Speaking in between coughs from a winter cold, Pennsylvania State Rep. Cherelle Parker (D-Philadelphia) spoke passionately with NewsWorks about her public policy initiatives for the New Year.
The Mt. Airy resident, whose 200th Legislative District includes sections of Mt. Airy, Chestnut Hill, Roxborough and Andorra, was elected to the seat in a 2005 special election and will be sworn in for her seventh year as state rep. in January.
She said this year is as much about starting new projects as it is about completing old projects.
Tackling property tax assessments
One of her key goals for 2013 is to continue assisting with the city’s property tax assessment efforts pertaining to AVI.
Parker said legislators have already been successful in implementing homestead exemption relief, but it’s not enough. This year, she hopes tools will be created for the city to be more aggressive in collecting delinquent property tax.
This would include working towards legislation that would give the City of Philadelphia the authority to place liens on properties outside of Philadelphia County in an effort to ensure landlords will pay taxes on all of their properties. She also wants the city to have the authority to place different property taxes on different types of real estate.
Along with property tax relief measures, Parker said she would also work towards providing relief to lifelong homeowners to ensure that they will be able to stay in their homes regardless of rising costs due to neighborhood development.
Another issue that she will be fighting against is the legalization of payday lending in Pennsylvania, which she equates to “the legalization of loan sharking.”
“It negatively impacts those that can least afford it the most,” said Parker. “We don’t want to see them in our neighborhoods.”
Addressing gun control
Recent news events have also fueled some of Parkers’ initiatives this upcoming year such as the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Connecticut which claimed the lives of 27 people last Friday.
“When we politicize controlling the flow of illegal hand guns in our community without discussing all the elements that is associated with violence such as mental health, public education, support for families, we do our self a disservice,” said Parker.
She maintained “common sense gun safety reform and violence prevention” must be pursued in a comprehensive, bipartisan manner along with support for new law enforcement and enforcement of laws that are already on the books.
School closures and women’s health
In light of the School District of Philadelphia’s proposed closure and consolidations of dozens of local schools, Parker said she will do everything she can to encourage that the community’s voice is heard.
“I do not support the plan as proposed, but I am confident that once the community is able to participate in a meaningful forum that allows its voice to be heard, that the district will try its best to implement those recommendations,” said Parker.
She also looks forward to ensuring that women’s health rights are protected.
“I am counting on the community to work with me as we advocate for the implementation for aggressive public policy and activities that will enhance the life of residents in the city and commonwealth,” said Parker.