In 2020, we are continuing our work with a renewed and even bolder set of demands
for what we’ve always known we need, an expanded set of policy priorities to address COVID-19 and a deeper policy integration of our commitment to ensure Black lives matter in Pennsylvania. Sign up here to stand with us, stay up to date, and get involved in the fight to demand bold action from state lawmakers to keep our families safe today—and to build a stronger, healthier, and more just Commonwealth for the future.Sign up here: https://bit.ly/WTP-PA2020.
#BlackLivesMatter #StayinTheStreets #HomeisHere #ShutDownBerks
We The People – Pennsylvania stands with the tens of thousands of protestors calling for racial justice, an end to the murder of Black people by the police, and an end to police brutality. We stand with the immigrant community and continue to support DACA recipients and actions to shut down the Berks County Detention Center. We are continuing to advocate for the progressive policies that our campaign launched in 2018 with the goal being to ensure that everyone can thrive, whether they are Black, brown, or white; native-born or immigrant, whether documented or undocumented; Asian or Latinx; poor or rich. A recent poll conducted by the State Innovation Exchange, in partnership with Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center, shows Pennsylvanians support an aggressive agenda in Harrisburg, including concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and supporting widespread testing, prioritizing working people in the economic response, and supporting reforms to make our democracy stronger. We are together in this fight and we must continue to advocate for the much-needed changes in our Commonwealth and across the country.As we approach the July 4th holiday, we hope you enjoy some time off with your loved ones without forgetting that not all of us are able to celebrate this holiday as ndependence Day.Thank you for your time and attention. Most importantly, thank you for taking action to ensure our Commonwealth is a safe place to live for everyone.
In solidarity,Kadida, Adrienne, Katy, Marc and the WTP team