Juneteenth Legislation in PA


PA House and Senate Rep. applauds Gov. Tom Wolf for signing HB619 into law & recognizing State Representative Susan Helm for her gallant work effort and tenacity in assisting Ron Brown in making his 25 year dream become reality. Rep. Helm also was inspired to honor Carolyn Mills (who expired to cancer) memory & request of her to make Juneteenth a State holiday before her death.

On 6-19-2019 PA’s Juneteenth soldiers traveled to Harrisburg to witness Governor Tom Wolf sign HB619 into law. With the assistance of PA House and Senate Co-sponsors Sue Helm and Ron Brown shepherd HB619 through the House and Senate, unanimously passing 196-0 in the House and 50-0 in the Senate; in descendants of 1619 enslaved African ancestor’s 400th commemorative, year.  HB619 reads:

PRINTER’S NO. 614

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THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

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HOUSE Bill

No. 619   Session of 2019

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INTRODUCED BY HELM, BERNSTINE, BIZZARRO, BOBACK, BROWN, BURNS, CALTAGIRONE, DAVIDSON, DiGIROLAMO, FREEMAN, HENNESSEY, HILLEVANS, KINSEY, KORTZ, KULIK, LONGIETTI, MEHAFFIE, MILLARD, NEILSON, OBERLANDER, RABB, READSHAW, ROTHMAN, RYAN, SAYLOR, SCHLOSSBERG, SCHWEYER, SONNEY AND WHEELAND, FEBRUARY 28, 2019

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             REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON STATE GOVERNMENT, FEBRUARY 28, 2019     

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AN ACT

  1.      Providing for the annual designation and holiday observance June
  2.      19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in this Commonwealth.
  3.      The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  4.      hereby enacts as follows:
  5.      Section 1. Legislative findings.
  6.      The General Assembly hereby finds and declares as follows:
  7.               (1) Originating in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865,
  8.       when slaves in that state learned that they had been freed,
  9.       “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” is the oldest African –
  10.       American holiday observance in the United States.
  11.               (2) “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” commemorates the
  12.       survival instinct of Africans who endured a transatlantic
  13.       journey, known as the Middle Passage, on slave ships from
  14.       their homeland to this country.
  15.               (3) Approximately 11.5 million Africans survived the
  16.       harsh voyage to slave markets in the New World, and the slave
  17.      population in America grew quickly.
  18.            (4) “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” further
  19.      commemorates the impact of slavery, the abolition movement
  20.      and African-American emancipation in the United States and
  21.      has become a traditional celebration of independence, human
  22.      rights and African-American culture in many communities.
  23.           (5) Recognition of “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in
  24.       this Commonwealth would encourage all governmental entities,
  25.       civic organizations, schools and institutions of higher
  26.       education in this Commonwealth to observe the day in a manner
  27.       that emphasizes the meaning and importance of the end of
  28.       slavery in the United States and to recognize and celebrate
  29.       the importance of this day to every person who cherishes
  30.       liberty and equality for all people.
  31.               (6) “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” is celebrated
  32.       annually in at least 37 states nationwide.
  33. Section 2. Designation.
  34.       June 19 is designated as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in
  35. this Commonwealth.
  36. Section 3. Construction.
  37.       Nothing in this act shall be construed as requiring an
  38. employer to treat June 19 as a legal or official holiday or to
  39. provide paid leave to an employee on June 19 solely by virtue of
  40. the date being designated under this act.
  41. Section 4. Effective date.
  42.       This act shall take effect immediately.

Key Bi-Partisan PA Senators are responsible for HB619 sailing through the Senate: PA Senate State Government Committee, Republican Majority leader SEN. MIKE FOLMER, Democratic Minority leader SEN. ANTHONY WILLIAMS, and Republican Majority Whip SEN. JOSEPH SCARNATI lll. Inscribed in PA History books are Democratic SEN. VINCENT HUGHES and Retired Sen. SHIRLEY KITCHEN co-founders of PA Juneteenth Senate legislation. SEN. SHIRLEY KITCHEN introduced Pennsylvania’s founding Juneteenth Bill and Resolution in the Senate for RON BROWN.

