WEEKLY REPORT: COUNCIL APPROVES LANDMARK DOMESTIC WORKERS RIGHTS BILL, ADVANCES KEY PUBLIC SAFETY LEGISLATION

In Cindy Bass, Darrell L. Clarke, Jannie Blackwell, Kenyatta Johnson, Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez, News, William K. Greenleeby PHL Council

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On Thursday, Philadelphia City Council passed a bill that provides protections and rights for domestic workers that will give the city one of the strongest laws in the country.

Championed by Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez (7th District), Council unanimously approved a bill of rights designed to give approximately 16,000 domestic workers in Philadelphia basic workplace safeguards that many employees in other fields already receive.

A staff member for Councilmember Quiñones Sánchez summarized the rights protected under law by Bill 190607 in a social media post after the vote.

The majority of domestic workers – housekeepers, nannies, and other workers – in Philadelphia are women of color. Many are undocumented immigrants. The average annual income for domestic workers in this region in 2016 was $10,000, according to an analysis by a University of Pennsylvania professor.

“You are not alone. We are with you,” Quiñones-Sánchez told the crowd of domestic workers and advocates packed into the Council chambers. The advocates held up large colored letters spelling out “DOMESTIC WORKERS” and erupted in enormous cheers when the bill passed.

In addition to advocates and domestic workers, a prominent Philadelphia labor leader testified in support of the measure – Pat Eiding, President of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO.

“I’m here today to stand up for domestic workers, and to make Philadelphia proactive in protecting their workplace rights,” Eiding said.

Nine states — New Mexico, New York, Hawaii, Connecticut, California, Illinois, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Oregon — and Seattle have passed legislation to protect domestic workers.

Council Advances Bills to Prohibit Guns at City Rec Centers and Streamline Process for Court Removal of Firearms from Dangerous Persons

Council advanced a bill that will prohibits guns and other deadly weapons from Philadelphia recreation centers and playgrounds, as well as another bill that will make it easier for citizens to ask a court to order the removal of firearms from persons deemed a danger to themselves or others.

The first bill is the “Safe Havens” legislation (Bill 190749) introduced by Council President Darrell Clarke (5th District) and Councilmember Cindy Bass (8th District) in September.

Clarke’s and Bass’ legislation follows a series of shootings at recreation facilities over the summer — including shootings at Finnegan and Baker playgrounds that wounded six and seven residents, respectively.

At a hearing on the Safe Havens bill, Council President Clarke noted criminal justice reform initiatives that Council has supported to create “a more equitable system of justice in our city to give people second and third chances to be productive citizens.”

Then, alluding to recent shootings of an 11-month-old infant and a 2-year-old toddler, Clarke spoke of a “different conversation in our streets right now.”

“Citizens are saying, ‘Do something about gun violence! Get the guns off our streets! Some people do not need to be on our streets. Some people go out, shoot a crowd of people at a rec center, or a young child in a household, whatever is on their mind. We need to deal with this issue of law enforcement. We must create a safer environment in our neighborhoods and give people quality of life they deserve.”

Companion legislation (HB 1764) has been introduced in the General Assembly. Rep. Donna Bullock (195th Dist.) is the prime sponsor. Sen. Vincent Hughes (7th Dist.) is leading similar efforts in the Senate.

Council also advanced Bill 180553, legislation from Public Safety Committee chair Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. that would make it easier for citizens to flag dangerous individuals to a court for an order removing their firearms.

Council also advanced Bill 180969, introduced by Councilmember Bobby Henon (6th District). which would amend the “Hate Crimes” city code to increase the scope of eligible crimes to provide for additional criminal penalties motivated by hatred.

And, Council acted on Resolution 190260,  introduced by Councilmember Bill Greenlee (At Large), and heard testimony to better understand what city agencies are doing to implement a state law approved last year to protect domestic violence victims by ordering abusers to turn over their firearms swiftly to law enforcement.

Councilmember Domb: Doctors Should Be Required to Educate Patients on Risks of Opioid-Based Medications

Councilmember Allan Domb (At Large) introduced a bill that would require physicians and other medical providers to educate their patients of the risks associated with opioid-based pain medications, in the wake of an epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania.

If the patient was in treatment for a drug overdose, the health care provider would also be required to provide more information about substance abuse treatment options, according to the legislation.

A More Transparent Process to Dispose of Vacant City Land

A more transparent process to dispose of city land was approved in Council today, culminating a back-and-forth negotiation with the Kenney administration to create a more streamlined approach to land disposal that prominently features the Philadelphia Land Bank.

Bill 190606-AA, introduced by Council President Clarke and Councilmembers Quiñones Sánchez, Parker, Blackwell, and Johnson, will place the vacant city land disposal process squarely in the hands of the Land Bank and eliminates the role of the old Vacant Property Review Committee – long a goal of city housing officials and housing advocates.

Council President Clarke praised the legislation, noting the “multiple amendments” and process with the administration and housing advocates had produced a new land disposition policy that is “uniform, equitable, with clear parameters, no longer subject to the whims of any individual.”

“This new law will also cut down on the multiple musical chairs you had to go through previously” to obtain city land, Clarke noted.

Council Introduces Important Budget Transfer Ordinances

Signaling an important fiscal and programmatic policy discussion in November, Councilmember Quiñones Sánchez introduced a series of budget transfer ordinances at the Kenney administration’s request.

Budget transfer ordinances, while routine, are important moments in a city’s fiscal year, where Council members make request for certain adjustments in funding for key city programs and departments, and the mayor’s office weighs in with its viewpoints on how much money is available and where it is most needed.

As just one example – of many – of the spending recommendations contained in these transfer ordinances, Councilmember Cherelle Parker (9th District) issued a news release after the ordinances were introduced, praising the Kenney administration for including $10 million that she has called for to fund neighborhood business corridor cleaning efforts in all 10 Council districts, mirroring a successful program in her district.

Council’s Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing November 12th on the transfer ordinances to take up all of these midyear budget and spending recommendations.

Inside the Rail … Celebrating Philly’s Veterans This Sunday, November 3, 2019

This Sunday, November 3, 2019 all Philadelphians are invited to help honor our region’s veterans by attending the 5th Annual Philadelphia Veterans Parade. City Council’s Office of Veterans Affairs was instrumental in starting in this annual event in 2015. and the parade has grown each year. This year, more than 150 organizations involving over 7,000 participants and 21 Veteran Service Organizations are working to ensure that veterans and their families receive the celebration they deserve.

The parade route begins at Juniper and Market Streets at 12:00 PM with a brigade of over 250 motorcyclists and continues heading east on Market Street and concluding at North 5th Street where the Veterans Festival will take place. Weather permitting, paratroopers will make a dramatic coordinated jump and descend onto the Independence Mall landing approximately at 12:30 PM.

For more information, visit www.phillyveteransparade.org.

The next stated Meeting of City Council is scheduled for Thursday, November 14,  at 10 a.m. in Council chambers on the 4th floor at City Hall.

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