Abney speaks on legislative work, rallies for incarcerated persons voting rights
District 19 News: State Rep. Abney
Hello, Northsiders! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Diwali and Thanksgiving. I’m eager to share with you some of the important work I’ve been doing in Harrisburg and here at home.
My colleagues on both sides of the aisle and I moved crucial dollars for state universities a step closer to allocation by finally passing legislation that would institute a 25% funding increase for Lincoln University and a 7% funding increase for Penn State University, Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh. Although the 2023-24 budget passed back in July, I was thrilled to add my “yes” vote to this vital component and look forward to these institutions of higher learning receiving the needed monies to help improve student outcomes throughout the commonwealth.
I added my affirmative vote to a package of anti-hate legislation that passed the Pennsylvania House as well. One bill, spearheaded by state Rep. Jordan Harris, would double the funds available for security upgrades at places of worship and other nonprofits. State Reps. Dan Frankel and Napoleon Nelson are the prime sponsors of additional bills that include ensuring Pennsylvania’s law enforcement properly identifies, reports and investigates hate crimes, teaching these same techniques to school officials, and increasing punishments for those engaging in such crimes. I will continue to advocate that hate has no place in Pennsylvania and beyond.
I also introduced legislation (H.B. 1841) that would add Pennsylvania as a member of the Social Work Licensure Compact and permit licensed commonwealth social workers and those workers eligible for a license with the ability to practice across state lines. Often an underappreciated profession, an increased demand for social workers became evident through the pandemic and continues as people deal with ongoing traumas, and my bill would be a win-win for social workers seeking employment opportunities and individuals in need of personal and emotional assistance.
In addition to all the great legislative work at the Capitol, I joined state Rep. Rick Krajewski and others to rally in support of bills that would grant incarcerated people in Pennsylvania access to vote by absentee ballot and educate them on the voting process and about other essential voting information. This legislation is about civil rights, voting rights and criminal justice reform. Most importantly, this legislation is about expanding our democracy.
Back at home, I want to thank everyone who joined me and my staff for the lively legislative town hall at Pittsburgh Higher Ground Ministry on the Northside. I enjoyed sharing what my colleagues and I have accomplished this year and learning about the issues that matter most!
Be safe and have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year! Talk to you in 2024!