In the PA Senate, SEN. SHIRLEY KITCHEN on June 17, 2003, introduced Senate Resolution SR110:  co-sponsored by HUGHES, WASHINGTON, ERICKSON, DENT, KUKOVICH, WAGNER, HELFRICK, LOGAN, COSTA, SCHWARTZ, MUSTO, FERLO, GREENLEAF, TARTAGLIONE, WOZNIAK, EARLL, M.WHITE, CONTI, RAFFERTY AND RHOADES

SEN. SHIRLEY KITCHEN introduced the first two PA Juneteenth Bills. Senate Bill SB1297 co-sponsored by HUGHES, WASHINGTON, , A. WILLIAMS, FUMO,TARTAGLIONE, FERLO, RAFFERTY, ERICKSON, RHOADES, COSTA,MUSTO, LEMMOND, ORIE, BROWNE AND DINNIMAN, August 3, 2006

SENATOR KITCHEN INTRODUCED SB1024 co-sponsored by HUGHES, WASHINGTON, MELLOW, BOSCOLA A. WILLIAMS, TARTAGLIONE, STACK, COSTA, McILHINNEY, FERLO, FONTANA, MUSTO, , LOGAN, STOUT, GREENLEAF, BRUBAKER, ERICKSON, PILEGGI,BROWNE, , WONDERLING, ORIE, EARLL AND RHOADES, July 8th 2007

SEN. SHARIF STREET introduced on JUNE 19, 2019 PA SR175, co-sponsored by HUGHES, FOLMER, COLLETT, DINNIMAN, FONTANA, LEACH, KEARNEY, FARNESE, IOVINO, PHILLIPS-HILL, MUTH, TARTAGLIONE, SCHWANK, HUTCHINSON, AUMENT, COSTA AND BROWNE, observing June 19, 2019, as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania

PA’s front line political trailblazers, soldiers of the first Pennsylvania’s Juneteenth National Freedom Holiday legislation passage as far back as 2001: ST. REP JOHN MYERS introduced House Resolution (HR236), in the PA House for Ron Brown. The Resolution was co-sponsored by LEDERER, J. WILLIAMS, THOMAS, WASHINGTON, DeWEESE, KIRKLAND, BEBKO-JONES, CRUZ, GEORGE, HERMAN, FAIRCHILD, WATSON, MANN, BELARDI, MELIO, CAPPELLI, RUBLEY, JOSEPHS, HERSHEY, HORSEY, STABACK, DALEY, YOUNGBLOOD, HARHAI, SOLOBAY, ROSS, CORRIGAN, McNAUGHTON, C. WILLIAMS, HARPER, MANDERINO, BUNT, PALLONE, BARD, JAMES AND WATERS

PA ST. REP STEVE KINSEY, (St. Rep JOHN MYERS back in the day Chief of Staff) introduced HR390 in the PA House; passed JUNE 7, 2019; co-sponsored by HELM, WILLIAMS, JOHNSON-HARRELL, SCHLOSSBERG, HENNESSEY, ROEBUCK, KORTZ, McCLINTON, KULIK, MEHAFFIE, LONGIETTI, WHEATLEY, McNEILL, YOUNGBLOOD, BIZZARRO, DAWKINS, HILL-EVANS, DONATUCCI, HARKINS, DAVIDSON, FRANKEL, RAVENSTAHL, CALTAGIRONE, JONES, SAINATO, BURNS, LEE, STURLA, MILLARD, DiGIROLAMO, CIRESI, BULLOCK, KOSIEROWSKI, FREEMAN AND READSHAW

City of Philadelphia political Juneteenth trailblazers, other than the Senators and House Representatives I’ve mentioned,  as far back as 2000-2005 are: Mayor JOHN STREET, Councilwomen DONNA REED MILLER, Councilwomen JANNIE BLACKWELL, , CONNIE LITTLE, GLORIA JACKSON, JAZZEL JONES, MICHELE SABB, DELORES MUHAMMED Comm. ROBERT N. C. NIX Jr., GEORGE BURRELL, MIGENZI TRAYLOR, TUMAR ALEXANDER, NPS PHIL SERIDAN, NPS STEVE SITARSKI, NPS JOE BECTON, NPS FRANK EDERMAN, Councilman CURTIS JONES, SHARMAIN MATLOCK TURNER, MICHAEL QUINTERO-MOORE, EMMITT BRAYBOY, VANESSA BROWN, ALICIA R. BURBAGE, YVONNE BOYE, THEA MARTIN CONNLEY, Commissioner EDGAR A. HOWARD, TOM KNOX, Managing Director RICH NEGRIN, CAROL BROOKS, BRUCE CRAWLEY, LANA FELTON GHEE, TANYA HALL, MORRIS TAYLOR, St. Senator ART HAYWOOD, JOE CERTAIN, DELORES MUHAMMAD, & Gov. ED RENDELL.

Juneteenth in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has come to represent a safe common ground where all races, all political parties has come together in peace; acknowledging the wrongs of slavery; collectively moving forward finding a higher ground to embrace and engage in celebration of a people legacy; freedom for one freedom for all.

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