District 19 News: State Rep. Abney
Hello, Northsiders! I hope everyone had a great holiday! I’m eager to share with you some of the important work I’ve been doing in Harrisburg and here at home.
Since I last spoke to you, I’ve introduced two important pieces of legislation.
The first, H.B. 743, would establish a unified criminal justice data collection system. This measure would provide accurate, actionable information that can be used to determine how our laws are applied and how we can move forward in improving our criminal justice system where improvements are necessary. Most importantly, the reports would help keep Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system fair and ensure equal protection under the law.
The second, H.B. 744, is a modernization and recapitalization of the Small Business Incubators Act and would provide up to $20 million in grants and loans to help small businesses in Pennsylvania open their doors. These kinds of ventures are key not only to maintaining but also strengthening our vibrant local economy.
I’ve also been busy in the House Appropriations Committee budget hearings, where I asked key questions about state investments across numerous services, programs and agencies.
I asked about funding for special education and, particularly, potential misclassification of Black and Brown students in that category of instruction. I also encouraged a tax credit for school staff and social workers. I was pleased to hear that interest in pursuing a teaching career remains high and more opportunities are opening up for African American instructors eager to get into the classroom.
The following week, I asked about making sure funding is in place for preparedness in the case of another serious health crisis on the scale of COVID-19 and the working relationship between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local/municipal health agencies. I will say that the department’s response to the East Palestine train derailment demonstrated its capabilities.
I also inquired about adequate funding to safeguard election integrity and transparency. We need to fill as many election administration staffing vacancies as possible and have experienced election officials on the job to ensure accurate vote counts.
Additionally, I asked about the working wages of people presently incarcerated in the Commonwealth as well as steps to prevent an overload of medical copay requests in our prisons with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Everyone, no matter who they are, deserves access to medical care.
Have a safe and fun Memorial Day and talk to you next month!