Economic Recovery for Pennsylvanians
State Representative Jessica Benham has fought for budgets every year that cut cost of living, and invest your tax dollars into public health infrastructure and preparedness, support for families, workforce development, and investments in businesses.
Protecting Our Democracy
Jessica supports a ban on gifts to elected officials, limits on contributions to political candidates, and full disclosure of all spending meant to influence the outcome of elections. She supports a redistricting commission to draw fair lines for Congressional, State House, and State Senate districts. She supports legislation to ensure transparency, public input and clear, enforceable criteria for redistricting. Jessica will fight for election day voter registration, automatic voter registration, and more opportunities for early voting. Jessica also supports rule changes within the General Assembly so that bills with clear bipartisan support receive a vote in committee and both chamber floors, instead of potentially being left to die without a vote in committee.
Affordable & Dignified Healthcare for All
Jessica believes that all Pennsylvanians deserve access to quality healthcare that is free at the point of access and is fighting to protect the Medicaid expansion that has benefited over 3,000,000 residents. She is also fighting for people with disabilities and seniors to receive long term health care supports and services in the dignity of their own homes. Jessica Benham helped pass a law to ensure people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions can’t be denied life-saving medical procedures. In Harrisburg, she is working to ensure that all Pennsylvanians impacted by coronavirus get access to the care they need without surprise billing.
Increasing Public Safety in Our Communities
Jessica Benham has brought back millions of dollars in investment in public safety in our communities, including for violence prevention, victims services, and public safety facilities throughout the district. Moving forward, she is committed to bringing back more state dollars to invest in violence prevention and public safety in House District 36. She passed a bill through the House to provide additional resources to municipalities who are dealing with the public safety impacts of nightlife areas and is continuing to work to get it passed through the Senate and ultimately signed into law. She understands that we need to address the root causes of violence, ensuring economic opportunity and stability for families, providing for well-funded education and after school programming, and investing in our business and residential districts. Representative Benham is a proponent of commonsense legislation like comprehensive background checks, extreme risk protection orders, firearm safety training, and safe storage laws, which she has voted for in Harrisburg.
Climate Change and Infrastructure
Jessica has acted locally to combat climate change, flooding, and landslides, leading water management projects in parks throughout the district. In Harrisburg, Jessica has ensured the state invests in stormwater management and the reduction of fossil fuel pollution. Jessica is working together with Organized Labor to hold oil and gas companies accountable for the ways they treat workers and their disregard for environmental regulations. Fines shouldn’t just be the cost of doing business. Jessica has brought together everyone’s voices, including workers and communities hit hardest by pollution, for difficult conversations about energy production and the environment. These are well-paying jobs that support many families in our district, and we also must protect our environment for the generations to come - Jessica rejects the idea that jobs and environment have to be at odds. Jessica has seen the disproportionate impacts of worsening landslides and flooding in our community. She has heard resident concerns and will advocate for strategic and significant investments in our local infrastructure. Jessica believes that increased state investment in expanded water management, especially along the Route 51 corridor, will provide the protection that residents need and deserve.
Fully Funding Our Education System
Jessica has heard from local residents on how the state has cut their funding for public schools, forcing local school boards to increase taxes to avoid cutting services. Every year she has been in office, Jessica has ensured that our schools received an increase in state funding. Jessica sponsored a bill which passed the House unanimously that would ensure that children being raised by non-parent relatives (kinship caregivers) are able to receive a tuition waiver to attend college free of charge, like kids who are in foster care already can. She is fighting for the bill to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the Governor. All children should have access to high quality early childhood education. Children who access high-quality early learning experiences are far more likely to succeed in K-12 school and in life. Early education should be public, free, and inclusive for all students. Jessica will work to ensure that early childhood programs and educators have the state resources and supports they need to provide high quality early education to all children. Increasing state investment in district-run early childhood education is critical for our kids, but also for their parents to be able to work – allowing them to provide for their family and contribute to our region’s economy.
South Pittsburgh is the center of the opioid epidemic in the Greater Pittsburgh region, with substantially more deaths from overdose than any other area, which has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jessica believes the state must invest in evidence-based approaches to substance use, addressing both the underlying causes and the immediate impacts on our neighborhoods. Substance use disorder needs to be treated as an issue of public health, not of criminalization. We need to fund programs to divert people from incarceration to community based treatment programs. We need to work with our local providers to increase the number of beds available in treatment facilities for people who have public or no insurance. Jessica has also passed legislation through the House that would provide for free college at our state universities for kids in kinship care, a situation in which family members are caring for the young person because their parent is unable to do so. This is common in our community because of substance use issues. Jessica believes these young people should be given every opportunity to succeed and is working to pass the bill through the Senate so that it can be signed into law.
Jessica knows that Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is the lowest of any state in our region, and believes all jobs should pay enough that people are able to afford living expenses. Jessica is pushing for a higher minimum wage, and to protect the rights of workers to unionize and collectively bargain.
Criminal Justice Reform
Jessica is against mandatory minimum sentencing, believing our judges deserve discretion and the ability to consider each individual's unique situation. She believes
Jessica fights to make sure that choice isn’t restricted by harmful laws that take away our rights. That's why she's endorsed by Planned Parenthood PA PAC and EMILY's List. Jessica also supports implementing solutions to maternal mortality and policies that make it easier to raise children, like universal Pre-K, early childhood programs, and paid sick and family leave.
No one should be at risk for losing their jobs or homes on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Jessica serves as the first out female member of the LGBTQ+ community in the PA state legislature and passed legislation through the House to protect the civil rights of our LGBTQ residents to ensure that everyone can live safely and freely in our state. She continues to fight for its passage through the Senate.
As a person with a disability herself, Jessica knows the many barriers to accessibility that exist in Pennsylvania. She has fought for the rights of people with disabilities during her appointment to an advisory board overseeing the Office of Developmental Programs, the department which oversees services provided to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in PA. Accessibility starts early – Jessica supports early childhood programs that meet the needs of all children, including kids with disabilities. She supports legislation ensuring that Pennsylvania schools are well-resourced by state dollars so that local property owners don’t bear the increasing weight of the costs of special education. Kids with disabilities are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school, so Jessica supports an increase in funding for school therapists and counselors, to address school pushout. Jessica is also fighting for the individuals providing services to kids and adults with disabilities to be fairly paid, because the work that those individuals do is valuable. Jessica supports fully funding our Medicaid waiver programs so that kids and adults with disabilities can receive the services they are entitled to under the Olmstead Supreme Court decision. Jessica is fighting for paid family and sick leave, so that workers can take time off to care for themselves or their family members. Employment rates for people with disabilities remain low, which is why Jessica supports increasing programs for high school students with disabilities to emphasize employment, increasing funding for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and increasing incentives for businesses to hire people with disabilities. Jessica also supports ending the practice of sub-minimum wage. Pennsylvanians with disabilities have the same desires and rights as Pennsylvanians without disabilities, and Jessica will continue to do everything in her power to ensure that their rights are upheld.