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Priorities and Issues
Through common sense gun laws and community partnerships with organizations like CeaseFire PA, I am working to stop the proliferation of guns in our neighborhoods.
Since taking office, I’ve introduced legislation to increase penalties for people who commit gun violence, carry unlicensed firearms, and participate in straw purchases. I’ve also introduced legislation to ban assault weapons and strengthen background checks.
I’ve worked with the Gun Violence Task Force and district attorneys in southeastern Pennsylvania to establish tougher sentencing laws for carrying an unlicensed firearm, a measure which has resulted in a significant decrease in gun violence when enacted in New York City.
Law enforcement and prosecutors also need the resources to do their jobs well. I’ve successfully fought to increase funding for witness protection efforts, and secured state funding to help reactivate the Philadelphia Police Mounted Unit through a public-private partnership with the Police Foundation. I’ve also supported the volunteer fundraising efforts of neighborhood coalitions by securing matching grants for public safety initiatives such as the South Street Police Mini Station and Victim Witness Service of South Philadelphia.
Our neighborhoods groups are the first line in making sure that we have livable communities. Since the threat of lawsuits forced the Old City Civic Association out of existence in 2013, I’ve worked to advance legislation that would protect our community groups from baseless lawsuits. This year, I’m working on anti-SLAPP legislation, which has already successfully passed out of the Senate and is currently pending approval in the House.
The First District has a vibrant nightlife – and with it, more liquor licenses than any other Senate district in the state. My office monitors liquor license transfers and is dedicated to stopping nuisance bars and irresponsible tavern operators. We administer Liquor Nuisance Task Forces in Old City and Northern Liberties, initiatives which bring community leaders and law enforcement together to monitor and address bars that threaten the safety and security of neighborhoods. My staff also helped create a similar task force to address the growing nightlife around Rittenhouse Square, and assisted the Center City Residents Association in forming a new liquor committee to address these growing issues.
Equal Treatment for All Pennsylvanians
Fighting for LGBT rights has always been a passion in the First District, and it’s one I share. As a founding member of the General Assembly’s Bipartisan LGBT Equality Caucus, I’ve worked to educate my colleagues and advance laws that ensure fairness for all citizens. I’ve sponsored legislation to prohibit discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation, and inheritance tax exemptions for domestic partners. I am also proud to have been a leader in promoting a constitutional amendment to legalize same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania prior to the court’s landmark decision.
Economic Development and Job Creation
Growing our local economy starts with investments in infrastructure and support for our public institutions.
Our state-owned ports represent a promising area of economic growth for the 21st century, and I’ve worked to secure ongoing funding for expansion and improvement of port facilities. Since I took office, more than 50 acres of dormant land was developed into an auto processing facility in South Philadelphia, creating more than 600 family sustaining, union jobs and annual tax revenues in excess of $12 million.
In conjunction with Rep. Bill Keller, I helped pass legislation to obtain the land needed to create the new Southport Marine Terminal, consisting of 200 acres of unused land on the eastern edge of the Navy Yard. Along with the Delaware River dredging project, this new container facility will allow Philadelphia to remain competitive in a global economy and create thousands of new port jobs.
In addition to port improvements, I’m also working on tax credit legislation to promote shipping and exports, as well as training for longshoremen to ensure that we have a skilled workforce ready when new jobs become available.
Many of Philadelphia’s most important institutions and public spaces are located in the First District, and it’s vital that they remain in the best condition. I’ve secured capital funds to spur the development of the Delaware and Schuylkill River waterfronts, as well as funding for Parkway museums and other tourism and hospitality developments which support the convention and tourism industry.
During my time in office, I’ve also worked to restore and expand arts and museum funding, and preserve Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grants to dozens of organizations that contribute to the cultural and economic fabric of the City.
Pennsylvanians deserve transparent, effective, and responsive government.
During my first year in office, I successfully led the fight to restore the ban on campaign contributions by casino operators, and authored a key provision of state law that ended Deferred Retirement Option Plans (DROP) for elected officials statewide. I also joined with Mayor Nutter to replace the scandal-plagued Penn’s Landing Corporation with the new Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, paving the way for the waterfront transformation that is taking shape today.
I’ve been a vocal advocate for legislation to enact campaign finance limits and restrict pay-to-play contributions by those seeking to do business with the state. In the Senate, I’ve helped craft new ethics rules, and regular training, for members and staff.